As Bud-Light hats and wristbands were strewn about the audience at One Eyed Jacks Friday, the countdown to the Voodoo Experience had officially begun, and the Revivalists were there to kick off the party.
The show was the first of a series of “Road to Voodoo” concerts that will be held in coming months to promote the festival, which the Revivalists will be playing for the second year in a row. While the band grooved into the funky beat of “Concrete,” lead singer David Shaw strutted across the stage in what is becoming his signature suspenders, and took control of the crowd as if he was already at Voodoo.
Immediately, the band showed the audience why they’re becoming one of the most popular rock groups in the city: tasteful guitar solos that were never indulgent, a tight rhythm section, lush horn arrangements, and a wavy pedal-steel guitar that resonated over the crowd. That should have been enough to satisfy an audience, but the atmosphere was only at a simmer, and it was Shaw’s charisma that brought it to a boiling point.
As a lead singer, he’s capable of assuming many roles. Shaw can command the stage, amping up the audience like any great frontman, such as Bruce Springsteen or Mick Jagger. But he also knows when to step back and hunch over an acoustic guitar, letting other band members, such as saxophonist Rob Ingraham, exhibit their talents.
While each song flowed smoothly into one another, there weren’t many breaks in between songs. Aside from standouts like “When I’m Able” and “Catching Fireflies”, the rest of them had the tendency to coalesce into one sound, making the gig feel like one giant song. But none of this seemed to matter. It’s obvious that the group’s live act is what gains them attention. They have the ability to mystify the audience with infectious energy, making the crowd feel like they’re not even there to listen to music.
“You can call me a failure,” sang Shaw at one point during the night, but failure is not a word in his vocabulary, and the term has no place in the band’s mentality. They’re a group that stays within its capabilities—which are extensive—and never stray from who they actually are. The collective use of improvisation, pedal steel, tight horns, and a voice that sounds like it came right out of the ’90s creates a sound that’s entirely their own. Even if the gig sounded like one sound, at least it was theirs.
Full set list for the show:
“Let It All Out”
“When I’m Able”
“When I Die”
“Up in the Air”
“Not Turn Away”