Saturday, March 19, 2016

Concert Review: Lake Street Dive @ Fillmore Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA 03/18/16

To have a successful, long lasting career in the music industry and a loyal fan base you have to be more than just a pretty face and a good voice.  You have to have musicality, talent, chemistry, sincerity, and good lyrics.  It's just a bonus that Lake Street Dive have beautiful faces and killer voices and harmonies.

I learned about Lake Street Dive the old fashioned way.  I discovered them at a record store.  By having a conversation.  With a human.  I was at Randy Now's Man Cave in Bordentown, NJ when I was telling Randy about my recent concert experience with St. Paul & the Broken Bones at Johnny Brenda's in Philly.  Randy hadn't heard of them.  We quickly pulled up YouTube and we watched videos until Randy was a fan.  Randy mentioned they reminded him of Lake Street Dive.  I hadn't heard of them.  We quickly pulled up YouTube and we watched videos until I was a fan. Specifically their cover of "I Want You Back". Thousands of song listens later I find myself covering Lake Street Dive at the Fillmore Philadelphia touring in support of their new album Side Pony.

This was my first concert at the Fillmore Philadelphia.  It is one of a string of Fillmore venues that are opening up across the country run by Live Nation.  This one newly opened in October 2015 and is situated in an old factory in the recently hip Fishtown section of Philadelphia.  I've heard mixed reviews going in referencing the sound system and staff.  I will give you a quick rundown.  Parking was close and cheap.  They did a wonderful job with atmosphere, making a larger venue seem intimate.  It was roomy with ample bar and lobby spaces.  The security were not only professional but friendly.  They were actually interacting with the crowd.  The balcony had seats, the views were good and to top it off the sound system was top notch.  If you are in the area and can see a show here I would highly recommend it.   

I grabbed my credentials and headed to the stage.  I said hello to some familiar, friendly photographers and got ready for the opening act.  The Suffers.  I purposefully did not brush up on them so I had no idea what I had in store.

The Suffers are a 10 piece soul band hailing from Houston Texas and man are they good.   Lead singer, Kam Franklin, channels her inner Sharon Jones and has a voice that booms and belts velvety soul.  Their horn section is talented, the rhythm section is tight, and the percussionists are out of their skulls.  All that aside, they write a damn good song.  Kam addressed the crowd like she was welcoming them into her home.  She told the story of their band.  That they had no intentions of being more than just a local band.  They had full time jobs.  One of the band members was a NASA scientist.  But as their live shows grew so did their fan base.  They received offers to play other towns and soon they were faced with a decision.  Their rise was not a plan but it was a choice.  Record companies did not initially respond, saying that they were just one of many bands with the same sound.  Persistence and talent paid off and here they are now with Billboard calling their debut album one of the "Top 10 Anticipated Rock & Alternative Albums. Kam wanted this to be a lesson to follow your dreams and work hard.  It's nice to see good things happen to the right people.  This is where record companies are out of touch. There are really only a handful of bands in this genre compared to genres like Rap, Pop, or Rock.  Even fewer that do it justice.  Bands and artists like Lake Street Dive, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Allen Stone, The Bamboos, Sharon Jones, Mayer Hawthorne, Raphael Saadiq and Nathaniel Rateliff are just a few that are carrying the torch and their shows have been sold out.  From what I could see of the crowd their fans are the demographic that are spending cash.  


The crowd loved them.  It was obvious they knew their music from WXPN, which is Philly's Public Radio Station.  If you were to listen to their set and close your eyes you could almost imagine that this could be the opening act for Aretha Franklin in her prime.  After their set they went to the merch table to sign autographs. The stage was being prepared for Lake Street Dive.

It was still early when LSD took the stage.  Barely 9:20.  The band was staggered and spaced over the large stage and they came out playing "Godawful Things" which is the opening track from their new album Side Pony.

Lake Street Dive!!!
Posted by My Music, My Concerts, My Life on Friday, March 18, 2016

If you do not know Lake Street Dive, they are a four piece band consisting of lead singer Rachael Price, Bridget Kearney on upright bass, Mike "McDuck" Olsen on guitar and trumpet, and drummer Mike Calabrese.  They are talented musicians and songwriters in their own right with a retro jazzy and soulful sound.  They have a very dedicated fan base.  Even the bearded biker in the front row was wearing a Lake Street Dive truckers hat.

Rachel's voice is strong and sultry and on this particular night she made these vocals seem effortless. I have no doubt that she could sing whatever genre she should choose but this one fits her perfectly,  Her voice was pouring emotion into every note.

After a couple songs she held something in her hand and asked the crowd if they were game.  They screamed and she produced something that she threw into the audience.  She then said, "That is a hair scrunchy.  It used to be a hairstyle.  Now it is a lifestyle.

She invited the horn section from The Suffers to join her on stage for "Spectacular Failure".  It was a real treat hearing LSD being backed by a top notch horn section and the crowd seemed to love it.

By the time they did their stunning cover of Annie Lennox's "Walking on Broken Glass" they were already 11 songs into the set. It was still early and they showed no signs at all of letting up.

Rachael addressed the crowd and explained that Philadelphia was like a second home to them.  Their drummer Mike grew up in Broomall, PA which is a western suburb of Philadelphia.  She said they would crash at his parents house and also used it as a place to practice.  There is no doubt that Philadelphia loves them. Last year they sold out back to back shows at Union Transfer.

It is one thing to appreciate this band on record. But to hear their craft live is a whole new level. The rhythm section is the band.  The guitar, horn, or occasional keyboard just help to accompany it.  The bass and the drum are masterful the way they trade back and forth with the vocals.  

Around song 17 they started to hit their home stretch.  Kam came out to join the band for "Bad Self Portraits".  The crowd was going wild.  The man dancing behind me was going insane!

They followed this stellar performance with "Seventeen" and "Call Off Your Dogs" before they thanked the crowd and headed off stage.  Although they had already played for ninety minutes everyone knew that they would be back out for an encore. That they did.

We were out of our minds when they ended the show with an unbelievable cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody"  It was absolutely incredible.  There were no instruments even needed.  Their voices were their instruments.  Their harmonies were impeccable and without enhancement. 

Twenty one songs and almost two hours.  That is something the average concert goer does not get in a venue this size.  You also don't get the same performance.  Not only was it entertaining it was flawless.  But then again, you don't get that with just a pretty face and a good voice.

See you when the needle drops!


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