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Marc Rebillet’s rise in music is unconventional, but seems to be pandemic-proof

By Michael Venutolo-Mantovani

May 26, 2020

This was shaping up to be a very big year for Marc Rebillet. The YouTube sensation turned worldwide touring artist had spring tour dates booked in all corners of the globe with more, in some of the biggest rooms he would ever play, coming together for the fall. 

And then, as it has with just about everything else, the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that came with it ground those plans to a halt. Music halls were shuttered, concerts postponed and canceled, the financial lifeblood of most professional musicians’ business models all put on hold. 

That’s when Rebillet’s team got creative. 

Courtesy of the artist

Borrowing an idea from one of their European clients, Rebillet’s booking agents came to him, wondering if he’d be interested in booking an entire tour of shows at drive-in movie theaters.

“I said, ‘Stop everything you’re doing,’” Rebillet says. “‘Let’s go. Let’s do it as fast as we can.’”

After partnering with a production company called Hotbox, a tour that normally would be booked months– if not a year or more– in advance was hatched, booked and announced in a matter of days; from concept to execution to on-sale in roughly a week-and-a-half.

That nine-date run kicks off June 9 in Baltimore and swings through the Charlotte area two days later, at Hound’s Drive-In Theatre in nearby King’s Mountain.

Courtesy of the artist

Having to work with constraints artists and agents aren’t typically hampered with, Rebillet and his team are having to work within new logistical frameworks at nearly every turn. From routing a tour through the small towns where most of these vanishing drive-ins still exist to having to figure out how to get Rebillet’s live sound piped into the vehicles (which will likely happen through an unused FM signal piped to everyone’s in-car radio) to ensuring the safety of those in attendance, this is a tour the likes of which have never happened before. 

“There have been a couple of drive-in shows,” Rebillet says. “But as far as I know, this is the first tour like this.” 

In a way, a live performance enjoyed from your car is kind of a perfect companion the career Rebillet’s has crafted, one that reaches hundreds of thousands of fans in the comfort of their homes on a daily basis. 

Courtesy of the artist

Originally from Dallas, Rebillet now calls New York City home. It’s from his apartment in Manhattan that he streams and records his often off-the-cuff performances. From his kitchen or living room, Rebllet employs a loop station, keyboard, percussion instruments and his vocals to create songs that have an immediacy that can only be achieved in real time. Just last month, for example, Rebillet recorded and posted an ode to essential workers which, as of this writing, has been streamed nearly 700,000 times on YouTube.

In 2016, Rebillet began posting videos of his music to YouTube and streaming live performances on Twitch. Through Reddit and Facebook, the videos began going viral, earning Rebillet a burgeoning fanbase. 

By the next year, spurred by the loss of his day job in customer support, Rebillet brought his show to the live setting, as he began performing in bars around Dallas. By 2018, he had moved to New York to further his career in music. As he describes it, that’s when things took off. 

“Within a few months of moving to New York, people started sharing this stuff in volumes I had never experienced,” Rebillet says, noting that his streaming numbers began ticking in the millions rather than the thousands. “That’s when booking requests started coming in.”

Soon, Rebillet signed with the vaunted Beverly Hills-based booking company United Talent Agency and began touring around the world. 

Last year, tour dates brought Rebillet through the United States and Europe, playing to crowds of up to two-thousand fans. This spring, he was slated to go through Australia and New Zealand. Those dates have been rescheduled for 2021. 

In those dates’ stead, Marc Rebillet’s Drive-In Tour will be one of the first live music experiences undertaken in a pandemic-mired America. 

Courtesy of the artist

With the general state of confusion that we all seem to be awash in, Marc Rebillet wants his fans to know that, while this tour will be unlike any other, it will still offer the chance for an artist to commune with his fans in the flesh.

“I am actually going to be there,” he says of the impending drive-in tour, noting that many fans have wondered if they’re going to be watching something akin to one of Rebillet’s now-trademark Sunday afternoon Quaranstreams on a drive-in theater screen. 

“It’s going to be fully improvised,” he adds. “It always is. But I (would tell fans to) go in not knowing what to expect. Because I don’t know what to expect.”

Marc Rebillet will play the Hound’s Drive-In on June 11 in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Check out the full tour schedule.

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