Ok all other bands I’m going to see in concert in 2019, Lake Street Dive has thrown down the gauntlet. You all have a high bar to cross to be as enjoyable as they were.
But allow me to digress for minute because while Lake Street Dive was amazing not everything about the night was, namely the really annoying woman standing in front of me. Apparently Lake Street Dive has a big following among Baby Boomers because there were a lot of older people in the crowd including the couple in front of me who were probably in their mid to late 60s. The woman was already annoying me during the opening act when she kept talking to her husband and taking photos and videos and constantly wooing very loudly. I got to hear about her dream the night before and a running commentary on how many people had liked and commented on her Facebook post. Then she got even more annoying during the set change when she had to talk to every single person standing anywhere near her. If I didn’t know better I would think the Charm City Bluegrass Festival was paying her to promote them because she insisted on telling everyone about it and they needed to go. That is of course in addition to so many other things. I know more about this woman than I know about some of my family members. I know her name, what neighborhood she lives in, that she’s lived in Baltimore City her entire life, that she’s won tickets to the Charm City Bluegrass Festival three years in a row, what she did for New Year’s, that these concert tickets were a Christmas gift from her husband and the drama that went on with him trying to stop her from buying her own tickets and then finally having to tell her he bought them already, that she has a 35 year old daughter and what band played at her wedding, that her daughter is taking her to see Fleetwood Mac and taking her husband to some other concert that I have now since forgotten. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting, but geez lady that is way too much information for me to know about you just because I stood next to you at a concert. She also kept knocking into me all night. I got super excited about halfway through Lake Street Dive’s set when her husband came back with drinks and she said we should leave after we finish these since you have to work in the morning. I was like drink up lady. They did finally start to leave. She was putting her coat on and then Lake Street Dive said we’re going to cover a song by Paul McCartney and I was like NOOOOO, Paul McCartney is like cat nip for Baby Boomers and sure enough she stopped putting on her coat and they stayed for a couple more songs. Then they did finally leave and I got to enjoy the last half hour of the show in peace.
Now on with the show. The opening act was Mikaela Davis. The name didn’t register with me when I looked up who was opening, but once she was out on stage I realized I had seen her before. The harp was a dead giveaway. I don’t know anyone else who plays a harp. The first time I saw her she was opening for Sara Watkins at Rams Head on Stage and she was a solo artist playing the harp. At the time I said she had written some good songs, but that the harp did nothing for me. I guess she decided in order to continue her career as a harpist that did not involve her playing weddings, hotel lobbies, or wherever else harpists actually play music that she was going to need to get an actual band. So this time she did have a backing band. It did help, but for the most part her music is not my thing. At least watching someone play a harp on stage is novel.
Despite the annoying woman and the lackluster opener I still had a great time because Lake Street Dive was fantastic. This was the first time I had seen them headline their own show. I had seen them previously at the Newport Folk Festival and with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as part of the BSO Pulse series. I really enjoyed those shows, but you never get a full sense of a band’s performance when they are squeezed between a million other acts playing 45-60 minutes at a festival. It was nice to finally get to see what they could do under their own auspices.
They are such a fun band. Rachael Price, the lead singer, has this amazing deep, smooth voice and is really dynamic performer. I love their music with its jazz, rock, country, and soul influences. Watching them groove out to it on stage was really enjoyable and of course the whole audience was dancing along as well. They played a good mix of songs from their albums. In addition to the aforementioned Paul McCartney song they also played a couple of other cover songs, which is something I always enjoy at live shows. They added keyboardist Akie Bermiss to the band in 2017, and he sang a very groovy 70’s funk version of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One”. It took me forever to figure out what song it was because of the different genre take on it. I was standing there singing along with the lyrics and think what song is this? It finally came to me. I was wondering what song they were going to end the show with since they had already sang all their big hits by the time their encore came around. It turns out it was with a cover of the song “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I cannot think of a more perfect song for them to cover nor a more perfect band to cover that song. It’s like they were made for each other. It was such a super fun way to end the evening with everyone dancing and singing along. It was a banner way to kick off my 2019 concert season. I hope every show I go to this year is as much fun.