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Crocodile Cafe, 1991-2007


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From Billboard's Jaded Insider blog:


J.I. has been a music fan long enough to know that rock clubs close all the time. They are often money-losers, difficult to manage, and subject to the whims of fans and bands. Still, when J.I. read about the sudden death of legendary Seattle rock spot the Crocodile Café, the news came like a punch in the gut. The Croc was more than just a café and live music space – it was the epicenter of a scene, and represented the musical community J.I. spent most of high school worshipping.

J.I. used to drive up from Portland for the Bumbershoot Festival every Labor Day weekend, and a trip to the Croc was always part of the itinerary. We were way too young to drink or see shows there, but we would always have a soda or a snack in the restaurant and watch for any Northwest rock celebrities who might be hanging out. “One day,” we thought, “we’ll see shows here, we’ll drink Rainier here, we’ll be part of the scene.”

The Crocodile was part of scene, one of the last great regional clubs where everyone knew each other, where regulars hung out, where people put their friend’s bands on the bill. The club hosted secret shows by Nirvana and Pearl Jam; it hosted Beck and the Indigo Girls before they were famous; it hosted thousands of bands that almost no one remembers but someone loved. For a weird teenager who wanted nothing more than to be part of the in-crowd, the Croc represented the ultimate clubhouse.

The last time J.I. was at the Croc, it was last spring, the night before we gave a paper at the Experience Music Project Pop Conference. We were getting ready to eulogize another great PacNW music institution, the Rocket, and we sat in the bar, drinking and chatting with bartender. For J.I., it represented having finally made it on some level – finally, part of the community we’d admired from such a distance long ago.

J.I. is planning on going to Seattle this summer for Sub Pop’s twentieth anniversary party, and until a few days ago, was planning on hitting the Croc for post-party drinks. Perhaps the worst thing about the closure is that the club never got a proper funeral; there was no epic last show, no chance to break everything and drink the bar dry and go out in style. It simply vanished, one more magical place gone to the annals of an ever-distant history.

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