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A revival at The Independent with The Revivalists

The RevivalistsBy Tom Dellinger //

The Revivalists with KOLARS //
The Independent – San Francisco
March 19th, 2016 //

The term “revival” conjures up images of being renewed, restored or revived — physically, mentally or spiritually — and is something we often seek in our lives from time to time.

Growing up in the South, I can recall the days when religious revivals used to roll into town, setting up their tents and attracting the locals to be spiritually renewed by seeking that deep experience. Today’s music scene shares a great deal in common with those fond memories of mine, and on Saturday night, The Revivalists honored that expectation in a very big way as they played their second show of a two-night, sold-out run at The Independent.

The Revivalists

The line started forming early for Saturday’s show as Bay Area fans and ones from as far away as the East Coast arrived. Many I met were active in the fan community, known as Rev Heads and had attended Friday night’s show. As was mentioned to me more than once, many agreed that the group’s cover of Grateful Dead’s “Morning Dew” the night before had been a pleasant surprise. And as is the case with many bands today, The Revivalists have also earned the love of an expanding and dedicated fan base that will go to great lengths to see them perform all over the world.

After witnessing Saturday’s performance, it’s easy now to see why. With three full-length albums under its belt — including 2010’s Vital Signs, 2014’s two-disc set City of Sound and most recently Men Amongst Mountains in 2015 — and a busy touring schedule, the band has clearly established itself with fans as well as venues and festivals.

The Revivalists

A beaming David Shaw led the New Orleans-based septet onstage as they launched into “Keep Going”, a tune that instantly had the house dancing and rocking. With Shaw (guitar, vocals), Zack Feinberg (guitar), Ed Williams (pedal steel guitar), Rob Ingraham (saxophone), George Gekas (bass), Andrew Campanelli (drums) and Michael Girardot (keyboards, trumpet), The Revivalists took us through their catalog to what felt like impossible heights at times. It was a dynamic show with excellent song choices that kept the house energized and the fans happy.

Slowing down a little once in a while, the band played flawlessly, and as the evening went on, one had the sense something rare was beginning to take place. If you experience a lot of live music, we all see this once in a while. The energy from the band to the audience is established and returned, but once in a while, that energy seems to grow well beyond expectations and everybody feels it. If you’re lucky, the performance becomes transcendent, which is exactly what happened on Saturday night. Everybody in the band played with a passion that was a straight shot to the heart. If you weren’t already a fan of The Revivalists, this performance most certainly sealed the deal.

The Revivalists

The fans were intense, the band was intense and the joy between the two was off the charts. It was obvious they were having a great night. They seemed relaxed from the beginning and by the end of the night were ripping into every note with abandon. After the scorching set closer “Criminal”, the band returned for a three-song encore to close things out, only to return one more time for a stupendous rendition of “Gimme Shelter”. For those in the house who came from both far and near, it turned out to be a pretty good bargain; we made the journey to The Revivalists, and in return, our souls were once again rejuvenated. The spirit of their music touched us all in that unique way good music does. There was no substitute.

Opening the show were KOLARS, an alternative-indie duo consisting of husband Rob Kolar (guitar, vocals) and wife Lauren Brown Kolar (drums, vocals). Though they are sometimes seen in the context of the Los Angeles band He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, they’ve been taking this minimalist approach, which served them well in SF. Offering a set of songs that defy categorization (they coin their music as “desert disco, glam-a-billy, space blues and R&Beyond”), their opening set continued to build as they earned a positive response from those around me.

Setlist:
Keep Going
Monster
Souls Too Loud
Appreciate Me I
Appreciate Me II
Catching Fireflies
Fade Away
Move On
Bullet Proof Vest
Strawman
BTBD
Gold to Glass
Wish I Knew You
Criminal

Encore #1:
King of What
I Believe It Was a Sin
Soulfight

Encore #2:
Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones cover)

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