The Revivalists return to sold-out Belly Up Aspen
IF YOU GO …
Who: The Revivalists
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 p.m.
How much: $48-$70
Tickets: Sold out; www.bellyupaspen.com
This remote mountain town wouldn’t seem like an ideal place for a music fanatic to get the jump on the next big things in pop. New York, Los Angeles, Nashville and Austin tend to have that locked down.
But it happens here, too. If you’ve been a regular at Belly Up Aspen over the past five years, you’ve had a front-row seat to the stratospheric rise of the New Orleans rock band The Revivalists.
Formed in 2007 while its seven members were in college in New Orleans, The Revivalists made their Belly Up debut in 2012, blowing the roof off the club in a free offseason show that won them a loyal, local fan base. They’ve come back regularly, hitting both Belly Up – where they most recently sold out a January show – and playing on the main stage at the Jazz Aspen Labor Day Experience – where they played to a sold-out crowd in December – as national buzz built around the band. The Revivalists return to Belly Up for another sell-out on Saturday.
In June 2015 at Belly Up, they previewed songs from their most recent album, “Men Amongst Mountains,” on the eve of its release. The record’s title track was inspired by the Rockies during one of the band’s many runs through Colorado.
“Men Amongst Mountains” has since made the band breakout rock stars — the single “Wish I Knew You” made it to No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Alternative chart and landed the band on “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” “Today,” “Conan” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” as it crossed over into the mainstream. The band went on two sold-out North American tours supporting the record.
Despite having a bona fide radio hit, they’re still primarily a live band, playing a funk- and soul-inflected brand of rock that could only be born in New Orleans and that metastasizes into freeform improvisation onstage.
“The place that soul music thrives is live,” lead singer David Shaw told The Aspen Times during one of the band’s recent stops in Aspen. “There’s an emotive style of singing and you can conjure up that emotion of when the song was written. So I think, out of playing live so much, we’ve found that’s something that everyone in the band gravitates to. So we’ve just been writing songs in that way.”
Sections of each song are open for musical tangents, out on what Shaw calls “the creative edge.”
“Sometimes it’s amazing and sometimes it’s like, ‘Whoa, bring it back, fellas,’” he said with a laugh. “But as a band you have to be willing to put yourself out there. That’s rock and roll.”
They recorded “Men Amongst Mountains” over the course of three weeks in Bogalusa, Louisiana, but Shaw and his hard-touring band mates wrote most of the songs onstage, night to night, with pieces of compositions coming together from improvisational moment to moment. If the high-octane energy of The Revivalists’ live show doesn’t always translate on their records, it’s because they’re the kind of band that feeds off of an audience and needs a crowd to create. At a handful of festivals, Shaw said, they’ve gone onstage without a set list, just with a few elements and pieces of songs to test out — looking to discover something new.
“Having an audience in front of you makes you rise to the occasion,” he explained. “Everyone’s in it. The communication is at a heightened pitch. It’s good for us to do that.”
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