SXSW Music Review: Revival Experience at Camp Lucy
Not at all the Hill Country brush Fyre Fest trolls predicted
By Doug Freeman,
12:45PM, Thu. Mar. 14, 2019
At some point Wednesday during SXSW, social media apparently crashed for several hours. At the inaugural Revival Experience at Camp Lucy just beyond Dripping Springs, nobody seemed to notice or care.
Not that the event’s secluded Hill Country wedding venue setting and intimate performances aren’t immensely Instagramable. Rather, it’s that the beautiful day, gorgeous views, and laid back vibe felt far removed from the downtown Austin mania.
The festival rightly received severe trolling when the event initially announced its cheapest day pass ticket at $500, and the jokes of a Hill Country brush Fyre Fest were all too obvious. It’s unclear exactly how many of the 500 capacity crowd in attendance actually paid, but the experience delivered on what was promised in terms of up-close performances and unique atmosphere. The front of the main plaza stage never aggregated more than a few dozen fans, and most of the artists mingled among the crowd all day.
Curated by Delta Spirit’s Matthew Logan Vasquez, the lineup pulled heavily from Texas, with only Noah Gunderson, Nicole Atkins, and Nathaniel Rateliff broadening the base beyond the Lone Star borders. A small chapel offered short recorded performances between main stage sets, emphasizing the fest’s focus on generating content and building a brand experience around Revival that might be replicated in other markets. It’s a model paved by other “experience fests” like today’s Luck Reunion.
Performances throughout the day swung low key and perfect for the setting. Country soul maverick Charley Crockett swooned in the early afternoon, already unloading new songs on top of last year’s two LPs. Wild Child likewise charmed as the octet swelled soulful pop, frontwoman Kelsey Wilson leaning into her powerful vocals more than ever as she preps a solo turn for later this spring.
For his part, Vasquez’ supergroup Glorietta ramped through joyfully raucous romps, concluding with the full outfit (including Nathaniel Rateliff) out front passing a bagged bottle as they sang “Friends.”
Patty Griffin’s stellar sunset set marked the fest’s highpoint, the local siren emerging looking like a spring goddess with wild hair and a flowing green dress. Offering cuts from her new eponymous LP, the veteran songwriter brought a level of austerity to the lineup as David Pulkingham marveled alongside on guitar. Griffin stunned with “Standing” and crowd favorite “Heavenly Day,” and received an impromptu rendition of “Happy Birthday” from the fans to celebrate her 55th.
Rateliff and Shakey Graves both flew solo to close out the night. The former’s low, bluesy twang seared “Whimper and Wail” and “Still Out There Running” as the stars flooded overhead, and Graves resurrected his old kick drum suitcase to lay into “Built to Roam” and recent single “Kids These Days.”
For a first-run event, the Revival Experience ran remarkably polished, and showed considerable promise to continue. Whether fans will be willing to pay the exclusive prices, or whether that even matters at all in the age of content and brand sponsorships to reach influencers, remains to be seen. Either way, offline is the new premium experience.