I thought that I would never be able to say that I had been to an Archers of Loaf show. Why? Because the most original rock band of the last 20 years (before this year) had not played a live show in over 13 years. I thought it was hopeless. Sometime back in April of this year I received a text from the east coast gentlemen who introduced me to their sound. Blue Lang wrote, "Archers of Loaf, September 2nd. Date Night. Get a babysitter." I was pretty stoked to get this message.
They were the biggest influence on my old band, The Booty Chesterfield Trio. Blue and I started jamming in the spring of 2006. As a lot of jams go, you start to bring in your influences. One of the first bands that Blue turned me on to (and that I took and instant liking to) were these guys. I got what he wanted out of the music and tried to transcribe that thought process into original tunes. Hence, the reason for being so influential. More importantly; they rocked. And all I wanted to do is rock too. They are smart punk rock. Their songs are a mixture of built up drama entangled with overwhelmingly powerful hooks. They have a lot of "eek and awnk" chord structures in alternate tunings that you don't hear every day.
I had heard several live recordings of them but nothing to prepare me for the show. Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, Blue did not make the show. He was back home in Florida. As the day of the show approached, like so many other things in life when you age, I was tired and just wanted to have a weekend to relax. Driving up to the City on a Friday night didn't sound too appetizing. But we rallied and made the most of it.
The opening band sucked. I cannot even remember their name. And for the most part I thought the evening was going to suck because the dinner service at the Great American Music Hall. I had always wanted to sit in the "good seats" that got you dinner and a show, but my cheap ass could never pony up to it. I need never do it again. My advice, just get the regular tickets. While the GAMH is one of the best venues to see a small and intimate show in San Francisco, it is not known for the food or the service. And the following statement shall serve as an exclamation point. We had the A grade tickets that night; they gave us the C grade waitress. A terrible management issue by whoever was in charge that night. I believe that she was probably new to the job, probably took a hit out of the bong before showing up to work and was completely off. When it took her 15 minutes to get us a drink from a non-packed upstairs bar (about 30 feet from us) that we were in for it. Then I noticed the only other group there for dinner had completely finished their meal. I walked up to an usher to inquire (our waitress was no where in site). Turns out that she completely forgot to place our order and we finally ate overly salted and peppered cafeteria food about hour and a half after our arrival sitting in the dark through a shitty band. That is the mood that was set. I was ready to go home. My buddy took it upon himself to make sure at least we had cocktails on the house floating into our veins to cool our heated jets. Go for the music; don't go for the food. And never use a cocktail waitress there. Very unreliable for such a small intimate venue.
Now for some action. The Archers came out and completely blew the doors off the non capacity crowd. They played it perfectly, rolling through all the songs that one who was half a fan would want to hear. Even more important; it felt real. It felt like they meant it. They were not here for the money and to sell more Archers CDs, they were here to put on a kick ass live rock and roll show.
A couple of highlights from the show; staring down from the balcony into the crowd with the Archers in full blast off mode I witnessed this swirling pool of middle-aged balding white dudes, many with glasses and plaid shirts, attempting to re-start up that pit again, just like they did back in 1993. But this time with a lot less force. It was cute (for lack of a better term). I saw myself in there at one point in time too. Another highlight was when the Archer's entered into the classic "Low" I heard, check that, we all heard someone shout out "Fuck Yeah! I have been waiting 15 years to hear this song!!!" I think that is how many people felt that night. See, Archers were always an East Coast band. They never had much of an impact on the west coast as let's say, Pavement or someone else from that era. Probably because they didn't tour a lot on the west coast. Maybe two or three times.
So why write about this? I'd like to encourage musicians to understand the real impact that bands make on people. The music never dies. It just keeps on growing. Now, to see it live...that is a whole different story. After Friday night I feel like I was one of the fortunate ones....
Archers Of Loaf "Audiowhore" from christopher Bettig on Vimeo.