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Lake Street Dive rings out the old, new just right

Roadrunner, Boston, December 31, 2022

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Yes it was New Year's Eve, but the dress by a portion of the sold-out crowd of Lake Street Dive's show was not your typical festive or concert fare. PJs were in the house – mainly it seems among the female crowd – as well as the three bands that were onstage.

Chances were strong that the pajama crowd wasn't ready to go to sleep or be lulled to do so when the final note rang.

Especially because that was pretty much impossible given the performances from Lake Street Dive, Devin Gilfillian and The Huntertones, a triple bill that made perfect sense.

The Huntertones are a Brooklyn-based sextet, inventive, creative and focused heavily on the horns in a jazz-oriented, sometimes a bit out there, upbeat style. The key players were sax man Dan White, trumpet/sousaphone ace Jon Lampley and Chris Ott on trombone, who offered the band's only vocals, if you will, by beatboxing as well.

The highlight was a highly imaginative medley of Queen songs including "We Will Rock You," "Under Pressure" and a snippet of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Maybe hokey to some, but live, it worked with the crowd eating it up.

Gilfillian, the pride of Scranton, Pa., opened for LSD nine months earlier at the same club. He and his band have only grown and gotten better with time. Gilfillian is silky soul singer with an elastic voice and understandably a big smile on his face.

He comes from the Marvin Gaye school of soul and underscored that connection by nailing his take on Gaye's "What's Going On?" If you're going to attempt to cover such a soul classic, you'd had better more than do it justice. Gilfillian did just that.

Gilfillian also sported the coolest pajama outfit of any musician on stage throughout the night (not only the crowd dressed that way. All of the bands were doing the same). He was decked out in golden lame pants and a gold and black robe. Classy, just like his music.

This was meat-and-potatoes Lake Street Dive. That means a show where each member of the quintet contributed to the blend of soulful, jazzy numbers of originals and par for the course, a few choice covers.

First among equals was LSD's focal point, lead singer Rachael Price. She always knows her way around a song, always in command and of big voice. And it's no surprise that Price's vocals could easily be heard above the musical fray.

As usual with Lake Street Dive, the band concept rules. That meant countless opportunities for upright bassist Bridget Kearney, drummer Mike Calabrese, who announced that Price was "dancing for two," keyboardist Akie Bermiss and guitarist James Cornelison.

Bermiss added light, often soul-drenched keyboards to the music. He also scored with lead vocals on Steely Dan's hit "Dirty Work."

Lake Street Dive characteristically features well-chosen covers that are always within their musical wheelhouse. That meant their take on The Pointer Sister's "Automatic," a rejiggered version of The Jackson Five's "I Want You Back" and closing out the night with Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl" with a lot of coal help from the audience.

It may have been a night of celebration, but LSD wasn't afraid to go to the darker side with "Lackluster Lover." Consider that a lump of coal for the season. The band took a more upbeat musically anyway bent with perhaps their best-known songs "Good Kisser" and "You Go Down Smooth" towards the end of the night.

Being the affable act that they are, Lake Street Dive had The Huntertones, in particular, and Gilfillian back on stage. Lampley was a standout, further showcasing his talents on "Mistakes" and "Anymore." Gilfillian was in synch well with Price on Bonnie Raitt's "Nick of Time." The Huntertones added lots of soul in their playing to fill out several songs during the LST set, including the final four songs of the 95-minute show.

With the stroke of midnight, balloons galore reigned down from the ceiling, adding a festive touch.

The Huntertones, Gilfillian and Lake Street Drive all made for a great way to end 2022, a most challenging year for many, and start the new year just right.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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