Speaker Speaker and the Crocodile

Friday night Nik and I went to see Speaker Speaker at the Crocodile Café. They are a good local band, and Nik really likes them. We saw them a couple of times and then for the last year or so every time they’ve played we’ve had something else going on or been out of town. Not only were we free on Friday, but also Kate was up at her dad’s so I made sure we took advantage of the opportunity. We didn’t get advance tickets, since Speaker Speaker was playing with (of all things) a Pixies cover band and I didn’t figure we’d have any trouble. As we were walking over to the Croc, Nik was feeling certain we’d somehow be screwed out of seeing them. I pointed out that in nine years of going to bands in NYC I almost always just walked up at show time and got in. So we show up and pay and head inside. Turns out we are the first people there. We then spend over an hour sitting on this bench as people dribble in. When Speaker Speaker started, there were about a dozen people in the audience. This grew to perhaps thirty by the end of their set, which was energetic despite the size of the crowd. More folks arrived for the Pixies cover band, but after the opener of “Debaser” we had our fill and left.

Yesterday I picked up a copy of the Seattle Weekly and it had a story in it about how the Crocodile is going through hard times. The owner was married to Peter Buck for a long time, so there was always REM royalties to fall back on. They got divorced though and the club has been struggling the past four years. The neighborhood it’s in, Belltown, has been gentrifying rapidly and a grungy rock club is not exactly in step with the new crowd. Other venues, like Neumo’s and the Tractor, are also siphoning off the Croc’s audience. It is possible that the place will end up going out of business. That would be strange. I don’t go there all that often, as places like El Corazon and the Funhouse tend to book more of my kind of bands, but I have a soft spot for the Croc. The first month I was in Seattle after the big move from the East Coast I went to see the 5,6,7,8s there (several years later they would appear in Kill Bill, Volume 1). While the Crocodile isn’t as historic as CBGB, it’d still be a shame if it closed down. If the Speaker Speaker show is any indication, I can see why things aren’t so rosy right now.

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