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Crooning at the Croc

Junior Kyle Andrews celebrates his first album release at the Crocodile in downtown Seattle with a concert showcasing the songs on his debut CD, “Trial By Fire.” Photo by Joshua Bessex

The Crocodile, a music venue in Belltown, features bright blue and red lights, wooden walls, and exposed ceiling beams, giving the place a barn-like feeling. Eccentric pieces of art stand on nearly every wall, with captions that are as peculiar as the art itself. One painting of a man and a skeleton is paired with a note that reads, “Death is a drag for everybody.”

The crowd at the Crocodile on Sunday night matched the art: eclectic. Mixing with sorority girls and fraternity members at the downtown venue was an older, more modestly dressed group. This odd blend was aggregated thanks to Kyle R. Andrews, who performed in front of friends and family members for the release of his debut album, “Trial By Fire.”

Andrews, a pre-dental biology major with a striking resemblance to John Cusack circa “Say Anything,” lets his scholastic and professional interests play a role in his music.

“Teach me microbiology,” he sang, “so I can be a dentist.”

Dentistry, though, is not Andrews’ musical theme of choice. He’d much prefer to sing about, and to, the fairer sex. In fact, that’s the theme for the majority of his music.

“Every song on the CD is a love song,” said Andrews, who plays acoustic on the album but was backed by a band Sunday night.

Jordan Lake, the UW junior who opened for Andrews, recognized the prevalent theme in Andrews’ music and, while also complementing Andrews’ skills with a guitar, likened him to John Mayer.

The seeds of Andrews’ romantically themed music career were planted his senior year of high school when, for extra credit, Andrews wrote a love-laced melodic rap called “Bella,” a song now featured on “Trial By Fire.” He first performed it at his school’s talent show, and the response it got let Andrews know that music was something he could — and should — continue.

Andrews didn’t stray from his theme of choice at The Crocodile. At one point, playing up the heartthrob role to its fullest, he crooned, “I’m in love with a Theta girl.”

The song was wholly appropriate, seeing as swooning sorority girls and whooping, hollering members of Andrews’ fraternity made up most of the crowd.

With his best friends in the crowd, a comfortable Andrews used the event not only to showcase his talents, but also to have a little fun. Whether it was engaging in back-and-forth banter with his fraternity brothers, covering a Kanye West song, or jokingly tossing his Sonics hat into the stands, Andrews managed to always keep a smile on his face as well as those of the crowd, and those of his band mates, even causing his backup singer, UW junior Amie Rippeteau, to sneak in a few giggles between her melodic vocals.

Though the joking manner and comfortable stage presence might lead one to think otherwise, Kyle R Andrews is anything but the typical arrogant musician, and this is where the John Mayer comparisons crumble. He routinely deflected praise from himself and toward those behind him.

“I love playing with this band,” Andrews said. “They’re all so talented.”

Despite his humility, everyone in attendance at The Croc on Sunday night recognized Andrews’ undeniable talent. While he was aware his talent could take him places, Andrews acknowledged the uncertainty in pursuing music.

“It would be very cool to be able to do this as a job,” he said. “But I don’t know. I just want to keep doing it and keep sharing music.”

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Kyle R. Andrews performed at the Crocodile on Sunday night.

Andrews was especially eager to share his music with people he hadn’t seen in a while, such as family members and childhood friends.

“I was really glad to see them,” he said. “[That’s] my community back home. I was excited for them to hear the band.”

Performing in front of friends and family is great, Andrews said, but he also wants to garner new listeners and supporters. He ultimately aspires to broaden the thematic scope of his music, expanding his oeuvre to include more than just “Jack Johnson-type crush songs.” One particular theme he wants to infuse into his music is his faith.

“As I get stronger, [my faith is] something that I want to become an inspiration,” he said.

For now, though, Andrews is happy with where he is as an artist. Landing a gig at the historic Crocodile made him especially giddy.

“When I first walked in here, seeing pictures from the early ’90s, there were crazy shows,” he said. “It’s very historic in the Seattle music scene.”

But after putting in weeks of recording and untold amounts of stress preparing and promoting this event, it was clear a weight had been lifted off of Andrews’ shoulders at the conclusion of the event.

“It’s a relief,” he said, “but it’s just the beginning.”

The Crocodile has been host to legends such as R.E.M, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana. Perhaps Kyle R Andrews can be another famous alumnus.

Reach contributing writer Holden Taylor at development@dailyuw.com.

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