By Porter Byers
The Kind Thieves will steal your attention and your expectations. But they are nice about it. In my case, they stole what my body wanted to be a calm and relaxing Sunday night and turned it into a rip-roarin’ good time at the Pearl Street Wearhouse in Washington, DC. Having only experienced their studio work until then, I expected at least a taste of the stellar banjo, mandolin, or fiddle compositions that defined their debut album, Many a Thief. However, in keeping with the more eclectic (and electric) sound reflected in their latest work, The Shape, The Kind Thieves treated the crowd to a high-energy performance, by doing what only truly talented musicians can do: transforming studio songs into something completely new and exciting, as they did with some of their bluegrass staples like “Dear Mary” and “Shallow Grave.”
It was a full-on rock show. They went from soaring bluesy highs, with some excellent shredding and finger-tapping by lead guitarist Colby Elswick, to deep, funky grooves, anchored by bassist Drew Shinhearts. The crowd went wild for trumpet solos and teases (Celebration!) from keyboard player Christian Tanzey. We got covers, including a version of Steve Earle’s “The Mountain” led by guitarist Archibald Johnson that only a West Virginia outfit could land, and even a few decent jokes from Ben Hunt following his drum solo. There were sit-ins and guest spots from and with opening band, Medicated Sunfish.
Rare nowadays is the encore actually feeling like a true encore, where the band wants to come back out and keep playing for the audience as much as we want them to, for as long as the venue will allow. What you experience with the Kind Thieves is exactly what music is supposed to be. It’s clearly a heartfelt yet fun pursuit for the band, and we fans revel in that pursuit, lucky that they happen to be quite good at it.
Hopefully, the Kind Thieves take to the road with increased frequency and orbit. For those of us not on social media, an official website for the band would certainly be helpful to stay up-to-date on shows and new music. Hint hint.