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Words and Pictures by Layne Lindroth
Despite the chilly Chicago air, fans assembled along the Milwaukee Avenue sidewalk long before doors-open in hopes of snagging a front row spot for The Revivalists. The band’s most dedicated fans—also known as “Revheads”—swapped stories of their favorite encounters with the band and their hopes for the setlist to come. One fan casually mentioned to some first-timers that he’d seen the band over sixty times and still thought each performance was the greatest. A band warranting sixty plus ticket purchases had to be incredible; only a couple hours before we newcomers would find out.
Finally the band—minus one—settled into their positions onstage and played the uptempo opening notes of “Bulletproof”, signaling lead singer David Shaw to center stage. From the second his wireless microphone left its stand Shaw was in perpetual motion: walking through the photography pit, stepping on gear boxes to get closer to fans, and every once in a while, launching his 6’5”-ish self high into the air. The neo-funk rock band makes the Energizer bunny look apathetic. The third song of the set, “Keep Going”, had even the most stoic of concertgoers pumping a fist and shouting the battle cry chorus, “We’ve gotta keep going, keep going, don’t care what anybody say, let the law take us away.”
Shaw continued to weave his way around the stage, riling up the crowd with his bouncing arms and strained, soulful vocals. The funky-groovy arrangement of “Stand Up” successfully institutes timewarp technology, making those not dressed in flare jeans and tie-dye feel out of place at the modern Concord Music Hall. The breezy saxophone, jumpy keys, and of course the lyrics, channel the blue-collar New Orleans roots of The Revivalists.
It looks like this weekend hasn't been great for festivals in the Midwest -- as I mentioned in day one's post, headliner Sam Smith's set on Friday was cut short due to weather. I'd only barely gotten back to my temporary home when strong winds and torrential downpours swept through Louisville. Apparently Pitchfork back in Chicago had much of the same today, based on what I've seen on the Twitters. Forecastle's Saturday start was pushed back about an hour as the crews prepared the festival grounds for visitors. It was perhaps the worst time of day to have hundreds of people waiting in line, however, with no cover from the shade and many without any water (unlike other festivals, you're not permitted to bring in any water, even if it's in sealed containers, although there are plenty of places to fill up your own water bottle once you get in). After some confusion over when gates would open, the audience was finally allowed in, the schedule was adjusted, and the music began.
I started my day out by catching a few songs from Nashville-based singer Jeffrey James. His energetic, full-band pop songs were a great way to start out what had been a frustrating morning. It was maybe a litte too hot to dance -- most of the people hanging out at the Port Stage were sitting up on the hillside, under the trees -- but this was certainly music that you could shake your butts to.