By Taylor Munoz
During my time in Seattle, I’ve seen a lot of shows at the Crocodile—a LOT. I know the venue inside and out, and I feel as if I know what to expect out of every crowd. However, the feelings I had during Low Roar/San Fermin at the Crocodile on April 21 were unlike any other.
As soon as Low Roar’s 3-piece band walked on stage, their ambient music, even their ambient presence, put me in a trance. Take time to consider the commitment it takes to write a brand new song every single day. Now, imagine if it was your only way to cope with moving to a new country with no family, friends, or job. This was the reality of Low Roar front man Ryan Karazija, who picked up his life in Livermore, California, and moved it across seas to Reykjavík, Iceland. Low Roar’s 2011 self-titled debut album was written as a product of the loneliness and isolation Karazija felt—he channeled it all into a beautiful, yet heartbreaking record that was compared to the likings of the work of Thom Yorke.
Opening with “Nobody Else,” a song off of Low Roar, the crowd fell silent as Karazija set the tone for Low Roar’s set. An intense song incorporating a string section and faint backup vocals, I felt something new in the Crocodile. I began to feel introspective about my own life and the ways in which I channel my sadness or anger, admiring the way Karazija does so successfully. Another notable song during Low Roar’s set was “St. Eriksplan,” a song off their brand new record Once in a Long, Long While…. The spotlight was on Karazija as he delicately plucked the strings on his guitar with his band behind him. This song touches on personal territory—it was written about Karazija’s 2013 divorce, while he picked his life back up and moved from Iceland: And if I saw you right now, I'm not sure what I'd say / There’s only so many words a dead man can say / I guess I’d wish you the best and be on my way.”
I felt as if I took a look into Karazija’s mind that night, and took on some of the hurt/isolation he’s felt in his lifetime. While I’ll never understand his plight, I empathized with it deeply.
Brooklyn indie rockers San Fermin hit the stage next to headline the Crocodile. The crowd immediately shifted its demeanor after Low Roar’s touching set to ecstatic and vibrant, as San Fermin opened with “Oceanica,” off their brand new record Belong.
Forming San Fermin in 2011, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the song powered through many triumphant and horn-based songs. Led by lead singers Allen Tate, Charlene Kaye, and Rae Cassidy, the crowd danced to their most famous hits such as “Sonsick,” “Emily,” and “Bride,” off of Belong. The pure talent of all three vocalists as well as the band, with Ludwig-Leone on keyboard, astounded me. I found myself swaying their entire set, matching the vibe of the rest of the crowd. Finishing with “Jackrabbit,” off of 2015’s Jackrabbit, San Fermin sent off the crowd with a hopeful message: “And you know that you can't move / One step forward, step right back / Run for the hills, honey, run for the hills, honey / Run for the hills, don't look back.”
After a nights of highs and lows, of the recollection of someone else’s heartbreak and triumphs, I felt I was sent off right. Life’s about the balance, right?