New Orleans rock band The Revivalists earned their success the old-fashioned way: writing good songs and playing ‘em for people as often as they could. After 10 years of grinding, the veteran road dogs scored a platinum single with 2015’s breakout “Wish I Knew You,” setting the stage for their next wave of success with 2018’s Take Good Care and its hit “All My Friends.” We were happy to catch that wave as it crested, hosting the octet for its Austin City Limits debut, which we live streamed around the world.
“What a true honor it is to be here on this stage,” remarked singer David Shaw as the band took the stage. Then the band kicked off with “When I’m With You,” a slow build that turned into a mini-anthem. The group then launched a heavy groove that powered “Oh No,” a bluesy rocker that had the front row singing along. The radio hit “All My Friends” came next, filling the room with its catchy chorus. Shaw put down his guitar for “Change,” a song for the crowd to clap along with and sing the “Ooooohs.” The Revivalists kept the energy level up with “You and I,” Shaw advising the crowd to “give us the good stuff.” A certain psychedelic element crept into “Criminal,” courtesy pedal steel guitarist Ed Williams’ spacy tones, but the electricity never flagged, and the audience responded with its biggest cheers yet.
The band slowed the pace down slightly with “It Was a Sin,” which had a more measured tempo – at least until the bridge, when it all ramped up again. “Fade Away” dived deeper into the pool of soul balladry, a move the eager crowd adored. “Otherside of Paradise” explored more atmospheric pop, before “You Said It All” re-asserted groove without breaking the spell. That presaged “Got Love,” a gospel-inflected tune that carried the group’s love for old-school soul into the audience for some old-fashioned call-and-response. That vibe kept burning bright with “Celebration,” its unabashed “na-na” chorus evoking the titular feeling.
“We’re in the home stretch now!” declared Shaw, which meant that it was time for the Big Hit. Sure enough, the band went straight into “Wish I Knew You,” the lyrics’ yearning tone riding the song’s irresistibly smooth pop groove into a massive crowd singalong. The Revivalists quit the stage to massive applause. But of course the show wasn’t over; a meditative piano line and Shaw strumming an acoustic guitar signaled the start of “Soulfight,” a lighter-waver of the first order that had the crowd going wild. That was the real end, with band and audience happy beyond words. It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.