SXSW Live Shot: Ramesh

Voxtrot frontman returns for redemption

Austin’s Voxtrot was an unnecessary casualty of the hype machine wars of the mid-2000s, the unique-pageviews arms race that left music blogs racing to either champion or clip indie bands at the knees. Despite three acclaimed EPs, the group’s proper self-titled debut in 2007 tanked on Pitchfork and public interest followed suit.

Photo by Sandy Carson

“The career path of Voxtrot was truly one of long, simmering build, explosion, and almost instantaneous decay,” singer Ramesh Srivastava wrote in the band’s farewell note of 2010, following a final EP. After serious time off and a few setbacks, Srivastava picked up the pieces with this year’s The King, a self-released effort partially funded from Kickstarter.

“Sometimes I go out of my mind trying to restart the fire,” he sang in the opening number of what felt like a homecoming show, attended by a small number of locals and friends. He was referring to a relationship, but the subtext was clear. And, as if on cue, the power cut off, abruptly truncating the number.

Srivastava still approaches live performances like he’s shadow boxing in the mirror, bobbing and weaving like a fitness instructor. The mood has shifted, though. It’s heavier and considerably darker now, with streaks of post-punk guitar and overarching string arrangements.

Backed by a sixpiece band that included Balmorhea pianist Rob Lowe, Ramesh’s bruised pop songs swelled where Voxtrot’s bounded. There were times, like in the standout “1111,” where he seemed on the cusp of redemption.

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Ramesh, SXSW Music 2014, Ramesh Srivastava, Voxtrot, Balmorhea, Rob Lowe

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