Concert Preview: The Ballroom Thieves

by Ben Rodgers

One could see a band that consisted of guitar, cello, and a simple percussion set-up and think to turn the other way. When it comes to a band like The Ballroom Thieves, that would be the wrong thing do.

This Boston-based trio will be gracing Simpson’s campus on Friday, Feb. 28, bringing a sound of their own that can drive a crowd and afterward have them begging for more.


Guitarist and lead singer Martin Early and percussionist Devin Mauch have been playing music since they met in college. However, the newest incarnation of the band with cellist Calin Peters has only been together for six months.


The one loaded question that can be asked about The Ballroom Thieves is: what is the genre? Critics and reviewers have described them as rock disguised by folk, and percussionist Devin Mauch tends to agree.


“The genre title for the band has definitely evolved over the last year or so,” said Mauch in an interview with The Simpsonian. “I think we’re moving from a more folky sound into more of a common rock sound.”


“A lot of that is based around our instrumentation. It’s definitely more of a traditional folk set-up,” Mauch said. “I think it’s tough to describe it without using the word rock, folk or indie, but it’s some kind of combo. It’s just how you like to tie it together.”


With folk music on the rise in popular music and culture thanks to bands like Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers and The Lumineers, The Ballroom Thieves have enjoyed being a part of the folk rebirth.


“It’s been cool for us. It definitely works,” Mauch said. “People have opened up to it again and they’re ready for a new development of that sound, and it works well professionally for us.”


While the Thieves enjoy this feeling, they also want to be seen in a different light than these other bands.


“Looking back a year ago, I think we were having a tough time breaking a mold in people’s mind,” Mauch said. “People will say, ‘Yeah I like your sound. It sounds like Mumford and Sons,’ and to us, yeah, there is a relationship, but we like to do our own thing. I think we feel better about that now, and more confident in that separation while still having the up-most respect for those bands that have had that impact.”


Many of the venues on the Thieves tour are smaller colleges like Simpson.


“We haven’t played a whole lot in Iowa, so if we came to play a club show in the town that Simpson is instead of the college, there’s not necessarily going to a be a bouncing crowd,” Mauch said. “When we

play these colleges, the school always works really hard to get students out and to come to the shows.”


“For us it’s great because we come and we get to meet some really cool students that are into music, the arts and just want to hang out.”


At the end of the show when the trio hangs up their instruments, Mauch says he and the other members always hope the crowd has left with an enlightening experience.


“I think the biggest hope that we have for anyone that comes to our shows is that they come and enjoy themselves, and they can find something to relate to whether it be in the lyrics, the music or even us as people.”


The Ballroom Thieves will be performing at Simpson College in the Principal Black Box Theater at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28.