Music News

Happy Birthday, Revolution!

Fort Lauderdale's live music powerhouse celebrates its fifth.

Of the many memorable nights at Revolution over the past five years, the best was arguably Peter Murphy. Really. Although the nod too could go to the Spoon/Walkmen/White Rabbits triple bill.

For Woody Graber, the club's publicist, it was Chris Cornell, out under the stars. And it was also Panic at the Disco when they opened for Fall Out Boy. Graber's been on the scene since before there even was one, and he's handled hype for some of the best action ever to hit our stretch of sand. So when he says something, it comes from an informed place.

For Jeff John, the club's owner, it was Rancid and the Roots and A Tribe Called Quest; Wu-Tang and the Black Crowes and Joss Stone; Lady Gaga and Katy Perry and Trey Anastasio. It was Cornell too. And it was also Kings of Leon when they played the venue's very last outdoor show.

The conclusion: There have been many "best shows" at Revolution. There is simply not a stage of its size between here and Orlando that has seen as many magnificent lineups. Indeed, from the hot September night in 2004 when Bunny & the Wailers wowed a sold-out crowd to last Saturday's rafter-packed Glamour Kills Tour (which sold out virtually the moment it was announced), Revolution has had one remarkable run. And this Friday's inevitable thrashing from Sevendust will not only roughly mark the joint's five-year point; it will undoubtedly serve as the first of many noteworthy anniversaries down the line.

John was born and raised in Barrington, Illinois, a bedroom 'burb in northwest Chicagoland. Like all good Middle American lads, he grew up digging music, from rock to rap. And all along, he had a hunch he would somehow be involved in the industry. And like all sensible Chicagoans, John knew there were much more temperate places to get in on the action. So his first bold move was making it down to South Florida.

That was back in 1995, when John enrolled in Boca's Lynn University. By the time he was finished, there'd be both a B.S. and an M.B.A. hanging from his wall. The two degrees, naturally, proved to be the perfect kind of paper to parlay into running a venue like Revolution.

In addition to the above-mentioned favorite events, 50 Cent has climbed from the club's rafters, and Snoop Dogg has shown up with full entourage – twice. George Clinton has funked up the 50-by-30-foot stage four times, and Gogol Bordello turned the whole joint into, well, a Gogol-like bordello (almost). A majority of the shows have been all ages. And more local acts have played there than at perhaps any national-act-based venue in the land. Is it any wonder why industry sheet Pollstar rated Revolution 34th in the world for venues with 3,000 seats and under?

Much of Revolution's success can be attributed to the fact that John has liaised with Live Nation, in some form or another, throughout the club's existence. In fact, the one-stop concert shop serves as the exclusive content provider for Revolution. But John is also quick to point out that even with such an array of talent, there would be no Revolution without the crack staff, most of whom started with the venue and have remained true since.

But again, it's that history, or more precisely, fans' personal history, that has made this the place to be across the club's 600-plus shows to date. Whether it's Travis Tritt or Nas or Crystal Method or Iron and Wine or someone between or beyond, at one time or another, you've sidled up to the stage and lost yourself in the sound of a music you cannot live without. Better still, you've cherished the moment from that day on. Now imagine five years of those kinds of memories, shared by more than half a million people. If that doesn't add up to a reason to celebrate, we all need a new abacus.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John Hood