Charlottesville Trax

[a]Travis[/a] and their crew work this relatively small club like it's [b]Wembley[/b]...

The small college town of Charlottesville doesn't quite know what to make of the most recent incarnation of the British Invasion. Four well-groomed, aspiring international rock stars, collectively known as Travis, blitz through Trax nightclub, a 900-capacity venue situated in the heart of Thomas Jefferson's Virginia, with only one goal in mind: the re-colonisation of America.

Several months ago, the catchier-than-thou single, 'Why Does It Always Rain on Me?', hit American modern-rock radio with a sonic bullet aimed directly at the heart of fraternal twin Oasis, Britain's one-time musical figurehead and band that Travis often garners comparisons to. And despite America's unfamiliarity with Travis, this single, coupled with strong word of mouth hype, was able to draw a large, midweek crowd here on curiosity value alone.

Travis and their crew work this relatively small club like it's Wembley, and all in attendance must agree on one thing: the sound quality is superb. Fran Healy's crystal-clear voice has an impassioned fervour that elevates songs like 'Good Feeling' and 'Driftwood'beyond what was captured on either of the band's two LPs. Meanwhile, back-up vocals provided by guitarist Andy Dunlop (on 'Turn' in particular) and a steady bassline by Dougie Payne throughout the evening offers a glimpse of a young band that certainly, as a united whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. An enthusiastic encore, which includes an energetic cover of 'The Weight' by The Band, serves a grand salute to the country that Travis are heavily courting. Finally, the adrenaline-infused, harmony-driven 'Happy', from Travis' debut album, 'Good Feeling', caps the night on a high note, yet simultaneously leaves onlookers wondering why 'The Man Who' was decidedly more mellow and less risky than its predecessor.

So, are Travis bound for the elusive throne that its many compatriots once occupied here in the States? That is still left to be determined. Presently, Travis can rest easy knowing that many new ears are being converted to songs that don't necessarily align with America's current hard-rock fetish, and as music history dictates, the cycle will spin once again. When it comes back around to focus on good songwriting, Travis will be waiting patiently with a knapsack full of rock gems. In the meantime, a respectable cult-like status on this side of the Atlantic isn't such a bad start.

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