If you knew me — and some of you do — you’d think Voxtrot would be my favorite band. They’re young and enthusiastic, with an abundance of catchy songs, yet their reference points are mostly 20 years old: The Smiths, The Wedding Present, other C-86 bands. They cover Felt’s "Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow" live and one of their songs repeatedly namechecks Orange Juice’s 1982 pop classic You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever.
Yet I am not as over-the-moon for Voxtrot as others. Don’t get me wrong. They’re really, really good. But they aren’t saviors of anything anymore than The Arctic Monkeys. Maybe it’s that I am older than most of their audience and I can pick apart the reference points too easily. This is getting less noticeable, though. The band’s new EP, Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives, is a vast improvement to their enjoyable first EP. In a year they could end up making something truly great.
For much of the crowd at their second consecutive sold-out night at Mercury Lounge, the band is already there. One tiny little drunk thing at the front of the crowd loved them nearly as much as she loved booze. When she jumped onstage at one point, I kind of longed for the muscle of Irving Plaza’s goons to "take her down" but Voxtrot singer Ramesh took care of it with words instead. (Those words were "Please get off the stage.")
But I digress. Seeing Voxtrot live, it’s not hard to be won over. Whatever shortcomings they have — and I can’t exactly figure out what it is that doesn’t put them in the "awesome" category for me — are shed onstage. Their genuine joie-de-pop is infectious and by show’s end I was dancing too. Albeit gently.
Voxtrot love withstood a plague of equipment problems: microphones, amps and guitars were crapping out left and right, but nobody minded. And before the encore of their cover of Talking Heads’ "Heaven" could begin, Ramesh’s guitar strap failed, sending his instrument crashing to the floor, knocking it hopelessly out of tune. It was that kind of night. But again, nobody cared.
Though I missed openers Magneta Lane (who I really wanted to see) and Aloha, I did catch L.A.’s Irving who I liked a lot. Mining Nuggets-era garage rock with more than a touch of New Wave, they were a lot like The Hives. Actually, if their keyboard player — one hand his instrument, the other holding a shaker egg — was a girl and didn’t have a beard — or shirt — the could’ve been the Dandy Warhols. Their songs were a lot of fun, and moved me enough to plop down 12 buck for their new CD, which came shrinkwrapped with professionally-printed artwork and that annoying top-of-the-case sticker, but yet the actual disc was a CDR. Weird.
Picture of Voxtrot swiped from Baonguyen’s Flickr photostream.
Hearing Voxtrot do "Heaven" reminded me that they weren’t the first to cover this Talking Heads fave. Am I really posting a Simply Red mp3?
"Simply Red – "Heaven"
(from their 1985 debut Picture Book that also contains "Holding Back the Years.")