Jazz band sells out Higher Ground

Defying all genres, Lake Street Dive traversed soulful, jazzy ballads to rock and roll-country-pop tunes that brought the crowd off of their feet and into the air.

Jaw-dropping vocals, tight musical interplay and uplifting enthusiasm from the audience set the scene of Lake Street Dive’s sold out show at Higher Ground Sept. 1.

“This is a horror rock band,” drummer Mike Calabrese said, pointing to the vampire looking heads on his black t-shirt.

“And they suck,” he said. “This is what happens when you forget laundry day.”

Interludes of dialogue and jokes were prevalent between songs as the band provided an all-encompassing performance, delivering not only music, but wit, dialogue and an entrancing stage presence.

There are only four members, singer Rachael Price, guitarist and trumpeter Mike Olson, upright bassist Bridget Kearney and drummer Mike Calabrese.

Despite the small size of their group they still deliver the sound of a band twice their size.

Each musician, all former students at the New England Conservatory of Music, not only exercised their mastery of hand held instruments, but also their voice.

The harmonies were exceptional, providing extraordinary depth to the songs.

Although the band’s newest album, “Bad Self Portraits”, is phenomenal, it does not do the live Lake Street Dive justice.

The combination of band chemistry, charisma and Price’s tantalizing features and mannerisms place the experience on another level.

“The band had a great on stage presence,” said senior Russell Hanson.

“What really stuck out to me was that- and I think it’s rare nowadays- Rachael Price’s voice sounded a lot better in person than on recordings,” he said.

“Her voice is still very impressive on recordings, but live it’s just that much better.”

During the ballad “Just Ask”, people of all ages stood captivated by Price’s seemingly effortless ability to throw spine-tingling notes into the air.

The audience was remarkable.

When a band goes into a breakdown, a particular section of a song, or the crowd gets excited, hand clapping occurs.

Most of the time it is on the first, second, third or fourth beat.

The Lake Street Dive audience instead managed to create a syncopated clapping rhythm that, for a brief moment, placed the audience onstage, as part of the performance.

It is hard to come by a receptive and close-listening crowd.

Oftentimes, crowds believe that a low volume song is an invitation to speak to one another.

Not at this show.

Captivated by impeccable musicians, people gazed at the stage with smiles, both musician and listener basking in a reciprocity of joy.

Before the show started, a few audience members who saw the band in the past spoke skeptically about whether they were going to hear new songs.

Fans acknowledged that Lake Street Dive has only three albums, and therefore has a limited number of songs to vary their set list with.

Their first album was released in 2011 and is called “Lake Street Dive.”

Their following album is titled, “Fun Machine” and was released in 2012

The group’s most recent album came out in 2014 and is titled “Bad Self Portraits.”

The crowd’s skepticism quickly diminished as Lake Street Dive brought to the stage several new numbers.

One of these was only the second time ever being performed for an audience.

They were instantly hits as the crowd jumped in excitement.

“I’ve seen the band three times- twice last year,” said senior Tobias Howe.

“The first two times it seemed like they came out and played their set like the studio version, whereas this time they took their songs and expanded upon them,” he said.

“They added rifts and put a new spin to everything. It was more than just listening to their album,” Howe said.

“Songs change when we start to play them for people. That determines the stylistic direction more than anything else,” he said.

“When we record a song, that’s just a snapshot of where it was at that moment. And it continues to grow as we perform it,” said Mike Olsen according to  the Lake Street Dive biography page on their website.

Lake Street Dive has been playing together since 2004, according to their biography.

“The band was hand picked by Minneapolis trumpet/guitar player Mike Olson and named after an actual neighborhood of seedy bars in his hometown,” according to their biography.

As the lights turned on, after an encore of Michael Jackson’s “I Want You Back” and original “You Go Down Smooth”, signaling the end of the show, the crowd faded out chanting “one more song”.

Many stuck around and continued the dance party as Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ “[I’ve Had]The Time of My Life” blasted from the after-show playlist.