Elephant Revival has been winding their way down the Eastern seaboard, reverse tracking the path of the recent storms, bringing sunshine and positive vibrations to those in need. With a receptive crowd packing the Georgia Theatre in Athens, GA last night eager to hear their brand of transcendental folk music, the band was ready to preach to the choir and convert fresh fans to their cause. Over the course of a set of delicate musical passages and rip roaring sing-a-longs, Elephant Revival did all that and more.
Armed with fresh songs from their latest release, Petals, the band played an eclectic set that saw each member take the lead and run with it. Whether it was fiddler Bridget Law calling the tune on band classics like “Single Beds Are Made For One” or bass player Dango Rose showing off vocal skills to match his throbbing intonations on “When I Fall,” the name of the game was parity.
The band’s other Rose, banjo, mandolin and pedal steel player Charlie Rose, lent his rolling notes and soaring steel licks to the affair, enhancing the feeling of a sacred ritual being performed. Newly added touring percussionist Darren Garvey has shown great musical savvy in finding ways to enhance the band’s sound without changing the atmosphere that has won Elephant Revival a legion of fans across the nation.
Guitarist and vocalist Daniel Rodriguez in particular seemed to be in fine spirits and even finer musical spaces, as his grins seemed to outnumber the notes he played. On tracks like “Spinning” and Sea Monster” he handled the lyrical duties with the same devotion to intonation he showed each chord and plucked note throughout the night. His partner in crime at the front of the band, however, stole the show with a bravura performance.
Whether captivating the crowd while leading a reverential a cappella version of “The Raven,” coaxing haunting melodies out of a musical saw or driving the tempo with her stomp box, drums and washboard, Bonnie Paine did it all. Sharing the stories behind the mesmerizing music she revealed a slowly forming song cycle as the heart of some of her best loved compositions, promising delighted fans more in the series to come. Simply put, as Paine goes so does Elephant Revival, and as usual she went to the heart of listeners and immediately set up shop for the rest of the evening.
The thunderous applause and heartfelt pleas for more kept the band from going too far before returning for a double encore that included the always invigorating ‘Grace Of A Woman” and it’s tribute to the power of women. In a band like Elephant Revival that so wonderfully blends the energy of the sexes, it is truly fitting to see them join their voices and skills together. In a male dominated field like the music industry, it is a welcome sign to see their brand of joy so well received by fans of all ages and genders.
Openers River Whyless, from Asheville, North Carolina showed a remarkably resilient and musically dexterous spirit throughout their set. Problems with their gear forced them to abandon their set list and the stage itself to take a special fully acoustic approach to their material. While not a true representation of what this home spun and intriguing band is capable of, the audience was nevertheless taken with their can-do spirit. It’s certain that all those in attendance were charmed by their energy and will be eagerly seeking out the band in the future.