Lavish and large: Live at Lakeview closes out summer with a party for the locals

Lavish Green

Danny Barnes and Lavish Green closed out Live at Lakeview in front of the largest crowd of the summer.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Kurt Johnson

Since the beginning, Live at Lakeview has been made by locals, for locals. It was only fitting the summer series ended Thursday night with the biggest show of the season, featuring two of Tahoe’s best local bands — Black Star Safari and Lavish Green.

The series has been something people have been able to count on as a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of South Lake Tahoe during the crowded summer months. Everyone can take breath and enjoy the spectacular surroundings and friendly community amidst an array of rhythms and melodies. This show was the last big blowout.

Over the past months, Live at Lakeview has brought the South Shore nights filled with bluegrass, funk, reggae and everything else in between. Thursday night’s musical offering was locally grown, with funky grooves and positive vibes served fresh.

Black Star Safari kicked off the finale. The duo of Matt Mandella (drums) and Dan Green (guitar) has been traveling around the Northwest for most of the summer behind its latest EP, “All In.” Packing everything into the RV, the two have spread their wings beyond the beautiful basin and have assumed a semi-nomadic lifestyle.

But Tahoe is where the band first planted its roots and it was nice to see Safari grace the beachfront stage and perform for the third time in the series’ run. With a spot in the late afternoon sun, Mandella and Green once again showed they are one of the tightest bands in Tahoe, delivering a blistering set filled with dynamic interplay between the two.

Mandella and Green have played together since meeting at a music school years ago in Los Angeles, but the chemistry between the musicians seems as potent as ever. Mandella hammered out quick-fire beats and tasty drum fills that Green ripped into with tenacious licks. The band played a handful of songs from its newest release, the highlight being a scorching “Never Again.” Mandella and Green sharply cut back and forth across the rhythm in unison at a pedal-to-the-floor speed.

The show ended on the stirring combo of a massive drum solo from Mandella, which was more fun than most drum solos you’ll ever see, and the heavy blasting “Black Betty.” The song has turned into a defacto finale for the group’s live shows and it proved once again a fitting send-off, with the duo splintering through the bare-knuckle rocker like a chainsaw.

A cherished part of the Tahoe music scene for 20 years, Lavish Green provided the perfect option to close out the summer for Live at Lakeview. Original members Chris Sanchez (vocals/trumpet), Rob Wheeler (bass) and Joel Gruneich (guitar) and recently minted member Danny Barnes (drums) put on a heartfelt show that celebrated the things that Live at Lakeview has always celebrated, music and community.

Lavish Green certainly had both parts down. It combined reggae, Latin, rock and ska into an enticing groove that moved the whole crowd in one fluid motion. The band was on-point and glowed with energy, moving with dexterity across its expansive catalog.

“Latina” bounced back-and-forth with a Latin spice with the rhythm section laying down a formidable rhythm to shake to. The mellow ska of “Another Day” was as refreshing as a chilled beer on a hot day and the band members radiated positivity to the expansive crowd in their loving performance. From high-octane funk to SoCal reggae-rock, Lavish played everything with skill and passion and showed to be no worse for wear after 20 years.

The band also was eager to celebrate and support the community with which it has fostered such a meaningful bond. Saxophonist Seth Hall joined for a majority of the set to unleash his powerful musings over the eclectic sound. Hall has been playing with Lavish for almost as long as it has existed and the addition of his saxophone elevated the group to another level, not to mention the apparent joy of all of them still playing together after 20 years.

Sanchez also invited up two young, local friends from Gardnerville to join the band on a number of tunes. The friends, including Robbie Wheeler Jr., have started a new band and definitely seemed energized to be playing in front of such a big crowd.

It’s sad Live at Lakeview has ended for the season, but it sure went out in a big way. It might have been the largest crowd that has ever shown up on the beach, it certainly was the largest of the summer, and the community could not have come out for two more worthy bands and such a worthy event.

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About Garrett Bethmann

Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. He moved to Lake Tahoe in summer 2012.

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