Lake Street Dive impresses at Wooly’s

Front-woman Rachel Price and bass player Bridget Kearney on stage.

Kyle Cravens

With Iowa’s remarkable capitol building looming over, Boston band Lake Street Dive performed to a sold-out crowd at Wooly’s Sunday night. The crowd was swept away by the bands charm and danced the night away through the diverse setlist.

Front-woman Rachel Price was joined on stage by her talented band made up of Bridget Kearney on bass, Mike Calabrese on drums, and Mike “McDuck” Olson on guitar and trumpet. 

Although Lake Street Dive was the main attraction, special guest, and multi-instrumentalist, Joey Dosik warmed up the stage. His entry was met with warm applause but as he opened his mouth to sing his first song acapella, the crowd could do nothing but watch in a stunned silence. His full voice had exceptional vibrato and tone. Even though music did not accompany him initially, the way he sang carried the weight of a full band — quite the impressive way to start a performance.

After the first song his two bandmates, one on bass and another on drums, chimed in, and together they promoted songs off Dosik’s new EP Gamewinner.

The only thing lacking from an otherwise great performance was the way his songs had the same sound. It seemed like every song followed the same melodic formula, which was fine in terms of the big picture but I would have liked to see more of what the three musicians could do. Although his lyrics were heartfelt and often humorous, nothing the band performed wowed the crowd as much as the first acapella song.

As Dosik left the stage, Lake Street Dive busted on stage as spontaneously and fun as the dive bar in Minneapolis they are named after.

“Bad Self Portraits”, the title track off their fourth album was the song they opened with, and it was the perfect opening selection, as the audience was filled with longtime fans of the band, and the album Bad Self Portraits sold well. The lighting fixtures that Wooly’s features set a great backdrop to the band, and complemented the music well to make an immersive experience.

Speaking of immersive qualities, front-woman Rachel Price stole the show with her raspy, record quality vocals, and her beautiful red dress. When the initial stage lights turned on, her beaming grin proved to the audience that they were in for a fun night. She put so much soul into her words, I couldn’t help but believe everything the bands songs conveyed.

“Iowa has always been a great place to come back to”, Price said during the show.

One of the qualities that separates Lake Street Dive from other acts is their bassist, and Iowa native, Bridget Kearney. She plays a standing bass and grooves along to the music with every pluck.

Upon immediate evaluation, she appears to be one of the most talented musicians in her field. Her fingers moved so fast along the huge instrument with such ease.

“I have been playing the bass for 21 years now,” Kearney said after the show.

She was able to show off her ability in the limelight during a bass solo before “When You Were Mine”.

The meat of the band’s setlist featured numerous songs off their newest album Side Pony, which is a play on words for the bands theme of people just living life without fear of embarrassment.

Certainly, the audience got the picture of this theme, as a lot of the attendees used the danceability of Lake Street Dive’s sound to create a memorable Sunday evening. I will say that the bands older tracks were generally more popular than the bands new efforts, but that is to be expected.

One of the most memorable songs of the night was their rendition of George Michaels “Faith”. They stripped down for this song, as drummer Mike Calabrese came to the front of the stage with just a tambourine and Mike “McDuck” Olson proved that he was as well-versed with the trumpet as with the guitar.

Kearney gave some insight into the bands beginnings, saying “We all met while attending New England Conservatory of Music, and after playing in the local areas it just sort of took off.”

As for the origin of the band name, Kearney explained that “Mike was from Minneapolis and the dive bars on one street brought fun to such a big population, that we wanted to convey the same feelings that street gave to our fans, that the idea anyway.”

Wooly’s patrons sang along through the encore performances of “Smooth” and “My Speed” and then it was over. This performance marked the halfway point of the tour and with this much steam it is easy to assume Lake Street Dive will continue to give stellar performances just like Sunday night.