Back in October, KEXP hosted its Morning and Mid Day shows from the Ace Hotel in New York City during the CMJ Music Marathon. Three days of live broadcasting (eight hours each) brought a lot of great performances to our airwaves, all from the friendly confines of the Ace Hotel lobby. Of them, the biggest surprise for me was the French band Revolver. Lately, I've been digging its new record, which reminds me of both Belle & Sebastian and Simon and Garfunkel, so I was ready for a nice, mellow morning of music.
When Revolver's arrived, they asked to play more than the usual four or five songs we usually have bands play. Hearing the sound check was enough for me to say that we needed as much as they could give us.
While they were warming up, lead vocalist Ambroise Willaume heard me playing and talking about Elliott Smith on-air (that morning happened to be the seventh anniversary of his death) and mentioned how Smith, and particularly his guitar work, was a great influence on their own music. As one of Smith's songs played while Revolver stood waiting to go live, the band actually started playing along to it. This young, charming and energetic group was more than willing to show its roots. During its set, Revolver played a beautiful cover of Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Helplessly Hoping" and brought the house down with its upbeat, seemingly rockabilly-inspired jams.
It was amazing to have a band play in a lobby, thousands of miles from home, making its U.S. debut on the air — live — and pull it off flawlessly.