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Auckland Arts Festival: Lake Street Dive - review

Auckland Arts Festival: Lake Street Dive - review

Halfway through Lake Street Dive’s set at the Festival Club lead vocalist Rachael Price gives a wink and lets loose with “I Deserve to do Something Wrong”. The Brooklyn based four-piece have been good on their tour, she tells the audience. They’re looking forward to getting up to something naughty in New Zealand. There’s a roar of appreciation. This band are good. Extremely good. They met at the New England Conservatory of Music and are all impressively talented musicians. They layer that technical proficiency with an obvious joy of music and a willingness to mess with the rulebooks of musical history from Motown to 60s pop to gospel blues and even some cheeseball 80s Van Halen thrown in.

The bass line comes from steel-fingered Bridget Kearney on the upright bass. Bandana-wearing Michael Calabrese – a dead-ringer for Nick Miller from the New Girl – takes on the tambourine and drums with casual precision and band founder Mike Olson, the introvert of the group, lets his quick fingers do the talking on the trumpet and guitar.

It’s a credit to these three that they assert their own presence on stage alongside the phenomenal performance of Price. Her power soul voice manages to be sultry and resoundingly clear with each word picking out a tale – mostly some tattered affair of the heart. “If you’re married wear a married band,” she scolds, to a driving jazzy beat that gets you laughing along. On “What I’m Doing Here” she builds from a growl of lonely longing to full ballad blast as the rest of the band joins in with devastating harmony. A full throttle cover of Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass” gives any members of the audience not yet familiar with this up-and-coming band the chance to sing along.

A YouTube video of Lake Street Dive covering the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” on a Boston footpath is what got the band noticed. It has reached over 2.8 million views. But it’s the great songwriting, contributed by every member of this musically clued-up line-up, that’s going to set them soaring. They’re smart and commanding and brilliant, and most of all, just damn fun.

Lake Street Dive: Festival Club, until March 14. aucklandfestival.co.nz

Music