Lake Street Dive Turns the Upper East Side Into Their Own Bonfire Sing-a-Long


Steven Pisano

(Courtesy of Feast of Music)

Michael Muth, Contributing Writer

Amid the neon lights of Times Square and a damp city night after a day of chills and rain showers, the intimate Beacon Theatre glowed on Broadway as it welcomed an age demographic that averaged roughly late 30s to early 40s, all clad in various North Face and Patagonia apparel. The theater, which has just under 3,000 seats and is decked out in floor-to-ceiling wall murals and ornate woodwork, acted as a Northern woods escape where the alternative indie band Lake Street Dive led a bonfire powwow for a two-night residency.

The Boston-turned-Brooklyn quintet first washed ashore to the music scene in 2010 with the release of their first self-titled studio album; however, it was not until the release of their 2014 album “Bad Self Portraits” that they were able to get some mainstream alt-rock radio airtime with songs such as “You Go Down Smooth” and the titular track “Bad Self Portraits.” After the band began to find a growing fanbase within skiers, campers and hipsters alike with the commercial success of “Bad Self Portraits,” the band has since released two more full-length albums and is currently on tour promoting their latest effort, “Free Yourself Up.”

The Beacon Theatre stage was kindly warmed up by a soulful opening act by Robert Finley, a 65-year-old blues and soul singer who bares a tender heart and deep love for music. However, the anticipation quickly heightened as the five members of the main act walked to their respective corners of the stage, took to their instruments and immediately embarked on a night to remember — especially for those who have a soft spot for lovely voices and passionate instrumentation. These listeners held a beer in one hand while the other tried to make up dance moves to fit the folk-rock atmosphere.

Lead singer Rachael Price used the theater as a vehicle to rally her band and embark on a sonic trip to a cozier place, and even the chilling anticipation of election night results could not deter from her stellar belts backed by emotion and poise. As fellow bandmates Mike Olson, Bridget Kearney and Mike Calabrese handled their respective instruments to create the accompanying soundscape, keyboardist and new kid on the block Akie Bermiss was given an opportunity to showcase exactly why he was allowed to turn this four-person band into a five-person one. His solo cover of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” became an immediate highlight of the night upon the first chorus, after Bermiss proved his vocal chops and keyboard skills could go hand-in-hand to create the ideal wedding song.

As the setlist started dwindling down to the crowd pleasers and must-plays, the auditorium erupted in a chorus of singing to Lake Street Dive’s hits such as “I Can Change,” “Bad Self Portraits” and “Good Kisser.” And while all of these ballads, bops and bamboozles riled the crowd up, the five band members closed the show with an unforgettable rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that did the legends of Queen justice.

Lake Street Dive has fought their way through the music industry to get to the position they’re in, and thank the powers above they did because just when you think their albums couldn’t get any better, you experience their music live and a whole new respect for these humble, talented musicians is born.

Email Michael Muth at [email protected].