Understated and underrated. That’s a good description of Lake Street Dive’s return to Red Butte on Monday night. After a sell-out crowd last year, they didn’t reach maximum capacity this year—perhaps they were overshadowed by the hype surrounding the solar eclipse.
Frankly, it would take a celestial phenomenon to make you overlook the talent of this group.
Despite the impressive musicianship of all four members, Lake Street Dive puts on a modest performance. They’re not showing off, but they could if they wanted to. The quartet—made up of lead singer Rachael Price, trumpet-guitarist Mike ‘McDuck’ Olson, upright bassist Bridget Kearney and drummer Mike Calabrese—met in 2004 while attending the New England Conservatory of Music. So, basically, four over-achieving musical prodigies got together and formed a band.
The hypnotizing but effortless voice of Price is an obvious strength for the band. Her pipes are as powerful as Florence Welsh or Janis Joplin, with a style that sort of fluctuates between the two. Florence and Janis are the stars of their bands but Price is happy to step out of the spotlight, which she literally did during “Hello, Goodbye” as Olson delivered a superb sax solo.
Lake Street Dive seems to let their music do the talking. There isn’t a ton of chatter in between songs, despite giving each other some well-deserved credit. The band had already made it through five songs before Price even mentioned the partial solar eclipse that had Salt Lake under its spell earlier in the day. She used the opportunity to praise Salt Lake, saying from the band’s viewpoint on a ridge, “the views of the city were as magnificent as the eclipse.”
Cheesy? Maybe. But also endearing.
The group’s harmonies are perfect and that’s probably because they’ve been singing together for more than a decade. But you get the sense they really are good friends. For instance, Price prefaced “Neighbor’s Song,” by saying she used to live downstairs from “McDuck,” so, naturally the crowd giggled when Price belted out the first line, “I can hear my neighbors making love upstairs”.
A highlight was when the band turned into a barbershop quartet to cover George Michael’s “Faith.” Another crowd pleaser was when Bridget Kearney broke into a solo following “How Good it Feels.” There’s no doubt that she’s the boss of the big ol’ upright bass she plays.
Lake Street Dive let the music speak for itself Monday night. There was no mention of politics or negativity—that’s hard to avoid this day and age. Similar to the solar eclipse that could have stolen their spotlight, Lake Street Dive puts on a show that leaves the audience mesmerized. It’s a time to forget about what’s wrong and remember what feels so right about listening to musicians who have truly mastered their craft.