D. Black-thumb-407x270.jpg
D. Black
Tea Cozies, State of the Artist, Wild Orchid Children, D. Black

The Crocodile

Thursday, March 3

For this year's South by Seattle Send-Off

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Last Night at the Crocodile, Seattle Music Scene Fails Bands on Their Quest for South by Southwest

D. Black-thumb-407x270.jpg
D. Black
Tea Cozies, State of the Artist, Wild Orchid Children, D. Black

The Crocodile

Thursday, March 3

For this year's South by Seattle Send-Off party, it seemed as if everyone in town was wishing they were in Austin already--it was a blustery night in Belltown, the crowd was disappointingly small, and the energy was overwhelmingly tepid. But despite the lackluster turnout, the Tea Cozies brought as much spirit as they could muster, even with PA problems and broken strings, which the four-piece took in stride. But these minor problems didn't seem to phase the garage-punk group much, and between their short, quick songs they polled the crowd on everyone's favorite breakfast foods and if anyone knew of the Ballard breakfast delicacy known as a "Dutch Baby." Apparently, it contains four eggs.

State of the Artist quickly followed and recruited friends to fill up some empty spots by the stage. I'd never seen them live before, but I liked their smooth rhymes, good samples (think I heard Boards of Canada and the Isley Brothers thrown in there), and seemingly boundless energy. The live drummer a la the Roots was nice, but only feet away an omnipotent Mac was adding additional beats. This group has seen some decent hype recently, and the small crowd seemed to think it was legit.

For their turn, Wild Orchid Children draped the stage in silkscreened American flags and took time assembling their sizable crew. First song in, I remembered why earplugs are part of the uniform in Austin. Their ultra-tribal, super-amplified sound blasted the crowd with waves of distortion and a media screen running all kinds of schizo images. With the noise the six other band members were generating, I couldn't understand what lead vocalist Kirk Huffman was shouting through his effects-ridden mike. I've seen Wild Orchid Children before, and I still don't get this band. Thomas Hunter can play the hell out of a guitar, but it just gets lost in the haze and spectacle. The crowd was listless, and while a few rocked out stageside, a good many others clustered back by the bar or left entirely.

By the time D. Black went on, a hearty bunch were all who remained. All things considered, a DJ/MC outfit is a hard act to come up on the heels of Wild Orchid Children, but as quick as we are to pat ourselves on the back about the tightknit Seattle music scene, nary a soul from any of the three previous bands stuck around for D. Black's set--most of them were too busy whooping it up at Via Tribunali. "This must be the first time y'all seen a hip-hop show," Black said to the few remaining. But he carried on with a short set of soulful, flowing rhymes that mellowed out the evening with guest vocalists Spaceman and Fatal Lucciauno. As acts go at South by Southwest, dude has heart, and I'm ashamed to say I hope Austin treats him better.

The Crowd: Young and 20-something, an odd mix of hipsters and hip-hop fans.

Overheard at the show: "Rage Against the Machine for sure"--on Wild Orchid Children's Kirk Huffman's vocal style.

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