Words by Bill San Antonio
Last fall, Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan took his wildly popular Revival Tour to Europe and the United Kingdom for 17 shows in 21 nights. This spring, the Tour went back on the road stateside for the first time since 2009, for 33 shows in 31 nights, and rolled through Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom on March 30 for two, three-hour sets of punk-inspired folk music.
The Tour was headlined by Against Me!’s Tom Gabel and Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano, as well as singer/songwriter Cory Branan, alongside Ragan and the oft-accompanying Joe Ginsberg on upright bass and Jon Guant on the electric fiddle.
Special guests have always been a mainstay of the Tour, and Brooklyn native Kayleigh Goldsworthy and Revival veteran Jenny Owens Young performed during the sold-out Bowery shows.
In addition, the Loved Ones’ Dave Hause, who helped headline the European tour, picked up on the March 28 Philadelphia show and stayed on — as earlier guests Tim Barry of Avail and Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem did not — to continue playing through stops in Providence, the Bowery, and Pittsburgh.
The group performed acoustic folk arrangements of songs spanning their expansive band and solo catalogs, with each artist playing anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.
Though set lists varied in song choice and order between the two shows, the longtime Revival tradition of the entire tour joining one another onstage for free-form, jam session-style collaborations of each other’s music remained, particularly on Ragan’s “Meet You in the Middle,” Alkaline Trio’s “I Was a Prayer” and Branan’s “Wayward and Down.”
Branan, a Southaven, Miss. native, overcame guitar feedback problems during his first set and a slurring of his lyrics during the second in performing tracks off his upcoming Bloodshot Records release, set for May 22. His aggressive guitar rhythms and near-spoken word lyrics stirred a fairly mellow crowd during the first set and earned kind words from his peers.
“It’s not every day you can say you’ve met one of your favorite songwriters and favorite people,” Andraino said of Branan to the crowd before beginning his early set. “But I can say that.”
Goldsworthy, also performing off her upcoming album release, was the only performer who performed near-identical set lists for each show, mixing the order of singles “I Want You Around” and “Tennessee,” which have made their rounds across the Internet. During each of her sets, she was joined by a giddy Ragan, who accompanied on backing vocals and harmonica.
As Ragan promised before each show began, surprises were plentiful throughout the night, as Owens Young performed an abrasive cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and broke a string later in her set during the second show.
Following an early set in which he spent more time thanking Ragan for bringing him along on the tour than actually performing, Hause played Hot Water Music’s “Trusty Chords” — a song that he acknowledged brought unwanted attention with various YouTube videos of his rendition — upon which both Ragan and Andriano sang backing vocals.
Andriano balanced each of his sets between Alkaline Trio hits and tracks from his 2011 solo L.P., Dan Andriano In The Emergency Room (Asian Man Records), even opting for an unexpected song choice during his latter set by playing the Trio’s “Radio” — albeit with Ragan on guitar and lead vocals — for the first time as a solo artist.
The disparity in song choice was most apparent in Gabel’s two sets, as he peppered the early crowd with solo material and bombarded a raucous crowd comprised of many Against Me! fans with the band’s best sing-alongs during the second. Gabel’s second act performances were so intense that Ragan, waiting with his guitar in hand atop the stage’s corner staircase, insisted he play one more song before starting.
TheWaster.com | New York City