Lake Street Dive at Cannery Ballroom (Nashville, Tenn. – October 25, 2014)
Lake Street Dive. After all the raving reviews, let’s see what you got.
With “Eye of the Tiger” setting the evening’s tone at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville, drummer Mike Calabrese was first on stage to lay down a groove. Bassist Bridget Kearney, followed by guitarist Mike “McDuck” Olson, joined in before singer Rachael Price sashayed on out and got the blue-eyed soul train rolling. With her powerful voice and her hands on her hips, Price treated the crowd to songs like “Rabid Animal,” “What About Me,” and “Clear a Space” right off the bat. On the plucky, bass-driven latter tune, Olson cut loose on the trumpet as Calabrese worked the tambourine and hi-hat, simultaneously, with one hand.
Indeed, throughout this first night of their last tour of the year, Calabrese worked hard… sometimes too hard. His unexpected rhythms are impressive and exciting. No argument there. But, at times, it was all a bit too much. Less can very often be more, as evidenced when the foursome gathered around a single mic to perform a new song. Once some tuning issues (vocal and instrumental) smoothed out, the piece really soared… because it had room to fly, untethered by busy bass runs, frenetic drum fills, and too-heavy harmonies.
Other highlights of the evening were “Bad Self-Portraits,” “Use Me Up,” and “You Go Down Smooth.” Each of those melodies allow LSD’s retro vibe to really shine. Those numbers didn’t feel like several songs crammed into one, as on a few of their other selections. (Yeah, you, “Seventeen.”) For the encore, LSD joined forces with opening band the Congress for a rousing rendition of the Eagles’ “Take It to the Limit,” a song the band listens to every night as they drive out of a tour stop. The piece allowed Price to really wail as she and Jonathan Meadows traded vocal licks on the coda.
To be sure, Price has the charismatic lead singer bit down pat, hair whips and all. And the band members are all incredibly talented — their technical proficiency is apparent to anyone within hearing distance. But where Lake Street Dive, as a whole, falls short is in the coming together. Something just doesn’t mesh … though the packed and pleased house at Cannery Ballroom begged to differ.