Photography by Sam Wachs
By Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator
Artist: Lake Street Dive
When: Sunday, June 12th
For a band with as much raw talent as Lake Street Dive, it's unsurprising how swiftly they spread beyond their beginnings in the Boston Music Scene.
Circa the early 2000s, the group of four New England Conservatory of Music students put on some of their earliest shows at the Lizard Lounge and the Toad. The iconic local clubs were where Rachael Price likely first turned heads, filling the space with her stunning vocals. Where Bridget Kearney’s upright bass stood, blessing the floors. And where crowds began circulating the name “Lake Street Dive” to friends and neighbors.
Taking the stage at Roadrunner, a 3,500-person capacity space, for the second night in a row on Sunday night, the band wasn’t ashamed to acknowledge these spots where it all started.
A little more than midway through their extensive 21-song set, Rachael Price reflected, “We couldn’t have gotten here without those small places.” She fondly called the Toad and the Lizard Lounge the places where the band “learned how to play music,” and “learned how to entertain.”
From the bubbly atmosphere that spread throughout the venue from the show’s start, it was clear that the homecoming was as sweet for the band as it was for the audience.
A "SMOOTH" START
Lake Street Dive stepped onto the stage and immediately jumped into the groovy single “Know That I Know.” Price was smiling and dancing from the start. Her curled blonde hair tossed through the air on especially strong sways and twists.
From a groovy solo on the keys from Akie Bermiss to vocal notes that would leave the average singer breathless to the outstanding performances from Mike Calabrese on drums, Bridget Kearney on bass and James Cornelison on guitar, the song had an entrancing quality — one that only continued to bloom throughout the night.
Once the song winded down with its twinkly-sounding ending, Price commented, “this is my favorite part of shows, the beginning.”
“Anything can happen,” she went on, referencing changes from the previous night’s setlist that were in store. Her words bled seamlessly into the start “Hypotheticals.” The almost-murmured mellow beginning lines went, “Obviously, we're at the beginning of something. I don't expect you to know how it's gonna go. But I believe we might be onto something. And I just thought maybe you should know.” The instrumentation and vocals then came bursting to life, the catchy chorus coming in hot.
VARIETY IN THE SET
The setlist continued to transition ever-so-smoothly from song to song throughout the night. Most came from their latest album Obviously. Others reached as far back in their discography as their 2010 self-titled debut album.
Nothing makes me more nostalgic for living in Boston than this next one,” Price added before playing one of their oldest tracks, “Got Me Fooled.”
The night also saw two covers from the band, which they shared will be part of an upcoming EP of all covers. Lake Street Dive was joined by opener Devon Gilfillian for their take on Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time.” And they made “Anyone Who Had a Heart” by Burth Bacharach and popularized by Cilla Black and Dionne Warwick their own.
LYRICS AND FEELINGS THAT RESONATED
Something about Lake Street Dive lyrics hit especially close to the heart. Maybe it’s the passionate, soulful, sometimes sassy way Rachael Price and Akie Bermiss sing them. Or maybe it’s because they speak to so many different life experiences and emotions. Sunday’s concert set made sure that the variety of their lyricism was well-represented.
At one point Bermiss performed “Alone Again,” a song he co-wrote with Greg Mayo that was comically relatable to the happy singles of the room. Later, “Bad Self Portraits” and “Good Kisser,” crowd-favorites from previous albums, reached those familiar with heartbreak. “Being a Woman,” “Hush Money” and “Same Old News” spoke powerfully to particular struggles and politics. The sweet feelings of being in love were brought out with “Red Light Kisses.” And “You Are Free” and “Nobody’s Stopping You Now” towards the end built an atmosphere of self-empowerment.
Even on tracks that weren’t all that relatable, the way the performance brought the feelings to life meant the crowd was enthusiastically singing along for all of it.
A NIGHT THAT CONCERTGOERS WILL LONG HOLD CLOSE
When it came time for an encore, the band didn’t leave the crowd waiting for long. They returned to the stage in under a minute and jumped into performing the catchy “Smooth,” with supporting vocals from the crowd, of course. And to close, “You’re My Speed,” a softer track that finished the night on an endearing note.
Concertgoers making the slow shuffle out of Roadrunner didn’t seem to mind the traffic as they buzzed about how much they enjoyed the show. But the anecdote that perhaps best encapsulates how well-loved Lake Street Dive’s performance was to spectators comes from about a block down Guest Street, away from the venue. A woman who had clearly just come from the concert vocalized the ear-worm that was likely on repeat in many minds, letting out a loud and jazzy “Tell ‘em I’m a good kisser!”