The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Monday, April 10, 2006
TUL's Double Take: Voxtrot @ Riverside Lounge, Georgetown University & Art Brut @ Black Cat

I feel it would be somewhat hard to explain the venue Voxtrot performed at Saturday night to friends who weren't at the show. Amazingly, I've also never stepped foot onto the Georgetown campus until two nights ago. Who would've thought that day would come seeing an up and coming band play in what was essentially an unfurnished study lounge to no more than 150 people. The only way we were actually able to find the place was through a series of carefully placed index cards pasted onto the lampposts and walls of the campus buildings. We arrived early at 7pm in fear of a sellout but were unaware that the show itself would not start until 10. In summary, we were probably the 14th person to buy a ticket. Seeing as how they previously announced that doors would open at 7:30, we simply assumed the show would start an hour or so later. It didn't really hit me how spoiled our generation is what with their 9:30 Club website set-times and all. After getting our tickets, which in reality was a hand stamp, we had dinner at The Tombs in order to kill some time since, you know, we had a few hours to spare. Their chili, by the way, is simply outstanding. It made an excellent dessert after a really small buffalo chicken sandwich.

Once we made our way inside, I would've never thought I would see one of my very own $7.99 Target lamps used as a lighting rig for a concert. I was waiting for someone to bring in a strobe light from one of the neighboring dorms but that never came to fruition. The Los Angeles-based band Irving started what was so far an interesting evening off around 10:15. Despite the horrible PA system and even worse acoustics (but we'll discount that since that was beyond anyone's control, we weren't really expecting 9:30 Club-quality EQ here), I was pleasantly surprised by these guys. Their blend of indie pop was very enjoyable and the band played some great melodies during their brief set. I didn't realize until later how much longer they've been around than Voxtrot. They already have two full-lengths under their belt, which is, well, two more than Voxtrot. Overall, these guys caught me off-guard and I'll definitely have to check them out next time they're in town.

Voxtrot took the "stage" (corner of the room) around 11pm and we were underway. Despite the audio limitations of the Riverside Lounge, the group put on an excellent show. For being able to carry enough stage presence for a place that doesn't have a stage, I was impressed. I think they played every song off of both their EPs plus a new one they recently wrote according to lead singer Ramesh Srivastava. The vocals weren't mixed too high, so it was at times somewhat difficult to hear Srivastava over the two JBL speakers that were probably more suited for a Bar Mitzvah DJ. Then again, it was very rewarding to see a band that's currently on the rise at an intimate if not unique setting. Hopefully they'll come back to a better venue and perhaps even a sold-out audience. Props to Georgetown Radio for putting this together and letting DC finally experience Voxtrot.

The very next night we were off to see Art Brut at the Black Cat. Although it was barely half-full when openers The Rogers Sisters took the stage, the place appeared to be a near sell-out once Art Brut played the first note of "Formed a Band". If you want to look up the word "showmanship", you'll most likely find a picture of lead singer Eddie Argos next to the definition. This was such an entertaining, fun show that words alone could not do it justice. Not only did Argos possess such amusing swagger, but the band itself proved to sound very tight and energetic. His antics included using the microphone cord as a jump rope and singing the chorus of "Modern Art" while walking through the audience, but his delivery was probably the best part of the evening. His theatrics alone were simply priceless and left an indelible mark on one hell of a show. Every "Ready, Art Brut?" asked between each song was as entertaining to hear as the last. Their show last night was probably one of the best I've seen thus far at the Black Cat this year. And Art Brut, you've only just started.

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