“We are really decent and execute almost all of the time,” Joey Ryan said, above a chorus of laughter at the Boulder Theater, Sunday night. Ryan, half of the band The Milk Carton Kids, let patrons of the theater know that the upcoming set of Punch Brothers would be one that would be one to remember.
The Milk Carton Kids played a trademark brand of Americana folk, influenced by Simon and Garfunkel as well as duets by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.
Playing new song “Another New World,” Punch Brothers were impressive from the start. Mandolin, banjo, violin and guitar strummed in a compound meter so complex that would make many big-time acts tear up.
Thile was also sure to show off his virtuosic mandolin playing, by playing a hilarious and complex rendition of “I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Playing like a folk-loving Randy Rhoads, Thile and the rest of the band bobbed and weaved through this lovely Christmas carol.
Another wonderful part of the show was the overall volume of the show. Concerts regularly exceed safe decibel levels for human ears. Throughout the show, there were no amplified instruments, only microphones. This kept the show at a low volume and allowed the crowd to leave without ringing ears or early onset tinnitus.
Some of the best parts about Punch Brothers and folk music in general are its humble nature and the musical chops that it takes to play it well.
Both acts exhibited their skills very well.
“I recently just learned to fingerpick,” Ryan said halfway through the Milk Carton Kids’ set. “I can only do it in a few chords, but we use all of them.”
Despite his humor, it was clear that all of the musicians taking the stage tonight would be incredibly talented and ready to be equal with the audience. There was no ego-pampering, no meaningless bravado, only raw talent that the performers were more than happy to share.
The Boulder crowd was electrified, and Punch Brothers picked up on that.
“We just Peyton Manning-ed that!” Thile said. “We called an audible and changed the song. There is electricity in here. Literally there is electricity in the building to raise lights and such.”
The headliners were also sure to play their biggest songs as well.
“Dark Days” and “This Girl” both were played in the nearly two-hour-long set on Sunday.
It may seem like a simple thing on the surface, but folk music as a genre is very special. There is a community in this scene like no other, and this friendship was apparent during the entire concert.
“I hope we have become friends,” the Milk Carton Kids said during their opening set.
Punch Brothers say in their songs, “…rye whiskey makes the band sound better,” but that wasn’t necessary tonight, even if the mostly adult crowd held drinks in their hands. The Punch Brothers were impressive all night. Dancing around the stage wound up the band and the crowd. Taking off their suit coats couldn’t even cool them down.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org.