The Revivalists at Mercury Lounge 1/30/13

New Orleans’ The Revivalists played to a sold-out Mercury Lounge on Wednesday night.  It was my first time seeing them, as I have heard nothing but good things from many friends and acquaintances.  After hearing an “In The Studio” session on SiriusXM_Jam-On several days ago, it became quite clear that I was not missing this show. It’s hard to pigeon-hole these guys into one genre.  They are from NOLA and definitely get funky, but there is clearly some indie-rock elements, along with lyrical content that is borderline pop.  What this adds up to is a sound that is extremely unique, yet one that could very easily find a modicum of mainstream success.

They seem to be doing fairly well for themselves already, as they had a successful 2012 while touring in support of their second album City of Sound.  Having just been announced for the Governor’s Ball lineup this June in NYC, and the fact that musicians like Warren Haynes and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam have come out and played with them on stage, gives credence to the recognition that The Revivalists have received.  On Wednesday night, it became quite clear early on that these guys have a long career ahead of them.

Scott Metzger’s Wolf! (yes, they use “proper punctuation”) opened the night with some guitar-driven, grungy rockabilly.  Having just seen Metzger tear it up at Brooklyn Bowl this past weekend for Joe Russo’s Almost Dead set, it was interesting to see how versatile of a player he can be.  I enjoyed it, as I don’t get to hear that style of music too often, especially in a live setting.

The Revivalists came out with a lot of energy, and didn’t let up at any point.  Within three to four songs, lead singer/guitarist Dave Shaw’s shirt was soaked all the way through.  He has great stage presence and knows how to work a crowd; a must in a frontman.  “Criminal,” the first single off City of Sounds, had the crowd going early, especially with its catchy chorus which provided ample sing-along opportunities for the crowd –

I’m a criminal I do this everyday
I take the low road
I roam the highways
Maybe we’ll meet again
Maybe we’ll die today
Maybe we’ll live forever never throw this love away

“Purple Heart” sounds like something out of the 90′s grunge/alternative scene, except it stays true to the bands roots, with a swampy sound that is unmistakably southern.  On “Navigate Below,” drummer Andrew Campanelli breaks out his inner Stewart Copeland (The Police).  You hear a distinct reggae beat as the song builds and opens up into the chorus.  Their knack at writing songs that are not only easy to get down to, but heartfelt and meaningful is a testament to the chemistry of the band as one unit.

“Elementary” brings back that funk, with a fat bass line from George Gekas and a chance for Rob Ingraham to shine on his sax.  Per fan request, “Hurricane Winslow” was clearly a favorite for many long-time fans in the audience; and I have to say for myself as well.  It took the pace down just a notch, but in the most serene way possible.  This is a really well-written song, that could easily find it’s place on anybody’s favorite songs list.  “Catching Fireflies” gave the band another chance to bring the energy back up in the room, and they definitely delivered.  It also gave Ed Williams (Pedal Steel) a chance to shine, and shows how all the different elements of the band can come together so deftly as one cohesive unit.

The encore of “Whipping Post” was apropos, as my neck was beginning to ache from whipping my head around to the music all night.  It just has to be said that The Revivalists are definitely a band worth checking out, whether it is initially on an album, or downloading a couple of tracks; but eventually, you have to check out their live show, as the stage is where these guys belong.  If you are in or around New York City, The Revivalists will be making their way to Brooklyn Bowl on March 28th, and will be playing Mountain Jam and Governor’s Ball on June 6th and 7th, respectively.

Photos By Vernon Webb

For more information, tour dates, and to check out some music, visit The Revivalists website.

Check out The Revivalists video for “Criminal”:

Here is a featurette to “Catching Fireflies” which gives a look into the band: