now is a good time to start listening to the revivalists

 Photo by Ryan McMahill

Photo by Ryan McMahill

Concerts are supposed to be an encapsulating experience from beginning to end, meant to challenge the senses and help form your opinions on the music industry as a whole.

And last month, The Revivalists – a seven-piece band from New Orleans – brought exactly that to Chicago’s intimate Concord Music Hall.

Formed back in 2007, The Revivalists’ style of music can only be described by those who have had the pleasure of listening to it – especially in a live setting where their music thrives. Before seeing them live for the first time, I described them to most as a hybrid of several bands mixed into one super group. 

From the haunting vocals of lead singer David Shaw to a loaded arrangement of six extremely talented musicians on the pedal steel guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, saxophone, trumpet, and guitar; The Revivalists’ music seems to grow legs in a live setting.

Any band is truly at their best when they play off the emotions of the crowd and reciprocate their energy on stage. From the onset, you could sense a majority of Concord’s crowd that night had been preparing for this show throughout the entirety of the day. 

For me, the anticipation had been growing for weeks, mostly because I had no idea what to expect from the group in a live rendition. My gut said it was going to be an experience for the ages, and per usual – one’s gut never lies. 

With The Revivalists, it’s like Pearl Jam met a New Orleans funk/soul/jazz band and had a beautiful child to bless the world with. They’re that good. 

So, on that December evening in Chicago, after their raucous show nearly brought the house down, I wasn’t sure what they could have left for an encore. I had been anticipating “Stand Up,” one of my favorite songs off their newest album, Men Amongst Mountains, but knew that all bets were off. 

Well, hopefully the janitorial crew at Concord grabbed my jaw off the floor – because they closed the show with “Forget About Dre.” Yes, that Forget About Dre,the Slim Shady and Dr. Dre record from 2000. I thought I had seen it all throughout all my live concert-going experiences, but not even close. 

The show felt more like a Jazz Fest or Lollapalooza aftershow than a typical Saturday night concert in December, but that’s The Revivalists in a nutshell. Never cheating their fans or their newest listeners, but rather, spoiling them in a way they hadn’t experienced before.

Shit, it might not be long before they’re playing a sunny, jazzy afternoon set at Lollapalooza. Coming off their best album yet, The Revivalists aren’t going anywhere.

Probably a good time to start paying attention.