It seems like every year -- if not every month -- an artist or group appears out of thin air to completely absorb the consciousness of devout and casual music fans alike. You know who I'm referring to... the proverbial buzz band. I'm talking about the Alabama Shakes, Foster the Peoples, Gotyes and MGMTs of the musical universe.
I tend to have mixed emotions about these sorts of acts. On the one hand, there's no denying their talent (for the most part). On the other, it's tough to ignore the fact that there exists a plethora of "under-the-radar" groups, with just as much talent, that simply haven't been as fortunate with the lucky breaks. The optimist on one shoulder whispers, "buzz bands make their own luck;" the pessimist on the other screams, "pop culture cannot be trusted."
On Friday, March 14, Bay Area residents will have the opportunity to check out a bona fide candidate for 2014's buzziest band, live and in person. Lake Street Dive will be gracing the stage of Great American Music Hall and showing us what, exactly, is up with all the hype.
Lake Street Dive owes its existence to the members' mutual enrollment in Boston's New England Conservatory. Upon first listen, it's easy to pick out the free form jazz talent present in this musical congregation; however, it's a little more difficult to place a finger on the band's identity. Along with jazz, the listener will hear the influence of country, pop, soul, R&B and rock.
What is not difficult to discern, though, is that vocalist Rachael Price's presence (much like Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes) is the driving force behind this meteoric rise. From the viral YouTube video of the band's cover of the Jackson 5 classic "I Want You Back," to their invite from T Bone Burnett to take part in the Showtime special Another Day, Another Time, all the way up to Price's appearance in season two of Netflix's House of Cards, her dynamic and exquisite voice has stolen the spotlight.
I don't mean for these comments to downgrade the talent and importance of the rest of Lake Street Dive (consisting of guitarist Mike Olson, bassist Bridget Kearney and drummer Mike Calabrese). If anything, I'm looking forward to the vocal harmonies and instrumental portion of Friday's show the most. We already know what Price can do; now we get the chance to appreciate the improv talents that brought these musicians together in the first place.
The new album, Bad Self Portraits, gets down to business more so than the band's previous releases. Lake Street Dive seems to be finding their groove in driving pop sensibilities mixed with classic ability -- a bold sound that will fit quite nicely in the boldly Baroque setting of Great American Music Hall.
Lake Street Dive performs Friday, March 14, at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. For tickets and information visit slimspresents.com.