Seattle's Crocodile Cafe unceremoniously closed down this weekend
, the latest in a slew of old school Seattle venues going the way of Fallout Records & Comix
and the old Rendezvous
. The Croc was the best rock club in Seattle in the 1990s - just off the top of my head I can recall seeing a slew of pretty huge bands in its not-so-huge confines: Guided By Voices, Nirvana, Built To Spill, Cheap Trick, Yo La Tengo, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam (opening for Cheap Trick), Sebadoh, Dead Moon, The Shins, The Go-Betweens, Mike Watt, Jonathan Richman, Iron & Wine, Low, etc.
The club was always good to Fantagraphics - we put on several events there over the years, including a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
benefit with Neil Gaiman
in 1997 or so that was one of the most successful regional fundraisers the Fund had ever done at the time and even garnered a Seattle city award for "Best Fundraiser (Under $200,000 category)" of the year, which I accepted from the Mayor
in a gigantic gala ball. In 2000, the Croc lent us its space to put on a special Built To Spill
concert to raise money for a serious debt we were in when our then-distributor went out of business owing us $80,000 - the event raised almost $10,000 and literally may have been the difference in keeping us in business at that moment. We helped organize a series of "ATM art shows" at the Croc in the 1990s (named so because every piece was an ATM-friendly $40, with pieces from Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Peter Bagge -- you name it) with then art school student Kirsten Anderson, an experience which she parlayed into opening Roq La Rue
, one of the most vital galleries in Seattle for going on a decade now. The club's booker at that time, Peter English, was also my next door neighbor for a few years and became one of my best pals, so there was a personal connection, as well. We took care of each others' cats when the other traveled.