Published Feb 24, 2012The last time Crocodiles played in Toronto, the city became their home away from home. Playing a three-night, high-intensity residency at the Silver Dollar during North by Northeast allowed for the San Diego band to get familiar with the Toronto crowd. Thankfully, the show at Lee's Palace on this most recent tour brought back much of that same energy.
Bleeding Rainbow (formerly Reading Rainbow) started the night with a volley of fuzz-drenched swirls. Tracks like "Always on My Mind" were transformed from their reserved and quirky pop nature into wild, shambolic experiments of noise. The amount of experimentation Bleeding Rainbow utilized was refreshing to witness, as it allowed fans of their most recent LP, Prism Eyes, to really dig in. "White Noise" and similar tracks from that record provided ample opportunity for the group to display their penchant for overdriven solos and feedback freak-outs -- keeping any fan of noise pop interested. The set finished off with the same waves of intensity as it began, with many audience members walking away from the stage cloaked in awe.
The energy Bleeding Rainbow nurtured during their performance lingered into the start of Crocodiles' set. The opening stabs of feedback that marked the beginning of "Mirrors" brought the audience curiously back towards the stage. The dark tone and imagery of "Stoned to Death" created an ideal hypnotic trance with its pulsating bass and primitive rhythm, coaxing many concertgoers into a groove. After a selection of tracks from their latest release, Sleep Forever, the group began to sample some tracks from their upcoming LP, Endless Flowers. The change of pace was noted, as the newer tracks placed much more emphasis on conventional song structures and didn't carry the swagger of much of the group's earlier work. The swashes of feedback and reverb were suddenly replaced by rather clumsy instrumentation.
The momentum of the performance seriously faltered under the change of pace, and neither the group's vocal elation with the city of Toronto nor their showmanship could redeem it. While not short on talent or quality material, Crocodiles rather brief set wound to an end, and the crowd's interest began to wane. Those who could be seen idly applauding were moments ago dancing in all fashions to the surf vibes of "Hearts of Love." It is a shame that the performance lost its momentum so drastically, as Crocodiles are a live group to be reckoned with -- or at least on most occasions.