The Afghan Whigs were one of those bands I missed. They came and went and I didn’t have much exposure. This seems to be norm for this band that released quite a few influential albums, but never achieved mainstream success. Over the years I have developed respect for Greg Dulli though. The Twilight Singers and more recently, The Gutter Twins have opened my ears to Greg‘s music.
But to be honest, when I think of Greg Dulli, I think of the movie Beautiful Girls. Being from a small town myself, this movie did something for me. Maybe it is a chick flick, but over the years it has become one of my guilty pleasures. It’s the movie that made me appreciate coming from a small town as much as having the motivation to leave that small town.
There is a scene in the local bar where Michael Rappaport’s character makes an ass of himself with Uma Thurman‘s character. The Afghan Whigs are performing Frederick Knight’s Be For Real during this scene and it’s always been one of those songs that has stuck with me. So when I saw Greg Dulli was performing at The Crocodile while I was in Seattle for work this week, I thought it would be worth checking out. I had never been to the famous venue that was so important to the Seattle sound in the 90’s and I figured this was as good an excuse as any.
What I was not prepared for was another band from my past, Satchel, to be a part of the show. Back in 1994 I bought a box filled with hundreds of CDs from some guys in the parking lot of Lou’s Records in Encinitas, CA. They worked for an independent record store and were looking to unload a bunch of promo CDs for some quick cash. Lou’s was about to close and didn’t have the time to go through the CDs, so I bought the truckload for a couple hundred bucks. That night my sister and I listened to a song or two on each of them and made two piles; the ‘keep’ pile and the ‘sell’ pile. One of the albums in the ‘keep’ pile was Satchel‘s EDC. An album that ended with Suffering. A song that still holds a place in my ‘favorite songs of all time’ list.
I never followed Satchel, but that song also ended up in Beautiful Girls, which is a funny coincidence because the lead singer, Shawn Smith, opened for Greg on Wednesday night. The first song of his solo set was Suffering mixed in with a few other songs and that alone was worth the $20 price of entry!
There were a few other Satchel songs through his 40 minute set but the rest of his material was unrecognizable to my ear. That being said, everything he did brought me back to that night in Encinitas.
The actual venue of The Crocodile is very small. One of my friends from San Francisco, who went to the show with me, thinks it might be even smaller than The Independent. Great place to see a show. We were all the way in the back, actually pressed up against the bar, but the sound was still perfect.
The show started with St. Gregory from The Twilight Singers‘ Blackberry Belle album before going into one of the few The Gutter Twins songs of the night, God’s Children. I was expecting quite a few of Greg‘s solo songs, or even some new material, but the only new song came in the form of Blackbird & The Fox, a new The Twilight Singers song that has Ani DiFranco on the recorded version.
The rest of the night was a mixture of tracks spanning Greg‘s career with The Afghan Whigs (What Jail Is Like, 66, If I Were Going, etc), The Twilight Singers (Bonnie Brae, Forty Dollars, Follow You Down, etc) and a couple from The Gutter Twins album.
The set was heavy on music and light on conversation. ‘I used to live here’ ‘Put your lighters up’ and a few other quick acknowledgements were it…preferring to let his songs do the talking for him.
The encore continued with The Twilight Singers material and a cover of José González’s Down The Line before ending with a The Who-infused version of Teenage Wristband.
A great show that exceeded all expectations and had me flying back to Denver a late-to-the-game fan of The Afghan Whigs and looking forward to busting out the Beautiful Girls DVD.