Last week at the Norva, lead singer Rachael Price took a moment to talk about Lake Street Dive’s new album, “Side Pony,” and give the giddy crowd a concise definition of the term.
It is, of course, a retro hairstyle, sported often onstage by the band’s bass player, Bridget Kearney, but it goes beyond that. Price went on to say that a Side Pony is “anything you do that’s kind of weird and also super cool at the same time,” a thing you do that makes you uniquely ‘you,’ and that sets you apart from the pack. Individuality and creativity, with an air of not giving a flip what the haters gon’ say.
And this, my friends, is why we love Lake Street Dive. A band of rock stars who are, at the same time, intensely relatable and down to earth. A foursome who can play the HELL out of their instruments and sing their asses off, but who are, first, a stage full of friends. Our friends. Who like us just as we are.
My husband, Gabriel Robinson, and I went on a review date for this show, and oddly enough, our opinions were quite similar. In short, Lake Street Dive rocks, and they know how to work a crowd.
Thoughts on the crowd:
Him: The crowd was really there to dance and enjoy the music. No standing still with your arms crossed, or watching the show through your smartphone. Actually the thing that struck me right away was only seeing 2 or 3 phones out recording (until the encore, more on that later).
Her: Holy crap, there were grown men that were getting DOWN and boogie-ing! Its pretty common at the NorVa to see men nodding their heads, or pumping a single fist or jumping up and down, but this crowd was full of dudes who were literally gettin’ their dance on, dancing by themselves even. What a treat. My only issue with this show had to do with the fact that the crowd was a bit on the chatty side.
Him: I liked “Seventeen” a lot for its big stops and time changes. “I Don’t Care About You” was really dynamic. I love how this band dances between soft and loud, minimal and complex. Of course, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover encore was stunning. Who even attempts that live, let alone pulls it off like that?
Her: I loved their sing-along moments! “Clear a Space” has such a seamless groove, and was extra lovable with a hearty room full of folks singing “easy on ya, baby.” “Mistakes” began with a dark stage and a wicked trumpet solo by Mike “McDuck” Olson and remains one of my favorite songs by the band. But gosh, it’s so hard to choose, there were so many fantastic songs during this show!
Who was your favorite person to watch on stage?
Him: As a percussionist myself, my attention always gets pulled in to the drummer. Mike Calabrese is a joy to watch – I always appreciate seeing drummers who sing while drumming, but he has a way of simultaneously grounding the band, driving the energy forward and laying down harmonies while making everything look effortless. Like his bandmates, he always looks like he’s having a blast and that’s contagious. During “Bohemian Rhapsody” he sang a would-be guitar solo completely in meows. Why not?
Her: Another impossible toss up. I’ll say that Rachael Price’s expressive dance moves and wild curls are immensely watchable, but I really really enjoy Bridget Kearney’s bass smacking ferociousness! That gal sure knows how to rock a side pony while delivering a steady serving of FUNK.
What did you notice about the band’s chemistry?
Him: I love watching this band because they are such seasoned performers and exude this sense of confidence without seeming to try. Musically they are tight and very well rounded, with all band members contributing vocals throughout. I also like that all members of the band write the songs. During the set, there were songs introduced as being written by every member of the band, each with distinct styles. I’ve seen Lake Street Dive before, and even on Youtube performances where the band is playing a stripped-down set, it always seems like there should be more musicians up there to create such a full sound. I thought it was an interesting contrast to the band’s opener, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, who had a band twice the size but was somehow lacking in energy. I think Lake Street Dive delivers this fullness that is rarely matched, with beautiful dynamics that let every note breathe, pulling you in inescapably.
Her: Haha, yep. What he said.
On our way out of the NorVa, we walked past a smiling tall man with his medium long hair pulled up, off to the side of his head. I was tickled, took his picture and asked him if he wouldn’t mind telling me what a Side Pony was to him.
“Side Pony is just forging your own path and coolness,” he said. I gave him a hi five and joined the bustling mass of happy faces departing the NorVa, heading out into the world to rock our side ponies with heads held high.