Kevin Rath: Rock and Roll Prodigy or Black Jean-Wearing Poser? (Hint: It’s the first one.)


Heading back into the city after the USA-Argentina match in the Meadowlands (post coming soon), I was lucky enough to catch a live show by musician Kevin Rath at Kenny’s Castaways in NYC’s Greenwich Village. Castaways is a really fun little venue with bars on the first and second floor, a small stage with tables and seating for 30-40 spectators as well as standing viewing room on both floors for around 100-120 others. I arrived around 10:30 and, after telling the bouncer I was there for the show, made it into the venue without having to pay cover… score! Though I had already missed the first song, I felt the need to first grab a quick beer to quench my thirst before heading toward the stage to check out the music. Concert drinking advice: Though the beer menu is typically more limited for bottles than for draughts, I recommend bottles at concerts/shows as they are far less likely to spill as you are inevitable bumped or pushed by the enthusiastic (read: drunk) crowd. By the time I had gathered my beer and knocked back a round of shots with a few friends I had spotted, Rath and his band had begun their third song of the night, “Running Around Me”.

Listen to Great Music and Drink PBRs Until You Can't Feel Feelings

Before I get into the set list, let’s take a look at who’s who on stage:
Kevin Rath – Guitar, Lead vocals
Ben Vail – Drums
Kyle Saulnier – Bass
Rath and Vail are former classmates and friends at Ohio State who, in their sophomore year, formed the band Fourth & Fifth (an homage to the corner of 4th & 5th in Columbus, Ohio as well as the musical chords, fourth and fifth). Ben lives in Columbus while Kevin lives in Brooklyn, NY, so since graduation in 2009, the duo has largely been unable to play together. Kyle Saulnier on the bass was a guest performer for the night but you might see him again at more of Rath’s New York shows.

Rath, Vail and Saulnier

Kevin Rath’s music is a rock/blues fusion that combines the mellow vocal style of an artist like John Mayer [though a bit raspier and “bluesier”] with a catchy rock sound that varies from Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” to Ben Harper’s “She’s Only Happy in the Sun”. Overall, however, his music can be best compared to a band like The Black Keys or a male version of Mr. Airplane Man. (For the record, his influences are listed as Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ray LaMontagne.)

"Oh, Am I Melting Your Face? My Mistake."

On to the show! I managed to slip towards the front of the crowd and had a great view of Rath and company from the side of the stage. Whilst drinking a steady flow of domestic beers and shots of whiskey among friends, I didn’t miss a single song and was rewarded with a long set list showcasing Rath’s range. Kevin played some of my personal favorites such as “London” and the aforementioned “Running Around Me” as well as some brand new tracks titled “Love, Ohio” and “You’re With Me”. He ended on a high note with “Blues Jam”, a fan favorite that showcased some of Rath’s guitar-shredding abilities. If the crowd stuck around for David Kolker’s show (who you can see every other Saturday at Kenny’s), they were also treated to a guest appearance by Rath who, again, had an amazing guitar solo, this time during one of Kolker’s songs.
VIDEO OF KEVIN RATH’S PERFORMANCE:

Kevin Rath performs Untitled (Blues Jam) at Kenny’s Castaways, 3/26/11 from The Bird Superior on Vimeo.

In all, a great New York debut for Kevin Rath, who I personally hope to catch again soon in Greenwich Village and beyond. To hear his music and find out about upcoming shows (I don’t know why you wouldn’t after reading this review), check out the links below!

Kevin Rath Website
Kevin Rath Music
Facebook
Twitter

Set List
Arabian -> Your Mistake
All Over Me Now
Running Around Me
Clean
Love, Ohio*
I Got Mine (Black Keys cover)
Anything You Want
You’re With Me*
One in a Million
The Rain
Use Somebody (Kings of Leon cover)
London
Eleanor
Encore: The Blues Jam
*New Songs
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One response to “Kevin Rath: Rock and Roll Prodigy or Black Jean-Wearing Poser? (Hint: It’s the first one.)

  1. I was at Kev Rath’s Kenny Castaway show. Definitely one of the best shows ever!

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