Live Review: Crocodiles @ Red Palace, 4/25/2011

Words probably can't begin to describe how stoked I was to see Crocodiles, y'all. And in my experience, it can be a dangerous thing indeed to be so excited about seeing a band live and in person. The potential for disappointment is great when the expectations for a killer show are so high. As it turns out, as it often does, I was a silly rabbit for ever being anything other than seriously enthusiastic. Crocodiles live just happens to be possibly even better than Crocodiles on record. And that, little dewdrops, is saying something.

One by one, the five touring Crocodiles sauntered onto the stage to a warm welcome from the assembled crowd, bloody Mary red lights casting the right glow at the right time for the right mood. The band wasted no time in winning over the room, dedicating the glory of opening song "Sleep Forever" to the newly-passed Poly Styrene. I was immediately taken with the way the band so passionately thrashed and postured and moved about the stage. The dirty riffage and fearsome shimmy of "Neon Jesus" followed, exuding a sound much more raw and sinister than on record. The entire set hovered on the brink of going unhinged, a vibe which was pretty special. In "Hearts of Love," the keys took center stage, sounding so very retro fabulous as the darkness of the Crocodiles drone covered the room.

From "Hearts of Love" they quickly moved to "Summer of Hate," the raunchy tones of Stooges-era Detroit present and accounted for
, in addition to the reverence for other times and other places, as guitarist Charles Rowell attacked his guitar with moves unlike any I've ever seen, both lovingly and savagely, eliciting sounds so very lovely. The intro to "Mirrors" was organ-heavy, adding to the syrupy thickness of the song and quite possibly to the inclination of a small group of fellows down the front to get their headbang on, a rather interesting juxtaposition to the shoegaze-laden retro psych noise of Crocodiles. I was mightily pleased when Brandon Welchez did his little yelp, as on record, and then proceeded to thrash around the stage a great deal. High marks for presentation.

By the time "Stoned to Death" rolled around (dedicated to bill mates Young Prisms and Fresh & Onlys), the 'bangers were full out moshing and Rowell was making my brain melt with his totally singular guitar play. But then, the entire band had hit their stride a long time ago in the set, and my brain was probably in melt mode long before the seventh song. The band finished things off with another psycho beach party jam, the most excellent "I Wanna Kill." And as the band droned on, it hit me that maybe all that moshing wasn't so out of place in the blissfully dark world of Crocodiles. I'm pretty sure they were getting a kick out of it, and by the end of the set I was too. When it's all said and done, friends, this is a band you really must see live.

mp3: Stoned to Death (Crocodiles from Sleep Forever)

[photo by Chris Becker]


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