What’s more impressive than an indie band with an explosive sound, a huge string section, and a lead singer with the voice of a songbird? One with the dedication to haul around a cello and a stand up bass in Seattle weather. “We feel a really strong connection to Seattle,” explained the flautist of San Francisco based baroque pop band The Family Crest. “We spent a month in Seattle where we played a show a day. And this was during the snowpocalypse. So every day we would hitch our instruments onto our backs and wander to whatever neighborhood bar was in our vicinity so that we could play for whatever patrons were there and get our daily show in.” The group started things off Saturday night at the Crocodile in dramatic fashion with the beautiful and cinematic “Beneath the Brine” and moved through crowd favorites “Howl,” “Love Don’t Go,” “Make me a Boat,” and “The World” as well as trying out some newer pieces from an upcoming album. The San Franciscans joked about their tour mates: “Jukebox the Ghost has been just great, and they gave us the greatest gift of all – their colds.” In a music landscape where walking onto a stage and hitting a button on your mac has started to become something of the norm, The Family Crest with their multitude of instruments and their indie/swing/orchestral mashup is a true delight to watch.
Next up, Jukebox the Ghost. The DC threesome never fails to bring a smile to the face of everyone who sees them (and every time I see them I’m surprised to see how many tall and skinny men are bopping along to their glossy and bubblegum sweet tunes along with their female counterparts.) I always think of Jukebox the Ghost as being like candy – bad for your teeth but absolutely irresistible. I think it’s fair to say they’re like the pop rocks of indie pop. The threesome worked their way through their big hits – “Schizophrenia,” “Postcard,” “Sound of a Broken Heart,” “Girl,” “Made for Ending,” “Hollywood,” as well as a new one about keys in a car that’s just as addictive and poppy as all their other hits (that band is nothing if not consistent.) They also played “Oh, Emily” prefaced by Tommy explaining that “some bands are stoner bands, some are alcoholic bands. We’re a caffeinated band. So I had just broken up with this girl and I got super caffeinated and decided to write the world’s happiest breakup song.”
Later in the night Ben popped offstage for a second to bring out what he called “the wheel of torture.” Giving the handwritten wheel a spin he explained, “This wheel is full of old cuts and b-sides, we’ll play whatever it lands on. You’ll notice ‘Hold It In supreme version’ is listed four times – it’s a version of ‘Hold It In’ where we all switch instruments. The other exciting choice on here is ‘Steve.’ Are there any Steve’s in the audience?” One exclamation from the audience. “Great. If it lands on Steve, it’s Steve’s choice. It’s only happened once before, and that Steve didn’t know any of our songs, so it was a huge failure.” The wheel landed on “Under My Skin” and the band launched in, but two songs later Ben gave the wheel another spin. As the audience started up a chant of “Steve. Steve. Steve. Steve,” the wheel did indeed land on Steve who requested “The Popular Thing,” giving JTG the most successful Steve moment of their career, and giving the audience what JTG always delivers on – pure unadulterated joy.