Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Nickel Creek at the Beacon Theater

The origins of a southern California bluegrass band, Nickel Creek (formerly known as The Nickel Creek Band) started with a meeting of two pre-teen mandolin students, Sean Watkins and Chris Thile. Sean recruited his sister, Sara Watkins, to play fiddle, and Chris' dad, Scott Thile, played bass. At first, Chris played guitar and Sean played mandolin but later they decided to switch instruments. Nickel Creek's first performance was in 1989 at That Pizza Place in Carlsbad, California. Chris and Sara were eight years old and Sean was 12. After 10 years on the contemporary bluegrass circuit, Nickel Creek's self-titled third album went platinum in 2000. Now an international success, the young band members were home-schooled to accommodate their tour schedule, and Scott Thile was ultimately replaced by Derek Jones. The fourth album won a 2003 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Following a fifth studio album and a compilation album, the band announced an indefinite hiatus with the conclusion of the 2007 Farewell (For Now) Tour. The members worked on solo and side projects, but reformed in 2013 to plan a 25th anniversary celebration for 2014. That became the A Dotted Line album, released on April 1, 2014.

At the Beacon Theater tonight, Nickel Creek demonstrated why this band stands above most other bluegrass bands. First of all, the music retained its homespun quaintness, without any showbiz gloss. Secondly, the band played in a thoroughly contemporary manner rather than plundering the genre's history in order to authenticate itself. This was not a return to roots as much as it was a marriage of bluegrass with folk, pop and even indie rock. Nickel Creek opened the set with "Rest of My Life," which also opens the new album. The band did not saturate the audience with new songs, however. By the third song, the band was playing the title track of its groundbreaking This Side album. The 23-song set was not necessarily a "greatest hits" package either, as when the band covered Bob Dylan's somewhat obscure love song "Tomorrow Is a Long Time."

Nickel Creek's chief assets included its ability to make simple yet uncommon music. For the most part, the entire show was performed on guitar, bass, mandolin and fiddle (although late in the performance Sara briefly put aside her violin for a ukulele). The musicians shied away from incorporating other bluegrass instruments, instead highlighting modest song structure over versatility. The musical interplay, particularly on several instrumental compositions, was impeccable, as were the vocal harmonies. It would appear that working apart during the band's seven-year dormancy has given the unit the strongest possible comeback.

Nickel Creek performs at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn on July 24. In the meantime, visit Nickel Creek at www.nickelcreek.com.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Split Squad at the Bowery Electric

Eddie Munoz (left) and Keith Streng
performed a guitar duel in the audience.
It is 1980 again, or maybe even 1965, thanks to the Split Squad, a new band comprised of old wave pop veterans. Singer/bassist Michael Giblin of the Cherry Twisters and the Parallax Project began assembling like-minded friends in 2011. The first recruit was guitarist Keith Streng of the Fleshtones, followed by guitarist Eddie Munoz of the Plimsouls, keyboardist Josh Kantor of the Baseball Project and drummer Clem Burke of Blondie. The band's debut album, Now Hear This, was released in 2013. The Split Squad made its live debut at SXSW 2013, and followed up with a West Coast tour. A year later, the band recently performed at SXSW 2014 and followed with a brief East Coast tour.

At the Bowery Electric tonight, the Split Squad focused not on the catalogue of songs from each of the musicians' history but on a set of songs composed specifically for this new band. As a result, the set was a spirited and diverse excursion through decades of power pop, garage band and punk rock influences. While not echoing the Plimsouls, Fleshtones or Blondie, the music nevertheless sounded like a collection of thrift store 45 RPMs, and yet as new creations they also sounded fresh and shiny. Midway in the set, Giblin told the audience that as the musicians were first coming together, they found a common fondness for the Small Faces, and so the album and tonight's set included a cover of "Sorry, She's Mine." Giblin sang lead on most of the songs, although the pairing of Streng and Munoz on guitars commanded much of the attention. Kantor, whose main gig is as the organist for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, provided occasional soul grooves, and Burke proved he was worthy of his 2006 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On this occasion, the band was also joined on stage by Scott McCaughey, former sideman for R.E.M. and Robyn Hitchcock. The Split Squad's live performance was a blend of turbocharged melodies, roaring hooks, guitar-fueled rock and snarly swagger.

Visit the Split Squad at http://www.thesplitsquad.com.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Boy George at Irving Plaza

Boy George was born George Alan O'Dowd in 1961 in Kent, England. Growing up as a teenaged David Bowie fan in the 1970s, he started dressing up. George was part of the English New Romanticism movement which emerged in the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Boy George's androgynous look caught the attention of Malcolm McLaren, former manager of the Sex Pistols), who arranged for George to perform with the group Bow Wow Wow. George eventually left the group and started Culture Club. A debut album was released in 1982 and Culture Club became the first group since the Beatles to have three Top 10 hits in the United States from a debut album. By the mid-1980s, however, the group split and George became better known for his drug addiction, his arrests, his criminal sentences and his sexcapades. He continued to record, became a club disc jockey, hosted a radio show, wrote two autobiographies, acted in a stage show based on his life, and opened a clothing line. His newest album is 2013's This Is What I Do.

Boy George performed a two-hour set at Irving Plaza tonight, and performed only four Culture Club songs, "Church of the Poison Mind", "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?", "Karma Chameleon" and "Victims," and saved them for the end of the show. The first 11 songs of the night were all from his most recent album. The set was a mixed bag of music, with a little soul here, a little reggae there and some rock, country and blues. He showed his musical roots by singing covers of songs by Yoko Ono, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Barbara Lynn and Bread. He jokingly thanked the New York audience for its courtesy in listening quietly to these songs rather than talk through them. George looked well and grounded in reality rather than in the media circus he had to experience for the past few decades. He was engaging when he turned on his warm and low-key charm. The show was refreshing in its simplicity, in that it came with no spectacular lighting or effects. The lengthy set showed George's praise-worthy commitment to making new music rather than playing off of his past success. Unfortunately, however, George's singing ability was well below his Culture Club range, and very few songs were made interesting. If this was the best George was able to present, he will remain more of a cultural icon and tabloid filler than a singer.

Visit Boy George at www.boygeorgeuk.com.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Local H at the Mercury Lounge

Scott Lucas
Local H started as a trio of high school buddies in 1990 in Zion, Illinois, but after the bassist quit in 1993, the remaining members carried on as a guitar and drums duo. Vocalist/guitarist Scott Lucas had a high school friend modify his guitar with an added bass pick-up and second output so he could double up guitar and bass sounds simultaneously. Local H began recording in 1994, and  "Bound for the Floor" gained a wide audience in 1996. The band's most recent album is 2012's Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, a concept recording on which Lucas wrote about the deeply divided political climate in the modern world. Local H's current members are Lucas and new drummer Ryan Harding.

The stage at the Mercury Lounge is often quite dark, but tonight for Local H it was very, very dark. At one point Lucas asked for more stage lighting, saying he could not see anything around him, but the lighting increased only by a notch. While the lighting was minimal, the volume seemed to be maximum. The duo loudly tore through 20 career-spanning songs, with barely a moment's breather between most songs. The music fell into a neat thick and heavy groove somewhere between hard grunge and energetic punk. Lucas' hair is long again, and flew in his face as he threw his upper body into guitar chords, riffs and occasional leads. He also toyed with feedback and other deafening distortion effects. Meanwhile, Harding pounded the drums so intensely that his jeans were soaking wet by show's end.

Local H opened with "Buffalo Trace," and then "Deep Cut" set an angry, negative tone with a chorus that asked "What do you do when opinions are everywhere? What do you do when it’s nothing you want to hear?" The band proceeded to give the long-time fans what they wanted to hear. Early into the set, "Eddie Veder" and a rare live performance of the punk-flavored "Chicago Fanphair '93" had people banging their heads to the ripping rhythms. Lucas stopped "Hands on the Bible" long enough to ask the fans how they were doing, then finished the song. He spoke back and forth with audience members a few times, but often with a sarcastic or dismissive attitude. Perhaps that negative mindset was what fueled the hard rocking set. "Don’t take this for granted. You’ll leave here empty handed. So hateful, so shameless; won’t let you leave here blameless," Scott sang of the beginning of the end of a relationship in the slow-building "The One with 'Kid'." Lucas roared "California Songs," attacking the many songs that sing the praises of California. "Fritz’s Corner" was a bit of a sing-along: "One more thing before we go; I’ve stepped over everyone I know. Everyone I know, everyone I know." Early on, the band performed an unreleased song in which Lucas repeatedly shouted "I want you dead." There was little cheer in all those songs. The raucous and rousing set continued, leading to a curious cover of Lorde's "Team." Lucas introduced another new composition, "One of Us," saying the band had a single coming out, but this was not it. At the end of about 90 minutes, Lucas finished the final song, the lightning-fast "Heavy Metal Bakesale," by crowd surfing to the back of the room. He then staffed the merchandise table by the club's exit. One hopes he was more ingratiating upon meeting his fans.

Visit Local H at www.localh.com.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stryper at Stage 48

Michael Sweet
Michael Sweet (vocalist, guitarist) and Robert Sweet (drums) became born-again Christians in 1975. Inspired by the burgeoning nearby Los Angeles hard rock bands such as Van Halen, but distressed by their message, the Orange County-based Sweet brothers formed a band that would extol their worldview and religious beliefs. With a bassist, the Sweets originally formed Roxx Regime in 1983 as a trio. When the band began looking to add a guitarist, rumors exist that future Dio and Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich and future Poison  member C.C. DeVille auditioned. Oz Fox landed the position. With Tim Gaines on bass, Stryper was complete. Stryper adopted its name from an Old Testament prophecy, wore black and yellow-striped outfits fitting the name, tossed New Testaments into the audience and became the first overtly Christian heavy metal band to sell more than 10 million records. In the mid 1980s, Stryper had the most requested videos on MTV, but popularity waned by the end of the 1980s hair metal era. Michael Sweet left the band to pursue a successful solo career, and later a four-year stint co-fronting the classic rock band Boston. Stryper disbanded shortly thereafter in 1992. After a sabbatical for much of the 1990′s, Stryper resurrected in the early 21st century, reuniting several times since 2000. The band's newest album, No More Hell to Pay, was released in November 2013.

At a splendid new ballroom-styled venue in midtown Manhattan called Stage 48, Stryper tonight fulfilled an earlier winter commitment that was cancelled due to a severe snowstorm. The quartet's classic lineup performed old hits and new songs, and even included a rocking cover of Kiss' "Shout It Out Loud." The stage set was less elaborate than in the glam metal heyday, and instead of bi-colored spandex, the four musicians dressed mostly in black cotton and denim, each wearing only a subtle stripe of yellow here or there. Beginning with "Loud 'n' Clear," Stryper refused to simply press "replay," and played like a hungry band breaking into the 21st century. Building on the band's signature sound of clear singing, big melodies with rousing choruses, and seamlessly entwined twin guitar harmonies, the band incorporated a modern and rougher alternative-rock-almost-grunge edge to the presentation as the show launched further with "Reach Out", "Calling on You" and "Free." Midway in the show, in an unrehearsed moment, actor/comedian/drummer Richard Christy, formerly of Iced Earth and other extreme metal bands, and currently a side player on The Howard Stern Show, joined what he later said was his favorite band on "Sing Along Song." The power ballad "Honestly" was not performed and would not have fit into the aggressive hard rocking performance, but fan favorites "Always There for You", "To Hell with the Devil" and "Soldiers under Command" helped rally the end of the 17-song set with an anthemic, arena-ready flare.

Unlike typical heavy metal concerts, fans did not raise devil horns to the band, instead poking stubby "one way" fingers heavenward. The musicians tossed New Testaments to those near the stage, ending with Michael Sweet stretching over the edge of the stage to hand one to a young girl sitting on her dad's shoulders. After 30 years in the heavy metal scene, Stryper still moshed extremely well for the glory of God!

Visit Stryper at www.stryper.com.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Carcass at the Best Buy Theater

Jeff Walker
As a teen-ager, guitarist Bill Steer was immersed in the punk rock and the newly developing death metal music scenes, trading tapes and following whatever bands visited his native northwest region of England. He formed a hardcore punk band called Disattack in 1985. Shortly after another punk rocker, bassist Jeff Walker, joined the band, Disattack changed its name to Carcass and became one of the first grindcore bands in England. Carcass then morphed into a one of England's first melodic death metal bands in the early 1990s, while maintaining its often morbid lyrics and gruesome album covers. Carcass disbanded in 1995, its members joining other bands, but reunited in 2007 for touring purposes. Carcass released its first album of new material in nearly 20 years with 2013's Surgical Steel. The band presently is comprised of Walker on vocals and bass, Steer and Ben Ash on guitars and Dan Wilding on drums.

When Carcass disbanded, the death metal scene still was heavy metal's stepchild. In the intervening years, the genre has increased its audience, and now the revamped Carcass is performing before larger followings that in its first incarnation. Carcass is headlining the 2014 Decibel Magazine Tour, including an appearance tonight at the Best Buy Theater. As the lights dimmed, the dramatic instrumental intro track from Surgical Steel, "1985," played loudly through the house speakers, and Carcass took the stage under red-on-red lights. Plugged in, the band opened what would become a nearly two-hour set with "Buried Dreams." Carcass proved that the veteran band was still a leader in the genres it helped originate. As the musicians' stomach-length hair flew in every direction, the band built beyond its crunching Black Sabbath-type riffs with growling vocals, twin guitar leads, speed metal intensity and an occasional hint of nu-metal breakdown. The chunky guitar-fueled performance was heavy, tight, energetic and bombastic. Carcass mixed songs from its six studio albums, with many of the newer songs generally towards the beginning of the set, including "Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System", "Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard" and "Unfit for Human Consumption." Many of the older songs, including "No Love Lost", "Reek of Putrefaction," and a medley of "Black Star" and "Keep on Rotting in the Free World," were comparatively further back in the 17-song set. The closer was the title track of the band's best-known album, 1993's "Heartwork."

Complementing the death metal band's reputation for shock and gore, Carcass' songs were often accompanied by images of autopsies, animal corpses and gruesome scenes projected onto two back screens. “Genital Grinder,” for instance, showed a close-up of what seemed to be rotting male genitalia. Contrastingly, Walker lightheartedly bantered between songs about anything that came to mind. President Obama was in Manhattan that evening, and Walker wisecracked that the president was in the theater. At the end of the third song, as the house security was leading the photographers out of the photo pit, Walker said to the staff below him, “Photographers get three songs to make us look sexy for publicity but, if it is alright with you, we want them to stay!”  He then went on to suggest that a sweaty Carcass is just as sexy. Carcass may not be sexy, but for a band that is relatively unknown outside the extreme metal community, Carcass put on a show worthy of greater arenas.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Percy Jones & MJ-12 at Otto's Shrunken Head

Percy Jones has been playing progressive rock and jazz fusion since the late 1960s. He began teaching himself to play bass in the early 60s while attending grammar school in his native Wales. At the time, he was inspired by the early American rock and roll he heard on Radio Luxembourg. As American soul music started getting popular in the mid-1960s, Jones played locally in a rhythm & blues band. He relocated to Liverpool, England, in 1966 to study electronic engineering at the university and joined a rock and roll band called the Liverpool Scene. He was listening to American blues, but once he was introduced to jazz, there was no turning back. He moved to London in the early 1970s, worked at a construction site and started participating in Wednesday night jazz jam sessions. This led to him becoming a founding member of Brand X, one of England's pioneer progressive rock/jazz fusion bands, from 1974 to 1992, and Tunnels from 1993 to 2006.

Jones is known for playing the uncommon fretless bass guitar. He purchased his first fretless bass in 1974 because it offered him the low end and amplification of the electric bass guitar, but also the tone of the upright bass. He has played fretless ever since. He then began playing a five-string fretless bass, which is even more unusual, in the late 1980s, giving him extra range in the low end, down to 32Hz instead of 41Hz.
Jones married a beautiful American in the 1970s and has been based in New York for decades. In recent months, he has performed low-key showcases in his adopted hometown with his new band, Percy Jones & MJ-12. Although the personnel has been flexible, the present configuration consists of Jones on bass, Dave Phelps on guitar, Stephen Moses on drums and Jack Warren on theremin.

At Otto's Shrunken Head tonight, the quartet jammed well on the very fine edge between progressive rock and jazz fusion. The compositions were instrumental, and allowed room for the musicians to flex loosely in tandem with each other within a skeletal framework. A clever riff or structure defined the piece, but the musicians often found the space to improvise what they felt. It was built like jazz but delivered with the intense power of hard rock. The guitar, bass and drum sounds were exceptionally fresh and nuanced. The theremin, on the other hand, proved to be both an innovative addition and a distraction. The favorable aspect was that the electronic wavelengths it introduced often enhanced the originality of the musical works. The distraction was that the theremin is a failed accompanying instrument. When the guitarist took a lead, for instance, it was nearly impossible for the theremin to harmonize or synchronize with the bass and drums n the manner in which a keyboard or horn section might fall into the background. Perhaps the key would have been to moderate the use of the theremin to where it was most useful instead of featuring it in every minute of every composition.

Visit Percy Jones at www.percyjones.net.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eisley at the Bowery Ballroom

Eisley is an indie rock band from Tyler, Texas, consisting of four siblings (Chauntelle, Sherri, Stacy, and Weston DuPree) and their cousin (Garron DuPree). The band was conceived in 1997 when lead guitarist Chauntelle and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Sherri began creating music together in their bedroom. Younger sister Stacy (who was then eight years old) became frustrated over their insistence that she was too young to be a part of the band and wrote her own song without their help before she was inducted as vocalist/keyboardist. Their brother Weston (who was then 10 years old) soon joined the band as the drummer. Cousin Garron later replaced the original bassist. Originally called the Towheads, the musicians renamed the band Eisley after Mos Eisley, a large spaceport town on the planet Tatooine in the Star Wars saga.

Boyd and Kim Dupree, the parents of the four DuPree siblings, operated a coffee shop out of their church. Eisley performed its first show there in 1998 and became the frequent weekend house band for most of four years. Eisley eventually performed the local music club circuit and at the shows sold copies of the first of its 10 EPs in 1999.

In their youth, the Dupree siblings recorded darkly fantastical music and whimsical lyrics with vivid imagery of fireflies, woods, and open fields. As they reached adulthood, their lives became a soap opera and the later EPs and albums featured songs about real life, lost love, and troubled relationships. Chauntelle suffered a broken engagement; her fiancée, Adam Lazara of Taking Back Sunday, left her shortly before their wedding date after he impregnated a waitress in the DuPrees' hometown. Sherri endured a failed marriage; her husband, Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory,  cheated on her, filed for divorce and connected with Hayley Williams of Paramore. The most recent songs are more upbeat, now that all three sisters are happily married. Chauntelle married guitar maker Todd D’Agostino, Sherri married Max Bemis of Say Anything, and Stacy married Darren King of Mute Math. Fourth-fifths of the band has recently become new parents. The band's fourth studio album, 2013's Currents, centered on this new maturity with nautical/maritime imagery that depicted the constant movement of the currents, which are sometimes turbulent and other times calm, but always moving. The metaphor of this current-like flow of time accented the need for an anchor in order to remain grounded.

At the Bowery Ballroom tonight, Eisley showed that the band's story is expanding rather than simply collecting bookmarks. Little of Eisley's performance linked to its folk-pop fairy-story origin, as the band nurtured a more indie-rocking and ambient sound. The set included older songs, but the center of gravity was on newer material that was thematic and even somewhat experimental. These songs and sounds built an ebb-and-flow atmosphere around the conceptual lyrics, with seemingly minimal regard for radio potential. Sherri and Stacy alternated lead vocal duties almost equally, with Chauntelle offering lead vocals on only one song. The vocals were strong, and lush melodies and crystal clear harmonies were still a mainstay in the Eisley signature. Sherri and Stacy specialized in bending and prolonging syllables in almost every line of verse and then filling out the songs with a lot of audience-rousing woooh-ooohs. Chauntelle rocked the guitar with dreamy leads and airy riffs while Stacy provided ambient sounds on her keyboards. Weston pounded driving drum beats and Garron rolled out bass lines with precision. The rocking arrangements, the brightness engineered by the lyrics and the indie-style innovations in the compositions, however, made the overall set sound sweet but somewhat undefined. The wash of sound was sometimes saccharine. Perhaps part of the Currents theme was to shift back and forth from driving pop to cascading mind melts.

Visit Eisley at www.eisley.com.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Scott Stapp at Irving Plaza

Anthony Scott Flippen was born in Orlando, Florida to Lynda, a school teacher. Little is known about his biological father. He was adopted by Steven Stapp, a dentist who married Scott's mother, and decided to take his stepfather's last name. However, upon realizing that his initials would spell out the word "ass," he took his middle name as his first and took the name he is now known as, Scott Alan Stapp.

Stapp and guitarist Mark Tremonti had been classmates in high school and friends at Florida State University. They formed a band in 1993 originally known as Naked Toddler, which later became Creed. Creed became among the leaders of the post-grunge movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The band launched its career with three consecutive multi-platinum albums, one of which has been certified diamond and has sold over 28 million records in the United States and over 40 million albums worldwide. Creed was recognized as the Rock Artist of the Year at the 1998 Billboard Music Awards. "With Arms Wide Open" won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 2001. Stapp's debut solo album, 2005's The Great Divide, also sold more than two million copies. Creed disbanded in 2004, citing tension between Stapp and the other members, reunited in 2009, and seems to be on hiatus now.

Stapp published a memoir, Sinner's Creed, in 2012. The book detailed many of his struggles, including those with drugs, alcohol and suicidal depression. Bouncing back sober and more spiritual than ever, Stapp released his second solo album, Proof of Life, in November 2013.

The present tour is billed as "Scott Stapp, the Voice of Creed," so the foregone conclusion was that his new show would include a hefty amount of Creed songs. At Irving Plaza tonight, the theme seemed to be about waking up to survival. Stapp opened with a solo song, the autobiographical "Slow Suicide", in which he sang "I can't let this life pass me by, in a blink of an eye it ends." He followed that with the Creed song, "What If," the solo song "Justify" and the Creed song "My Own Prison." So it went all night, with Stapp rhythmically alternating solo and Creed songs. Stapp's vocals still bore an intense masculinity in line with the Doors' Jim Morrison and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, but without the studio precision perfected on Creed albums. This time around, his vocals were more fragile. The lyrics to the older songs revisited Creed's trademark soul searching element and newer songs were often more conclusive, proclaiming victory over life's hardships. In "Break Out," Stapp sang "I'm gonna break out, I'm gonna break free." Two of the four encore songs, "Crash" and "Dying to Live," seemed to refer to his new choice to live after a near suicide when he jumped off the 10th floor balcony in a Miami hotel. The music did not break new ground however, in that it was driven by Creed's classic hard-rocking power-balladry and Christian-infused testosterone. This time around, however, Stapp was staffed by a backup band, and the stage was all about him, not a band that created music together. This was not necessarily good or bad, but with seven Creed songs in the set, Stapp struggled to redefine his solo identity.

Visit Scott Stapp at www.scottstapp.com.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lake Street Dive at the Bowery Ballroom

Mike Olson and Rachael Price
Mike "McDuck" Olson was a student at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts, when he selected fellow students to implement his vision for an indie country, jazz and soul band in 2004. The guitarist/trumpet player recruited lead vocalist Rachael Price, who was from outside Nashville, Tennessee, stand-up bassist Bridget Kearney, an Iowa native, and drummer Mike Calabrese, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Price and Kearney both grew up singing in choirs, most of the members had classical music training growing up, and all of them had developed a background in jazz. Olson named the band Lake Street Dive after a street with many dive bars in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The band submitted a song written by Kearney to the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2005. Kearney won the jazz category, and with the cash and 1000 CDs award, Lake Street Dive recorded and pressed a debut CD in 2006. Lake Street Dive later gained national buzz via YouTube with a video shot on a street corner in Brighton, Massachusetts, featuring the band gathered around a single microphone performing a cover of the Jackson 5 song "I Want You Back." In December 2013, T Bone Burnett asked Lake Street Dive to perform at the Another Day, Another Time show at Town Hall in New York City featuring music from and inspired by the film Inside Llewyn Davis. The press raved about the performance, and Lake Street Dive went from playing for friends to headlining venues around the world. The band is now based in Brooklyn, New York, and released the Bad Self Portraits album in February 2014.

Lake Street Dive strolled onstage tonight at the Bowery Ballroom as Tom Jones' "What's New Pussycat" blasted through the house speakers. The quartet launched into the rolling mid-tempo "Got Me Fooled" to cheers and applause. Price then thanked the fans for coming out to the show and added "We can't tell you how happy we are to be at home." The band then performed "Stop Your Crying" like a 1960s Brill Building tune and the cast was set; it would be an evening of pop and soul songs, with several songs highlighting four-part harmonies.

Although all four members are songwriters, Price was the band's centerpiece. She sang with a powerful voice, but her juicy style and commanding inflection impressed more. She did not always reach her notes clearly, but the imperfections were masked easily by her enthusiasm and by the musical arrangements. When Price stepped back, Olson frequently filled in the soft spots with modest guitar licks and trumpet blasts, giving pep especially to "Neighbor Song," a song about being kept awake by your neighbors' sexual activities, and "Hello? Goodbye!" Kearney danced with her upright bass and it was the engine driving hard grooving lines on "Henriette" and "Bobby Tanqueray." Calabrese's smooth drumming stayed where it was supposed to, in the background, but his backing vocals gave life to "Seventeen" and other songs. Sam Kassirer, the producer of the band's most recent album, joined the band on keyboards about halfway through the show and filled out more of the sound. The band closed with "You Go Down Smooth" and returned for a one-song encore, a lengthy cover of Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl." That final blue-eyed soul connection spoke volumes, linking Lake Street Dive's present style to a long history of soulful pop radio standards.

Visit Lake Street Drive at www.lakestreetdive.com.