It’s hard to get people out on a Wednesday night. It’s harder yet to get people into a cozy neighborhood bar/venue on a Wednesday in the middle of summer when people are either recovering from or preparing for a weekend of entertainment—that’s almost certainly happening outdoors. It takes something special to fill a venue on a hump day at the end of July, such as the great triple-header of San Diego psych-rock purveyors Crocodiles, and the local pull of Jaill and Towers that filled Cactus Club Wednesday night, for example.
“Thanks for coming out on such a weird night of the week,” Jaill singer/guitarist Vinnie Kircher said early into his band’s set, which followed an unexpectedly great set from new local rockers Towers. Those in attendance could’ve just as easily thanked Jaill for coming out, as the band’s short East coast jaunt was derailed with van troubles in Toronto that caused them to miss a show in Detroit (well, as much as one can miss something happening in Detroit) and a blown tire in Chicago Tuesday night. Jaill seemed happy to be home, and they showed as much with a lighthearted set performance that included a brief New Glarus-inspired Moon Man tribute song put to the melody of “Spoon Man,” in addition to spot-on versions of set staples “Waste A Lot Of Things” and “Everybody’s Hip.” However, most of Jaill’s set was rooted in new and unreleased material, which made us even more excited for Jaill’s new record to come out.
Crocodiles proved to be a perfect chaser for the Great Lakes surf rock employed by its predecessor. The polar opposite of brash, sneering punkers Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower (of which singer/guitarist Brandon Welchez and guitarist Charles Rowell were members in the early-to-mid 2000s), Crocodiles specializes in crunchy, reverb-doused tunes with nods to surf-rock, ’70s psychedelia, and indie rock. With little in the way of banter beyond a joke about a hippy being kicked out of a bar (the punchline was “Namaste”), a story about eating hotdogs in Jaill’s backyard that afternoon, and a few “Thank you”s, the band ripped through nearly a dozen songs that touched on all corners of the Crocs’ catalog. The early going of the set included Endless Flowers songs “No Black Clouds For Dee Dee” and the album’s title track, as well as Crimes Of Passion number “She Spits Me Up” and “I Like It In The Dark.” Later on, they ushered in more selections from Sleep Forever, such as “Mirrors” and “Stoned To Death” which paired well with boisterous 2008 single “Neon Jesus,” in which a suit-jacket-clad Welchez screamed “I can’t stand it! I can’t stand it!”
Before they called it a night, the headliner put a bow on a great mid-week showcase with the band’s most radio-ready song (save for title and lyrical content, of course) “I Wanna Kill” from its debut album Summer Of Hate. Few if any in attendance are regretting their sleep-deprived and hungover Thursday. Bills like this one will bring people out, no matter what day they take the stage.