The Crocodile is a cool little venue in the Belltown area of Seattle, an area with a slight yuppie vibe and much less bums than the rest of the city. The venue was a nice alternative environment, with a good mix of people. You’d see older preppy looking folks, hipsters, and younger looking kids just there for the show. I entered behind an interesting group of young people from some city I’d never heard of in Russia. The vibe was not pretentious as it so often is in trendy or hipster joints, making one feel that if you’re not 22 or on the cutting edge of the hipster scene, replete with biting, sardonic condescension that you have no business being there. No, this place is not one of those places and so it is alright in my book. However, as it nears the concert time, more young folks and staunch hipsters flooded in, encroaching on what was a chill, varied bar scene.
On an eventful note, I had brief encounters with Tom Odell’s drummer, Matt, and then later with their manager, Stuart. Matt, a proper punk British fellow, was quite nice. Tall and lanky, with aquiline nose and eyes slightly squinted, he was unique looking. For me, he did not scream Brit, but was something like Jack White, clothed in a typical throw-back look of punk rock 90s. Like me, dressed in all black, he wore a cool black leather jacket, an overcompensation that I’m not sure made him look older or younger. With ear length curly brown hair, he was a bit older than 22 year old Tom. Yet had one of those faces that I immediately like, and a nervous demeanor that was both honest and revealing of from where he comes. He was not a insensitive musician with overblown ego because of tasting fame. Both he and Stuart seemed surprisingly genuine. We talked mostly about travel and acquiring a global perspective about life. They’d just circumnavigated on tour from Europe to Asia to here. They’ll continue abroad in Australia next year.
Like the music itself, the whole band seemed rather honest and perhaps sensitive, like young people grasping at poetry and art, yet wanting to have fun and see the world while doing so. Tom’s lyrics and compositions lend an emotional indie vibe, while maintaining touches of upbeat pop in the melodies. It was all-in-all a solid show. They looked as if they were truly having fun, which I do not often see of musicians in concert while touring. Despite that they just arrived from Portland and were leaving directly after the show to drive to San Francisco, they did not appear lackluster, world-weary, or burnt out -except perhaps Stuart, who seemed a bit tired of the road, though, after-all, he is the one doing the running of the business.
“Another Love,” their most popular track, was a good live showing. The piano on stage shook as Tom got into the music, stood up at points, and bleated into the microphone as his shaggy blonde hair shrugged forward over his face. His lithe body gesticulated through his faded maroon plaid shirt, of a thin fabric that stuck to his body as the set progressed and the room heated. Online someone likened his stage presence to David Bowie. Now I’ve never seen David Bowie live, but I don’t think I’d make that reference. Maintaining the Britishness of his voice amidst interesting high, flat tones, he really sings as if he were laying out his self to the the listener and merely hoping we’d care, though it’s all really performed for himself. What I think is most appealing about both Tom and his music, is it’s simple honesty – of look, lyric, and sound. It seems to flow effortlessly and is what I think resonates with people.
I’m not exactly sure into what the band, and Tom Odell individually, will evolve with added fame. He/they could become many different things -think David Gray, Coldplay, or Nirvana, perhaps even Arcade Fire. I think they’re at the cusp of being truly big in the industry. It seems like they already have a devoted following and some critical praise. I was even chastised jokingly by some girls at the bar for explaining his music as indie pop, rather than singer-songwriter! I’m redeemed, though, because wikipedia lists their genre as indie pop! So I was spot on.
As Matt left to take his to-go vegetarian pizza back to the tour bus, he said “it was a pleasure to meet you, Gina, I’ll see you later, perhaps.” And perhaps I will. Stuart did put me on the guest list for their Los Angeles show on Wednesday at the El Rey Theatre. And since a friend I’d not seen in years was talking to me the whole show, I might like to see them with more attention. But even if I don’t see them there, it was interesting to have met Matt and Stuart, and I enjoyed the show.
Tom Odell and band will be on Jay Leno and Perez Hilton this week, if anyone wants to check them out.