Concert Reviews

Crocodiles at Larimer Lounge, 1/22/11

With Hearts In Space and Overcasters
01.22.11 | Larimer Lounge

With the stage bathed in shifting hues provided by Shane Williams, Overcasters opened its set with a new song -- something a little more on the bluesy and noisy side of the band's repertoire. While the rest of the set comprised material from The Whole Sea Is Raging, one of the standouts of the whole performance was "Way of the World," from Revolectrocution.

Even more so than at previous shows, it seemed as though everyone in the band was swept up in the music. Of course, Kurt Ottaway swiveled around while striking down with sparklingly crushing chords during hectic instrumental passages as John Nichols both lunged and gyrated when not staring off into the crowd menacingly. Samantha Doom looked like she was leading some kind of garage-psych marching band with her bass held like a baton or a sword, while Erin Tidwell crashed down on her drums while never missing a beat.

The set ended with a newer number that had a denser and more atonal, percussive sound, and wherein Ottaway uttered the words "Do things the hard way, or you'll come up short. Do things the long way, or you'll come up short." In other words, shortcuts and a quick rise result in not really learning anything useful and having an equally quick descent as an artist -- a warning against crashing and burning out before your time.

Crocodiles came on stage looking like someone had opened the door to 1987 -- only with different clothing options not available then. The group's sound and look was very much Darklands-era Jesus and Mary Chain. Brandon Welchez wore sunglasses, solidifying the impression, but the raw energy the band seemed to cast forth from the stage proved it was not trying to be a museum piece.

In fact, its music, while generally having an affinity for similar dynamics and sounds, was textured with sound ideas well outside the Mary Chain aesthetic. With a mixture of krautrock á la Faust and Neu!, Crocodiles took this tapestry of sonics and twisted it and warped it into something both familiar and decidedly its own. Welchez angled up to the mike and emoted with a melodramatic flourish that was part spontaneous and part practiced like a rock and roll frontman of old -- something we haven't seen much of lately, and which is always welcome.

A third of the way through the show, Welchez told us the band's drummer and keyboardist were almost robbed in Denver. But Alianna Kalaba, the drummer, told us that what had happened was that she and keyboardist Robin Eisenberg tried to take a cab to the Larimer Lounge but the cabbie got lost, claiming to not really know where it was, and at one point, they heard gunfire and the cabbie told them to get down. To which someone in the audience yelled, "Welcome to Denver." Welchez then declared that that sort of thing was nothing compared to what went down in Frankfurt, Germany. Someone should one day get that story out of Welchez.

For his part, Charles Rowell looked like his guitar was in control of him most of the time as he created melodic squalls of electrifying, hypnotic riffs over the top of Marco Gonzalez solid and moving bass lines throughout -- it was like seeing Stereolab gone completely raw and with a knack for fuzzy garage rock.

Perhaps the experience was different for other people, but the band's 45 minute-plus set felt more like half an hour, and that just means these people know how to give a lot of themselves to the audience -- another thing we could all get used to more of in a live show.

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I greatly dislike being around people who are wasted and really try to not let that affect how I write about the bands even when these people all but ruin the show at various points. Random Detail: Ran into James Holden (The Cigarette After and others) and Matt Brown (Pinkku and Fancy Tiger) after the show. By the Way: Hardcore "dancing" at a show like this? Really? Put the crystal down, boys.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.