And And And @ The Crocodile with Brite Lines and &Yet
Friday, December 6, 2013
Eclectic bands and music cease to seem so original when they are surrounded by other artists doing the same thing. For example, I used to be taken aback when I would see a cello on stage, or hear a woman play the violin amid the crashing noise of progressive rock or jazz, but ‘tis not so anymore. I still love the sound of strings, and a good ukulele song can make me smile, but when everyone tries to be unique in the same way, my interest wanes, and it makes for uninspiring live shows like the one at Seattle club The Crocodile on December 6.
To start, I’d never been to The Crocodile before. People rave to me about this historic venue. They say they love it—such a fun venue to play, good location, great sound, the best pizza. They say it’s so much better now that they’ve redone it, that I simply must see a show there.
Well, I don’t get it.
The sound seemed off for at least half the songs, instruments outweighing vocals or vocals too loud. I felt like I might catch hypothermia, INSIDE. The well whiskey cost as much as two at other bars. And, despite their ability to pack the house, the bands didn’t blow me away either.
&Yet kicked off the night with their (yes, I know) eclectic lineup and jazzy songs: cello, violin, electric guitar, bass, minimal drums, trumpet, sometimes an extra floor tom by said trumpet player. The group’s singer, Dane Ueland, could likely make girls swoon with his sultry smooth jazzy vibe. It seemed like he really directs things for the band.
The band’s string players – Maren Haynes on cello and Wynne Nuernberg on violin – sure do know how to play, and the band overall sounded very tight. Very clean, very synchronized, even in progressive sections with time and tempo changes. But that’s about where the magic ended for me.
Overall, &Yet’s set made me think I should be eating a steak dinner at a cozy table in a quaint jazz bar, having good conversation with their sound merely for backdrop. But I wasn’t. I was freezing, and kind of bored. Don’t get me wrong: &Yet sounded good and played well. They are a good band. Their music just didn’t seem too terribly original, and my favorite song was their cover of “Great Olympians” by Andrew Byrd, not one they wrote.
The night declined from there. Brite Lines played second, a four-piece outfit fronted by guitar player and singer Zach Gore. And they clearly packed the house—many more people filled the room than during the opening set. They brought much simpler instrumentation, with two guitars (and the occasional ukulele), a bass, and drums.
And once again, the band didn’t sound bad, but they didn’t wow me. Their “electro-pop Americana” style and songs sounded just like many other songs in rotation these days, and none of them left a lasting impression.
Front man Zach Gore would do himself a favor, too, if he began to sing with more lyrical intonation, fully leaving behind his talk-singing habits. As one audience member said (whom I overheard in the ladies’ room after the Brite Lines set), “He used to talk sing even more. Once of my biggest pet peeves. I was like, ‘Zach, you need to stop talk singing.’ He might as well go on a date with Ke$ha.”
The last band, And And And, looked as though they’d just rolled out of bed, and they didn’t sound much better. They opened with a long progressive song that sounded a lot like unrehearsed noise, reminding me of Idiot Pilot and Radiohead, except not as good. The vocals seemed very slurred and hard to understand. They continued with some shorter songs, but as their set continued, the crowd slowly trickled out, and so did I.