Effervescent locals support their folk-rock hometown heroes, The Ballroom Thieves, during their tenth performance at the Sinclair.
12/10/22 – The Sinclair
Stepping into the Sinclair on Saturday night, I noticed just how much Boston’s music scene blossoms from local venues that so organically provide a stepping stone for growing artists. Tucked away in a side street of Harvard Square, “The Ballroom Thieves” glimmered proudly from the marquee as fans lined up along the Sinclair’s unmistakable stoop. Saturday night not only marked the tenth birthday of this renowned club, but also the tenth time the Ballroom Thieves, a Boston-bred band, performed in the space.
Band leaders Martin Earley and Cailin Peters shared their gratitude during their encore set by presenting an enormous cake in honor of the Sinclair’s birthday, graciously offering up slices at their merch table after the show. It was touching to see a now internationally acclaimed act pay homage to the hometown venue that was so formative to their growth.
Throughout the night, nostalgia defined the band’s interactions with the audience, as they continuously expressed how nice it felt to be home. “Boston gets it!”, Martin declared as the crowd urged them on with hoots and hollers. It was hard to miss the pride, joy, and passion seeping from the smiles of the duo as they reveled in the snug familiarity of Boston charm.
Musically speaking, the band was just on. They performed a number of tracks off their most recent album, “Clouds.” For many fans, this was the first opportunity to hear these new songs in the flesh. The rapport between the performers and audience generated an effervescence that elevated the life of the music, manifesting an authenticity that a studio recording simply can’t accomplish.
In the spirit of their dynamic musical dispositions, the Ballroom Thieves transcended as many genres in their setlist as there were songs. On one end of the spectrum is “Fistfight,” featuring double electric guitars on a heavy pentatonic riff and a soulful vocal delivery. On the other end was a cover of “Blues Run the Game” by Jackson C. Frank, where every instrument ditched the stage, save for an acoustic guitar, and Earley and Peters’ interlocking harmonies twirled together like rising smoke. Peters frequently swapped her electric bass guitar for a standing cello, which occasioned an ethereal low texture during their more airy, folksy songs.
Two new faces have joined the group for this year’s batch of shows, John Henry Nolan IV on keys and guitar and Kevin O’Connell on drums. Together, they held down the grooves while flavoring the stage banter with their own quirky swagger.
While the band jumped on every opportunity to enchant their local fans, they also enacted quite a charming interplay with one another. The choreography between Earley and Peters, who got married earlier this year, unabashedly nodded to the love that has so clearly influenced much of their songwriting. They relished in the romanticism of the performance, playing up their charismatic synergy before an enamored crowd. Playing in their old stomping grounds while still basking in the resumption of live shows after the pandemic, no wonder there was such an authentic quality to the performance! Being in love is just the icing on the cake.
While us Boston residents stick out the Northeast winter, the band will be playing a batch of shows on the west coast starting in February. Fortunately, the Ballroom Thieves always know just where home really is. May we proudly watch their roots spread out from the shores of Massachusetts and always look forward to their next homecoming.