“Hospitality” and “Crocodiles”
Trying to catch up on reviews, I decided to combine the two most recent Gardner shows into one cohesive package. This task actually turned out much easier than expected. With some thinking, I realized that the two bands lie on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum: the flipped side of the same coin.
On one side, you have Hospitality. Arriving from Brooklyn, New York, their stint in Main’s basement was the first time the band had ever played in Iowa. Lead by the unique vocals of singer/guitarist Amber Pippini, the band played a set chalk-full of their standard indie-pop. Sparkly guitars and bouncing bass lines filled out the band’s sound, providing sticky-sweet, technicolor textures. This was the best music for a Wednesday night, when homework seems insurmountable and you just need something to make you feel happy. It was hard not to watch Hospitality without smiling and bobbing your head along with the enthusiastic performers on stage.
The Crocodiles experience was much different. Where Hospitality had been cute and inviting, Crocodiles were ugly and a little misanthropic. Spewing their feedback-laden assault, the recently expanded five-piece band instantly brought the dirge of 80s noise-pop icons the Jesus and Mary Chain to mind. Much like Hospitality’s perfect Wednesday slot, Crocodiles were perfect for a 10/10 show. While not a party band, Crocodiles crushingly-claustrophobic rock music successfully accessed the seedy underbelly of Grinnell’s favorite night of revelry.
However, to pose the two bands in a total dichotomy would be a disservice to Hospitality and Crocodiles. Although a pop act through-and-through, the members of Hospitality also were not afraid to get a little noisy. On their most famous song, and the single of their self-titled debut, “Friends of Friends,” the performed a jagged, guitar-fueled outro that inspired some head-banging. They continued to perform similar breakdowns throughout the night, always at surprising times to keep the audience on their toes. Similarly, beneath Crocodiles wave of abrasion lay a true pop heart. One of the most impressive features of the band’s music was their ability to meld shoegazing noise with pop melodicism. While very different, Hospitality and Crocodile actually offered more similarities than one would initially suspect.