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Concert Review: Lake Street Dive at Royal Oak Music Theatre

For a band that has as many hip-swaying tunes as Lake Street Dive, the crowd at the Royal Oak Music Theatre seemed to be awfully stagnant the whole night. But, unlike other concerts where I have witnessed this, I could totally understand why: we were in a stunned awe at the talent in front of us.

Lake Street Dive have been on a noticeable rise lately, seemingly on a rocket ship over the last year or so. Some might say (probably just me) that’s all thanks to getting the Colbert Bump in 2014 when they appeared on his show. They have a classic sound that seems to be perfectly tailored for a Detroit crowd. With an obvious Motown influence, it would be unfair to say they are trying to emulate the R&B soul from Detroit in the 1960’s. They have classical training, interesting writing, youthful enthusiasm and immense talent, so it’s a bit more than just “Motown like.” Lake Street Dive are the perfect hybrid of jazz club warmth with commercial pop appeal – and it’s nearly unbelievable to see in person.

Lake Street Dive

The show started with the four members of Lake Street Dive harmonizing in silhouettes before coming together with a burst of color and sound for their opening song “Godawful Things“. They immediately went into their next song, “I Don’t Care About You“, and started finding a groove that set the tone for the night. Lead singer Rachael Price welcomed us to the “Side Pony album release tour,” before playing a few of the tracks from the new album. She even told us the story behind “Side Pony” as a way of “doing your own thing even though it might be weird.” There wasn’t anything weird about their performance, other than how great it was.

As a rather enjoyable treat, the members of Lake Street Dive gave us a glimpse of their individual talent in the form of an extended solo at different points during the set. Bassist Bridget Kearney was revealed as a songwriter for more than one of the tunes played during the night. Then she gave us a passionate breakdown during a song, culminating by joining drummer, and Charlie Day lookalike, Michael Calabrese (more on his solo in a minute) on his riser to frantically jam for a few minutes. Mike Olsen was able to double dip with his solos, as we were given guitar and trumpet solos. And Rachael Price was on display the whole night with her incredible vocal range. I would compare her to a jazz-singer version of Brittany Howard.

Lake Street Dive
Michael Calabrese going full on “Whiplash”

But, the highlight for me, was the Whiplash-like drum solo by Michael Calabrese. What made it unique was the way he balanced all of the dips and changes by wrapping them all into a single, 5-minute solo. It was a constant flow of changing paces and highlighting different sounds and intensities as the lights focused on him and his talent. It wasn’t anything like the drum solos we are used to at rock shows, rather a constant beat that kept everything going while taking sharp turns from one rhythm to another. It was truly something to behold.

When you have individuals as talented and passionate about what they’re doing as these guys and put them all together, you get something incredible, you get Lake Street Dive. And when you see a group as talented as Lake Street Dive, you forget to dance to the soulful grooves they are playing, you just stand in awe of their brilliance.

We had a chance to interview Lake Street Dive about their upcoming album. CLICK HERE to check it out.

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