Voxtrot | 11.05.06

When Srivastava sings, he throws his arms up as if he's preaching to the hipsters down below. His unbridled passion is palpable as he and the audience feels every note.

 

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Empty Bottle, Chicago

Seeing a show at Empty Bottle usually entails up-close-and-personal interaction with the band-making the Bottle a viable venue to see bands right on the brink. Austin, Texas-based Voxtrot has been gaining buzz since their appearance at this year's South by Southwest showcase resulted in a steady stream of MP3s posted on blogs. With only two EPs and a new single out, Voxtrot has yet to release a full-length. The quintet is led by affable frontman Ramesh Srivastava, who emits hyper-kinetic energy on stage. He jumps around akin to a kid on Christmas morning unable to suppress his charisma. Srivastava needs a bigger stage than the Bottle allows.

The band is often compared to Belle and Sebastian because of its shimmering songs on love deemed twee, but Voxtrot transcends those influences, adding its own spin on the genre. Downplaying their rock-star status, the guys emerge onstage wearing jeans and casual tops. They are all tall and thin. The bassist looks like Marty McFly-era Michael J. Fox. They begin with a lesser-known track with melodies and beats swirling around. These guys are taut. When Srivastava sings, he throws his arms up as if he's preaching to the hipsters down below. His unbridled passion is palpable as he and the audience feels every note. A small group of kids forms near the stage, shaking their heads and hips, digging the tunes. After performing its latest song, "Your Biggest Fan," the titular track from its newly released three-track single, Voxtrot slows it down for "Soft and Warm," a lovely ballad from its second EP, Mothers, Sisters, Daughters and Wives. Srivastava interjects that he hasn't sweated so much since he ran a mile in the sixth grade. He tells of traveling from San Francisco to Chicago and some guy in the audience yells out he's tired. Srivastava breaks a guitar string but doesn't skip a beat.

The feel-good songs and the band's enthusiasm continue for one of their finest songs, "Mothers, Sisters, Daughters and Wives." From there, the band goes directly into "The Start of Something," from their first EP Raised by Wolves, as Srivastava goes nuts-pouncing around on an imaginary pogo stick and working up quite a sweat. The hipsters in front follow suit and rock along, pretending to know how to dance. Voxtrot ends its marvelous set with "Missing Pieces," a song redolent of British post-punk with gnarling guitars and raucous rhythms. Srivastava remarks that they've finished writing their debut full-length but now need to record it. Ah yes, the hard part. He adds that it should be ready for an April release. Until then, listeners shall expect great things from these guys. Leaving the sweltering room behind, fans walk out into the brisk autumn night feeling warm and fuzzy inside, intoxicated with Voxtrot love. | Photo and article by Garin Pirnia

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