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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at and a music writer for and the Portland Press Herald. She has been obsessed with - and inspired by - music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She bought her first Rolling Stones record at a flea market when she was in 7th grade and discovered David Bowie a year later. She's a HUGE fan of the local music scene and covers it along with national musical happenings in her "Face the Music" column and with artist interviews that appear in print in the Portland Press Herald and online at You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets. Aimsel is also the host of Music from 207 on 98.9 WCLZ and appears monthly on the News Center Maine TV show “207” to talk of course.

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Posted: February 18, 2017

Lake Street Dive puts on electrifying show in Portland

Written by: Aimsel Ponti
Lake Street Dive performing at the State Theatre in Portland. Photo by Bree Candland

Lake Street Dive performing at the State Theatre in Portland.
Photo by Bree Candland

Lake Street Dive continues to sell out venues wherever they go, including Portland where they played a 20 song show in front of an ecstatic crowd that included several tunes from last year’s “Side Pony.”

Band members singer Rachael Price, upright bassist Bridget Kearney, guitar and trumpet player Mike “McDuck” Olson and drummer Mike Calabrese met while attending New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. In fact, the night before their winter tour kick-off show here in Portland they played at their alma mater as the headliners in the school’s 150th anniversary celebration.

The band formed in 2004, put out a few releases in the coming years and established themselves in earnest with the 2010 self-titled album. One if it’s tracks, “Don’t Make Me Hold Your Hand,” written by Olson came early in the set in Portland and was swoon-inducing. But honestly, the entire show was. From the moment they took the stage to the last seconds of the encore “My Speed” Lake Street Dive were dazzling, tight, playful and continue to defy any specific genre classification with a sound that is many things at once: retro, jazzy, soulful and poppy. And they do this with musical deftness that is downright riveting and also will make you smile until your face hurts.

Bridget Kearney’s upright bass playing is frankly incredible and she’s no slouch when it comes to backing vocals. In fact, she’s dropping the solo album “Won’t Let You Down” in March and will be at One Longfellow Square in April. Take a listen to the album’s first single “Wash Up.” Fantastic!

Mike “McDuck” Olsen’s guitar was on point all night and his trumpet absolutely sensational on songs like “Mistakes.”

Drummer Mike Calabrese gets it done behind his kit with just the right amount of panache and, well, mad skills and his vocals are also a valuable asset to the overall LSD sound.

As for Rachael Price, to know her is to love her and those unmistakable pipes take you back to the 60s while making you glad you’re in the here and now listening to her sing.

Lake Street Dive singer Rachael Price at Portland's State Theatre. Photo by Bree Candland

Lake Street Dive singer Rachael Price at Portland’s State Theatre.
Photo by Bree Candland

20 songs is an impressive amount of songs to include in a show and LSD achieves this by digging in and keeping the momentum going without extraneous banter between songs. The love between LSD and the audience was established before they even sang a single note and all parties involved clearly wanted the songs to take center stage.

There wasn’t a single misfire all night, it was a full-on electrifying performance and if I had to tell you what the standout songs were, I’d have to tell you all 20. But OK twist my arm, “Call Off Your Dogs,” “Spectacular Failure,” “Faith” (George Michael cover), “Rabid Animal” and the night-ending “My Speed” made my already huge grin stretch even wider.

Only Rachael Price could command the stage well enough to teach us all a few lines of “My Speed” and got us all singing “You’re my speed just like staying in the lines/and I’m your speed just like turpentine and limes.” But come to think of it, at least half of the exuberant crowd already knew the song as was the case with pretty much every song of the show.  When “My Speed” wound down and the band took their bows, it was palpable that we all wanted more but we also left with the knowledge that the love affair between Lake Street Dive and Maine is an everlasting one. So believe me when I say, they’ll be back.

In the meantime, here’s the 2.17.17 State Theatre Portland setlist:

  1. “Bad Self Portraits”
  2. “I Don’t Care About You”
  3. “Rabid Animal”
  4. “Use Me Up”
  5. “Side Pony”
  6. “Saving All My Sinning”
  7. “Clear a Space”
  8. “Mistakes”
  9. “How Good It Feels”
  10. “Call Off Your Dogs”
  11. “Faith (George Michael)
  12. “Neighbor Song”
  13. “Hell Yeah”
  14. “Don’t Make Me Hold Your Hand”
  15. “Spectacular Failure”
  16. “You Do Down Smooth”
  17. “Let Me Roll It” (Paul McCartney and Wings”
  18. Godawful Things”
  19. First encore song: “Seventeen”
  20. Second encore song “My Speed”




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