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 [a]Travis[/a], 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 [a]Travis[/a] often garners comparisons to. And despite America’s unfamiliarity with [a]Travis[/a], this single, coupled with strong word of mouth hype, was able to draw a large, midweek crowd here on curiosity value alone.

[a]Travis[/a] 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 [a]Travis[/a] are heavily courting. Finally, the adrenaline-infused, harmony-driven ‘Happy’, from [a]Travis[/a]’ 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 [a]Travis[/a] bound for the elusive throne that its many compatriots once occupied here in the States? That is still left to be determined. Presently, [a]Travis[/a] 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, [a]Travis[/a] 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.