Crocodile Tears

15146.jpgSad news for Portland musicians. The Crocodile Cafe, one of the best venues to play in Seattle, closed abruptly on Monday – coming as a surprise to even the people who worked there. I played the Crocodile several times and it was always a fun experience. The room wasn’t that big, but it had a great vibe.

There’s something about the closing of a good music venue that just depresses the hell out of me. I’m still not over the death of La Luna in the late 90’s. Man, I loved that place. When I moved here in ’95 I lived just a few blocks from the club. I was working at Music Millennium just up the street, and was usually able to get tickets to shows. Anyone want to see Radiohead on The Bends tour? Yes, thank you very much. Plus, the Living Room bar upstairs was a great place to hang out if the music wasn’t doing it for you.

I also miss EJ’s, another great eastside club that closed in the late 90’s. EJ’s was a former strip club – small, smoky and loud, but a great place to play or see a show. There really aren’t any venues in Portland now that I truly love. Maybe it’s a generational thing. I like Dante’s ok, and the Towne Lounge can be fun, but I really don’t enjoy the Crystal Ballroom or the Roseland. I recently saw a show at the Wonder Ballroom and thought it was pretty cool. Are there any venues out there that people are really loving on these days?

17 Comments so far

  1. george (unregistered) on December 19th, 2007 @ 3:51 pm

    the crystal ballroom is great to PLAY though. they have nicer showers then most people’s. and cleaner towels.

    EJ’s was a fun club, but man, playing there was a usually a sum loss of $. i once supported a sold out show, $15 a head tickets, ended up with $0 from the door and a $30 bar tab. ugh.

  2. Pete Best (unregistered) on December 19th, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

    I agree the Crystal is fun to play, but not fun to watch. For me, anyway. I need more than one bathroom per one thousand people:)

  3. Nolando (unregistered) on December 19th, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

    The Tonic Lounge is still a pretty good place to see a show; Plan B’s starting to (thankfully) do more shows, too. Dante’s sux ballz utterly (to see and to play – oversold and underpaid) and the Satyricon is a shadow of its former self. If Mt. Tabor could get their act together they’d be in the lead running for the most part, too, in all respective terms as well. Doug Fir’s good but overpriced, too. Problem is, nobody seems to travel far from downtown and the clubs don’t promote well at all.

  4. McAngryPants (unregistered) on December 19th, 2007 @ 7:13 pm

    I <3 La Luna. I saw so many great great shows there. Rev. Hort Heat…Mediski Martin Wood…Breaders…FISHBONE!!…Body Count…Elliott Smith…

    Le sigh…getting old. A friend took me to EJ’s when I 1st moved back to town. We went to No Means No. I was wearing flip flops…Hawaiian print shirt…white tennis visor…OMG I was in fear of my life. all was fun and good. few fuck with the big McAngryPants (thank god)

  5. stan (unregistered) on December 19th, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

    Doug Fir I think is by far the best venue to see a show. Chill atmosphere, great sightlines, and a decent mix of shows. While it’s not my prefered venue to see a show, I’d take the Crystal over the Roseland any day.

  6. stan (unregistered) on December 19th, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

    Doug Fir I think is by far the best venue to see a show. Chill atmosphere, great sightlines, and a decent mix of shows. While it’s not my prefered venue to see a show, I’d take the Crystal over the Roseland any day.

  7. morty (unregistered) on December 19th, 2007 @ 8:29 pm

    The after hours festivities at EJ’s are a good reason why a chunk of the 90s is rather hazy for me. The stagger home was all too convenient. Now that you mention the flip-flops and Hawaiian shirt, McAngry Pants, I think our paths may have crossed at one point.

    One of my fondest memories of the Pine St./La Luna was working a PIL show for Monqui when they sent me up to Food Valu on 28/Burnside to get some Kaopectate for Johnny Lydon himself. Magic.

  8. Dodge Ram (unregistered) on December 19th, 2007 @ 11:17 pm

    In a past life I was a rodie for ‘hold on to your hat’ one band that went thrue four names “diamond edge-glass chunk-chunk-craving theo” the best place back in the day was key largo one night the lead guitarist and I had drupy eyes ‘long day’ the bar tender mad us a cup of coffee don’t know what he put in it but 15-20 min. later we were ready to go and on a differant night we impressed them by striking the stage in under 7 min. another one that is a good one to perform in is the roseland but as for taking gear in and out it sucks one small tempermental freight elavator or a long fire escape out back.

  9. Chris Knight (unregistered) on December 20th, 2007 @ 12:10 am

    Ahh the Croc.

    The first and last time I ever got to see Layne Staley sing live and the first time Mad Season ever played to a crowd.

  10. cong (unregistered) on December 20th, 2007 @ 10:13 am

    I saw Nine Inch Nails back in April 1990 at Pine St. Theatre. I think there were only about 150 people their at the show. Lots of great shows back in the day at Pine St. Theatre. Good times.

  11. tenstringesquire (unregistered) on December 20th, 2007 @ 10:54 am

    Ahh… the Croc. Played there twice. I remember the booking agent being amazingly nice, the sound guy being amazingly awesome, and the stage manager being kind of an ass. The Croc may also have the smallest Green Room of all time for a destination venue.

    As far as in-town goes, I agree that Doug Fir is awesome, but they don’t often book acts that I want to see. Playing Dante’s is nice (huge Green Room, great sound, and an almost instant draw), but I’m not a big fan of seeing shows there.

    If you want the EJ’s punk rock magic, I suggest the Ash St. Saloon. The music there is always loud, and the crowds rambunctious, but also very friendly.

  12. Pete Best (unregistered) on December 20th, 2007 @ 11:08 am

    I have played the Ash St often over the last 10 years and I don’t like it at all. Though they have made some improvements since the old days, it still seems seedy and gross, and the soundwoman is a friggin’ basket case. Soundpeople: if you hate your jobs and hate working with bands, please do something else with your life. I know it must sometimes be a nightmare to work with flaky/drunk/slow/stoned/late/loud musicians every night, but that doesn’t mean you have to treat all of us like shit or like we’re stupid. Please condescend elsewhere.

    Ok, deep breath. I do like that Dante’s has a green room, unfortunately since it is in the basement, it is unfit for anyone over 6’1″, so I have to stoop over whenever I stand. The Crystal does have a great green room, definitely the most professional I’ve seen in Portland. I have to say the one at the Aladdin is my favorite. It’s upstairs from the theater and is clean, light, and is just like hanging out in someone’s apartment.

  13. Nolando (unregistered) on December 20th, 2007 @ 11:56 am

    Heather at Ash being a basket case at times is understandable (you make that case in yer post) but she’s always been supportive, happy, and hardworking every time I’ve played there or seen a show there over the past 7 years. I think she runs a pretty tight ship and haven’t ever had personally nor witnessed any problems with her. She helps make that venue a viable, positive option for many bands.

    Dante’s green room is huge, poorly lit, crammed with the tables they don’t know what to do with. Not bad but certainly not great; not as handsomely appointed as the Doug Fir’s green room but certainly better than Mt. Tabor’s (under a staircase?) or even Ash St (inside an old chimney?). But rating green room’s is a wholly separate post, I’d suppose…

  14. Pete Best (unregistered) on December 20th, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

    Well, maybe it was a bad night at Ash St the last time I was there. Really, my ire was aimed at surly soundpeople everywhere. On the other hand, a nice and professional soundperson will always make my night.

  15. jhbjrpdx (unregistered) on December 20th, 2007 @ 2:54 pm

    Pine St./La Luna. I saw many great Blues shows there then soaked up rock. Foo Fighers first tour and Hum stick in my mind. Koko Taylor on a night when it was over 100 degrees in there. And the Dandy Warhols when they played every song they had and the set was 25 minutes. I drank the last Rainer Pounder they had on the last night of La Luna.

    Kind of like the Wonder Ballroom these days.

  16. tenstringesquire (unregistered) on December 20th, 2007 @ 3:27 pm

    I second Nolando’s opinion of Heather at Ash St. I’ve played more shows there than I can count and she’s always been fantastic. And crowd-wise, that place is pretty dependable for a fun show on the weekend. The “fold your arms and stare” brand of Portland hipster tends to shy away, and you get more salt-of-the-earth types who are willing to enjoy a show even if other people see them doing so. But I have also had my encounters with surly sound-people, and I agree with you 100% that it makes for a very not-fun evening.

    Alas, the Aladdin and Crystal are still out of my musical reach, so I’m unable to comment on their sound-folk/green rooms. I will say, though, that despite other opinions to the contrary, I love seeing shows at the Crystal

  17. chris (unregistered) on December 20th, 2007 @ 9:50 pm

    bummer on the croc! The cbgb of seattle for the 90’s.

    La Luna, was great in that you could get away from the main act if you were not ready for the aural assault. Roseland/Wonder/Aladdin suffer from not having this feature.

    Since we’re all waxing on old spots… I’ll mention two portland classics: X-RAY Cafe and Satyricon.

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