I really wanted to be impressed with The Revivalists. A lot of my live music friends love them. I wanted to like them so much, that I decided to give them a second shot, even though I wasn’t too impressed the first time I saw them. You may recall that they were one of the acts that performed at the Levitate Music Festival, and I was underwhelmed by their set at that show. Read more here:
So, was my experience with The Revivalists different this time? Keep reading to find out!
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THE VENUE – THE FILLMORE
The Fillmore is one of my favorite music venues in Philadelphia. The size of the room is perfect. Even if you stand all the way in the back (which we did for this show), you are sill close enough to have a great view. The acoustics in the room are fantastic. The bathrooms are spacious and clean (always a plus!). Parking near the venue is easy and inexpensive. Plus, the venue is located in the Fishtown neighborhood, which has lots of restaurant and bars to choose from for your pre-show or post-show food and drinks.
The “original” Fillmore opened in San Francisco in 1965. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, that version of the Fillmore was the focal point of the psychedelic music scene. It helped launch the careers of bands like The Grateful Dead, Santana, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors.
The Philadelphia version of The Fillmore opened in the fall of 2015 in a 125-year-old metal building. The AJAX building was converted into a 25,000-square foot facility, that is really three venues in one. The main room holds 2,500 people. It has a large main stage, along with a large bar on each side of the room, a large bar in the back, and a balcony area. The Foundry is located on the second floor of the facility, and holds 450 people. It has a small stage, a large bar, and several comfortable seating areas around the perimeter. Finally, as you enter the facility you will be in what is called Ajax Hall. This is a lounge area where you can get food and drinks before the show. There is usually a DJ playing music before and after shows as well.
Tip #1: As mentioned above, The Fillmore is located in the up and coming Fishtown neighborhood. There are plenty of food options for grabbing a bite before the show. Two of my favorites are Frankford Hall, which serves German food and beer, and Fette Sau, which serves barbeque. If you want something a little less pricey and much more down to earth, grab a burger at Johnny Brenda’s. A Philadelphia institution itself, they also have live music regularly. It’s a great place to stop in after a show.
For The Revivalists’ show, we heard there was a pre-show gathering of fans (aka RevHeads) at Revolutions, which is a bowling alley/restaurant/bar in the complex where the Fillmore is located. We decided to go and check it out. When we walked in, we didn’t see a big gathering of fans hanging out. So, we decided to sit at the bar and grab a drink. The drinks were pretty disappointing. First, the beer list on the menu didn’t match what they actually had. My husband selected a beer he wanted to try from the menu, and was told they didn’t have it. So, he ended up with a PBR and a shot.
When the bartender brought him his drink, I noticed that the shot glass had a huge crack in it. He called the bartender over and pointed it out to her. She apologized, and then proceeded to get a new glass and just pour the original shot into it. My husband insisted on a new shot completely, and explained to her that he didn’t want to take the chance of drinking glass that might have broken off. She gave him a look, and then proceeded to tell him that she grew up in a poor country and had to drink dirt. What????
Our friends ordered the fried pickles. They waited almost 30 minutes for them to arrive, and then they weren’t good. Needless to say, we decided to move on.
Next, we tried out the VIP pre-show party at Punchline Comedy Club. We had attended the same party before the Trombone Shorty show a few months ago, and thought it was well done. I’m not sure if they were overwhelmed with people this time, but this was not the same experience. There was supposed to be a free food buffet. When we arrived 30 minutes in, there were no plates or utensils, and all that was left were a few falafel balls. They were tasty, but not enough to satisfy you if you were hungry. If there were drink specials, we weren’t offered any. Overall, the pre-show experience was a disappointment this time.
Tip #2: Parking near The Fillmore is easy. There are two lots located near the venue. The cost to park is typically $10-15. If your timing is good and you don’t mind walking a little further, you can typically find parking on Frankford Avenue or the surrounding neighborhood streets. Most of it is free, but be sure to read the signs to make sure you aren’t parked illegally. Also, be aware that the trolley comes down Frankford Avenue. I’ve seen people that haven’t parked close enough to the curb, and the trolley can’t get through. They will have your car towed if you are blocking the trolley route.
Tip #3: Because the venue is so small, there really isn’t a bad spot in the room. I usually hang out in the back next to the sound board. That keeps me out of the crowd. From there, I also have good access to the bar and to the bathrooms.
Mt. Joy is originally from Philadelphia, but is currently based out of Los Angeles. The name Mt. Joy comes from a mountain in Valley Forge National Park that is located just outside of Philadelphia. The band is made up of Matt Quinn (vocals/guitar), Sam Cooper (guitar), Michael Byrnes (bass), Sotiris Eliopoulos (drums), and Jackie Miclau (keys).
The band started when Quinn and Cooper were in high school, and began performing together in 2005. Unfortunately, despite trying to make a go of it, the duo determined at the end of college that making music wasn’t going to earn them enough money to live on. As a result, Cooper went off to law school in Philadelphia, and Quinn moved to LA to pursue a career in music management.
In early 2016, Cooper also moved out to LA for a job. Quinn and Cooper got back to making music together in their spare time. They recorded 4 original songs, but the music was still going nowhere for them.
So, Cooper moved back to Philadelphia to take a job in law, and Quinn enrolled in grad school in LA. Then suddenly, one of the songs they recorded – “Astrovan” – started getting some traction on the streaming platforms. As a result, Cooper put his career on hold and Quinn dropped out of grad school. They added the other members to the band, and they are now focusing on their music full-time.
The band will be releasing their first full album early next year. You can check out their 4 singles on Soundcloud. Their newest release – “Silver Lining” – is up on Amazon for you to download.
Mt. Joy took the stage at 9:00 p.m. I really enjoyed their music. It definitely has a lot of folk music influence to it. They played the song that helped them gain recognition – “Astrovan” – as the third song in their set. They also did a Neil Young cover during their set. The band played their newest release – “Silver Linings” – second from their last song.
I love the band’s sound. I think it’s unique and I hope they find an audience for their music.
The band has a couple more shows in November and December, and then starts back up on the road extensively in January. Check out their website for more info on tour dates, as well as links to their music. You can find them at www.mtjoyband.com.
The Revivalists are a New Orleans based rock band formed in 2007. The band is made up of David Shaw (lead vocals), Ed Williams (pedal steel guitar/guitar), Zack Feinberg (guitar), Rob Ingraham (saxophone), George Gekas (bass guitar), Andrew Campenelli (drums/percussion), and Michael Giradot (keyboards/trumpet).
In 2007, Feinberg was out riding his bike and happened to pass Shaw sitting on his front porch singing one of his original songs. Shaw had just moved to New Orleans a few weeks before, not only for the rich musical history of the city, but because he heard the city was in need of construction workers to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Feinberg and Shaw struck up a conversation, and almost immediately started collaborating on music.
Within a few weeks, they had recruited the other members of the band, and The Revivalists were formed. They started out playing small clubs in the area, and quickly became known for the 4-5 hour long shows.
Their second album – “City of Sound” – was self-released in 2012, and then re-released under the label Wind-up Records in March of 2014. The band spent four years relentlessly touring in support of “City of Sound”, and building a huge and dedicated fan base. The number of “Rev Heads”, as their fans are called, was starting to get bigger and bigger.
The band recorded their third album – “Men Against Mountains” – in just 21 days. It was released in July of 2015. Their break-out single from the album – “Wish I Knew You” – began gaining steam on the Adult Alternative chart in 2016. By 2017, the song crossed over onto the Alternative charts and became a staple on the radio in the spring and summer.
The popularity of the song landed The Revivalists appearances on national programs such as The Today Show, Jimmy Kimmel, and Ellen.
The Revivalists took the stage at 10:18 p.m. David Shaw was dressed in a tight black shirt and black velvet pants, and had his hair pulled back in his signature man bun. They opened their set with “Criminal”, and then kept playing song after song. Shaw didn’t address the crowd much. He did make a comment about playing in Philadelphia, and how cool the venue was. Referring to the chandeliers that hang from the ceiling and the art work hanging on the walls near the bar, he said there were “diamonds in the sky and acid on the walls”.
The stage featured a cat walk that allowed the band to walk out into the crowd, although they didn’t utilize it as much as I would have liked them to.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I really want to be impressed with a Revivalists’ show. I just can’t get there though. While they are fantastic musically, they just don’t have the energy that I need from a band. My theory is that the band has been playing small venues their entire career, and is struggling with the jump to a larger venue. One of the most important aspects of a live show to me, is how the band interacts with the crowd. If I just want to hear music and not get a “show”, I can save myself some money and just listen to the songs on Spotify. I don’t need fireworks, confetti or fancy costumes. I just need interaction. Shaw does not play to the “back of the room”, which he needs to do in order to get the whole crowd involved.
The Revivalists wrapped up their main set with “Wish I Knew You”, which is their radio hit and was a crowd favorite. That was the first point of the show where I felt the band’s energy picked up. Shaw even got the whole crowd involved by having us sing along with him. After a short break, the band came out and did three more songs for their encore. Again, the energy was much better and I really enjoyed that part of the show. I just wish it would have been consistent throughout the whole set.
Here is the set list from the show. Click on any of the songs to download them digitally through Amazon as well: Criminal, It Was A Sin, Bulletproof, Concrete (Fish Out Of Water), Fade Away, Navigate Below, Upright, ???, Soul’s Too Loud, ???, All In the Family, Amber, Got Love, Wish I Knew You. Encore: Gold to Glass, Stand Up, You and I
The band has a full calendar of tour dates in November and December. Check out their website at www.therevivalists.com to see when they are coming to a city near you.
Have questions about seeing a show at The Fillmore? Want to know more about Mt. Joy or The Revivalists? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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