Travis Oaks at Sweeney’s – Review
Travis Oaks took to the stage, unassuming and relaxed, chatting playfully with the revelers while tuning their toys. The lads have carved out a prominent seat in the Irish music scene, extending their reach with the release of their self titled debut EP last November. Fresh from their winter tour, their reputation as a flawless live act is a dirty little secret, and everyone in the room knows it.
Heralding sounds of The Black Keys and The White Stripes and reminiscent of the blues legends that went before them, Travis Oaks are a fresh take on an old classic. Their tight performance is matched only by their comfort and energy on stage. They are wild animals in their natural habitat, tamed in all the right ways and nothing but a joy to watch.
As with all blues legends, the standard of guitar playing is sky high, which is absolutely no problem for lead guitarist Taran Plouzane, whose shredding seems effortless as he sways his head back and forth to the rhythm. Breaking a string halfway through the set is not even enough to slow him down, as he ploughs on, impeccable as ever.
No amount of guitar solos can top a tight rhythm section. The play between bass and drums is what makes a tight band flawless. Aran and Killian provide a stable base for the band to build upon, immaculate, but playful and intricate. Aran’s tasteful use of a wall-shaking bass distortion, with evident elements of funk in his style, add another layer to the entity that is Travis Oaks.
Vocals are one of the most important aspects that a band must present to its audience. An excellent band can easily go to waste without a strong vocalist. The powerful and diverse pipes of Michael Paterson, beautifully complemented by the three part harmonies of Taran and Aran, add an ethereal layer to this hard rocking, dirty-blues ensemble.
One of the more striking things about this band is their songwriting ability. It’s almost impossible to tell where the twists and turns of each song will take you. They demonstrate an excellent understanding of dynamics, always keeping the audience guessing as to what’s next, yet hitting the nail on the head every single time; a true wonder to behold. More often than not, they will bring their songs to a sudden halt and a quick, “thank you”, always met with a brief silence and a sudden, rapturous applause.
I was also lucky enough to witness the first live performance of a new song called, ‘Time Don’t Lie’, which clearly shows that there are still great things to come from this band.
Travis Oaks will be supporting New Valley Wolves for their album launch in The Workman’s Club on April 24th.
Review by Darragh Ryan