The four-piece band’s return to Meijer Gardens with a guest keyboardist boasted a mix of captivating indie-pop, jazz and soul in another sold-out Grand Rapids show. (Review, photo gallery)
Familiar faces are a key factor in the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s reliably popular summer concert series.
Names like Sheryl Crow, Beach Boys and Huey Lewis are old hat to regular visitors of the idyllic amphitheater. But among those acts who routinely perform in the outdoor venue, Lake Street Dive shine as one of the more captivating and fresh.
The Boston-born, Brooklyn-based four-piece’s sold-out performance Friday night was no exception.
Picture-perfect weather (#nofilter) was the ideal backdrop for 90-plus minutes of indie-pop/jazz/soul showcasing lead singer Rachael Price’s unmistakable pipes in a rousing 20-song set. Despite the beyond-pleasant temps, killer tunes and Friday-night vibes, the crowd was confusingly sedate, with the majority remaining seated until well into the final third of the show.
Sitting and chilling certainly is no sin — hey, I don’t know your journey and I’m not going to try to tell you how to enjoy live music — but it is disheartening to see people admonish fellow concert-goers for having the gall to let loose and dance. This is a frequent cause of mild, unnecessary tension at Meijer Gardens, and an issue not likely to disappear until seating arrangements change.
AUDIENCE EVENTUALLY LOOSENS UP LATE IN THE SHOW
Nevertheless, the dancers persisted. By the time Price and crew (Bridget Kearney, Mike Calabrese and Mike “McDuck” Olson) launched into “Seventeen” (from 2014’s “Bad Self Portraits”) the majority of the audience was ready to join in the fun.
While originals like “Side Pony” (from the 2016 album of the same name) and “Just Ask” (off “Bad Self Portraits”) scored high, a low-key cover of George Michael’s “Faith” drew plenty of interest.
Given the band’s demonstrated skill with covers (Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” to name a few), it wouldn’t have hurt to have thrown a few more unexpected Easter eggs in the mix. That’s a minor quibble, to be sure, considering the band sounded so incredible. Guest keyboardist Akie Bermiss brought a particular life to the set and was a welcome edition to the band’s already rich sound.
Brooklyn-based Cuddle Magic opened with a creative, if sometimes confounding, 40-minute set. The chamber-pop four-piece — clad in dark blue and grey jumpsuits — left the stage at one point to play an unplugged song in the center aisle among the crowd. From the snippets of (very quiet) dialogue gathered from a distance, the idea (perhaps??) was for the soft sound to eventually swell to fit the space.
Unfortunately, those outside a limited radius were left in the musical dark, sitting awkwardly in silence — or what passes for silence in a restless crowd of 1,900 of so — for about five minutes.
Ah well, can’t blame them for trying something left of center.
A more successful musical experiment was had when the band brought Lake Street Dive’s Kearney on stage for several closing tunes in which the band’s interesting sound seemed to really come together and take flight.
PHOTO GALLERY: Lake Street Dive, Cuddle Magic at Meijer Gardens
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC