This week’s show with the Milk Carton Kids showed that Knoxville audiences really can quieten down and listen intently to a musical performance. The show opened with The Contenders, a duo similar in musical style to the Milk Carton Kids, with the addition of a very basic drum kit. They did a good job as an opener.
I’d been listening to the Milk Carton Kids’ latest album for the last week or so and immediately made the same comparison as everyone else: Their sound is very similar to Simon and Garfunkel. I wondered about the sameness of some of the songs, thinking how Simon and Garfunkel benefited tremendously from the great songwriting of Paul Simon. I feared it could make for a dull concert.
I needn’t have feared. Two elements of the performance made it rise above where I’d feared it might settle: The fine guitar playing of Kenneth Pattengale and the engaging banter of the two that resembled more the Smothers Brothers than Simon and Garfunkle. I’m not sure most of it would bear hearing twice, but a lot of it was funny when it was fresh.
And, of course, there was the perfect harmony all night. The track “Monterey” stood out in concert as it does on the new album. The night ended with a beautiful rendition of Pink Floyd’s, “Wish You Were Here.” That this was a highlight underscored the fact that perfect harmonies and excellent musicianship must be married to great songs for the impact to be sustained. Enjoy.