R.I.P. The Crocodile Café

photo by Chris Brown

If you even remotely pay attention to the Seattle music scene, you could not avoid hearing the untimely and abrupt closure of one of the most beloved venues here in town, the Crocodile Cafe. The music blogs have been swamped with outraged fans and everyone throwing in their two cents, and the city newspaper has provided coverage on the details as well.

Rather than rehash all the details yet again, here at Audioasis we’ve collected a few memories and words from those in the music community about their times at what was considered one of the best places to play in Seattle.

Dana Bos, Editor, Three Imaginary Girls
“It was the only venue in Seattle that really felt like home, I feel like I’ve lost a good friend. TIG was born there! I’ll never forget singing Karaoke through Jim’s stellar sound system from the Croc stage. My fella and I had our first date there, and eventually our Imaginary Wedding. We had our real wedding the night before, but a huge reception at the Crocodile with four bands, including David’s (her husband.) The Iron Composer guys did an imaginary wedding ceremony, complete with a “Worst Bridesmaid Dress” pageant–the winners became my imaginary bridesmaids. Without a doubt my favorite show venue in Seattle.”

Three Imaginary Girls will be hosting the benefit show for the estranged Crocodile Employees on the 30th at Chop Suey.

Patrick R. Porter, Explone
“I worked at the Croc off and on through the early to mid-90s. I ran sound when Jim Anderson wanted a day off. It was a great learning experience for me, as Jim was even then regarded as the best live sound engineer in town, and I learned a ton from him. I saw some pretty amazing shows: American Music Club, Tuatara, Cheap Trick (three nights in a row!), Ida and Lori Carson, Nashville Pussy, Tenderloin, Cat Power (I loaned her my guitar strap), The Fastbacks (like fifty times), Cibo Matto, United Future Organization (in their fancy suits),Voyager One, and so many more.

I’ll always remember how Jim, Kevin, Hamish and Val were so cool to me. I had a regular day job at the time, and I used to show up for work at the Croc after my other job let off. Leaving the Croc at 3:00 AM and then getting up for work the next day was pretty rough, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. When Jim went out for a week to get his leg fixed, I pulled double duty for the whole time and I was about ready to drop when he finally came back. But I felt good that he trusted me enough to loan me the keys to his kingdom for a short time. I didn’t want to let him down.

Say what you want about “hipster attitude,” but the Crocodile did engender a vibe that said clearly: this place is about the music. If you weren’t there to respect the music, you probably weren’t in the right place. Later on, when I got to play at the Crocodile myself, it was a really good feeling. I think a huge part of the success of the club was that they always made the musicians feel special; if you were just a local band playing your first gig, you still felt like you were getting the royal treatment at the Croc. I wish Jim, Kevin, Pete, Eli and the rest of the crew the very best, and I hope they find new opportunities to offer their vital contributions to the music scene. Knowing the character of these people, I have no doubt that good things will happen for them. Although the Crocodile met a pretty inauspicious end for such a storied venue, I hope people will focus on the long and vibrant history of the club instead of just harping on Miss Dorgan for the way she chose to shut it down. The last few weeks might have been disappointing, but overall it was a damned impressive body of work.”

photo by Chris Metcalf

Rachel Ratner, KEXP DJ
“I remember when rock was young
Me and Suzie had so much fun
Holding hands and skimming stones
Had an old gold chevy and a place of my own
But the biggest kick I ever got
Was doing a thing called the Crocodile rock
While the other kids were rocking round the clock
We were hopping and bopping to the Crocodile rock

Well Crocodile rocking is something shocking
When your feet just can’t keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
Oh lawdy mama those Friday nights
When Suzie wore her dresses tight
And the Crocodile rocking was out of sight

But the years went by and the rock just died
Suzie went and left us for some foreign guy
Long nights crying by the record machine
Dreaming of my chevy and my old blue jeans
But they’ll never kill the thrills we’ve got
Burning up to the Crocodile rock
Learning fast as the weeks went past
We really thought the Crocodile rock would last”

Robin Pecknold, soloist/singer of Fleet Foxes, his solo act opened for the “last show” as well
“I was totally shocked when I heard about the Crocodile closing down. The show the night before was awesome–a line around the block, tons of folks milling about, Mr. Dave Bazan blowing their minds…Everybody thought things were on the up and up…The Crocodile is my favorite place to in town and ever since I was a kiddie that has been the coolest place to play in town. Even standing outside the place when we’d play shows before I was 21 was somehow rad…To have played the “final show” at the Crocodile is pretty weird, but to me, if the random last show can be as good as Dave Bazan and J. Tillman, then all that means is that Seattle is going strong and is an awesome place to see and play music.”

Laurie Kearney, bassist of Ships, curator of Ghost Gallery
“I’m really glad Ghost Gallery threw the last art opening for the Crocodile with Blush Photography. And I thank the sound crew for never getting onstage and crawling behind you while you’re playing to “fix” your amp, like they do in Fresno.”

Josh Engelhardt, of Beep Repaired Records and Lake of Falcons
“The Crocodile was a great venue to see a show in and to play a show in…if you booked a show with Pete or Eli, you weren’t going to get a call a few months later saying it had been canceled for some lame reason. Then of course there was Jim. Sound check at the Croc was always a pleasure rather than a battle. Jim never gave you excuses, he just gave you great sound…I always felt honored to sit and talk with Jim about tweaks he put into the stage or a mic he’s excited about. He puts a love into the room that you seldom see…A lot of Beep Repaired bands have enjoyed playing there regularly… It felt great to put on shows in a space with so much history.”

Kazu, aka PWRFL Power
“When I was a high school student in Japan, I read about the Crocodile in a music manga. At the time, the place seemed like a dreamland I would never reach. But I ended up performing there this last November. I also was fortunate enough to attend the David Bazan show on the last night.”

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