Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Vs The Greatest Of All Time
Archers Of Loaf at The Phoenix in Toronto
Frank YangWhen we left off yesterday, I was biking furiously across town to get from The Rivoli to The Phoenix for Archers Of Loaf. So why not roll this show into the festival coverage? Well, although some wristbands were granted admission and the premiere of the What Did You Expect? live Archers doc was one of the big gets of the NXNE film festival, this show wasn’t technically part of the festival and I am, if nothing else, a stickler for these sorts of things. And having waited this long for the show, delaying it just that much longer seemed appropriate.
Since the Archers reunited in early 2011 and were willing to make it a long-term thing, I’ve been waiting for a local date – a wait exacerbated by the fact that real life commitments for most of the band kept touring restricted to weekends. Hell, Eric Bachmann brought Crooked Fingers through town twice in 2012 without an Archers sighting; certainly not a complaint as I love me some Crooked Fingers, but one couldn’t help wondering if we were being slighted. And of course we weren’t, it just took this long to get the proverbial ducks in a row, and on this night – the busiest night of music in the city in recent memory – it was happening.
And happening early, as it turned out. If they’d stuck to the posted set times there’d have been no problem but as I got into the venue, I could already hear the rumble of “Audiowhore” through the doors. Early? Who goes on early on a Saturday night? Well Archers did, clearly, though only just. The Vs The Greatest Of All Time selection was an unlikely opener, but it segued straight into arguably one of the best songs of the ’90s – “Harnessed In Slums” and we were off. A benefit of still being a sort of cult band was that most everyone in attendance was surely some degree of die hard fan and singles and deep cuts alike would be greeted with roaring enthusiasm, though obviously the likes of college rock classics as “Slums” and “Web In Front” got the mostly middle-aged crowd most rowdy.
After years of seeing Eric Bachmann fronting Crooked Fingers and only offering Archers material via stripped down, Finger-y arrangements, it was astonishing to see him cut loose in full rock fury; he’s a big guy who plays at a sort of gentle giant figure with Crooked Fingers but here, he came out swinging. Despite wanting to distance himself from his old band in the years that it was in mothballs and concentrate on what he was actively working on, it was obvious he was having a blast playing these songs the way they were meant to be played and with the guys he’d written them with. It was great to see, and his bandmates were still having a great time of it as well, even almost a year and a half into their second act. Matt Gentling in particular – who’d incidentally come through town in the Dignity & Shame incarnation of Crooked Fingers in 2005 – was a maniac onstage, striking poses while attacking his bass, contributing vocals, or just bantering with the crowd. Though I’m not sure what his “Sixteen Sixty Four” Maple Leafs-esque shirt was about…
The Archers were loud, tight, and relentless, inciting the audience to behaviour most probably hadn’t engaged in in oh, fifteen years or so, like moshing, stage diving, and crowd surfing though I have to question if it’s really crowd surfing if it’s just the same group of people carrying the guy around? Bachmann applauded the effort, anyways. And after the band closed out their encore with “Plumbline”, the audience did their best to coax them back out for a second encore – I’ve not seen a crowd so insistent that a show not end in forever – but alas, that would be it this time and possibly for all time.
The band have not made any commitment to carrying on after the final two albums in their reissue series – All The Nation’s Airports and White Trash Heroes – come out on August 7. It’s interesting that though their stature in the annals of ’90s indie rock is enormous, their influence is not so easily traced. Not many bands have managed to or even tried to replicate their particular balance of heavy and abstract yet visceral rock, so if they were to put out something new, it’d probably still sound singular and distinct. But that’s getting ahead of things – for now, I was just thankful that Archers were here, that they were great, and that Bachmann had deigned to play “Chumming The Ocean” in the encore of the last Crooked Fingers show since it wasn’t being heard on this night.
Photos: Archers Of Loaf @ The Phoenix – June 16, 2012
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Dead Red Eyes”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “What Did You Expect”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Wrong”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Underachievers March & Fight Song”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Wrong”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “What Did You Expect”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Lowest Part Is Free!”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Might”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Web In Front”
Spin talks to Greg Dulli about the Afghan Whigs which makes its only Canadian stop on October 3 at The Phoenix. Stereogum has also taken it on themselves to enumerate the bands 13 “most vicious” songs.
Sun Kil Moon has released a new video from Among The Leaves; Mark Kozelek plays these songs and more at The Great Hall on October 3. Boxing Scene also has an interview with the man about the pugilist themes of his songwriting.
Video: Sun Kil Moon – “Black Kite”
Pitchfork talks to author Jesse Jarnow about his book Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and The Rise of Indie Rock, the new book about Yo La TengoYo La Tengo and the rise of indie rock.
Video: Savoir Adore – “Dreamers”
Video: Bowerbirds – “Sweet Moment”