At this moment, David Shaw boasts rock’s most impressive man-bun. I don’t anticipate a lot of wrangling or pushback over this opinion. When Shaw elects to bun up, it’s a colossus of bunmanship- in its own more subtle way, as impressive a hair turn as A Flock of Seagulls’ Mike Score graced the world with 40 years ago. And you can’t pass up the chance to see rock’s most impressive man-bun in person, can you?
If you did, condolences. The Revivalists’ leader, staking out on his own for the time being and touring his first solo full-length, matched the outdoor warmth at the Historic Scoot Inn on July 10 with a set of eclectic, comfortable rock suited to the occasion. His self-titled album could easily be termed “patio rock,” and if that sounds like a slam, don’t let it. It’s just … comfortable, and filling a humid summer night with it was a fairly perfect marriage of atmosphere and sonics.
Shaw’s record isn’t entirely divorced from the soul-rock jamminess of the Revivalists, but he more prominently weaves in elements of trad country, Americana, and even a bit of radio pop. The energy and feel of these songs made for a good time, and Shaw’s passion for them was evident. “Promised Land,” coming early in the set, is midtempo Americana pop with a jaded (but increasingly impossible to deny) worldview, but Shaw and band shifted easily between genres into the likes of the funkier, more triumphant “I Can Hear You Calling” and “Bad Side of You,” which sounded like a muscled-up take on one of Robert Palmer’s bouncy ’80s hits.
Losing his Western shirt early in the set in favor of the white tank he had underneath, Shaw cut a distinctive, rockin’-or-doing-sweaty-lawn-work figure, using the whole stage and at one point leaving it. Perhaps the highlight of the set was a surprising and even illuminating cover: Maggie Koerner, fellow New Orleans singer and the talented, rangy-voiced opening act, joined the band for Mazzy Starr’s “Fade Into You.” Koerner matched Hope Sandoval’s dreaminess on the original while also giving it a just-as-hypnotic old-country feel. If you’re someone who never really thought about any sort of link between country and dream-alternative, well, there you go. That duet was mesmerizing.
The Revivalists’ big hit “Wish I Knew You” is an towering titan of ’10s soul-rock, and Shaw may never cowrite a song as great as it again, either as a solo artist or with the band. But he’s got both a cross-genre curiosity and a sufficiently keen songwriting perspective to keep producing enjoyable music, and enjoyable shows, for the long haul.
Since this concert, Shaw was diagnosed with COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. Judging by his Instagram account (“Ya boy is BACK”), he’s made a full recovery. Here’s hoping his onstage energy is permanently restored.