Lake Street Dive At The House Of Blues
Cleveland's mainstay, the House of Blues, was filled with a little bit of old fashioned American heart and soul on Wednesday evening. Outfits River Whyless and Lake Street Dive made a tour stop at the Euclid Avenue venue, bringing a bit of Carolina Americana and Boston swagger, respectively, to Cleveland.
Asheville, North Carolina based band, River Whyless started their set with “Born in The Right Country” which is a contemporary touchstone; its message shouldn't be lost on Americans in this "new economy," or whatever they're calling it these days. The tune, perhaps the best of their truncated set, gives the listener a perspective of "others," who may be different from us. They recently released the music video and it’s really powerful, following the life of a teenager trying to figure out his life in these divisive times.
The band members: Halli Anderson, Ryan O’Keefe, Daniel Shearin, and Alex McWalters are all talented songwriters telling their story, as well as yours, because you can find something to relate to in their music.
Halli, the violinist and vocalist, was truly astounding. She sings with Daniel and Ryan to create really beautiful harmonies, as evident in “All Day All Night." The drummer, Alex, created very interesting percussive accents, adding to the folk nature of the songs.
I’m also a sucker for orchestral strings. So every time Halli played the violin, I just fell in love with the sound. It also helps that she mentioned that she’s a Cleveland Browns fan.
Lake Street Dive continued the vibe set by River Whyless. The music opened with flashy lights set to a synthesizer; everyone cheered when frontwoman Rachael Price appeared on stage.
The set was a really diverse mix of music. As the multi-genre band played blue-eyed soul, folk, jazz, and Motown for a kinetic, funky bouillabaisse. “Good Kisser” was a big hit with the audience. That song is just so powerful; the way Rachael’s voice holds these long breathtaking notes is mesmerizing. She loves to dance on stage; flashing a big smile from under those auburn locks, she loves to engage with the audience. She’d point the mic to the fans in call and response, and the fans sang back with a whole lotta heart.
When the time came for a more mellow tune, Rachael went solo for “I Can Change." As Mike “McDuck” Olsen played acoustic guitar to accompany Rachael, the lyrics really hammered home the overall message for tonight: how one’s identity can change so that we love one another, and have empathy in order to care for one another.
Each band member got a unique solo, too. The drummer, Mike Calabrese, sang while drumming on “Seventeen." I’m always blown away by drummers, even more so when they outright get center stage as lead vocalist. It’s not easy but Mike does it so effortlessly.
Akie Bermiss, the new keyboardist, got his own vocal solo as well. He’s wonderfully talented; his talents don't make us miss his predecessor as much as we, perhaps, should.
Mike “McDuck” Olson not only played jazzed up and bluesy guitar solos, but he shines on the horn. His trumpet solo on “Rich Girl” was just too good; the richness of the brass really added a whole other level to the tune.
The beautiful standup bassist, Bridget Kearney, played her instrument with so much energy, passion, and heart. Her bass was also hooked up to some pedals, creating really cool atmospheric timbres and sound effects. She’s got a lovely voice to boot.
At the encore, when Rachael came back to the stage alone, she set this somber, slow, but highly touching song to finish out the night As the piano driven song progressed, the band members joined Rachael, harmonizing for beautiful tender moments. During the encore, the audience sings with Lake Street Dive, with Rachael having the fans sing out loud the chorus by heart. These fans are really cool too, everyone was very kind.
Get Kindness, A Rebel on BandCamp, which directly supports the band! Click here for more info.
Get Lake Street Dive’s new album Free Yourself Up on their online store. While you're there, check out their socks; they're some of the grooviest items ever knitted.
Review and Photos by Kevin Ng