archersofloaf_promo.jpg
Archers of Loaf played Neumos on Friday, September 9, 2011. Photo by Sandlin Gaither.
Archers of Loaf

Neumos

Friday, September 9, 2011

In 2011, the

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13 Years Later, Archers of Loaf Still Contenders for "Greatest of All Time"

archersofloaf_promo.jpg
Archers of Loaf played Neumos on Friday, September 9, 2011. Photo by Sandlin Gaither.
Archers of Loaf

Neumos

Friday, September 9, 2011

In 2011, the word "legendary" really has lost all meaning. Hyperbole is becoming the only language we know how to speak in this sea of oversharing, and a band's merely showing up and turning on an amp/firing up a laptop results in a cavalcade of tweets and status updates telling us all about whatever band is totally KILLING IT in an EPIC fashion. Much like wearing a Ramones shirt, these sorts of grandiose statements become watered down to the point of being nothing more than noise for noise's sake.

Thankfully, seeing a band that existed in that magical era (before the Internet came along and ruined everything) is a reminder of a magical time where oversharing and oversaturation were easy to ignore; where we bonded with other music fans over common interests instead of living in a state of constant one-upmanship. After disbanding in 1998, Archers of Loaf's reunion at Neumos on Friday night was a grand reminder of the days where band buzz was built from college radio charts, mixtapes, and sloppily tossed-together fanzines.

With any reunion tour, it's easy to wax poetic about a band's greatness, relevance, and influence, while glazing over shortcomings in favor of the golden sheen of nostalgia. While 2011's Archers of Loaf may be a little less practiced and slowed down from their 1998 pace, it was barely noticeable through the infectious energy of the crowd. The room was sweltering, packed with an inebriated but joyfully energetic throng of mid-to-late-30's guys (and those who missed the Archers bus completely the first go-round) who had a decade's worth of pent-up fist pumping, pogoing, and the ability to finally scream "I! WANT! WASTE!" during "Harnessed in Slums."

Singer Eric Bachmann didn't spend much time interacting with the crowd, but when you've got nearly 800 folks breathlessly waiting for a song, you don't really waste time on witty banter (aside from dedicating a song "to the seven girls in the audience"). Bassist Matt Gentling is still a fireball of unpredictable energy, and his complete lack of self-awareness when he's playing (as well as Mark Price's rock solid drumming and guitarist Eric Johnson's Big Country-isms) make the live Archers of Loaf experience one of raw, contagious intensity.

The setlist was a fantastic mix of the expected hits ("Web in Front," "Slums," "Wrong," and "Lowest Part Is Free"), but also hit on some more unexpected material ("Worst Defense" segueing into "Attack of the Killer Bees" was a surprising choice), and the energy of the band (and the crowd's passionate attention) never seemed to waver. The most poignant moment of the night fell smack in the middle of the set, when the band played Vee Vee's "Greatest of All Time". While Bachmann occasionally addressed the insincerity of the music business ("Lowest Part Is Free"), he never did so as eloquently as "Greatest." Hearing the slow drawl of "the underground is overcrowded" in a post-MySpace-bandboom 2011 context was like hearing a prophet returning a decade later, just to remind us "I told you this would happen." Add Bachmann's repetitive calls to "toasting their dead hero" (coming from a once-dead hero), and the song transformed into a sweeping, elegiac anthem for a band who never truly got their proper credit or a fitting swan song.

Archers of Loaf Setlist:

Wrong

Plumbline

You and Me

Might

Bacteria

Lowest Part Is Free

Freezing Point

What Did You Expect?

Revenge

Greatest of All Time

Worst Defense

Attack of the Killer Bees

Dead Red Eyes

Fabricoh

Scenic Pastures

Form and File

Web In Front

Nostalgia

ENCORE

Audiowhore

Harnessed in Slums

Slow Worm

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