The Revivalists were supposed to be on the main stage at the 2015 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in less than an hour, and the band was still driving into town. As lead singer and guitarist David Shaw recalls, they were touring in a Chevy Express — and the mile-high terrain had never been kind to that old bruiser.
“If there’s any weakness in something, the mountains in Colorado will expose it,” Shaw says.
And that day, they did. Car troubles slowed them down and they were screaming into Telluride at the last possible second. The Chevy hooked a right across a bridge to get to the artist’s staging area. But an overzealous volunteer stopped them in their tracks.
“If you guys are unloading for camping I’m going to have to mark your windshield,” Shaw remembers him saying as he brandished a dry-erase marker.
From the back, the frontman’s mane of cork-screw curls popped between the driver and passenger, a polite smile on his face. He could have reacted with anger or frustration. But instead, in Shaw’s characteristic sincerity, he explained: “Look, man, we’re The Revivalists, and we’re really late for our set.”
The band made it in time — despite the car troubles and hold-up on the bridge — but barely. And it was a killer show. The Revivalists were listed ninth on the lineup, fresh on the heels of their third album Men Amongst Mountains, featuring the hit single “Wish I Knew You.” That track went double platinum, topped out at No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart, and set a record in 2017 for the most plays ever recorded during a week’s time for any track on alternative rock radio ever (or at least since 1988, when the Mediabase tracking system was created).
Men Amongst Mountains launched The Revivalists into a new phase of their career in more ways than one. Not long after its release, they bought a Mercedes Sprinter van and ditched the Chevy Express. Looking back on that near-fiasco the first time they played Telluride Blues & Brews, Shaw says Telluride is still one of the most beautiful places he’s ever played. But the 40-year-old southerner is quick to add that Boulder is probably his favorite.
“Every show we ever played at [The Fox] always just felt like such a special show,” he says. “Those shows stick out in my mind. The crowd was always just ravenous.”
‘Nothing is a given’
The Revivalists played their last Fox Theater show in 2016, making their Red Rocks debut two years later. They’ve returned to the iconic venue each year since, and they’ll do it again on Sept. 14 when the band takes the hallowed stage for the sixth time. That same weekend, they’ll return to the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, this time as headliners. And they’ll be bringing a new album with them.
Released earlier this summer in June, Pour It All into the Night is the band’s fifth studio album and their first in five years. And to say it’s been well received would be an understatement. The album’s song “The Kid” returned the band to No. 1 on Adult Alternative Radio — the band’s fourth chart-topping track.
Shaw says people have seemed psyched about the new music as they’ve toured across the U.S. this summer.
“I feel like every night the voices from the crowd get a little bit louder. They learn those lyrics just a little bit more,” he says. “That definitely makes you feel good. It makes you think, ‘All right, this is resonating with the people.’”
Most of Pour It All Out into the Night was written during the COVID lockdowns in 2020. Shaw says he had just finished construction on his home studio, which he describes as a godsend — and not just because it would have been a challenge to get into a commercial studio at that time.
“It would have been tough,” Shaw says. “My wife would have been doing therapy sessions in the same room I was making music in, and I don’t know how it would have worked.”
In a sense, Shaw and co-founder of the band, Zach Feinberg, were out there doing their own therapy in Shaw’s backyard studio. The new album grapples with big topics like newfound fatherhood, marriage, social division and, of course, the personal hurdles brought on by the pandemic.
“[During lockdown] I had a creative boom and was writing a ton, spending a lot of time just by myself with my thoughts. And sometimes that’s good. Sometimes that can be bad,” Shaw says. “But I learned a lot about myself, and I learned that I needed to do a lot of work on myself. And I came out the other side a changed man, a better version of myself.”
The Revivalists have been hustling for almost 16 years. But most of the ground they’ve covered has been in the last eight, in that Mercedes Sprinter that replaced the old Chevy. And if the success of Pour It All Out into the Night is any indication, the band has a long way yet to go.
“I’m just really, really grateful for it all. Honestly, it’s crazy. Nothing is a given,” Shaw says. “I’m just happy to be still doing what I’m doing. And I think I speak for all of us when I say that.”