With increasingly unstable tensions abroad and tax day looming, it’s safe to say that everyone is in need of a diversion. Luckily, the jubilant crowd at Headliners Music Hall got that and more when Elephant Revival and openers Dead Horses came to town on Friday evening for a sold-out performance at the Louisville music venue. Elephant Revival helped those in attendance forget their struggles with a night of captivating and emotionally resonant music that spanned the emotional spectrum.
Since their inception, Elephant Revival has made it their mission to imbue their genre-bending songs with a message of hope and human connection. The band is dynamic, oscillating from whispers to thunderous crashes, as they take audiences on musical journeys each night that can elicit tears and then laughter within moments of one another. They accomplish this impressive feat thanks to the diverse span of the idiosyncratic voice meticulously crafted by the band.
Our own Rex Thomson has put together a series of videos from the show to illustrate how each member contributes to the entrancing whole. But before we get there, let’s start with the evening’s opening act, Dead Horses. Hailing from Wisconsin, the trio is powered by the startling power of vocalist Sarah Vos. Vos’ emotional delivery and engaging stage presence serves as a lightning rod for listeners that is impossible to ignore. Steeped in old-time vibes, the stripped-down, single-mic performance method of bluegrass outfit Dead Horses still manages to impress, in large part due to their innovative songwriting. Check out their set-closing rendition of their single “Ain’t Got Time,” with special guest Charlie Rose of Elephant Revival on banjo below.
“Ain’t Got Time”
Though some were sad to see Dead Horses go, the anticipation for Elephant Revival was palpable in the room. This was the band’s first headlining gig in Louisville a few years, and folks were interested to see how the band had progressed in that time. With a roster addition and loads of new material, there were new dynamics to see and appreciate.
Before we get into the individual spotlights, let’s start with something the whole band wanted to say together. Elephant Revival has always tried to seek out and support causes that resonate with them. The recent upsurge in refugees from war and terror is a terrible reality, one that needs to be addressed by all of us and one that is being championed by the Colorado-based ensemble. While wishing for peace, we need to help those displaced by the realities of conflicts around the globe. Elephant Revival recently filmed and released a music video for their song “When I Fall,” off their latest release Petals. All proceeds from the sales of digital downloads of the video are being donated to the National Network Of Immigrant And Refugee Rights (check out more about this most worthy cause here). Listen to Elephant Revival perform the tune on Friday below.
“When I Fall”
The Charlie Rose-penned “Sea Monster” starts off our focus features. Rose works some intriguing banjo sounds into the mix by adjusting turnings as he plays. Lyrically ,the song is a lament for the ever increasing islands of plastic waste that litter the oceans and a call to arms against waste. His vision fits well into Elephant Revival’s long-standing views on reducing, reusing, and recycling as the only sane way to help lessen our noxious impact on Mother Earth. Give a listen to the song below.
As Bonnie Paine goes, so does Elephant Revival. Her angelic voice and multi-instrumental skills are intrinsic to the band’s sound and spirit. While she is a important ingredient to any performance by the band, her lilting voice and bow work on the musical saw during “Season Song” was one of the more poignant moments of the evening.
Bassist Dango Rose handed off his four-string stand-up bass to take up the mandolin lead for a bucolic take on “The Pasture.” During his introduction of the song, he quipped that the fresh green rolling hills that lined their drive across Kentucky had reminded him of the tune. The evocative melody makes it easy to close your eyes and imagine yourself wandering the fields in the warm breeze of summer. Try it as you listen to the tune below.
Bridget Law mixes many roots elements from the mountains to the Isle of Ireland and beyond. Her ability to switch between lush chords and lightning leads on the fly is a powerful element in the Elephant Revival periodic table of goodness. Watch as she takes the reigns and leads the band in a whirling and twirling sonic ode to joy itself.
Singer-songwriter Daniel Rodriguez has a predilection for writing song about movement and transformation. His contributions to Elephant Revival always stir the mind and body with a trademark sonic call to action. Watch below as he blends his playing with an aching, heartfelt drive to push past limitations on the delightful song”Spinning” below.
Each of the songs shared above may feature one member more prominently than others, but first and foremost Elephant Revival is a band. Their cohesion as a unit is one of their hallmarks. Their comfort with each other and the lack of ego in their group dynamic makes it remarkably easy for them to welcome guests to the stage. Having spent so much time eagerly sharing the spotlight among themselves, the band is very adept at letting guests at the wheel of the powerful machine they have built. To close out the evening Elephant Revival welcomed Dead Horses back to the stage for an all smiles sing-a-long rendition of their ode to the magic of women. With a pair of recent births among their extended families, Rodriguez noted that the song meant more to him now than ever before. Check out the show closing silliness below.
“Grace Of A Woman”
Like all good things the show had to end, and Headliners was filled with cheers and shouts of undying love. Life itself is made special by its limitations. Beauty fades and moments pass. In those transitory moments between birth and death, we are offered a chance to experience moments that transcend the mundane and give us a glimpse of how wondrous the gift we share is. The true magic of an Elephant Revival show is how often and resoundingly you are reminded of how our different strengths can be merged to create something far greater together than could ever be accomplished alone.