For your soul-tinged pop music fix, one of the first bands you should turn to is Lake Street Dive. Thanks to some well-deserved word of mouth, most notably a 2012 cover of Michael Jackson’s “I Want You Back,” the quartet of Rachel Price on vocals, Bridget Kearney on stand-up bass, Mike Olson on guitar and trumpet, and John Calabrese on drums have taken their act from the Boston Conservatory of Art to venues around the world, including both 9:30 Club and Wolf Trap in the DC area last year. The quartet returned to DC with a sold-out set at Lincoln Theatre that included old favorites, sing-along covers, and even a few new songs from their still-unannounced fourth album.
Lake Street Dive doesn’t need much in the way of special effects or elaborate sets to draw people in. If their instruments were unplugged, they would still just as easily pack the house. In fact, for a cover of George Michael’s “Faith,” the four grouped up behind one microphone and performed as the crowd sang along. But fans always want new music, and the band delivered with a new song called “Hang On” that, according to Price, takes place in space. Both the change of scenery and the slower-paced and more rock-leaning sound were signs that Lake Street Dive are still evolving as a band. Of course, they threw in some older tracks as well, including a rousing rendition of “You Go Down Smooth,” and a few crowd-rousing solos too. Calabrese’s blistering and frenetic drum solo could have come straight out of Whiplash, and after Price proclaimed that the country needs less walls and more bass solos, Kearney got hers as well. By the time the set was halfway through at “Side Pony,” the aisles were filled with dancing fans, and those that were seated eventually gave in to the throwback pop melodies the band does so well. Side Pony is out now through Nonesuch Records.
Opening for Lake Street Dive were NYC-based The Rad Trads. The five-piece band combined the thoughtful exploration of jam bands and jazz music with the relentless energy of punk rock. From start to finish, the band played with infectious joy and vigor, especially the explosive horn section. Their latest album, 2016’s Must We Call Them Rad Trads, is out through Dala Records.