The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Yacht Rock Revue pays tribute to smooth rock classics that are more relevant than ever

Yacht Rock Revue has been bringing relaxing vibes to audiences nationwide for nearly two decades, but shows no signs of stopping its smooth rock revolution.
Contributed by Yacht Rock Revue/Perry Julien Photography

Providing entertainment and relaxation for their audience is always top of mind for the members of Yacht Rock Revue. The smooth rock tribute band has been jamming in front of live audiences for nearly two decades, and it shows no signs of chilling out — unlike its music.

These purveyors of pure relaxation will bring their nostalgic sound to Coralville’s 4thFest on July 3. Ahead of its concert, Yacht Rock Revue frontman and singer Nicholas Niespodziani expressed how exciting it is to play for large crowds. When the band formed in Atlanta in 2007, it was mostly restricted to clubs and small venues.

“We were playing in places that are sweaty and drunk, it was a debaucherous time,” Niespodziani said. “Now we’re older and distinguished and playing big venues with massive audiences, and people treat us like artists.”

The band wasn’t always strictly a yacht rock group. Several band members, including another founding member and frontman Peter Olson, formed an indie rock band first. It wasn’t until a gig which was initially intended to be a one-off show that Yacht Rock Revue was formed.

To fit the style of the club they were performing at, the band members played a few soft rock classics and immediately noticed a reaction from the crowd. Choosing the genre the band would adhere to wasn’t a long deliberation process. It happened then and there.

“It was pretty much an accident,” Niespodziani said. “People loved it so much that the club owner told us we needed to come back, and so we did.”

The band was made up entirely of Atlanta musicians at the time, many of whom were in school. Although they had experienced minor success with their indie rock venture, with songs in local commercials and going on small tours, the band shifted to yacht rock completely and renamed itself “’70s AM Gold,” a name which would not last long as they quickly learned the term “yacht rock” drew much more attention.

Niespodziani dropped out of law school, and the band became real. Now bolstering a roster of 10 band members, Yacht Rock Revue has only grown since its humble beginnings in 2007.

Throughout their career, they’ve played alongside various artists whose music they tribute every night. When being joined on stage by the very legends who inspire them, they find they’re met with skepticism at first.

“We’re on stage with old-timers who say, ‘What is this? Who is this tribute band?’ But as as they realize how serious we are about the music, we win them over,” Niespodziani explained. The band’s dedication to revitalizing the music has landed it an opening act spot on tour with Train and REO Speedwagon this summer.

“It’s going to be nuts. We’re playing in giant amphitheaters on a level we’ve never experienced before,” Niespodziani said excitedly. As soon as the band leaves 4thFest, it’ll be hopping in tour buses to play to larger crowds than it’s ever seen. “We’re hopeful we can win over REO Speedwagon too.”

Both their 4thFest appearance and nationwide tour are stops in their usually 80-100-show year. Despite the high number of performances, Niespodziani never finds himself growing tired of it. In a time when yacht rock seems to be growing in popularity once again, the band is experiencing more and more success.

“We’re trying to bring that yacht vibe back to 2024,” Niespodziani explained. “It’s music of escape; it’s made to get away from the troubles of the world.”

At a time when people need an escape from the world more than ever, Yacht Rock Revue will bring its nostalgic sound and calming atmosphere to Coralville’s 4th Fest. Niespodziani is as excited as the audience is to experience the concert.

“I love what I do, singing songs that make people happy,” said Niespodziani. “It’s a great way to unplug, sing silly songs, and have fun. That’s why the music is so timeless.”

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About the Contributor
Charlie Hickman
Charlie Hickman, Arts Reporter
Charlie Hickman is a sophomore at the University of Iowa. He is majoring in English on the Pre-Law track with minors in Political Science and Cinema.