The Revivalists’ set at Watermark Bar on Pier 15 was more like a party than a show – a party you’d go to on an unforgettably fun vacation, if that vacation happened to be in the South. Vocalist David Shaw commented at one point that people say there is a strong connection between his hometown of New Orleans and San Francisco, but that he thinks there’s a much deeper one with New York. You wouldn’t doubt it, watching the way this band and its audience became the best of friends, on the same musical wavelength, by the time the first song was over.

Only a few minutes into listening to their music, you understand The Revivalists name. They don’t just bring back good, old fashioned rock and roll; they celebrate it with uncontrollable joy. The way the band members uninhibitedly move around the stage, sway to the beat and interact with each other makes you feel like they’d have that much fun whether the audience was there or not – though they clearly get a high off the crowd’s energy. They love the hell out of what they’re playing. It’s hard to look like you’re having a blast playing the pedal steel guitar – the thing is essentially a table you sit at – but Ed Williams sure pulls it off.

The band, the crowd, everyone was dancing throughout the entire set. It seemed really important to the band that their audience had a good time, and they knocked themselves out to make sure of it, even though they wouldn’t have even had to try that hard – their passion for their music was contagious. Shaw didn’t just check in with the audience every now and then, he made every moment an interaction with them, frequently jumping off the stage to get right up to the crowd, and at other times sparking up sing-alongs.

The Revivalists are a group of solid musicians who play incredibly well together, their passion only highlighting their talent with energy. But to see them live is to definitely understand them better than you could ever do listening to their albums. A jam session-like guitar break can lose something when recorded, but live, it’s charged with electricity, and every note feels in the moment. Instrumental breaks in The Revivalists’ songs live feel like the guys just got swept up in the song and couldn’t stop riding the high, and everyone’s along for the ride.

Their ballads – make no mistake, even their ballads are powerful and in-your-face – are what make an easier transition recorded. Songs like “Fade Away” are radio-ready with a blues-driven twist. With a range that bounces from the song you can blast in your car to pick up your day to the song you can let loose to live, the group cements its status as a quintessential, classic rock and roll band. Their New Orleans roots drive that force home with bluesy rhythms and Southern gospel notes. A sax (played by Rob Ingraham) and keyboard (played by Michael Girardot) work with that lesser seen pedal steel guitar to bring new, Dixie-inspired elements to the familiar, comforting sounds of rock. When the crowd dispersed last night, feeling like they had made new friends in The Revivalists, no doubt, they were probably just a little disappointed to remember they were still in a city in the Northeast.

Article by: Courtney Iseman

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