Crocodiles at the Bluebird, 10/11/12

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The Crocodiles' performance at the Bluebird last night was a how-to guide for aspiring garage rockers everywhere from here to Siam. This was obvious partway through their infectious, deliciously saccharine "Endless Flowers," as frontman Brandon Welchez clapped to his band's doo-wop inflected pop. The jangly vibe was on full display -- never mind that we've all heard these same three or four chords countless times. It's all in the delivery, and these guys knew it. Children of America, you could all but hear Welchez thinking, "this is how it's done."

Granted, Crocodiles had no excuse not to be a little cocky; there was some very able help opening for them. Hearts in Space began the evening by playing a brand of psychedelic pop that hasn't gone out of style since its inception four decades back (see: 1967's The Velvet Underground & Nico). Co-frontmen Jordan Hubner and Ezra-David Darnell sang their hearts out backed by a band that included a designated tambourine player.

The Overcasters came next, taking the crowd in a darker direction. Theirs was one of the loudest sets of recent memory, and the dark, sparse songs they played showed a band playing at the top of its game. Oh, and then there was the fog machine. That poor contraption got so overworked during the Overcasters' set that fog could be seen pouring out the front doors of the club.

Ears properly primed and fog all but cleared, it was time for Crocodiles. The band, founded by Welchez and Charles Rowell (both formerly of the utterly mindfucking punk act The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower), was shadowed in red stage lights most of the night. It was hard to even get a good look at the outfit onstage.

No matter. The San Diego group plugged in and got down to business, playing mostly tracks from Endless Flowers. "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)" was an early candidate for best track of the evening. With cheerier-than-all-hell melody and bizarre, occasionally downcast lyrics ("It's Sunday and the world loves itself/For all its faults and its explosions of wealth"), this song's charm is readily apparent.

To the band's credit, their musicianship held up well, too. Granted, apart from Rowell's occasional blistering and wiry solos, this is music a well-trained baby goat could play. But their attitude on songs like "No Black Clouds for Dee Dee" was the most remarkable thing about the set. Welchez sang wholesome lines like "If you were a daisy/Thirsting for a fix/ I'd gladly be the dew," though it was clear the band didn't appear to give a damn for, well, anything.

In the remaining few minutes of Crocodile's eight-song set, Welchez began air-humping his Rickenbacker guitar before bashing it against an amp for maximum feedback. In the process he knocked over the mike stand. The crowd gladly took advantage of this; a couple fans sang made-up lyrics into the knocked-over mike. Welchez ignored it and kept dancing.


Personal Bias: Having seen Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower play one of the most insane sets of my life (there were Nazi uniforms and feedback that sent the crowd streaming out of the club), my expectations for Crocodiles were high.

Random Note: Both of the opening acts, which shared an identical bill previously with the headliners in January of last year at the Larimer, played longer sets than the Crocodiles.

By the Way: More than one friend at the show suggested the vice presidential debates may be at fault for the lower turnout last night, which by the end numbered around fifty.

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