DS Show Review and Photo Gallery: Archers Of Loaf & Weird Nightmare Live at Warsaw (2022-12-02)

Archers Of Loaf should be a band that any fan of college radio during the ’90’s should be familiar with. Having formed in 1992, the band released its debut full-length LP, Icky Mettle, in 1993 to mostly favorable critical acclaim. The band would ultimately release 4 studio albums and tour relentlessly throughout the decade. But like many of the college circuit indie bands of that decade, the grind would eventually take its toll and they decided to concentrate on separate solo projects in 1998. Fast forward to 2011 when Archers of Loaf began playing live shows once again. At first, it was a one-off festival here or there but with Merge Records re-releasing their 4 studio albums in 2012, the band hit the road touring fairly extensively in 2012. They toured sporadically after this, but truth be told it’s been a quiet decade or so for fans of the Archers. That is until the release a couple of months ago of their first studio LP in over 20 years, Reason In Decline. And those of us in the northeast were even treated to a brief tour in late November/early December which was concluded last week in Ashville, NC.

Weird Nightmare

In Brooklyn, we were treated to Archers Of Loaf visiting us last Friday night at Greenpoint’s home of pierogis and punk, Warsaw. Opening up was Sub Pop Recording artist, Weird Nightmare from Canada. Those of you familiar with the band METZ, will be familiar with lead singer Alex Edkins who is also METZ’s singer/guitarist. Billed as a more melodic power poppy kind of band compared to Alex’s other band, Weird Nightmare on Friday came off way louder and more aggressive than I expected. I had seen them earlier in the summer opening for Kiwi Jr. and at that show their power pop underpinnings came across in a most jingly way. Friday however, while there was still the crunchy guitar work that defines pure power pop, Alex and the rest of the band seemed to in a few short months to have gravitated to a louder more in-your-face kind of power pop. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed what I heard and appreciated the growth the band appears to be going through. I’m merely stating my surprise at how much had changed since I’d seen them last. One thing I do have to comment on however, is I don’t think that the bottom-heavy sound system at Warsaw did Weird Nightmare any favors as the sound at points did come across as bassy and muddled.

Eric Johnson

Archers of Loaf took the stage promptly at 9:30 PM, starting off with “Step Into The Light” the meandering instrumental off of 1995’s Vee Vee followed by “Breaking Even.” a much poppier upbeat tune from the new album. And then lead singer Eric Bachmann ripped into “Wrong” from 1996’s The Speed Of Cattle and immediately the night was off to the races. With its bouncing rhythm and shuffling guitar work, “Wrong” is pretty much a quintessential Archers song. This clearly was not missed by the crowd who at this point were jumping right along to the incessant guitar work coming out of Eric Johnson’s amp.

Eric Bachmann

Not one for stage banter, frontman Eric Bachmann relied more on his masterful rhythm guitar work and more importantly his singing to convey his emotions. When he belts out the opening line, “There they go, fucking up the ratio. Biting on the skin that hangs off a hangnail” to “Lowest Part Is Free” one can’t help but feel the angst and frustration of what it must have felt like to be an indie recording artist during the crazy post-Nirvana 90’s with all kinds of industry types looking to suck the life blood out of each and everyone of these artists. This bitterness plays a huge role in Archer’s oeuvre. The noise, the seemingly endless rhythmic soloing, the screaming, all play a major role in what Archers Of Loaf were then and to an extent, still are.

Matt Gentling

Speaking of stage banter, with both the Eric’s (Bachmann and Johnson) not being huge talkers on stage, the banter is left to the band personality, bassist Matt Gentling. Gentling has let his hair grow out significantly since the band’s heyday, looking more like a bassist in a thrash metal band than a 90’s indie band. One of his on-stage anecdotes had to do with his hair, stating quite matter-of-factly how difficult it is at times to disengage his flowing locks from the back of his throat. Evidently, with his animated playing style, his hair flying all over the place, if he’s not careful when taking a deep breath prior to singing backup, he’s been known to suck great lengths of hair clear down his throat which obviously makes singing those backups quite impossible in the moment.

One of the highlights of the evening for me came roughly midway through the set when drummer Mark Price led the band with his pounding syncopated drum beat into “Screaming Undercover”, a new banger off of Reason In Decline. It’s a perfect tune that lends itself to Bachman being able to scream/sing each and every word all the while the band rages on with breakneck precision. Of particular note was Matt’s frenetic bass work as his fingers raced up and down his fretboard. This brings me to my one and only complaint (if it really is one) in that with such a great new album just having been released by the band – not to mention their first studio effort in over two decades – I just wish that they had played more of it during their set. I fully understand that for many, this might have been the first time ever seeing the band. They’ve only been to NY twice in the last almost 30 years – in 2012 they played the 4 Knotts Festival at the Seaport and then in 2015 at Music Hall of Williamsburg – so it is somewhat understandable that a cross-section of their entire career was warranted. And to that point they did a fantastic job spreading the material out between all of their albums. But Reason In Decline is truly a very good album and it just felt that it should have been showcased just a little more. No doubt, I might be in the minority on this opinion and that’s fine.

The set came to a screeching and crashing conclusion with Icky Mettle‘s “Slow Worm”. With its repeated refrain, “And nobody’s counting, because everybody’s fine. And everybody’s buying it cause everybody’s blind,” Bachmann led the band through an ear-splitting jam that had the wall-to-wall crowd at Warsaw flowing back and forth like seaweed in the surf. The band would come back out for a four-song encore to the delight of the packed room. Finishing off the night with the slow dirge burner “All Hail The Black Market” from the 1994 EP Vs. The Greatest Of All Time. And just like that the night was over. Hopefully, it won’t take as long for Archers Of Loaf to return next time around.

Weird Nightmare Slideshow

Archers Of Loaf Slideshow

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