Travis
Ogden Theater, Denver, CO
9.23.00

It's a rare day when an opening act blows the doors off of a competent, well liked and worthy band. I've only seen this strange phenomenon once, when Groove Garden took the glory from Digable Planets in the early 90's. The only reason this happened, in my opinion, was because Groove Garden projected a better energy than Digable Planets. It's not that the songs were better, but because they turned an intimate concert setting into a party. They weren't playing for you, but along side you. I'd thought this was a one time thing, a fluke, something that I'd only see once, because I hadn't seen an opener out perform a band before that show and I hadn't seen it since.

Travis proved to me that it wasn't a fluke and sometimes the headliner isn't also the redliner. Remy Zero left the stage converting many a soul to their sound and the crowd was pumped up for Travis to take the stage. When Fran Healey and company entered, there was a buzz in the audience. They wanted Travis to elevate what had just taken place. Take it one step further.

Travis' opening number, "Writing To Reach You", found the band fitting into it's mold quite nicely, but the band didn't really catch their speed until early in their set when they whipped out the tune, "Good Feeling". "Good Feeling" is a stark contrast to the soft alternative pop on Travis' latest album "The Man Who", with it's toe tapping tempo and dramatic climax. As their guitarist, Andy Dunlop took his guitar off of it's strap and lifted in the air with one hand and continued to play it with the other, all the while spinning his body around, I couldn't help but feel that this was going to be a great show. And then it all went flat.

Flat is a subjective term, I guess. When I go see a band play live, I'm hoping for an experience that takes me beyond the band's recorded material. With Travis, I felt as indifferent to their live set as I do when I'm driving down the highway listening to their songs in my car. Really the only deviation that reminded me that I wasn't listening to the album and that I was actually at a concert was that the band added some older tracks to the set list, introduced a new song entitled, "Safe" and the closing number which was a cover of The Band's hit "The Weight".

The experience of seeing Travis perform live didn't leave me wanting more and in the same turn, I wasn't overwhelmed with a long, drawn out set that included grandiose guitar solos. It was a band playing their songs as I'd heard them before and the addition of live bodies performing these songs didn't add to the moment.

I'd have loved to come away from this show with an excellent review, but it wasn't in the cards. A couple of days later, at the Elastica show, I saw some friends who had also been at the Travis gig.

"What did you think of it?" I asked.

"It was fucking incredible, I had a great time," they all responded.

-Tyler Jacobson


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