With his black jacket, greased-back hair and trademark sunglasses hanging from the collar of a red Hawaiian shirt, Crocodiles singer Brandon Welchez looked like a hipster rock star at Ducky Waddle's Emporium last Wednesday. But he didn't use a mic to rock out. Instead, he read poetry from a few loose scraps of paper that he held in his shaking hands.
That night, he and two other members of the band—guitarist Charles Rowell and bassist Marco Gonzalez—were the special guests at Poetry Ruckus, the Encinitas bookstore's monthly reading. They read selections from Machine Gun Brothers, a book of poetry on which they've collaborated.
There were only about 15 people at the reading, and performers included quirky local poets. Welchez, Rowell and Gonzalez blended personal experience with an Americana aesthetic. In “Iceland,” Welchez told of a racist encounter with a “lunatic snowman.” Rowell went the Hunter S. Thompson route, describing a romp through the desert with “Chico” the heroin addict.
Their poetry could be surprisingly intimate. At one point, Welchez chanted an ode to “anyone with relationship problems.” In the poem, he said he'd “roast like a pig under switchblade sunshine and coat [himself ] in the holy stink of ass,” “sob like a lonely architect” and “stand on the edge of the Earth, trying to find a way to love you again.” Gonzalez made himself vulnerable with lines like, “Dancing on the streets of heaven when I'm with you,” and, “When it's time to make love, I'm afraid I'm not doing it right.”
With their new album, Endless Flowers, due out via Frenchkiss Records on June 5, Crocodiles have gotten big. But this night wasn't about fame. There was no monetary gain, since they didn't even have copies of their book to sell. They were just three musicians showing off what they love to do in their free time.