The Revivalists, Sassafraz, and the Burning River Ramblers Throw Down Exciting Show at Beachland Ballroom

Concert Review

The Revivalists pack a high-energy NOLA-style punch, and they certainly brought everything they had last night to the Beachland Ballroom.

"Cleveland! Let's make this Tuesday a Friday real quick!" Frontman David Shaw leapt around the stage and got everyone in the room moving.

The Revivalists sport a groove-based sound (see music video below), one that certainly carries New Orleans DNA, but one that also builds on itself with every turn in the melody. Guitarist Zack Feinberg clearly has some Allman Brothers in his approach to the instrument, and his riffs often led the band deeper into funk throwdown territory. 

At one point, the band introduced a new song — sort of a bass-driven tune tinged with wah-funked guitars and jaunty brass. "When I'm Able" and "When I Die," a great pairing from the band's latest album, worked splendidly in the live setting.
Sassafraz, a funky jam band from Columbus, set things up midway through the bill. 

This was the first time I had seen these guys, but they've certainly been picking up acclaim in Ohio over the past few years. They've got a riff- and rhythm-based approach that teed up the crowd for the Revivalists really well. Guitarists Eric Turner and Zach Pontzer helmed the lead work alongside sax man Jack Gould, while the rest of the band pummeled infectious grooves throughout the set. ("The best rhythm section in all of Ohio," Gould said at one point, opening the door for awesome bass and drum solos.)

These guys also rolled out a new song — this one being played for only the second time and not yet even having a title. With sort of a moodier and gentler vibe, it was one of their best songs of the night, I'd say, so it'd be great to catch that one in future sets. 

During set breaks, the crowd was clearly having a great time. The bar was packed, and plenty of old acquaintances intermingled. Good music brings out good folks. (Shout-out to Mr. Eric Tuokkala if you're reading!)

The Burning River Ramblers opened the night's festivities, bringing a huge and very active crowd.

There was a stretch of time around 2012 when I was seeing the Ramblers pretty often. Their last album, To Color a Fool, hit all the right notes and allowed them to really broaden their sound onstage. They're simultaneously one of the most beloved local bands and one of the music scene's best kept secrets. 

Last night, they rewarded the packed house with a danceable and extremely heavy set of their own brand of alt-rock 'n' roll. The closing sequence of "Two Guns" > "Undertow," "Sad Earn" was impressive. 

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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