Ah, finally I manage to get my name on the attendee list, have been trying for ages but it wouldn't take my password for some reason...
...Anyway I wish I had pictures to upload but I happened to just fall upon this gig unprepared while walking around LA - what luck! They played in a little courtyard just outside the main entrance, and I remember not being able to recognize Fran when he first came out bc he was sporting a pink mohican - quite a departure from the Why Does It Always Rain on Me? video on MTV2 the previous summer, which is the most exposure to Fran I'd had at that point.
The first time I heard Travis was when I was living on a 10k-acre cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere in the deep south. It took half an hour driving just to get to the nearest convenience store, and 40 minutes to the supermarket. I was in a situation where I HAD to have music playing in the car to keep me entertained on the long, deathly straight swathes of pavement through endless acres of sugarcane and orange groves. BOOOOOORRRING!
Not surprisingly my musical choices were extremely limited - Travis Tritt and Randy Travis, but of course no Travis (of whom I wasn't aware of at this point). Fortunately I had a roommate from New Zealand who was always watching MTV2 - at the time I rarely watched TV and it didn't occur to me to use the television to play music. He was a really cool (and good-looking) fellow who unfortunately was a massive slob. Now I'm not as bad as he is, but I'm a bit of a slob too, and when you put two slobs together in one house the results can be horrific.
One day I came in around lunchtime and, as usual, the house we shared was in total chaos. Trash bags up against the door made getting in difficult, and the cat was on the dining table eating Matt's roast beef cuts out of the package. Matt was just about to cook lunch - which for him meant throwing a big piece of steak into a frying pan and then quickly backing away to avoid getting burned by all the splattering fat and oil. The steak would be almost ready when the fire alarm went off. Meanwhile, I was marveling at how quickly the house had become reinfested with assorted tropical spiders when I had just vacuumed them up two days ago, so I plugged in the vacuum again and started sucking up the 2 inch creatures and their hordes of little spider babies. The cat is not fond of loud noises, such as a vacuum cleaner being run at the same time as a fire alarm is going off while the TV is on, so it scatted off and started feasting on the trash bags by the door.
Matt finished burning/cooking his steak and, having to feed his big laboring 6-foot-4 frame, started making a roast beef sandwich from the kitty-nibbled cold cuts while absentmindedly humming to some song on TV. Now that I could enter the kitchen without getting hot-oil burn wounds, I proceeded to prepare my lunch which was a box of supermarket rotisserie chicken - only to discover that I had mistakenly left it out at some point and the cat had clearly gotten to it. There was nothing left in the fridge, so that meant another 40 minute run to the supermarket to get lunch, and I was starving. Matt politely offered to share his roast beef sandwich, but I politely declined after asking him if he had noticed that the cat was all over his cold cuts. "Yeh," he replied, "but it's just a cat, they're clean animals. Have some!"
A few minutes later I was out on the big, empty, straight road again heading to the supermarket. In this huge behomoth of a vehicle that the locals down south call a "car", I strained to reach the radio knobs, and every station was playing country music. I HATE country music. There were a couple of "cracker rock" (again, as the locals called it) stations but after hearing Sweet Home Alabama five thousand times while driving through flat stretches of sugarcane fields, it starts to sound like country music too. Anyways the radio was clashing with some tune that was stuck in my head, so I turned it off and mentally wrestled with what the heck the song was, and why it conjured images of a pasty spindly white boy in a skirt jumping off a cliff.
Several days later, I caught Matt humming to the same vaguely familiar song on TV, and this time I immediately asked him the title of the song and the artist so as to relieve this burdening subliminal mental mystery. "Travis," he said, pointing to the TV, "they're pretty good." And on the TV was that image of a boy in a skirt jumping off a cliff. Ah, what a relief - I'm not going mad, it was just subliminal TV messages. And hey, it was a good tune, so I wondered about the rest of the music of this unknown New Zealand band (only later did I find they were from Scotland).
Well that question was answered almost a year after I left my little country music microcosm for a vacation in Los Angeles. I spotted a flyer outside the Virgin Megastore advertising an "in-store appearance" by the group Travis. They had receded in my memory at that point but when I saw their name, a nostalgic flood of men in skirts leaping to a melancholic yet catchy tune while driving through sugarcane resurfaced in my mind's eye. I jumped at the opportunity to see them. Are they as insidiously addicting live as they are on MTV2 on a cattle ranch?
I got there early and it was already extremely crowded. There definitely wasn't any way to see the band around the pavilion on the ground level, so I snuck up a backalley staircase to the second level balcony/walkway, thinking I had outmaneuvered the crowd. Well, there weren't as many people but unfortunately being under five feet tall I still couldn't see anything. I ended up watching the band sitting indian-style on the cement, peering in between the legs of the people standing in front of me. There was the lead singer with the mohawk, and a blonde guy on a banjo, but no jumping manic man in a skirt.
To be honest, I only liked 2 or 3 of the songs in the set, and having my head shoved up against people's kneecaps didn't make it sound any better. I do remember at one point when my view was completely obstructed by someone's massively hairy shin that the person talking on the mike had an incredibly sexy voice. I couldn't understand a word he was saying as that was the first time I heard a Scottish accent (Crazy Farmer Willie on the Simpsons doesn't count), but it was hypnotic anyway. Hypnotic enough for me to go home and download dozens more Travis songs and fall in love with all of them (save for the 2 or 3 I didn't like at the Virgin Megastore gig).
It was a surreal moment, staring at hairy shins and bruised kneecaps and tattooed ankles while listening to a melancholic, whimpering-puppy-dog singing voice alternating with a sexy baritone speaking voice. It was my first and only live appearance of Travis, but I was hooked.
Well, this was just beautiful...a full six months since my love affair with Travis began in my dormroom at UC Irvine...This show was on the day I moved back up to LA from school. Packed up my room, and drove my friend to her house in Woodland HIlls, thinking I had planty of time to spare. Well, Los Angeles traffic being what it is, I was stuck on the 101 forever. I pulled into the parking lot at exactly 7:00--the scheduled time of Travis' appearance. I hurried up the escalator, and RIGHT as I was getting off it, the band walked out, literally three feet from me. My God it was beautiful. Fran with his hot pink mohawk...gracious..Dougie smiled at me as they walked by, and I hurriedly found a place to stand amidst the throng.
Flowers In The Window
Why Does It Always Rain On Me?