Review: Crocodiles Live in Bi Nuu, Berlin, 31.5
San Diego’s fuzz punk duo Crocodiles recorded their third album Endless Flowers in Berlin last summer. They returned on Thursday to release the finished product and bring some warm Californian surf rock shoegaze to a chilly Berlin evening.
Crocodiles’ debut album, Summer of Hate, generated substantial internet buzz prior to release, but a slew of negative reviews berating the disc’s almost carbon copy of The Jesus and Mary Chain saw them returning off the back foot with the release of 2010’s far more positively received Sleep Forever.
The band will be hoping the new album will consolidate their position as an enduring creative force. Lead singer Brandon Welchez is confident that Endless Flowers will prove that Crocodiles are on the right path, “I think those two albums, while I love them, were somewhat monochrome. This one is in full color.”
If first single Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9) is anything to go by he may be right.
Crocodiles hit the stage at around 22.30 with their trademark wall of fuzz in tow. This band is loud. Eardrum-shatteringly loud.
Almost immediately there are elements of Crocodiles’ performance that set them apart from their introspective shoegazing counterparts. The band’s two permanent members are certifiable rockstars – Welchez is a compelling front man and guitarist Charles Rowell attacks both his instrument and the stage with real presence. The songs, while retaining a foggy darkness typical of the genre, tend toward the anthemic rather than the cynical. There are big sing along choruses aplenty, and the crowd obliged heartily.
A pleasant surprise was a guest appearance from members of Dum Dum Girls on backup vocals (Walchez is married to Dum Dum Girls singer Dee Dee Perry), the extra vocals adding layers of richness to an already massive sound.
The only downside to the night was that Welchez’ reverb-heavy vocals, which admittedly do sit fairly far back in the mix even in studio recordings, were often all but drowned out during the live show by the wall of distortion emanating from the guitars. I fear there are not many sound systems capable of dealing with this level of loud.
Review by Daniel Hampton