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Crocodiles

(5 Jun 2012: Nouveau Casino — Paris)

The Crocodiles performance at Nouveau Casino in Paris had all the subtlety of a round of cannon fire; it was unleashed hard and fast, destructive upon impact and left only wreckage in its wake. In fact, it just may have been the perfect rock show in nearly all respects with only one notable flaw: it ended well before anyone was ready. It was a short but passionate fling. 


The performance was touted as a sort of record release show for the band’s newest Endless Flowers, which came out on the very same day. Appropriately, the band opened with a track from the new album, “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)”. While I didn’t have a chance to familiarize myself fully with the new album before the show, fans of the band to date should find little fault in the new material. It continues along the band’s trajectory to this point, mixing just the right amount of fuzz and feedback over ‘60s inspired nostalgia.
   
The band followed with “Neon Jesus”, a song that drips and oozes with California-style psychedelia. Somewhere in the world at this very moment the song is serving as the evening’s soundtrack at some subterranean bar, amidst a room full of youth in skinny jeans and leather jackets. However, another track, “Mirrors”, from the band’s second LP Sleep Forever, might just serve as the best spokesman for the band’s overall aesthetic. The song normally begins with pounding drums and a thumping bass atop a growing guitar haze, while a subtle, yet highly infectious organ line brings cohesion to the picture until a thrashing guitar breaks it all wide open. However, for this performance there was simply no room, or need, for atmospheric build up as the band counted off and jumped directly to the thrashing guitar line. A furious rendition of the song ensued with the highlight coming from a searing guitar line dropped in by guitarist Charles Rowell, mid-verse. On record, it gets a bit buried in the mix, but it soared above all else for the live rendition.
 
Nearly all aspects of the band’s music are enhanced by an exceedingly energetic performance, which largely falls on the shoulders of Rowell and lead singer Brandon Welchez. Welchez, who appeared in dark sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt beneath a dark jacket, flailed and danced about the stage with little care to anything else. Accordingly, he sporadically punctuated the high points with a series of yelps throughout the evening.
 
As to be expected from a record release show, the majority of the short set came from the newest album. However, the band did a good job of touching upon all of their releases to date. They saved their oldest material for the very end, bringing the evening to a rousing close with two tracks from the band’s first record, Summer of Hate. The first, the title track, is deliciously simple in its directness with an objective that falls somewhere between getting people moving and bringing down the walls. It managed to whip the audience into a frenzy, as the crowd became a sea of moving body parts. After a quick break, the band came back out to perform “I Wanna Kill”. Dee Dee (lead singer of the Dum Dum Girls and Welchez’s wife), who provided backup vocals throughout the night but stayed mostly to the back of the stage, joined Welchez at the front for this final number.
     
While the show clocked in at an amazingly short 50 minutes, the band did not waste a single second of that time. The show was relentless, filled with enough sweat and swagger to have accounted for double that length. The evening came to an exuberant end, with both Dee Dee and Welchez pulling audience members up on stage until nearly half the audience seemed to be among them. One fan, swept up in the moment, proceeded to stage dive unknowingly onto one unfortunate soul standing where he leapt. The sight of both crashing to the floor proved the perfect end to the evening, since a night such as this demanded a touch of violence, even if it was harmless.


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