The Revivalists Revive San Francisco’s Live Music Scene

in SF Concert Reviews by

The young man I was talking to in the crowd on Saturday night put it best when he said about the Revivalists: “I love this band because it’s something that both my dad and I can listen to.” Indeed, the Revivalists have a formula that not only makes them current but also pulls in older influences like Blues, Funk and Soul into a mix that can also appeal to a mature audience. On Saturday night, it seemed like everyone in San Francisco had come out to hear the band play the second of two sold out shows at the Independent, which had the audience on their feet dancing and clapping, from the moment they opened the show all the way into their two encores.

The Revivalists’ sound is huge. The seven members perform with a wide array of instruments from horns to slide guitar, to piano, the list goes on. Since forming in 2007, the seven-piece New Orleans roots-driven rock band have released two independent LPs, 2010’s “Vital Signs” and 2014’s “City of Sound,” and most recently their first full-length album, “Men Amongst Mountains.” According to the band’s website the title of their latest release “sums up our collective feeling,” said the singer, David Shaw. “We started to find ourselves on festival bills with our idols and in front of huge crowds. We thought, ‘We’re amongst these giants, but we’re holding our own.’ We felt like we stood up and met the challenge by simply being who we are as The Revivalists.”

The band is comprised of David Shaw (vocals), Zack Feinberg (guitar), Ed Williams (pedal steel guitar), Rob Ingraham (saxophone), George Gekas (bass), Andrew Campanelli (drums), and Michael Girardot (keys, trumpets). It’s this winning recipe of instrumentation that’s made their latest debut at #2 on the Billboard Alternative Albums Chart and in the Top 10 on the iTunes Alternative Albums Chart while quickly racking up nearly 2 million plays on Spotify all from a grassroots efforts and word of mouth. Rolling Stone, NPR, Nylon, have all given praise to this band with a unique sound. “Everyone adds his own unique imprint to it,” Shaw said. “There’s always an element of surprise, because it’ll be groove-oriented, but unconventional. We lock in, and something different happens.”

On Saturday night the band the band was definitely locked in and started the festivities with their album opener and lead single “Keep Going,” which recently shot into the Top 25 on the Triple A Chart. About the song Shaw had this to say: “It started out as an acoustic song I’d written,” he goes on. “I showed it to the band, and they brought it to life. I was pretty road-worn at the time and tired from touring. That’s what the opening line is all about. It’s that message to just keep going.”

The band kept going and quickly jumped into “Monster,” a melancholic song with a hypnotic shook that had everyone dancing the night away. This was followed by what seemed like an endless string of hit songs brilliantly laced one after the other. This band has the “it” factor and their performance in San Francisco really solidified that. They won’t be playing mid-sized venues for very much longer, as their sound is fit for much bigger places. Shaw puts it best when he said: “All that matters is that the art makes you feel something,” the singer said. “I’d love for it to take you away into the mood we felt when the song was actually created. I hope you can feel the general vibe of a song and have it be an escape—whether you’re listening to it at home or in the crowd at a show.”

It’s safe to say that on Saturday night in San Francisco the whole audience was not only feeling the music but was also fully aware that they were in the presence of greatness. Knowing in the back of their minds that the intimacy of a show of this size for a band like the Revivalists may never come again.

Set List

Keep Going
Souls Too Loud
Appreciate Me I
Appreciate Me II
Catching Fireflies
Fade Away
Move On
Bullet Proof Vest
Gold To Glass
Wish I Knew You

King of What
I Believe it Was a Sin

Encore 2:
Gimme Shelter
(The Rolling Stones cover)

Photo courtesy of Louis Raphael

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.