By Robert Goldberg | April 8, 2024
📸: shot by Jill Boyatsis
🎨: artwork by Nat Greene

In a musician’s world, years of different genre iterations make originality difficult to achieve, but through authentic self-expression, embracing imperfections, exploring diverse influences, and experimentation, artists come alive and bring brand new styles and spirit to songs. This is exactly what Kitchen Dwellers brought to Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday night as they continued their North American Tour to promote their new album, Seven Devils. The EP toggles between the current human experience and the trajectory of self-realization, acceptance, and accountability found within the story of Dante’s Inferno, making for some enlightening interpretation and incredible live performances. As the band continues to push the boundaries of creativity, we were eager to find out if they would also be able to bring that fiery disposition of bluegrass jam, and they did not disappoint. 

To warm things up, Yam Yam took the stage and had us wiggling with the sounds of a runaway funk train fueled by a bit of New Orleans jazz and gospel soul. The quintet woke up the crowd quicker than a bolt of lightning and created that spark of audience energy that would be needed to carry Kitchen Dwellers through the night. The ensemble entered the spotlight, casting shadows that danced with anticipation as they prepared to unveil their symphonic narrative. With a pluck of his Banjo, Torrin Daniels ignited the show with “Wind Bitten,” immediately diving into their new EP. Shawn Swain (mandolin) and Mike Davies (acoustic guitar) led dueling melodies while Torin guided their playing through vocal twists and turns like a river meandering through the countryside. Next, the boys explored “Broken Cage,” where we began to discover that experimentation and self-expression through dynamic beat progressions and encapsulating lyrics:

“One big white light going off in my head
And I start wondering if it’s something different now and then
Living forty-two life times alone in my head
Am I drowning in this sorrow, or maybe I am dead”

The Dwellers proceeded to go on an absolute honky-tonk rampage. With lightning-fast fingers and synchronized precision, they segued from “White Water” by Bela Fleck into “Bloody Mary Morning” by Willie Nelson. This is the type of playing you only get from well-seasoned professionals–the melodies were incredibly fast in these two tunes and took immense string stamina. Needless to say, they had us out of breath trying to dance to this while fellow groover and artist, Nat Greene, claimed it was “definitely speedgrass.” Other notable first set tracks included their original and crowd favorite “Muir Maid,” and afterwards a sit in from Kellen Asebroek of Fruition. Kellen blessed us with piano and vocals for “The Meaning” by Fruition and “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” by Elton John, which had us all singing along.

After a first set filled with covers and tasty bluegrass jams, our mouths were watering for more. Max led the next tune with upbeat guitar riffs and angelic vocals on their original “Phaedrus,” which went right into an incredibly lyrically heartfelt tune, “Their Names are the Trees”:

Fire overtook the mountain
And came racing down our side
Best make best with wherever you’ll rest
We might not make it out alive

Ohh it’s all gone now
And some folks are just memories
And now the cinder has all burned out
And their names are the trees”

And of course, the music never stopped as the speedgrasskateers dove right into our high energy favorite of the night, “E.M.D.” or, “Eat My Dust” by David Grisman. The title doesn’t do the song justice as Shawn, Mike, and Torin duked out incredibly complex solos with Joe Funk (upright bass) absolutely holding it down until the music hypnotized Brooklyn Bowl into what can only be described as a sonic black hole. This ethereal sound emanation quickly turned into a raging and intense harmonization of string with “Sundown,” where thereafter the band finally took a pause. At this point, we were happy their hands didn’t fall off their arms.

After a quick break and a thank you to all their fans for making it out, Kitchen Dwellers busted out a few of the main tracks from their new album. This included “The Crow and the Raven,” “Prelude,” and a jaw-dropping, 13 minute long “Seven Devils,” which contained by far the most galaxy grass/synth influence and largest build up jam of the night. To end the second set, they played their original song “The Living Dread” and teased “Jumpin’, Jumpin’” by Destiny’s Child.  

With the crowd going absolutely nuts, Kitchen Dwellers came back on stage after the second set for a two song encore. They played “Driftwood” from their Album Muir Maid and ended the night with a cover of “New Country Blues” by Emmitt-Nershi Band, an absolute knee slapper of a track that had us running right back to the farm. Check out Kitchen Dwellers as they continue their North American Tour, we HIGHLY recommend!

Connect with Kitchen Dwellers on Instagram, Spotify, and their website.

📸: shot by Jill Boyatsis
🎨: artwork by Nat Greene

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