I still get excited every time a great show is on my horizon – so excited that I sometimes find myself wishing there was not an opener scheduled so that the concert length would be spent just enjoying the headliner. Since I hadn’t seen Yonder Mountain for quite some time, I found myself feeling this same level of excitement. Sitting in our hotel before driving into downtown Madison for dinner, my wife and I decided we should at least investigate Yonder’s opener, Lake Street Dive, before we finalized our evening’s schedule. It was a wise thing we did – this band is blazing with talent in all musical areas – a requirement for anyone wishing to open for a band as talented as YMSB.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love Yonder Mountain String Band – always have, always will, but I feel it very necessary to devote some space to Lake Street Dive. They are a four piece band from the east coast, consisting of drums (Michael Calabrese), guitar/trumpet (Mike “McDuck” Olson), upright bass (Bridget Kearney), and lead vocals (Rachael Price). The first thing many people probably notice with this band is Rachael’s voice – and understandably so. She sings with a power and soul you rarely hear these days. A vocalist alone only goes so far, though, and the other musicians in the band offer both instrumental and vocal harmony skills that really put them in another level. So few bands can really offer all those areas, and for that I truly appreciate what we were able to witness that night. And to think we almost didn’t go for the opener.
Of course Lake Street Dive was not the only four piece band on stage that that night. Yonder Mountain String Band strolled onto stage after a short break pumped full of energy (what’s new, I know). It’s difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what I like so much about these pluckers, but all I really know is that every time I see them, no matter how familiar I am with the setlist, I cannot seem to wipe the smile off my face. This band just exudes a feeling of pure bliss, and a real lust for life that comes through in every note. I came in expecting a lot from them, and I was not disappointed. Early on in the first set, the boys decided to welcome Bridget on stage for a little back and forth upright bass action, handing off Ben’s bass, swapping solos in killer bluegrass fashion. I was never able to decide who won, but I’m pretty sure it was the audience.
Now I’m not a stickler for song names, and hashing over each individual song with other fans – I just like to go and have a good time, and get lost in the music, and when Jeff Austin announced to the crowd that there was no official curfew I knew we might be in it for the long haul. But after the drive into town, a sensational dinner before the show, and a few cocktails during, we realized we may not make it the whole night. During the closer of the last set we started to make our way towards the door of the Orpheum Theater, but stopped for a second at the merchandise stand. The gentleman there asked if we were heading out, and suggested that we rethink that. Lake Street Dive was going to make one more appearance, and they had only done it a few other times that tour, so we figured we would see what was in store for the encore. With all 8 musicians on stage they solidified an amazing end to their tour by performing I Second That Emotion by Smokey Robinson and The Seeker by The Who – Had we missed that I’m not sure I could’ve lived with myself. Needless to say, though, we saw, and I slept well.
Set 1: On The Run> Kentucky Mandolin> On The Run, Steep Grade Sharp Curves, You’re No Good, Lonesome Letter, Straight Line, Yes She Do No She Don’t, Left Me In A Hole, Strophe, Jesus On The Mainline> Whipping Post> Jesus On The Mainline
Set 2: Fastball> Too Late Now, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Troubled Mind, Don’t Worry Happy Birthday, Illinois Rain, Complicated, Pass This Way, Pockets, Damned If The Right One Didn’t Go Wrong, Hi Cross Junction> Mother’s Only Son> Peace Of Mind> Rag Doll> Peace Of Mind
Encore (with Lake Street Dive): I Second That Emotion, The Seeker