Upon pulling up to find parking outside The Hollow on November 5, I noticed a familiar face taking a solo stroll down Pearl Street. The late 20s/early 30s man was staring up at the many abandoned buildings that seem to colonize the area as of late. With a closer look, I realized the stranger was Zack Feinberg, guitarist of The Revivalists, the New Orleans based rock hybrid group I was about to see.
“Oh God, this place must look so lame,” I thought to myself.
Here is a band whose tour has recently included the likes of Telluride and Red Rocks in Colorado, various festivals including Kaaboo, a sold-out Halloween show at the 9:30 club in Washington D.C., and poor Zack here can’t even find a pizza joint open in downtown Albany on a Thursday night.
Fortunately the Hollow was jam packed on this particular evening. A combination of the unseasonably warm weather and the rising popularity for the raw talent of the band. I felt at ease that “Smallbany” would at least provide an energetic crowd, ranging from backwards snap-back sporting college girls to business casual school district administrators who were attending a conference nearby.
To my surprise, our small city and relatively petite venue seemed to have provided an opportunity for the band to relax and have some fun. While initially pulled back, singer Dave Shaw literally let his impressively voluminous hair down as he bounced about the stage. At times he crouched down so close to the women in the front row, I could practically feel the heat coming from their blushing faces. Had he removed his shirt – as he is known to do – I would have questioned whether we were at a concert or an evening with the Chippendales.
With a few exceptions, the set was mostly tunes from their most recent album Men Amongst Mountains, providing plenty of solo opportunities for the horn section featuring Rob Ingraham on the saxophone and Michael Girardot on trumpet and keys. These two help provide the familiar NOLA sound, while the steel pedal guitar played by Ed Williams announced a twang all his own.
Shaw continues to woo the ladies by physically joining them in the crowd. Even Williams jumps up from his steel guitar to playfully ask “Why don’t you love me, baby” during “When I’m Able,” a song from their City of Sound album. This particular song provides room for improvisation and crowd interaction. Crystal clear notes rise from the keys, Shaw breaks out the tambourine and an intense faceoff ensues between Feinberg and Williams. These guys are clearly having a blast in Cap City.
After exiting momentarily to take a breath, the septuplet returned to the stage for an encore of “Need You,” an emotionally charged and powerful song from the new album. And finally the cherry on top of this Cajun sundae, the boys closed out the evening with Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” Although they weren’t dressed the part as they did for their Halloween show, the Revivalists nailed the cover while adding their own grit to this pop classic.
If the Revivalists were unimpressed with Albany, it certainly wasn’t evident by the intensity of their set. So there you have it – at least when it comes to cities and venues – size apparently doesn’t matter.
Setlist: Bullet Proof, Stand Up, Fireflies, Amber, Monster, When I’m Able, Keep Going, Fade Away, Criminal, It Was a Sin, Wish I Knew You
Encore: Need You, When Doves Cry