The summer before my sophomore year of college, I happened upon Lake Street Dive's cover of "Rich Girl" by Hall & Oates. This funky twist on a classic propelled me to venture farther down the YouTube rabbit hole in search of more. I found the band's title song for their newest record, "Side Pony." I'd never heard anything like it: a soul, modern pop rock take on a vintage sound. Between Rachael Price's soulful vocals, Bridget Kearney's badass bass solos, Mike Olson's bluesy trumpet tunes and Mike Calabrese's powerful drum rhythms, I knew I'd found something special.
That summer, I spent much of my time singing Lake Street Dive hits at all hours of the day, much to my family's annoyance. When I found out that they were coming to Kansas City to play, I knew I had to go. I tried to find someone who had as much interest in this hidden gem as I did to go with me, but no one I knew had heard of them. I ended up dragging my mom to the show. After witnessing one of most impressive live shows I'd ever seen, I was surprised that very few people stayed to check out the merch and meet the band members. I was one of only two people who stayed afterwards to get a picture with them.
Fast forward to 2018 when Lake Street Dive came to St. Louis as part of their "Free Yourself Up" tour. This time, I traveled with a couple of friends to see the concert. I considered the venture a success, given that my friends were just beginning their exciting fan journey with my favorite band. I'd worked tirelessly to ensure that Lake Street Dive was becoming a household name, by sporting my concert t-shirt around campus, and recommending them to any living, breathing human in sight. After the marvelous show, we waited in a line that snaked through the lobby to a separate room to get our merch signed. Photo ops where not even an option, due to the amount of fans and time restrictions.
This past summer, they just so happened to stop in Springfield, to add a smaller venue to their tour. That week in particular had been especially hard; I'd been coping with a family emergency. There were no words. To be able to sing along to my favorite songs with my favorite band in a room filled with a sense of celebration and community at time when hope seemed to be lost was invaluable. It was incredibly healing to connect with a band whose sound felt like home, and whose lead singer's vocals I'd learned to emulate, in such a difficult time.
Prior to the concert in Springfield, my friends and I began participating in local open mic nights. We especially enjoyed performing Lake Street Dive covers. Expressing myself through their music helped me find a new sense of confidence and identity, as I dipped my toes into a new experience. I'd always dreamed of getting the chance to perform their songs and being able to share their music with potential new fans of their work. On the day of the concert, we shared a video of us performing a cover of "Saving All My Sinning." Because of this band, I'd learned a lot about what kind of music I might want to make in the future, and the kind of precise dedication it takes to get there.
For me, Lake Street Dive is the kind of band I could get a tattoo of and never regret it. I don't plan on taking a break from being continuously impressed with them anytime soon.Their unique sound and taste continues to inform the music I gravitate towards and continue to explore. I am most definitely checking to see if they're coming to a city near me any time soon right this very moment. Check out their work below. You won't be disappointed.
"To be fearless is not only "Let's try something new," but it's also "Let's give into temptation a little bit." -Mike Olson of Lake Street Dive in a CPR Inside Track podcast interview by Alisha Sweeney.