Arlene Grocery
New York City, NY

CMJ used to have its theme nights among those visiting for the conference. Wednesday: warm up, Thursday: secret show, Friday: killer sets, Saturday: the mad scramble before heading back to college. My year was 1997 but this particular CMJ Saturday in 2003 felt all the same. After catching the Waco Brothers and Paul Burch in Brooklyn, awaiting PW Long to never eventually show at the Continental, and Damon Che to put me on the list for the reformed Don Cab at CBGB (for seriously the loudest concert in history), I eventually headed to Arlene Grocery to catch this late night set. As I recall, the show began about 2:40am (the fog machines started full blast at 2:15).

Now as a little background, I’m a sucker for theme records, which arguably have made for some of the best albums ever: The Who’s “Tommy,” Afghan Whigs “Gentlemen,” Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath,” the Drag City AC/DC 7 inch sides, and Colonel Jeffrey Pumpernickel. Sorry Walkmen, yours was a stinker. At the time of the show here, I was largely unaware of theme concerts aside from Cheap Trick’s album concerts or a Bob Dylan tribute at MSG. Turns out there’s at least a small history to it outside of KISS nutjobs, particularly in indie rock, with mimicked play, instruments, and accents; some of the best ones discovered by me since the show here including Shellac and David Yow masquerading as the Sex Pistols on a Halloween, and The Feelies as VU under the moniker “Foggy Notion.” Arguably, even the Slint reunion tours fit this bill, having to purposefully (and very successfully) sound like their prior selves using dated equipment. At the time of my attendance to this show, my concept of theme cover bands was colored by an experience at the Toy Tiger on Derby Day 1998 when Operation Re-information, Trans Am, and Don Cab killed it before about 75 people, only to be booted from their early show by the eager crowd outside anticipating the carnage of late sets by Hell’s Bells and Crazy Train.

So the billing on this particular evening was “Crocodiles, featuring Scott Kannberg” (Spiral Stairs of Pavement and Preston School of Industry), playing Echo and the Bunnymen’s first album. I must admit I’m a bigger Pavement than Bunnymen fan, but was up for this seemingly unique nightcap to the mad scramble. Notably, the real deal had played Radio City earlier that night. A few were in attendance for the real show (presumably the band among them), and all reported perfection in reproduction 4 key features of any good cover band, well, at least of any good Echo cover band: intro music, fog density, accents, and guitar jangliness.

Kannberg is a big fan of The Echo & the Bunnymen, having contributed to liner notes of the 2003 remaster of “Crocodiles,” and singer Kelley Stoltz had recorded his own version of the album in 2001, later to be released by Sub Pop in 2006. So what you have here is the running order of the US version of the first Echo record, with individuals whose chops and fog were in the right place. I was told after the show that some Echo members were in the audience, but I never heard about their impressions (intro music, fog density, accents, guitar jangliness, or otherwise).

1. Intro
2. Going Up
3. Stars Are Stars
4. Pride
5. Monkeys
6. Crocodiles
7. Rescue
8. Villiers Terrace
9. Read it in Books
10. Pictures on My Wall
11. All That Jazz
12. Happy Death Men
13. Do It Clean

Sample: [audio:|titles=Do It Clean (Live)|artists=Crocodiles]

Download: Crocodiles – New York City, NY – 10/25/03 – 207 MB


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