Yacht Rock Revue And The Eternal Sunshine Of ‘Hot Dads In Tight Jeans’

Yacht Rock Revue
– Yacht Rock Revue

The oft-maligned genre of “Yacht Rock” – that breed of music associated with the late 1970s and early ‘80s, slickly produced, with West Coast-tinged melodies – has snuck back into the zeitgeist with ear-wormy nostalgia and undeniable sax hooks.

If the resurgence of Yacht Rock is indeed a thing, then Yacht Rock Revue is surely its ambassador. The seven-piece band from Atlanta is currently wrapping up its 2019 itinerary in its native South, but embarking on a nationwide outing Jan. 9 called, cheekily enough, the “Hot Dads In Tight Jeans” tour, in partnerships with Live Nation and SiriusXM.

While the band may be having fun with the trappings of the Steely Dan, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins era of rock, the business it’s doing is serious. Box office reports submitted to Pollstar date to 2011 and include regional sellouts including at the 1,045-capacity Georgia Theatre in Athens and a 943-cap show at Atlanta’s Variety playhouse in its earliest years.

Outside of their home market, Yacht Rock Revue shows drew in the 500-750 range as the band cast a wider net – and built a national fan base – so that by 2018, it was booking (and often selling out) venues like The Hamilton Live in Washington, D.C.; The Paramount in Huntington, N.Y.; and Boulder Theater in Colorado. Back home in Atlanta, Yacht Rock Review sold out its first “mini-festival” at 6,315-capacity Cadence Bank Amphitheater at Chastain Park. 

Yacht Rock Revue founder and frontman Nick Niespodziani and the band’s agent, APA Nashville’s Heath Baumhor, talked to Pollstar about how what could have been just another cover band wound up taking its act from a nameless basement in Atlanta, or a “rickety blues cruise” as Niespodziani puts it, to multiple nights at venues including New York City’s Webster Hall (March 20-21), among other notable stops on its “Hot Dads In Tight Jeans” caravan.

“We started out in a smoky basement doing this show because we thought it would be funny if we did a bunch of ‘70s AM Gold songs and, ever since then, we’ve been following the head of the snake, as I call it,” Niespodziani tells Pollstar. “It’s pretty incredible how the vibe and the crowd has grown.”

The growth did not go unnoticed.  Live Nation Director of Touring Andy Messersmith boarded the boat and agreed to partner on the “Hot Dads In Tight Jeans” tour.  “After seeing the band build in our venues in the early stages, their upward trajectory as a touring artist became especially evident and that led us to pursue the partnership,” he said in a statement. “It’s a truly special artist that can create a unique culture and loyalty amongst their fanbase that leads to major growth each time they play a market.”

Part of the vibe comes from a sort of spontaneous and interactive audience experience – much of its audience comes to shows in Hawaii shirts and sailor caps and, if they don’t have a cap handy, they’re available at Yacht Rock Revue’s merch table.

The immersive and fan-oriented show has earned Yacht Rock Revue such accolades as “Best Place To Get Drunk With Your Dad” to “Best Place To Start An Extramarital Affair,” according to the band’s tour announcement.  Jimmy Buffett (not Yacht Rock, by the way) has his Parrotheads; Yacht Rock Revue has its own “Nation of Smooth.”

 Maybe it’s a function of generational waves of nostalgia, just as the 1970s were marked by “Happy Days” and ‘50s nostalgia, the 1980s had “The Wonder Years,” and the 1990s had “That ‘70s Show.” But Yacht Rock Revue is more than that – the musicianship is first-rate, with most of the members being solid members of Atlanta’s musician community as well graduates of the University of Indiana’s vaunted music program.

Another feature that sets Yacht Rock Revue apart from a typical tribute band is they often perform with members of the bands they cover.  John Oates is a fan and has appeared with the band, for which Hall & Oates is a staple, for example.  And they’re not just covering one band, or recreating somebody else’s concert from 1978.

Yacht Rock Revue
– Yacht Rock Revue

“That’s my favorite thing about being in this band,” Niespodziani says. “Instead of being a Steely Dan cover band, you have 100 songs to choose from and everybody knows what the big hits are going to be. Even a Beatles band, you’re going to have like 250 songs to choose from. Our band, we have thousands of songs to choose from! And almost every song that we play would be the encore for the band that we are covering.  So the amount of ‘hit pleasure’ that people would get is insane.”

Heath has helped the band widen its reach, and shows on its first tour of 2019 bear out the fact that the artist development strategy is working: Most of its reported shows have been sellouts, and at venues in the 1,000-1,500 range but also including  Boston’s House of Blues for 2,425 tickets sold for a $61,479 gross. Most recently Yacht Rock Revue sold out 1,573 tickets for $33,979 on a return visit Sept. 12 to Huntington, N.Y.’s Paramount Theater.

“For that to happen is purely because this is a great, fun show where people can cut loose and there’s no drama centered around a radio single or an album release. It gives people the opportunity to be at a wedding reception when there’ s no wedding involved (laughs),” Baumhor says. “They can just have a great time, dance, get hammered and feel the pain the next day. Without radio or major press the band has been able to snowball this and it’s really, truly been word of mouth. People leave these shows and they can’t wait for the next one to come back. And that’s all we can chalk it up to.”

And while Niespodziani is proud to say that of the 120 to 150 shows Yacht Rock Revue play per year, their repertoire is large enough to keep each show unique.

“From our perspective it’s really cool because really the only song we really have to play every night is ‘Africa’ by Toto,” he says, laughing. 

Tickets will be available starting October 18th at 10AM local time HEREFans will also be able to purchase a special VIP ticket package. 

2019 tour dates:
10/26/19 – Columbia, SC – The Senate
10/27/19 – Charlotte, NC – Moo & Brew
11/08/19 – Cincinnati, OH – Bogart’s
11/09/19 – Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom
12/13/19 – Birmingham, AL – Iron City
12/21/19 – Atlanta, GA – Coca-Cola Roxy

Hot Dads In Tight Jeans tour dates:
01/09/20 – Lexington, KY – Manchester Music Hall
01/10/20 – Indianapolis, IN – Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
01/11/20 – Indianapolis, IN – Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
01/16/20 – Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre
02/06/20 – St. Petersburg, FL – Jannus Live
02/07/20 – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Revolution Live
02/08/20 – Lake Buena Vista, FL – House Of Blues – Orlando
02/21/20 – Denver, CO – Mission Ballroom
02/22/20 – Breckenridge, CO – The Riverwalk Center
02/27/20 – Portland, OR – Revolution Hall
02/29/20 – Seattle, WA – The Neptune Theatre
03/05/20 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
03/06/20 – San Diego, CA – The Observatory North Park
03/07/20 – Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren
03/08/20 – Tucson, AZ – The Rialto Theatre
03/11/20 – Napa, CA – JaM Cellars Ballroom
03/12/20 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
03/13/20 – San Francisco, CA – August Hall
03/19/20 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore – Philadelphia
03/20/20 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
03/21/20 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
03/22/20 – Lancaster, PA – Chameleon Club
03/25/20 – Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert Hall
03/26/20 – Norwalk, CT – Wall Street Theater
03/27/20 – Boston, MA – House of Blues – Boston
03/28/20 – Boston, MA – House of Blues – Boston
04/17/20 – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore – Charlotte
04/18/20 – Raleigh, NC – The Ritz – Raleigh
04/19/20 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
04/24/20 – Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works
05/01/20 – Chicago, IL – House Of Blues – Chicago
05/02/20 – Chicago, IL – House Of Blues – Chicago
05/07/20 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues – New Orleans
05/08/20 – Houston, TX – The Ballroom at Warehouse Live
05/09/20 – Austin, TX – Emo’s Austin
05/15/20 – Chattanooga, TN – The Signal
05/30/20 – Vienna, VA – Filene Center – Wolf Trap Amphitheater
08/22/20 – Atlanta, GA – Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park