WRITTEN BY: Jack O’Rourke
PHOTOS BY: Siena Sohn
When it comes to New Orleans, music is as important to The Big Easy as Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street. From the rhymes of rapper Lil Wayne to the soulful rock ‘n roll of the late Fats Domino to the head banging hits of the metal band, Down, New Orleans has a little something for everyone. No artist is more proudly representing New Orleans than alternative rock, septet The Revivalists. Bursting on to the scene with Billboard’s No. 1 Alternative hit-song, “Wish I Knew You,” The Revivalists have amassed quite the following for their eclectic blend of blues and rock.
Touring in support of their third studio album, Men Amongst Mountains, The Revivalists made a stop at The Fillmore Friday night. As yet another sold-out crowd awaited the arrival of the New Orleans rockers, a familiar face took to stage to warm up the eager crowd. Philly-born, Mt. Joy got the night started with their brand of indie folk. Frontman, Matt Quinn got the crowd going with an introduction about how him and guitarist, Sam Cooper tailgated Eagles games growing up, which prompted an E-A-G-L-E-S chant from the crowd. Separating themselves from their folk contemporaries, Mt. Joy wowed the crowd with their old-school blues sounding folk with a bit of a southern twang during their hit-song, “Sheep.”
After a brief intermission, the clock struck ten, the moment had finally arrived. The sold-out Fillmore went black as The Stranger Things theme song echoed throughout the venue. In the darkness, six figures found their place on stage, then were joined by frontman, David Shaw. With both drum sets in sync, The Revivalists got their set going with the funky jam, “Criminal” off their second album City of Sound.
Keeping the momentum going, in what was my favorite moment of the set, The Revivalists played “It Was a Sin.” Like a reverend preaching his sermon to the congregation, Shaw commanded the stage with authority and had the audience mesmerized by the soulful rasp of his voice.
About a quarter of the way through the set, the New Orleans jam-band found their stride. All seven members playing in unison, The Revivalists performed “Concrete (Fish Out of Water),” one the first songs they had ever written together. The band’s musicianship is unparalleled, this level of musicianship I can only compare to that of Mumford and Sons, who put on one of the best shows I have ever seen. The jam session was complete with a guitar duel between Shaw and guitarist, Zack Feinberg and a trumpet solo at the edge of the runway by Michael Girardot.
After spending four years touring in support of their second album, City of Sound, The Revivalists have spent the early part of their career fine-tuning and perfecting their live shows. Being hailed for their long sets and their showmanship, the band has become a must see in the world of live music. While I commend the band for their two-hour long set and all-around musicianship, the setlist itself left something to be desired. The arrangement of their setlist left me personally wanting more and about twelve songs in lost part of the audience, due to loading the beginning and end of their setlist with their fan favorites rather than spreading them out through the seventeen-long set.
In a shifting dynamic from a record centric to tour centric music industry, artists face more pressure than ever to deliver complete shows with dazzling effects and entertaining sets. The Revivalists do not fall short on either mark, delivering songs that span five to ten minutes each in length, full of lighting effects and groove-oriented jam sessions. Their full arsenal was on display during their breakout hit, “Wish I Knew You.” Putting The Fillmore’s house disco ball to use, the New Orleans natives turned the venue into a 70s disco hall with every audience member dancing and singing each word. The funky rhythm of the song brought the main set to a close, The Revivalists exited the stage to a thunderous roar.
Now in most cities, the crowd following the set would chant “Encore” or “One more song,” Philadelphia is not one of those cities. Full of excitement towards the success of the Eagles, the crowd erupted into multiple E-A-G-L-E-S, until The Revivalists returned to the stage. The band rattled off a three-song encore including “Stand Up,” which featured the solo of the night by saxophonist, Rob Ingraham. Shaw captivated the audience one last time with his soulful howl, during The Revivalists’ final song of the night “You and I.”
After the spectacular showing Friday night, it is safe to say The Revivalists have more than earned their reputation for being one of the best live acts to see. Doing their city of New Orleans and diehard fans alike proud, The Revivalists have a bright future and are a must-see act in the world of live music.
- It Was a Sin
- Concrete (Fish Out of Water)
- Fade Away
- Navigate Below
- Two Ton Wrecking Ball
- Soul’s Too Loud
- All in the Family
- Got Love
- Wish I Knew You
- Gold to Glass
- Stand Up
- You and I