In the hallowed halls of Westgermany, the disciples have gathered. And when he hailed them with a call to arms they raised their fists in salutation and he yowled like Mick Jagger. Thus began the riotous second gig of the evening for Crocodiles, who hotfooted it over from playing support for White Lies and delivered as much posturing, showmanship and feedback as could fill a stadium two times over, except we are in the apartment sized, beer crates for a stage, dilapidated ex-doctor’s office of Westgermany (one of Berlin’s best venues). In minus temperatures and for a midnight show in the middle of the week, Crocodiles had a full house. Westgermany – well, you just have to know where it is. Keep your eyes peeled for a scrap of paper with the band’s name scrawled on it, entry through the magic door and take the stairs.
For some reason we were expecting some introspective shy dudes avoiding eye contact, but Brandon Welchez did his best to look every one of us in the eye, clambering on top of equipment to swing from the exposed metal frames in the ceiling (that was a tense moment, the ceiling in Westgermany is already falling apart), then leaping into the crowd to gather everyone he can fit in his arms and pull them forward to close the distance in front of the stage. At one point the five piece managed to fit one more onto their altar of beer crates and pull Marco Vapisavda up, their former bass player from Italy.
If you‘ve never been much of a fan of the frontman who insists on lifting his shirt for a sweaty reveal of abs, or thrusting his crotch along to the beat throughout the night, thankfully you can get past Welchez’ primate display on stage (seriously, this is the same man who appreciates Rimbaud?), and be carried away on a wave of Crocodiles jangles and jams. While trying to avoid direct eye contact with Welchez’ crotch, it’s pretty entertaining to watch his band partner Charles Rowell, who is completely blissed out on his guitar and oblivious to us all, pulling the best guitar faces – and somebody shouts “he is making love to the music!“ during one of his reverent freakout reveries.
Yes they are referencing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Jesus and Mary Chain but this is a fresh take and with three other musicians accompanying Welchez and Rowell, the chemistry they deliver is uplifting and for one freezing cold night in March we huddled together and could feel a bit of California sunshine and attitude. Their music incites the crowd to the point of fist pumping action, you can tell that everyone is just enjoying this show, whether dancing, nodding along or shaking their fist at the stage.
The standout tracks of the evenings are ‘Stoned to Death’ and the title track of their last album Sleep Forever. Crocodiles take the usual exit of departing the stage in a roar of feedback which eventually fades out until we realise there would be no encore. Well, that would technically be their third show of a very long day. We make our way home and on the way we‘re pretty sure we pass by them and their Berlin friends taking in the cold night air. For Crocodiles, it seems, the party never ends.