Lake Street Dive Live Review at Magnolia Festival | Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak FL | October 15, 2015

by • October 24, 2015

Lake Street Dive takes the gorgeous Amphitheatre Stage at Magnolia Festival (Mag Fest) while folks trickle over from Nikki Talley’s beautiful, sensible Americana playing on the Porch Stage. Right in front of us a couple embraces, lips nearly touching, dancing an unspoken waltz. Then, she is gone. As if perhaps that was it. Just two strangers briefly united by Lake Street Dive. That encounter speaks volumes about the night.

Even casual fans of Lake Street Dive are hip to the second song of the set, “Bad Self Portraits.” The scene is an instant classic. By now, the crowd has swollen to the outer reaches of the Amphitheatre. Lead singer Rachael Price wears high-waisted army green pants with dueling pleats on either leg. A black, low cut tank top. Sexy enough she could hang her hat on her visage if she wanted. But, Rachael Price and Lake Street Dive are not to be confused with someone trying to sell cheap sex. Her vocals and presence are the true object to be desired.

As is the funky bass, trumpet breakdown that finds all four band members harmonizing in perfect sync during “Clear a Space,” a tune that finds the narrator just wanting to do whatever is necessary to make life easy on her lover.

Lake Street Dive makes four people sound like eight. That takes chemistry. Practice, sure, but also something more ethereal. Price announces the writer of most songs in the set, and then makes each her own. Each tune, whether professing thanksgiving for the fact that “these men don’t know each other,” or confessing that “I don’t care about you,” each lyric seems to come from a place of knowing. The former, a song about playing the field, the latter, a cathartic breakup tune that necessitates a sense of knowing to avoid sounding trite.

“Use Me Up” provides another opportunity to showcase expert harmony, all four crowded around the front mic like a cool barbershop quartet. It leads naturally into “Wedding Band” and “Bobby Tanqueray,” which demonstrates both the band’s dexterity and its diverse following. Two twenty-somethings pressed up against the barricade, grins an acre wide, belting every lyric treated to a bridge of Van Halen’s “Jump,” before coming back around to Bobby T.

The set could not get any better. Everything is perfectly orchestrated, yet authentically delivered. Trained musicians who sound, even on new songs, like they have been playing together for forty years. And then it does just that. Lake Street Dive somehow takes the show to the next level with “Just Ask.”

“I’ll do anything for you/all you’ve gotta do is ask.” Drummer and some time vocalist Mike Calabrese, with Rainbow sandals cast aside so that he is playing barefoot as Price showcases her classic pipes. He and the rest of the band are working their asses off, but it all feels less like work than a really well planned party. 🙂

Everyone involved is now grinning blissfully as the band leaves the stage after “You Go Down Smooth.” Thankfully, they are not gone for long, and Rachael Price returns to the stage, her excitement at the recognition that most everyone in the crowd knows, and is ready to sing along with, “Rich Girl,” betrayed by a half stuck-out tongue lightly gripped between her front teeth. Calabrese is taken as well, completely lost in Price’s impassioned solo, tambourine in one hand, drumstick in the other. He fumbles the stick, raises his eyebrows almost imperceptibly as it rattles along the drum head, threatening to fall off and hit the ground. Fortunately, buzz kill is avoided as he catches the baton just before it could take the plunge, never missing a beat.

Lake Street Dive is a band on top of their game. With an excellent new record, and the kind of incredible live show that is not to be missed, their prospects are limitless. Their set illustrates the magic of Suwannee. So do the rest of the stories from the weekend. Stay tuned to Shows I Go for more stories from an incredible festival — This Frontier Needs Heroes, Grits and Soul, Cedell Davis, and a group of rowdy campers who welcomed this writer on their search for a fictional jam session deep in the heart of the woods are all on the way. Now we turn our attention to re-acclimating to society, where live music is not playing all day, and strangers are not embracing you on the regular.

Lake Street Dive Live Review by Jason Earle.

Photographs by Carl Pemberton of Moon Door Entertainment’s Pemberton Photography.

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