Travis, Stubb's, September 27
Stubb's, September 27 How do you not adore Travis? The lead singer Franny, an elfin boy with a funny haircut, dimples undaunted by weeks of road scruff, and baby, baby, baby blues, is a pop boy toting a rock yowl. The bassist -- Dougie! -- is the bouncy sort whose smile engulfs his entire face, while Andy the guitar player pitches and swells like a drunken hunchback, and drummer Neil, well, he's intoxicatingly Scottish, what with the light eyes and the black hair. Of course, it's about the music, mate, and of course, they open with "All I Wanna Do Is Rock" from their first album, because they simply must; it's the big-single-that-wasn't, a majestic, unhurried, ironic pronouncement. (They don't, in fact, rock.) On "U16 Girls," wherein Franny advises the boys to "make sure she's old enough" even though "she may looooook like she knows enough," they pander a bit, changing a lyric to "Austin," which is unnecessary, really, because their allure is based largely on their exoticness. By the third song, "Good Feeling," they haven't budged from the first album, because they're trying to get us to clap despite the fact that we're American and too full of our own cool to manage it. With "Writing to Reach You," the first track from an LP that saturated British consciousness -- The Man Who, their second -- the show suddenly feels more fluid, as if success has finally freed Franny from shouting at the top of his lungs. Let's not forget, he's not like all the other boys, as he reveals in his earnest song introductions: "When you're exposed to love, death, art, you feel alive. You're like, 'For fuck's sake -- I can breathe.' This next song is about not being afraid of being led on ... 'cause I'd rather be a doormat than someone who walks all over someone." Awwww. The show hits its stride toward the end of the evening with the sing-a-long hits and encores; an amusingly straight version of Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time," the Band's "The Weight," and AC/DC's "Back in Black." When it's over, the pop crowd huddles happily together. I mean, sometimes, all we wanna do is rock.