Elephant Revival. If you don’t come out of one of their shows feeling refreshed, uplifted, happier…you may want to visit the doctor. Of course, we all change with every single action and thought, but Elephant Revival packs what seems like a whole lifetime of life lessons, revelations and beauty into a 2-hour set. So when you see them live, you’re sure to get more than just some time in a bar listening to music out of your experience. We need more of this…the conscious, deep-in-your-heart lyrical musicianship that’s infused in the music of Elephant Revival.
The band’s show at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Arkansas on April 24, 2013, was all heart and lots of love. One of the band’s members (Bonnie Paine) is from Talequah, Oklahoma – just a short drive to Fayetteville. The venue was peppered with long-time fans of Bonnie and the band, and I heard countless times from a number of people that Elephant Revival gets better with every show. This one was no exception.
I’ve seen Elephant Revival perform one other time (at Harvest Music Festival) and this show was completely different than that one. Both were equally as awesome, though…and I am super into equality!
The show began with a great set from Meandering Orange (I think an Oklahoma band, but I’m having trouble finding any information on them besides the festivals they’ve played). They plucked and played like the best of them, and I was pretty impressed with their song selection. One of the crowd’s favorites being a tune (according to a member of the band – a song about Facebook) with lyrics that went something like: Who really cares if I get stoned/lock all the doors, stay home all alone./It’s my God-given right to do as I please./I don’t worry ‘bout you, don’t you worry ‘bout me. From the start of the night’s music to the end, the stage was filled with great musicians and special appearances. Bridget Law accompanied the band on a few songs, and improvised (I assume) beautifully. Annie Paine (Bonnie’s sister) showed up frequently onstage during both band’s sets. Meandering Orange’s set ended and the band received an enthusiastic round of applause, hoots and hollers.
Elephant Revival took the stage just after ten – my kind of start time. They opened their set with a few songs performed by Bonnie Paine, Bridget Law and Annie Paine. Many of the songs the band played at the beginning of the set were recently written and had rarely been performed. One of the songs was written by Bonnie about her trip to Ghana, Africa. It was nice to see the band performing songs that aren’t typical; after one of the songs performed by the trio, Bonnie thanked the audience for listening, saying they felt comfortable performing the song that night. The whole evening felt special, and Elephant Revival was clearly glad to be back in Fayetteville playing for their large Arkansas-Oklahoma-Missouri fan base. The music swelled and ebbed, driving the crowd though a perfect mix of music styles and sentiments.
The second ‘part’ of Elephant Revival’s Wednesday-night set featured lots of ‘turkey-in-the-straw’-type dance tunes. Annie Paine played bass on a few songs, and the other members switched instruments and wowed the audience with great mandolin and banjo solos; and as usual, Bonnie was the supreme master of the washboard. The crowd’s energy raised with the band’s and we all celebrated music together. With every pluck of the mandolin, strum of the guitar, beat of the washboard, drum of the bass, warble of the fiddle and sweet song of the vocals, the crowd grew more attentive and entranced; so entranced, in fact, that during one song the audience was almost completely silent. It was fantastic.
The third ‘part’ of the show featured some of the more popular songs. The audience shouted out requests throughout the night, many of which were worked into the set. Before the encore, Bonnie and Annie Paine did a crowd-requested, beautiful, nearly-A cappella cover of the late Richie Havens. From the way it seemed, they don’t perform this song too often, but the two did a stellar job…it brought stars to my eyes and tears to others’!
After the Richie Havens song, Annie Paine thanked everybody for being there and it seemed the band was done. But in these days of totally expected encores, Elephant Revival was most certainly not finished. The last three songs were great choices: Ring Around the Moon (the requested ‘Any song with the musical saw’…which turned out to be a perfect pick for the almost-full moon that night), Grace of a Woman, and Dance with the Gypsies. Every moment of Elephant Revivals Fayetteville set caused a stir in my heart and even sometimes brought tears to my eyes. And even in spite of the fact there was a dude (who was out of his mind) standing beside me, claiming the band was being offensive by singing about Gypsies who also had an open wound on his hand from a skateboarding accident, brah – I had a wonderful time. A woman I met who has been traveling to the band’s shows told me she cries every time she sees Elephant Revival perform…and I can relate. But the tears fall from our eyes because of happiness, beauty and truth – there is nothing sad about an Elephant Revival show…except maybe the end.