Best Rock Club: Crocodile Cafe

I grew up in upstate New York, where the cows far outnumber—at a ratio of, like, 500:1—the music venues. I’ll never forget the story of a friend who, at 15, flew to Seattle to visit her sister, snuck into the Crocodile Cafe, and spotted Peter Buck “just hanging out.” Before I moved here, one of the things I did on my first trip to Seattle was visit the Crocodile for a bloody mary and a grilled cheese. The cafe was pretty grubby, the grilled cheese just serviceable, but the bloody mary was fantastic. Though it’s seen its share of internal drama, the Croc—at least for music fans—has its priorities straight: stiff drinks and great bands. Even after a two-year shuttering, remodel, and ownership change, this remains true (though, yes, those drinks are more expensive now). The history of the space and the artists who’ve played there help keep rock ’n’ roll’s enduring mystique alive in an age when most folks are content to experience it through a YouTube video. It’s the place to connect with Seattle’s alt-rock past. Every time I go, I always wonder if I’m going to see Peter Buck.

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