Written By: Vanessa Emery | Photography By: Brantley Gutierrez
The hottest musical act to hit Nantucket this summer sounds off to N Magazine.
Forty-five minutes. That’s about how long it took for tickets to The Revivalists to sell out at The Chicken Box. Riding the wave of success off their number-one single “Wish I Knew You,” The Revivalists are returning to Nantucket for the fifth straight summer on August 15th and 16th. Since last year, they’ve performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Ellen, they’ve been lauded by Rolling Stone and Forbes, and they’ve sold out massive arenas around the country. To see The Revivalists play in the intimate dive bar setting of The Chicken Box is an opportunity that’s becoming more and more rare. Before he hit the stage, The Revivalist’s bassist, George Gekas, sounded off to N Magazine.
N MAGAZINE: Had anyone in your band come to Nantucket before your first gig here?
GEKAS: I’m actually from Connecticut, and we spent summers on the Cape. We would do day trips to Martha’s Vineyard, but I had never been to Nantucket. So, I had heard of the place, but some of the guys had never heard of it before. We were able to go when the owner of The Chicken Box, our good friend Packy Norton, had a ton of bands come from New Orleans. We had some friends from the band Galactic put in a good word. Packy has gone above and beyond to show us the red carpet there ever since.
N MAGAZINE: How does the Chicken Box compare to other venues where you perform?
GEKAS: What’s really special about The Chicken Box is that you get the opportunity to see artists that would normally perform at a much larger location. But instead of being at a large venue, they’re right there, right up front, right in close. It gives the fans a completely different perspective, and it gives the musicians a different perspective. As we’ve progressed over the years, our stages have gotten bigger and bigger. It’s not that the crowd participation is different, it’s just that people aren’t right up on us anymore usually. The Chicken Box is one of the few rooms in the country where we still connect with the audience in that way.
N MAGAZINE: After you played last year, a lot of people were saying that they thought it would be your last show here — that you were getting too big to come to Nantucket. What made you decide to come back to Nantucket?
GEKAS: It’s the opportunity to get to hang with good friends and family. Everyone on the island has been spectacular to us. There’s a special vibe and feeling you get just from being here for a few days. I would like to think we could always find a way to make it work every summer, to be honest. It’d be great for us; it’d be great for the fans. Nantucket is a special kind of place that brings a special kind of feeling out.
N MAGAZINE: Your hit song “Wish I Knew You” has such a fun, funky, positive, and kind of nostalgic feel to it. Can you tell me about how the song was conceived?
GEKAS: I know the lyrical content [came from] Dave [Shaw] when he was talking about a specific person in his life. There’s a sense of nostalgia surrounding the song that I think everyone can connect to. And it’s not necessarily that times before were better than they are now, it’s just that people like remembering things fondly. It’s up for interpretation for anybody… We’ve had a lot of fans come out of the woodwork now saying that the song means something completely different to them than the next person than the next person. There’s kind of a universal feeling and appeal that has come out of this song.
N MAGAZINE: “Wish I knew you” is breaking records for alternative hits and is a clear fan favorite. What’s your favorite Revivalists song?
GEKAS: Everybody always asks that! I always say, it’s the next song we’re going to play. Sometimes you’re really excited to play a certain song, and other times you’re burned out, but either way you go out and perform it, play it, and love it because it’s part of the job. But yeah, I would say my favorite song is the next big song we’re debuting live.
N MAGAZINE: Your music has been described as a combination of genres, including blues, rock, funk, gospel, R&B, maybe some pop. Am I missing any genres? How would you describe it, and do you think it’s accessible to people because of the mixed genres or some other alchemy?
GEKAS: We’re a band of seven guys that listen to a lot of different music, and come from a lot of different backgrounds, and have a lot of different personalities. That’s expressed in how the music comes out. We’ve never intentionally said we need to have this song sound like this, it’s more about where we are as people at the time the songs are being conceived. And the second part of your question, there is something that gives our songs immediate accessibility. One of the things we pride ourselves on is to have people like our entire catalog and not necessarily just one song. Somebody’s favorite song could be “Wish I Knew You” or it could be a song from three albums ago. We cover a wide range, because it keeps it interesting and refreshing, and I think we have a lot to say. It’s natural for us to go with a wide approach.
N MAGAZINE: Is there anything else you would like to share with your current and soon-to-be admirers here on Nantucket?
GEKAS: I would say hopefully you can get a ticket or try to convince a friend to bring you who bought one. And we are always excited to come to Nantucket, always excited to play The Chicken Box, and we are going to try and do it for as long as we can.