Rough Trade has quickly become one of the most renowned intimate venues to catch a gig in the NYC area. Tucked into the back of the record store (of the same name) is an industrial style room full of shipping containers that somehow warms up to be a tight knit space for music lovers. On Thursday The Ballroom Thieves passed through on their north east and final tour of 2017. The band consisting of Martin Earley [lead vocals, guitar], Calin Peters [cello, bass, and vocals] and Devin Mauch [drums and vocals] have enjoyed a successful year on the road. A summer run on the festival circuit and multiple nationwide tours have seen the band quickly build a loyal following and they certainly turned out in force for this show.
Opening the night was Nashville duo The Harmaleighs. Haley Grant [lead vocals, guitar] and Kaylee Jasperson [bass, vocals] are currently touring their latest EP “Hiraeth.” The ladies have some hilarious stories from their travels over the past two years and also some heart-string pulling songs with beautiful harmonies stitched together with absolute precision. Highlights from their set include “I keep ticking on” from their full length 2015 release Pretty Picture, Dirty Brush, which,has been picked up by a French movie maker for what sounds like a very interesting R rated film. Another gem was “Lady Brain” from the aforementioned EP Hireath with some superbly penned lyrics “I paint my face every single night, only to catch your busy eyes.” Between songs about equality and heartbreak, their cutting and honest sense of humor made the impact of the music all the more powerful.
The Ballroom Thieves took to the stage and opened with “Blood Run Red” from their 2016 album Deadeye. Peter’s rasps “When my husband left me, he fled in the dead of night,” with her cello getting a run for its money as she forced some haunting licks from it. The folk underbelly was being dragged up by the scruff of its neck for all to see, and it clearly wasn’t the The Ballroom Thieves first rodeo. Mauch trashed it out in sporadic bursts behind the drums and their attention to detail in these elaborate mood swings was magnificent. Earley ripped through “Pockets of Gold” and the dirge “For Mercy” before the bands departure from the stage as he gave an unplugged solo performance.
“Bees” has been described by the band as the song that has been kindest to them and has opened many a door. The beautiful rendition brought the already attentive packed house to a complete standstill. “I once read that I should write something worth reading, or I should do something worth writing about, and as my ears they buzz like bees upon the ceiling, I start to pour a little more than I’m allowed.” To come from 30 minutes of the band at full steam and digging in to this delicate piece at the front of the stage alone was so beautiful. Earley gave a wry smile at the end of the song when he caught a glimpse of so many people mouthing along to the words. Absolute gold.
As the band regrouped the show brought us into new territory with their only political song. “Do Something” is a letter to the man in the White House from all of those effected by the decisions made in the last 11 months. This was followed by their latest release “Only Lonely” which digs into the issues of dealing with depression, anxiety and loneliness. “She knows I have a tendency, I make mountains out of stone, and with that timber burn a hundred fires.” “Only Lonely” will the the first of several single releases over the next few months.
Highlight of the night was “Sea Legs” from their album Deadeye. This is a masterpiece on the record and to hear it live was spine tingling. “A dark night at sea, and no one but me, to hold on to these old sails. Who’s steering this ship, Oh, and where is the rest of it, still homesick for a foreign harbor.” This again features Peter’s on the cello producing sounds that take your imagination to the high seas amongst those swells and unsteadiness. Its a delicate piece that takes you for a trip.
The Harmaleighs joined The Thieves onstage for a wonderful unplugged version of “Bury me smiling” before the band closed the show with the anthem “Anybody Else.” The Ballroom Thieves can be heard across all platforms and their music is available for purchase from their website. “Only Lonely” is the latest single available on Spotify and the band will be back with a Boston show in January as well as more shows announced in the new year. Catch them live, you will not be disappointed!
Article: Anthony Mulcahy