Monday, April 7, 2014

Lake Street Dive Sell Out Again

After a fantastic pair of Phil Lesh concerts, we woke up late on Sunday and had another breakfast that couldn't be beat at the El Dorado West, then filled up at the Hess and got on the road for the Northeast at 12:30 or so.  We stopped in Westport and took a short tour of the neighborhood I grew up in.  They've put bay windows on the house but it still looks a lot like it did 45 years ago.

Back in Boston and as tired as we were, we were pretty psyched to go see Lake Street Dive at Royale that evening.  This was going to be their third sold out show in a couple of months in the Boston area, not a bad feat at all for a band.  Shows you how hot they are right now, especially after appearing on Stephen Colbert  and David Letterman a few weeks ago.

Parked at Sarah's building, ate at Jacob Wirth's, and joined the LONG line at Royale about when the doors opened at 7:30.  They wouldn't let Sarah bring in her camera (without confiscating the battery), though their website seemed to indicate it would be ok.  We could have gotten our normal spot on the floor, but we were afraid that our legs, which were toast, wouldn't be happy with standing for a few more hours, and so checked out the upstairs.  Almost all the seats upstairs were taken already, though we managed to get a couple on one of the banquettes in the back.

I was worried that these seats would turn out to be bogus and they did, as soon as a few more people showed up and stood here and there.  Soon we couldn't see a thing and were afraid we wouldn't be able to even hear the band as they were meant to be heard.  And the place was only about half full at that point.

Oh well, finally the opening act came on at 8:45 or so: Ages and Ages.  They're from Portland OR and were really a lot of fun.  They're six pieces and do great pop-rock vocals featuring 4 or 5 person harmony.  They didn't seem like the most comfortable-with-each-other band, though this may have been shredded nerves from a long tour.  They'd been on the road for two months or so, the last month opening for LSD.  Mike Calabrese came out and joined them on drums for their penultimate song, and then Rachael, Bridget, and MikeO came out for the last song, adding to the excellent vocals.

I'd left our dingy banquette in the first number to stand by the soundboard, that was in front of the bar in the center of the balcony.  I saw immediately that there were two standing spots just behind the soundboard and summoned Sarah, and we grabbed those spots.  They had a fantastic view and fantastic sound of course, and we could turn around to suit down on the counter behind the soundboard when we needed to.  We realized that the balcony was not a place for listening to music, it was a place for hanging out in and pretending you were having a great time while the concert you really didn't care that much about happened downstairs.

And besides that it can get incredibly hot in the balcony.  The temperature rose and rose and rose while we sat waiting for LSD and trying not to fall asleep for what seemed like an eternity.  I did take one short trip to the bathroom and noticed that even the urinals were part of the experience: they had a little "Royal" embossed into their chrome fittings (well I assumed it was after the name of the place ... they must have forgotten the "e").

Anyway, Lake Street Dive finally came on at about 10:00, making a dramatic entrance down the side stairs.  Even their beautiful sound could be criticized in that weird, weird place.  The kick drum was miked really high, boomy, and loud and made you feel you were in a disco with a pounding beat rather than listening to one of the most talented bands around.  And they showed some signs of fatigue after a long tour (I think Rachael said this was their 45th date on the tour), not doing much emoting or freelancing.  We could have been listening to the record at times.

But even as much as I complain, they were just great.  Highlights were a new song written by Rachael, a new one from Bridget, and what I think was a new one from MikeC.  All of those were excellent and show they still have miles of upside to come.  MikeO played his trumpet a lot and got some funky, jazzy sounds out of it.  Bridget was as incredible as ever on lead bass and error-less background vocals, and Rachael took the opportunity of having a great hall to fill.  She turned up the pipes and let it all hang out, sounding those perfect, jazzy notes like she was in front of a night-club crowd ... which she was.

They mixed in a few of their well-known songs, like Bad Self Portraits of course, and one of my favorites, Don't Make Me Hold Your Hand.  Sarah and I (and our aching legs) finally couldn't take the heat any more and moved downstairs for a couple of songs.  They did an excellent rendition of Neighbor Song, another of my favorites, and then we took off at about 11:00.

It was a long walk back to Government Center, but we made it and managed to not fall asleep as soon as we sat down in the car.  We drove home safely and crashed there, after a long, long weekend.  But don't feel bad for us!

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