Lake Street Dive – The Bowery Ballroom – April 1, 2014
I had never heard—or even heard of—Lake Street Dive prior to their appearance at last September’s Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis at Town Hall, when their rousing performance of “You Go Down Smooth” had polite concertgoers stirring in their seats, excitedly whispering to one another. Rachael Price (vocals), Mike Calabrese (drums and vocals), Bridget Kearney (upright bass and vocals) and Mike Olson (guitar and vocals) met while studying jazz at music school in Boston. And while the band, which has since moved to Brooklyn, is certainly jazz-centered, their rock, pop and R&B influences are plainly noticeable. Something else obvious about Lake Street Dive is the considerable buzz behind them since the start of the year (a write-up in Rolling Stone, appearances on the The Colbert Report and Letterman, a Questlove shout-out, Price performing “The Star Spangled Banner” on House of Cards). And then suddenly this band that had been at it for nearly a decade was an overnight success.
Taking the stage last night at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom to the dulcet tones of “What’s New Pussycat,” the quartet launched into “Got Me Fooled,” off their 2010 self-titled album, and then “Stop Your Crying,” from the recently released Bad Self Portraits. “We can’t tell you how happy we are to be at home,” said Price to applause. And while she and her breathtaking vocals and commanding presence (she’d be at home on a Broadway stage) were front and center, each bandmate was given the chance to shine: Kearney’s upright-bass solos gave “Henriette” and “Bobby Tanqueray” a bit of a funky kick, Olson’s impressive trumpet work bolstered a lively, extended “Hello? Goodbye!” and “Neighbor Song,” and Calabrese’s feisty drumming and added vocals on “Seventeen” elicited cheers from most of the women in the room.
While their set, filled with plenty of four-part harmonies, mainly consisted of material from their two full-lengths, Lake Street Dive also played three new songs. About halfway through, Bad Self Portraits producer Sam Kassirer joined in on their breakthrough album’s title track and then stuck around for a few more tunes. They closed the show with the crowd-pleasing “You Go Down Smooth” before returning for a one-song encore, Hall & Oates’s “Rich Girl,” with the audience enthusiastically singing along. For now, Lake Street Dive should continue to soak up the valuable experience of playing night after night on the road because bigger rooms, bigger crowds and bigger things await. —R. Zizmor