The Revivalists are playing in Augusta for the first time on Saturday, Sept. 20. And the band is making the first visit count, by playing not only a 7:30 p.m. show at the Arts in the Heart of Augusta festival but also a late-night show at 10:30 p.m. at Sky City.
“It’s going to be kind of interesting to play like, I’m assuming it’s like a family outdoor festival and what could turn into a late-night sweaty rock show,” bassist George Gekas said during an early September phone interview.
“We’ve done that before, that kind of thing. I know we’ve done it, it seems just right off the top of my head, we’ve done it before in New Orleans (the Revivalists’ hometown) for Voodoo (Festival) and Jazz Festival in the day and had a night show, but I’m trying to think if we’ve ever done it outside of New Orleans. This might actually be a first where we’ve done double trouble in another town.”
The Revivalists’ debut appearance in Augusta seems overdue, considering the Southeast has become a touring stronghold for the group. The Revivalists aren’t strangers to Georgia, either, having played Atlanta and Athens several times.
“We’ve actually never been through Augusta, but I’m pretty sure anywhere else in the Southeast we’ve gone five or six times now,” Gekas said.
The heavy tour schedule the Revivalists have maintained since around 2008 (when the group released its self-titled debut EP) has paid off. While the band tours nationwide, the growth of its audience is especially apparent in the Southeast, where crowds have really picked up over the past year.
“All of a sudden, like this last tour in particular, most of the places in the Southeast we seem to be doing better than we’ve ever done,” Gekas said. “I think it’s a combination of us constantly touring and word of mouth. … I remember years ago, there would be like maybe 20 or 30 or 50 people and they’d be up front, and now they’re in front of quadruple the number of people. They’re still able to get up front there.
“We’ve definitely grown exponentially in the past couple of years.”
The band – Gekas, David Shaw (vocals), Ed Williams (pedal steel guitar), Zack Feinberg (guitar). Rob Ingraham (saxophone), Andrew Campanelli (drums) and Michael Girardot (keyboards/trumpet) – is now positioned for even bigger things after being largely a do-it-yourself endeavor for most of its seven-year history.
Last year, the group signed with Wind-Up Records, the label home to Filter and Five for Fighting, and a company that in the past has released hit albums by Creed and Seether. This puts the Revivalists on a significantly bigger platform moving forward.
“We wanted to sign with a label to play with the big boys, to jump into the deep side of the pool, so to speak,” Gekas said.
What’s also helping the group is the musical growth that has occurred over the course of three releases – the self-titled EP, 2010’s full-length Vital Signs and the current album City of Sound (which was re-released in March on Wind-Up with a second disc of live tracks).
City of Sound, which was produced by the team of Ben Ellman (of the band Galactic) and Mikael “Count” Eldridge, found the Revivalists sharpening their songwriting while also broadening their music stylistically and adding a variety of textures to their music.
Like many bands from New Orleans, strong elements of funk and soul run through the music on City of Sound and are especially pronounced on Upright, whose measured pulse and dark overtones create a pleasant tension, and Chase’s House, which has a little folk to go with its smooth, horn-centered sound.
But the Revivalists are first and foremost a rock band, which means songs such as Navigate Below, Masquerade and Criminal have some snap, crackle and pop to go with their grooves.
The Revivalists are well into recording a new album, with Ellman and Eldridge once again producing.
“We probably had 30 (song) ideas that we were fishing around with,” Gekas said. “Some were completely done, and some were literally a jam. Some were songs that were just vocal and an acoustic guitar. Then we cut that down to around 20, and then we fleshed out enough of those songs to be able to be comfortable to take it to a studio setting.
“And then from there, we went to 14. Now I think we’re going to try and get back (in the studio) and maybe cut a few more. I’m just realizing it now, this is a process we’re going to have for the rest of our careers.
“We’re really excited about what’s going to come out,” he continued. “It’s been awhile (since City of Sound). It’s been almost four years for our fans, but we think they’re going to be really excited.”