Brooklyn indie pop quartet Lake Street Dive performed at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Friday, November 6. The band arrived in town on tour while prepping for next year’s release of the follow-up to 2014 album Bad Self Portraits.
Lead vocalist Rachael Price’s big, Winehouse-esque voice first appeared to dominate the show, but the concert revealed how all four members are virtuosic musicians and friends with a playful onstage rapport and the ability to cordially share the spotlight. Mike “McDuck” Olson doubles as a guitarist and trumpeter, and he’s so skilled in both it’s impossible to tell which is his forte. Bridget Kearney, meanwhile, deftly maneuvered along the upright bass’ fingerboard over the course of the night, and drummer Mike Calabrese provided a steady rhythm backdrop with precise stick work.
As for the highlights of the show, the quartet gave us a taste of several new tracks that will most likely appear on the new album: “What A Spectacular Thing,” “I Rock the Side Pony” (a song inspired by McDuck’s affinity for the hairstyle), “I Don’t Care About You,” and “Hell Yeah.” The absolute peak came during “What I’m Doing Here,” when the band grouped up to sing together. They proved their versatility with tasteful covers of Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass,” Van Halen’s “Jump,” and Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl” — a finale that had the whole hall singing along.
If there could be one suggestion for a follow-up Santa Barbara performance, it might be to hold it at a smaller venue with more room to dance (although the folks grooving along the side walls of the interior certainly didn’t seem to mind). The band pulls off such a tight, squeaky-clean performance that you tend to believe their talent is completely inherent and unpracticed, an unfair estimation that overlooks their dedication and hard work.
By show’s end, there’s a certain sense of appreciation that you saw the band play in person as opposed to simply listening to their records. The hard copies, while essential, don’t measure up to their performances, and pen and paper won’t do their sound justice; you quite literally have to see Lake Street Dive live to understand their talent.