Comfortable: Originals, covers vie on the Corner

Travis Elliot
at the Virginian
Saturday, July 26


I arrived at the Virginian at about 10pm, fresh from a Hook cookout, where much meat was eaten and many beverages were consumed. My current state left me inclined more for bed and a good book than some live music, but as my deadline loomed, I threw off my haze and... ordered my first drink (at least at the Virginian)– which was probably a mistake in retrospect.

Erroneous start time information led to trademark Grabowski wallowing in his liquor for about an hour, and un-stereotypically constantly watching the major league soccer game playing to my left (the guys in black seemed to be winning).

At about 11pm, Travis Elliot, who had been setting up his sound system and seemingly waiting for the crowd to pick up (which it did, going from five people to about 15 at around 11), launched into his first tune with an acoustic guitar draped across his lap.

Elliot has a good strong voice, and although he's not especially inclined to theatrics, or pushing the envelope of his vocal cords much, his style is very comforting somehow, like an old pair of shoes (something you could also say about the Virginian as a whole, come to think of it).

The first song turned out to be "You Were the Fool," a song by the wacko-folk/rock group Ween, and Elliot pulled it off with consummate ease. From the first line of "Bless the father, bless the son/ Cross your heart 'cause you're the one" to the last ringing chords, the singer/songwriter made the piece his own, removing most of the "Ween-sheen" of the original (fans of the group know what I'm talking about).

It turned out Elliot was following a pattern of playing a cover, then an original, followed by a cover and so on, and his next song, which featured the repeating opening verse line, "I've created a monster," was fabulous (that line alone is priceless, as who hasn't felt the same, from a relationship point of view?). On the chorus, Elliot's voice took off, putting his previous vocal range to shame with "I really like my head where it is" sung with high, sure sounding bravado.

The next cover was the exquisitely chosen "Waltz #2" by folk singer Elliot Smith, a song which features what I feel is one of the best couplets ever written ­ "She shows no emotion at all/Stares into space like a dead china doll." Elliot's voice took on a tone that at least partially resembled Smith's during the song, which seemed to be no problem for the able guitarist/vocalist.

From there, the evening seemed to fly by, with Elliot's cover of the Flaming Lips' song "Are you a hypnotist?" and his original "Rainbow"– a song which featured an extremely sonically pleasurable verse in which the melody and beat played off each other– standing out as highlights.

Elliot plays the Corner all the time, and if you're in the right mood for wallowing or a heart-to-heart with a friend or lover, he will provide a great soundtrack for the evening.