Bummer of the Summer: Thunderkid, Crocodiles and Spelling Bee @ The Firebird
Where to begin with this one… I’ve been to a fair amount of shows in my twenty years, but never one quite like last night’s at The Firebird. Prior to the show, I was excited to see Crocodiles, whose first record “Summer Of Hate” was recently released on Fat Possum, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that KDHX’s very own Mabel Suen and Joe (of Spazztick) were one part of the drum+guitar duo Spelling Bee. Things got off to an unfortunate start with Thunderkid, a local electronic duo who play vaguely chip-tuney dance. The thing about dance music, though, is that you’ve got to keep it going – minute long interludes of silence between songs aren’t going to cut it. I’m not sure if the band was having technical difficulties or just need more practice (I would like to say the former, but I’m not sure). What they did play wasn’t bad, somewhere between Dan Deacon, Black Moth Super Rainbow and Adventure, but the set as a whole was not well sequenced.
After about 30 minutes or so (a little after 10PM), Thunderkid cleared out and Crocodiles began to set up. At 10:15, they donned their sunglasses, picked up their guitars, and kicked up a nice little drone. At 10:17, they told the crowd of about 30 that the sound was awful, killed their lights, and started packing up. At this point, it was unclear what was happening. The crowd stood around awkwardly, while the sound guy came up and tried to reason with the band. They (truthfully) claimed that it was impossible to hear the drum-machine (I was standing up front, stage-center, and couldn’t hear it either). The crowd slowly dispersed toward the bar and seating area, and the lights on stage came up.
No one really seemed to know what to do next – one of the band members (Brandon) stood near the back of the club, chatting with a few of the concert-goers, while Firebird staff spoke with the other (Charles) outside. About a half hour later, Spelling Bee got the green light for their set, and blasted through 25 minutes of noisy, sludgy punk, which redeemed the night, at least in my eyes. Unfortunately, by that point, most of the venue had cleared out.
A lot of people seemed pretty pissed about the Crocodiles set (or lack thereof) – I understand that the Firebird is offering refunds to those concert-goers who felt cheated – but I’m more disappointed than anything. I really enjoy “Summer of Hate,” and I was looking forward seeing it played out live, and to sacrifice the show over a sound glitch seems a bit… silly to me. The situation begs a comparison to the Wavves’ Primavera Festival meltdown (both are signed to Fat Possum, coincidentally), but Wavves have only been around for a couple of years (if that), and are far less experienced than Crocodiles. These guys have been playing in bands for years (Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, among others), and should know how to deal with sound issues. Both parties (Firebird and Crocodiles) were apologetic to those in attendance, but couldn’t seem to reach an agreement with each other. I don’t think it would be appropriate to blame either, but all the same, I went to the Firebird last night to see Crocodiles play, and left disappointed that I did not.
Written by: Kenny Hofmeister