Lake Street Dive’s Viral Video Yields Overnight Success

:: Bluebird Theatre :: March 22 ::
:: eTown :: March 23 ::

By Brian Turk

Lake Street Dive started 2013 playing small, intimate gigs to modest audiences. But only halfway through the year the band quickly outgrew those confines.

February 2014 found the Brooklyn-based band performing on “The Colbert Report” and “The David Letterman Show” after releasing their new album Bad Self Portraits, and it looks as if Lake Street Dive has jumped into an ocean of success.

The band has been together since 2005, but their success literally came overnight, on May 18, 2013. The four members of the group, all graduates of The New England Conservatory of music, laid their heads down on May 17, and the next day their sidewalk performance of The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” was released on YouTube. The hits started coming, and haven’t stopped. The video of Lake Street Dive performing the cover of the classic song into a single microphone on a Boston street corner and the power of the performance jumped through computer screens. The video currently has over 1.5 million views, and the band considers its release one of the most important events on the Lake Street Dive timeline.

“There is no uncertainty anymore. We are not gonna question it,” said drummer Mike Calabrese in a recent interview with The Marquee, just days after the group made its first television appearance on “The Colbert Report.” “It’s crazy thinking that the ‘I Want You Back’ video almost didn’t happen. We filmed three other songs on the sidewalk, and ‘I Want You Back’ was an afterthought. We decided to do it on the spot.”

Lake Street Dive was put together by trumpet and guitar player Mike Olson, while the four members were attending The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Singer Rachel Price’s Etta James-like voice melds with the stellar upright bass playing of Bridget Kearney and Calabrese’s drum work into a mélange of genres. On his show, Stephen Colbert said Lake Street Dive plays “a combination of pop, jazz and swing, with a little bit of bluegrass. What? No Gregorian chant?”

Up until the video broke and the ensuing “Colbert Bump” happened, though, the band wasn’t sure where it was headed. “When we all started Lake Street Dive, we didn’t think things would necessarily come of it.” said Calabrese. “We all lived in different parts of the country, and Lake Street Dive was not a full-time gig for any of us. In 2010 we all moved to Brooklyn, but we still had other things going on, and it was still uncertain where the band was gonna go. We decided to quit the other bands we were in and focus on Lake Street Dive full-time, then the video came out. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.”

By the time the fateful video came out, Lake Street Dive had already released four albums, including the Fun Machine EP that “I Want You Back” was released on, so they had a strong foundation and history. Those firm roots helped Lake Street Dive stand strong once the storm of success hit, and really took hold on their most recent album, Bad Self Portraits. According to Calabrese, “Bad Self Portraits contains the best songs we have ever written.  It was also the first time we worked with a producer on an album. Some songs were four months old, and some were four weeks old, but the material came together great.”

When things fall into place like they did for Lake Street Dive, and a band blows up overnight, questioning ‘why’ is quickly replaced by figuring out a lot of where, when’s and how’s, and Calabrese said that they’re figuring out those questions now with some help. “Now we have a team behind us, managers, etc. We discuss the future, and there are professionals helping us beyond the music. Now all we have to do is just focus on our music,” he said.


:: Lake Street Dive ::

:: Bluebird Theatre :: March 22 ::

:: eTown :: March 23 ::


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1 Comment

  1. I Want You Back video going viral is how I connected (like six months ago?) — an instant fan, I finally saw them live in Burlington, Vermont at Higher Ground on 12/29/13. I’d been watching all their youtube stuff and spreading the news, but their live show exceeded all expectations.

    Don’t think I’ve actually been a FAN of anyone for long long time (except dead guys like Lester Young). This is the real deal and every time something good happens for them, like Colbert, I’m happy for them. Love these guys.