Friday, May 29, 2009

Mini-Show Review: Crocodiles at Grog Shop, 5/28

I call this a mini-show review because, in full disclosure, I came late and left early (which I suppose is better than coming early and never leaving ... oh, entendre, you devil). I got hung up at work in a gleeful fit of crossing things of lists and failed to catch the opening act, a failure so complete that I don't even recall the name of the band I didn't see play.

I showed up at the Grog just as they were unplugging their gear and clearing off stage. After a momentary glitch with the door guy (seriously, if you are supposed to be on a guest list, ALWAYS bring a copy of the email that says so, as in my experience bands forget to put your name down at least 60% of the time), I was able to walk straight up to the stage. The crowd here was pretty young, which meant that the vast majority of them headed outside to smoke between bands, thus vacating the good spots.

(Side note: One of the things that makes me love the Beachland Tavern a lot more than the Grog Shop is that you can be in several different places in the room and still get a good view, whereas if a Grog show is even modestly popular you are either right up in front - which I don't like to be - or shit out of luck.)

(Another side note: Can someone tell me why 90% of the time door guys aren't pleasant? I mean, it isn't a terribly difficult job, sitting there and collecting money. Why don't they ever say hello back when you say it to them? Why do they talk to you like you are an idiot and/or a criminal? For example, at first I showed this door dude my email from the band's guitarist and without looking at it, he said: "That could easily have been faked." Like I'm going to go to all the trouble of creating false email addresses and then corresponding back and forth, just to save $10 one time. Perhaps venue owners could remind their staff that in a recession and a time when gas prices are making tours less viable and Live Nation is buying up most of the money-making acts, the last thing you need is for folks to stop coming to your club because they don't like being treated like shit. Anyway, rant/sidenote over.)

Watching Crocodiles set up was pretty interesting. For a lo-fi, two-man outfit, they had a lot of gear to tape here and there - the vocalist alone had a handful of effects pedals just for his singing. After working things out with the sound guy and a last minute break so the singer could go to the bathroom, they emerged onstage with the backing tracks from their recent album's intro track, "Screaming Chrome," playing from an ipod. In fact, a lot of the coolest music played during the show was courtesy of that little ipod, something which I'm torn about.

On one hand, I'm a realist, and two dudes can only play so much music live, and all that other sound has to come from somewhere else. On the other hand, there is something about bands that bring ipods or laptops on stage that makes me think they are cheating a bit. What is the solution, you might ask? I don't know, thus I'm guilty of breaking my own golden rule: don't criticize unless you are going to provide constructive advice as well. Perhaps they could tour with a full band, though that would be more expensive and potentially less true to the original sound. Perhaps they could play stripped down sets that reflected the onstage realities while staying true to the essence of the tunes, though that might be really challenging and potentially turn off audiences that want it to sound just like the album. And this performance largely did sound just like the album (which I previously reviewed as quite good), though as a friend later in the evening pointed out, it isn't hard to sound just like the album when the majority of the tracks are coming out of the ipod and not the guitar actually being played live.

Beyond this quibble, the show was pretty good, if super brief (like 25 minutes long). I'd probably be pissed if I dropped $12 to hear Crocodiles play, but I didn't and since the Cavs game was on, I actually slightly appreciated the early curtain on their set, as it allowed me to walk down to the Winking Lizard and catch the fourth quarter.

(One last side note: Has anyone ever seen LeBron's face look quite as serious for such a prolonged period of time as last night? Perhaps so, but I hope he continues to bring that attitude the next two games - though his playoff performance has been awesome so far.)

The songs they did cram in to those 25 minutes were the ones you expected, and they all sounded grand, especially when both dudes strapped on guitars. Unlike the Dreadful Yawns performance the night before, the fellas in Crocodiles were quite animated.

At first the singer - Brandon Welchez, who looks like a Highway 61 Revisited Dylan - was doing some silly little cock thrusts, but eventually settled into a less staged yet still active act, while the guitar player, Charles Rowland, jammed and jammed and jammed but wore shades indoors, in a dark room no less!!! I so hate it when musicians do that - it is like the Fonz but infinitely less cool. They played top-notch (and, as I mentioned previously, album-true) renditions of "Summer of Hate" and "Soft Skull (In My Room), and closed with a fantastic "I Wanna Kill" that could only have been better if the Welchez's mic hadn't been cutting in and out.

I left pretty much immediately after the set ended, as I was brain-tired from work and not very interested in seeing Holy Fuck (though I will say their song "Lovely Allen" is one of my top tunes of 2009 so far) and wondering what the score of the Cavs-Magic game was. I was also tired of this old fat dude in a baseball cap walking around the crowd, shoulder bumping everyone into an abortive mosh pit. Old fat man was quite the sharp contrast from the rest of the crowd, filled with young appeciative yet reserved nodders who only wanted to listen to the band and then go grab another stylish cig before the last band. And besides, who moshes to San Diego lo-fi being mostly played off an ipod, anyway? Go home, old fat man in a baseball cap.

As I mentioned, I headed down to the Lizard, found my pal Roger and his roommate at the bar, and watched as the Cavaliers held off the Magic to climb back within one game in the series. Six more wins in a row and a lot of us are going to be feeling foolish for all our sports gnashing of teeth this week as we wait for the team parade to the championship trophy ceremony. Of course, I'm a lifelong Cubs fan, so take my reality with as much salt as you can afford to buy.

1 comment:

Kristen Marie said...

Hi! Thanks for checking out my blog :) I've been reading yours for a little while now...stumbled across it when looking for other Cleveland bloggers. Your show/music reviews are great, and I love hearing about what's going down in Clevo...especially on the east side since I am living in the ol' west.

I will try to keep you updated on the things going on out here...but because i am unemployed you might get bored of reading about who has the best miller high life special and where to go to get free pizza :)