Spring Standards and Rhett Miller, A Beautifull Combo

The Spring Standards

The Spring Standards

I am continually surprised by shows I see at the Crocodile,  including Rhett Miller‘s set a couple weeks ago. He was happy about the newly remodeled space, but Miller seemed starry-eyed at his KEXP in-studio earlier this month, when he mentioned that he had his first Seattle show at the Croc many years ago. I have the same kind of nostalgic feeling when it comes to the venue.

The Croc’s original state, with the big wooden beam in the center of the floor (which is now a permanent fixture in the far wall as an homage to the old “cafe”), the tiny corner stage, sticky floors, super dark lighting and generally uncomfortable feel brings back a love-hate battle in my mind. Despite the awkwardness, all those negatives still give me the warm fuzzies when I think of the old Croc. It holds a lot of memories for me and because it wasn’t so great… it was like a job that you hated but in an odd way sort of miss, now that you’re not dealing with it every day, but I digress…

As a matter of happenstance, I had the pleasure of seeing Rhett perform twice on the day of his most recent Crocodile show. I hung out at KEXP for the in-studio performance with his backing band, the Serial Lady Killers, then hit up the Crocodile for another fantastic (and thankfully much longer) show with The Spring Standards (TSS). These two sets went so well together for a few different reasons. For one, Rhett had a big hand in helping TSS get their footing in the world of professional music. They have, as Rhett so coyly put it, outgrown him now.  They’ve only stopped by Seattle one time before but seem to love the city and the fans. Smiling faces and rock faces told me they were into the music and the experience of performing for us, caught in a moment of bliss. They were fantastic and I found myself scrounging in my bag for enough cash to buy their album.

The Spring Standards may have started the party but Rhett Miller had the entire room packing in close to the front from the very start of his set. Maybe so they could get a look at his gorgeous eyes, watch his charming hip toss as he lost himself in performing or hear that silky voice singing of sweet love. As I’d mentioned in my preview of the show, his new album is not a huge departure from his other work. The feel is a bit slower and the melodies have a swagger… which seems to match Miller’s personality to a tee. He’s just got a way of being on stage that makes everyone around him feel at ease. That huge grin that seems to be a permanent fixture on his face pulls you in and you forget about where you are, only that his music is floating toward you and swirling around while you dance and sing your way through the night. I’m really looking forward to the full Old 97‘s  performance on September 4th at Showbox at the Market.

It’s a simple joy to see a group or a performer play that you’ve seen before. You’re almost guaranteed a good time and the thrill of being in a crowd singing every word right along with you never gets old. It’s almost like you become part of an instant community that dissolves the moment the lights go up. Maybe that’s why I end up going to so many shows, to grab that feeling if only for a few hours.

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