Thursday, April 9, 2009

Live: Crocodiles + more (Guest Review!)

My friend "Jasper" has been eager to contribute something to the review for a while now. So here it is at last, his Radio Flyer debut:

When: 4/4
Where: Pianos

Piano's show this past Saturday, headlined by San Diego's Crocodiles, was one of the most highly-buzzed in NYC and I was excited to see (and review) it. A note about the line up: though Monokino was listed as the first band on the schedule, the band I saw sounded and looked nothing like them (according to Myspace). I could not figure out who it was, but suffice it to say they played solid but unremarkable Indie Rock with its fair share of minimalism and distortion: well paced songs that held my attention throughout the set but failed to stay with me much afterward.


Admittedly, metal is not my thing, but I'll do my best: Tweak Bird consists of a guitarist and drummer, both of whom sing, and together manage to create quite an impressive amount of sound. Other than that, they seem to be a pretty typical metal band with many genre characteristics familiar even to non-metalheads: a heavier sound and slower tempo than punk, more virtuoso guitar work, drawn out songs with long instrumental sections and lyrics depicting a fantasy world. To their credit, they held my attention for a while and even got my feet a-tappin', although their leaden sound eventually began to drag. Still, the fact that they appealed to me at all is a good sign and it's probably not a bad idea for anyone seriously into metal to give them a listen. [MySpace]


San Francisco (NTP's home turf) is a beautiful city and among all that fog and ocean breeze and multicolored Victorian architecture, one can lose touch with reality. Such must be the case with this band. Men in gowns, vocals that varied between a squeal and a roar, and a saxophonist in a monkey mask are some examples of this band's total weirdness. And I'm all for total weirdness - when it says something, that is. It's not that New Thrill Parade has nothing to offer; they all play quite competently, and there were even moments when I found myself getting into the bizarre groove of their quasi-orchestral goth rock. But as the set wore on, the music proved to be just as excessive and tiresome as their style. I wish I could tell you more about their sound, but quite frankly, it was pretty unmemorable. Never have I seen or heard something that was so totally over the top without being the least bit edgy. If there was a point to this overwrought and drawn-out freak show I missed it, and came out too bored with the whole thing to look any further. [MySpace]


I had a lot of reasons to look forward to the set of the latest buzz-band, Crocodiles: they've been compared to Jesus and Mary Chain, they are a favorite of one of my favorites, No Age, and I found their myspace samples totally addictive.
So did Crocodiles live up to my inflated expectations? For the most part, yes. The comparisons you may have heard are apt: Crocodiles sound like JAMC with the beat turned up and the noise turned down just enough to make you want to move your feet, clap you hands and maybe even sing along. Still, the show could certainly damage some eardrums - the noise is more emphatic live than on their myspace tracks, with louder feedback playing over those catchy melodies and with long, loud interludes and outros totally absent in the recordings.

On stage, Crocodiles presented themselves with an unusual balance of endearing charm and cool aloofness, an apt compliment to caustic yet irresistible sound. Lead singer Brandon Welchez hopped around with an almost awkward but infectious enthusiasm, but he never removed the Ray-Ban knock-offs that distance him just enough to keep you from forgetting that he's probably cooler than you. Guitarist Charles Rowell sported an identical pair, bopping to the beat in a slightly more understated but still energetic manner.

Crocodiles played a short set - about half an hour - the only parts of which I did not recognize were those noisy interludes. Even as these became amelodic, however, they never lost the beat or veered off into the formlessness of noiseniks like Sonic Youth. Rather, Crocodiles manage to stay just this side of the noisy/melodic threshold, appealing to an edgy, experimental sensibility while remaining listener-friendly to more conventional tastes.

One drawback of the performance: although the music includes a great deal of percussion and electronic effects, the only instruments on stage were the guitars wielded by the band members (mostly solely by Rowell). While it makes sense that electronic effects would not be produced live, I would have like to see them bring on an in-the-flesh drummer much like such highly respected acts as Wavves and Crystal Castles do in live shows. It would have made the show more exciting and visually balanced.

It's still too early to tell if Crocodiles will achieve something truly groundbreaking or momentous. What is apparent is that they live up to the impressive hype they've garnered and I look forward to seeing/hearing more of them in the near future. [MySpace]

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