Lake Street Dive
Article By Sean Moore/ Photos By: Jennie Walker
There is something about the second show in the same place. Bands pull out all the stops. Something like a grand gesture of gratitude. Or like they have something to prove, to themselves and/or the crowd (some of whom may be returning after the first night). Whatever that something is, Lake Street Dive made Sunday’s night #2 in Portland an incredible party, an unforgettable way to close out the year, the night before New Year’s Eve, but close enough. From the first chords of the opening song, “You Are Free” and as singer Rachael Price unleashed her jazz/old-soul vocals (not to mention her dance moves, at times), the crowd was into it, on their feet, dancing and jumping, singing along to every single word. No one stopped moving or singing along the entire night. There was a party at the State Theatre as the band played songs not just from their latest album, “Free Yourself Up,” but also a collection of crowd-pleasing older hits, accompanied by some great covers (re: Let Me Roll It and Bohemian Rhapsody, as the “surprise” encore). They elected for some crowd participation a mere four songs into their set, when they stretched out “Red Light Kisses” and Price instructed half the crowd to sing back part of the chorus, while drummer Mike Calabrese had the other half of the crowd sing back the other part. Everyone did as they were told and you could tell exactly what kind of night it was going to be.
When you watch ,and listen to Rachael Price, you can't help but recognize that she was born to be a lead singer. It’s a role she is very confident in and enjoys (as she wears a beaming smile on her face for pretty much the entire night); but she is also humble to the adoration of fans. She takes a fearless approach to stretching her vocal range, going from that deep, soulful voice to an outright wail on some stand-alone notes that arouses the crowd, for songs like “You Go Down Smooth” and “Hang On.” Of course, the two songs that perhaps got the biggest crowd reaction were “Bad Self Portrait” and “Good Kisser,” which came towards the end of the night, after drummer Mike Calabrese showcased his talents with an exciting drum solo.
They’ve added a keyboardist, Akie Bermiss, who creates another powerful, deep R&B vocal part to the band (good contrast to Price’s extremely powerful vocals that lead every song), especially when he sang the lead on “You’re Still the One” mid-set, which received an incredible reaction from the crowd.
Because Lake Street Dive has so many songs that demand movement while listening, there is something beautifully subduing when they slow things down with songs like “I Can Change” that really showcase Rachael Price’s voice as she sings to a quiet crowd staring at her under a spotlight. Their cover of “Let Me Roll It” was also another slow-burner/highlight of the night. But, perhaps the most incredible and unbelievable moment of the night came at the very end, as the band returned on stage for an encore and Price begin singing the opening notes to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The crowd was enthralled and sang along just as loud, if not louder, than they’d been singing the entire night, showing no signs of exhaustion.
The night began with an excellent and engaging set from California natives, Dustbowl Revival. They give the vintage American roots, jazz, and swing music they adore a fresh, new sound with their eight-piece orchestra that reminds you of incredible New Orleans Preservation Hall-type bands. Singer Liz Beebe (who has ties to Maine) has one of those sexy, full-throttle voices that plays well mixed in with the trombone, fiddle and band founder/leader Zach Lupetin’s own vocal addition on their playful tunes. They started the night with “Call My Name” which was enough to induce the party atmosphere that never let up, as they breezed through songs “Good Egg” and “Busted,” as well as one of my favorites “Honey, I Love You.” With bands like Dustbowl Revival, you come to expect a highly energized performance and they more than delivered. The crowd instantly loved them and when several band members were given the opportunities to stretch a tune out with a solo, they did not squander that chance. The crowd hooted and hollered during both the trombone and mandolin solos. Perhaps the defining moment of their set came with their last song, an incredibly rousing version of “My Sharona” which they added their own flair as it reached beyond its 1979 inception and became something brand new at the hands of this talented eight-piece band. Something tells me, Lake Street Dive was listening and paying attention to the crowd and knew the party had started.