1980s Anglophile rock (or college rock, as it was called then) is back! Or at least it was last Wednesday at Club Congress. New wave-sounding band names? Check. Guitar feedback between every song? Check. Atmospheric presentation? Check. The fog machine, strangely absent, was probably getting repaired at the, um, local fog machine repair shop.
Tucson's Early Black hopped onstage first to blast out some serious hybrid of goth and shoegaze. The bats may have left the bell tower, but these guys stuck around until My Bloody Valentine showed up to give them a ride home. Which is to say, for all their Facebook posts about post-punk, Joy Division, etc., Early Black has a distinctive sound of their own, an amalgam of noise and baritone singing that has one foot on Bauhaus' throat, and the other on the Jesus and Mary Chain's first album, Psychocandy. What they bring to the mix are catchy songs, and drumming that is definitely more rock 'n' roll than New Order's drum machine. The members of Early Black clearly enjoy themselves onstage, unlike, say, Sisters of Mercy, and their energy is palpable.
The headliners of the night were San Diego's Crocodiles, most likely named after Echo and the Bunnymen's first album. Or maybe they just thought that "Crocodiles" was a cool name for a band. Either way, they were unquestionably great. The songs were simply stunning, their passion came in spades, and the singer, Brandon Welchez, knew exactly how to work a stage. So, what did they sound like? Well, if the Rolling Stones decided a new musical direction was in order, and thus started a Spiritualized cover band, then you'd have the blueprint for Crocodiles' sound: kinetic and extremely intense and beautiful, mostly at the same time. They appropriated pretty much every aspect of '80s alternative rock that was worth remembering. Crocodiles droned like Spacemen 3, chimed like the Smiths, were as pretty as any Cocteau Twins song, and were baroque and histrionic, like the aforementioned Echo and the Bunnymen. By the time of the show's climactic ending, everything had fallen apart into a violent shoegaze noise contest between the band members. And although the organ had the edge on the competition, everybody won, including the audience.