Campfire Preview: Lake Street Dive
They’ve been named one of Rolling Stone’s 10 New Artists You Need to Know, been featured on just about every late night talk show and are selling out most of the stops on their latest tour — but if not for their superb Boston sidewalk rendition of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” blowing up to the tune of 2.2 million views on YouTube, who knows where Lake Street Dive would be today.
“Yeah, that’s kind of the snowball that got it all rolling,” said Mike “McDuck” Olson in a recent telephone interview as the band rolled toward the Grand Canyon on a rare off day. “Its been a pretty wild year.”
Wild may even be an understatement as Lake Street Dive has really burst onto the scene — generating more buzz and gaining new fans at every stop … including Conan O’Brien, who told the band the other night, “I’m buying what you’re selling” after their flawless, engaging performance of “Stop Your Crying” on his late night talk show.
“Whatever we’re doing, something’s working I guess — I’d be hard pressed to say exactly what it is,” McDuck said. “We did this just for the joy of it for so long — for a good eight years we were doing it for the hell of it because we enjoyed doing it. We’re still there — we didn’t sit down and be like ‘ok guys, let’s do this for real now and let’s write music that people actually want to listen to’ — people just sort of caught on which is the best way to do it.”
“Stop Your Crying” is one of the many highlights on the band’s Bad Self Portraits ,which was released this February — and one of the many songs that Lake Street Dive will be performing as the Sunday night headliners at the Campfire Outdoor Adventure & Music Festival that is running from Aug. 29-31 in Lakewood, Pa. — an easy ride up I-81 from the Harrisburg region.
“The whole record at this point is such a perfect snapshot of where we are at this stage of our musical development and hopefully that will also be the case when the next records come out,” McDuck said. “It’s kind of like a perfect encapsulation of where we all are individually as songwriters and where we are as a band.”
And it’s taken them a while to get to this point musically. The band — which is made up of the amazing vocals of Rachel Price, drummer Mike Calabrese, bassist Bridget Kearney and Mike “McDuck” Olson serving as the guitarist/trumpeteer — has been playing together now for 10 years since they got their start as students at the New England Conservatory in Boston.
“In a lot of ways we are all sort of musical omnivores — we have pretty diverse tastes. At first we were afraid it was going to be almost too schizophrenic but for whatever reason we’ve all sort of come to a similar place musically so there is a — what’s the word I’m looking for — homogeneity, perhaps, of music despite the fact that it does do a little jumping around,” McDuck explained. “We used to be a lot weirder though, let me tell ya! The ground that we’ve agreed upon is a lot more focused and listener friendly than the way we used to sound.”
Their agreed upon sound has taken them to great heights — including a spot on the critically-acclaimed Showtime music special Another Day/Another Time: Celebrating the Music of “Inside Llewyn Davis.” But it was their appearance and performance of “You Go Down Smooth” on The Colbert Report that had the band named after a former strip of bars and rock clubs on Lake Street in McDuck’s hometown of Minneapolis pinching themselves.
“There was definitely a surreality to it. It started out kind of like any other gig day would — rolling up in the van, unloading the gear, but we knew something was different when Stephen Colbert leaned out of his second story office window and waved down to us and was like, ‘hey guys, what’s up! I’m so pumped you’re here!'” McDuck laughed. “We were kind of dumbfounded — we never received that kind of treatment from someone like that before.”
And as far as the “Colbert Bump” that Stephen Colbert jokingly told the band to be ready for — McDuck assures that it is, in fact, a real thing.
“That is no joke my man. That is a real thing,” McDuck said. “The online numbers — followers on Facebook and Twitter, for as silly as that is — that is a real quantifiable way to measure popularity in a sense and that all skyrocketed after Colbert. So that whole bump thing — that’s legit.”
Even though Bad Self Portraits is still only six months old, Lake Street Dive is already making plans for their next record. McDuck said they have been in major preparations — writing and recording a ton — and plan to get back into the studio in February.
“We’re very focused on the next record and I’d be lying if I didn’t say there wasn’t a little bit of trepidation,” McDuck said. “We recorded quite a bit — but Bad Self Portraits was the first record that anyone has actually cared about so there’s a little pressure with that sophomore album thing. We want to make it true to us — we don’t want to go out and make a dance record so people will listen to it — but we also want to make something that is just as appealing as Bad Self Portraits but a few steps further along because we are growing and we are developing.”
Tickets for the Campfire Festival are still available online and come in a variety of packages, some of which include tickets and accommodations in an on-site, fully-equipped cabin. Other affordable stay and play options include RV passes and general and VIP camping options.