I used to live a couple blocks from the Crocodile in a one bedroom apartment that looked straight out at the monorail. My parking spot tonight was actually right in front of my old apartment building. I went to the old Crocodile for breakfast a few times. I loved the weirdness of the room, the nice pole to lean on, the pretty great sound, the weird back bar, the billions of stickers in the dilapidated bathroom, and the general funk of a bunch of years of rock shows.
The new Crocodile sucks ass. Or rather, is exactly a metaphor for the increasing gentrification and deculturalization of the Belltown area that has happened over the past few years. In other words, Belltown is now officially as douchey as Fremont. (Though I didn’t go to Shorty’s or Singles Going Steady or Mama’s or The Lava Lounge to see if this disease has spread. Are all of those even still open?) It is fancy in the new Crocodile. The staff have little earphones to communicate to each other like secret service agents. There’s a balcony with a bunch of cool old Crocodile posters in fancy frames. Like a history exhibit at a museum. The stage is triangular (well, irregular pentagon, actually) and my compatriot for the evening pointed out the sound deficiencies almost immediately. Particularly if you are right in the middle of the room at the front. The crowd tonight migrated south from Fremont and was looking extraordinarily dressed up. My standard t-shirt attire was clearly underdressing for the show. I guess it makes sense, business-wise, to yuppify your venue. Only the fancy dressed people tonight could afford the $7 I paid for a 12oz soda for me and a 12oz beer for my partner in crime. In all, the new Crocodile can be summed up in one word: ewwwww.
Ms. Gibson was a delight. Her songs were cute but not cloying. Her two guest musicians were pretty amazing multi-instrumentalists, playing parts of drumsets, keyboards, melodica, saw, glockenspiel, banjo, accordion, assorted percussion, and even singing at various times. The overall sound composition they created was pretty amazing. Ms. Gibson was the embodiment of her music. She’s clearly of the hippie spectrum of indie singers, with heavy influences from folk music and nature. She sings wispy and ethereal songs which draw you in and make you smile a little bit despite their seeming sadness. And they are clearly honest and heartfelt songs, which was an excellent way to ignore the corporate-constructed atmosphere in the venue. I’d like to see her again in someplace more real. Maybe without a PA.
We live in the best place in the world. We are surrounded by amazing musicians and could probably go to a show every night and be amazed at the talent. Mr. Jurado is one of those amazing talents from the Northwest. In fact, he is distinctly Northwest. Whenever I hear him, I hear the quiet rain in the Olympic National Forest or the wind across the face of Mount Rainier or the wash of the waves against the tiny rocks on any Northwest beach. I think my love for this part of the world makes it easy to be enthralled by his songs. Add that to my tendency to be understated yet emotional and basically Damien Jurado is the musician that could play the soundtrack to my biographical movie. Last night’s set was amazing. All my favorite songs were in it including Ohio, Letters and Drawings, Lose My Head, and my favorite off the new record: Sheets. While I was listening, I kept hearing the themes of “come home” and “call me on the phone” in all the songs that Mr. Jurado picked. Though he claims that all of the songs are “just story songs… I’m actually okay”, I like to believe that they’re all true stories. And the stories of hoping that a long-lost lover will someday return have been particularly poignant recently, as my imagined regular readers will no doubt attest to. In fact, it’s taken me two hours to write this review since I’ve been constantly distracted by various different ways I could have handled the situation… well, I’ll be writing about that later this afternoon, after I mow the lawn and think about it more. At any rate, I’ll probably be going to every Damien Jurado show I can from now on, I need to find out if that long lost lover in his story songs ever comes back.