“Croc” Show Was the Feel-Good Gig of the Season

Take that, Wu-Tang!

I don't believe in karma. This assertion generally pisses people off, especially those Buddhism-lite-embracing types who tend to populate the liberal hipster class. But honestly, terrible things happen to wonderful, well-intentioned people all the time. If good deeds and a humanitarian viewpoint were enough to guarantee reciprocal degrees of happiness (and vice versa), then John Lennon would have lived well past 40 and Pete Doherty would never have gotten to see Kate Moss naked. People should do the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do—not just because they think it benefits them in the long run. I do, however, believe that a crisis—particularly when it strikes a creative community—can bring out the best in people, and nowhere was that more evident than during the well-attended Unscrew the Crocodile Employees benefits at Chop Suey over the past two weekends. Both nights had stellar lineups of familiar faces, but the first one, on Sunday, Dec. 30, was easily one of the most feel-good events of the Seattle music community's holiday season. Hundreds of well-wishers resisted the temptation of the Wu-Tang Clan show down at the Showbox, and instead shelled out $10 (and in many cases more) to help raise funds for the former Crocodile employees who were thrown out of work when the club suddenly closed without warning, just a week before Christmas. Along with the musicians who inadvertently played the very last Croc show (David Bazan, Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold, and Josh Tillman), the crowd was treated to abbreviated sets from more than a dozen local artists, including the Pleasureboaters, Damien Jurado (spontaneously joined on drums by Bazan), Peter Parker, Aqueduct, Triumph of Lethargy, Siberian, and a surprise appearance by the Long Winters. The Hallmark moments were plenty, particularly when Siberian bassist Zach Tillman (a former Croc employee himself and, in the spirit of full disclosure, a dear friend of mine) did a brief solo set after his bandmates left the stage. Working with just an acoustic guitar and a bright, clear voice that sounded like a teenaged Neil Young, he stunned the crowd with a raw and gorgeous performance that nearly brought proud elder sibling Josh to tears. It was also incredibly comforting to see beloved Croc soundman Jim Anderson working the Chop Suey soundboard. "Well, it wouldn't be a Crocodile show without me doing the sound, now would it?" he told me, laughing heartily and gently pushing faders on the mixing board with his trademark precision. Talking with Anderson a few days later about the experience, it is clear that he's very touched by the outpouring of support he and the rest of the unemployed Croc workers have received. "Certainly we were all kind of left in the lurch there and everybody's got bills to pay," he sighs. As far as the club's unceremonious demise, it's a mixture of relief, grief, and impressive optimism that shapes his current state of mind. "Actually, for me, it was a bit of a relief...not having to worry about when or if something was going to happen anymore," he explains. "But it is sad. It's really, really sad, you know...the fact that this chapter of my professional life is closed. But hopefully we'll move on to something new now. I'd love to continue to work there, in that acoustic environment that I built." All of Anderson's equipment remains in the building for now (though he's taken a few pieces home for some long-overdue cleaning), and he's clearly hoping that he won't have to move it permanently. "From what I hear, there are three bona fide offers [to buy the club] and they were getting close with one of them—that's all I've heard," he says. Unsurprisingly, Anderson has also received several job offers, but he's choosing to bide his time for now. "I'm telling all the bands that there are two things you can absolutely count on: I'm not moving anywhere, and I'm not changing professions. A little reassurance for everybody, for now." rocketqueen@seattleweekly.com

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