Volume 90, Issue 97

Thursday, March 27, 1997



Performance: Archery at the right angle

Archers of Loaf
At The Embassy
March 23

The angle's OK. The three-inch heels I'm wearing boost my already plenteous natural height. I stand at arm's length from the stage, under one of the excitedly booming super woofers, looking up at a thick-rimmed, glasses-wearing, grizzly-voiced Archer of Loaf. Even though I'm not at the ideal eye-level, the angle's OK.

Amidst the excited throng pushing and shoving to the charged rhythms, I photograph Archers of Loaf, the Chapel Hill, NC rock band.

The Archers of Loaf are on tour promoting their third album All the Nations Airports.

Behind me are not Deadheads, but Loafheads, bragging about last night's show in Cleveland. They assure me in their southern drawl that if by their frenzied flailings my camera is knocked out of my hands, they will quickly pick it up and dust it off.

All Archers of Loaf members proudly don team Embassy/Whippet Lounge shirts. They are a polyester/nylon blend mesh – in a complementary mix of baby and navy blue. All players have their names monogrammed across the top left pocket: Eric (Bachmann – vocals, guitar), Matt (Gentling – bass), Eric (Johnson – guitar) and Mark (Price – drums).

Gentling is no question the performer of the group. I reach to capture his stage antics on film, but his ecstatic movements get lost in the shadows and leave me without enough light. Whether it's the toned down "Scenic Pastures" or the hyped-up CD title song "All the Nations Airports," Gentling's shaggy mane swings wildly to the bass line, with his body rock and his eye roll. At one point he breaks from the set list to catch his breath and tell us a joke about a dirty little slug who mounted a turtle's back.

As the show progresses in its intensity, guitarist Johnson flips up his wide-style collar, reflecting his ultra-cool comfort and revealing his fancily embroidered guitar strap.

The accumulating sweat on Bachmann's face drives his signature item glasses off his nose for the majority of the performance. Despite the ventilated mesh design of their gift shirts, polyester never has nor will ever, breathe.

I see him through my zoom lens and pinpoint the swollen neck veins, corresponding to his husky roar – not so far off from early Tom Waits, whom Bachmann enjoys being associated with.

After the 13-song show, the massive crowd beckons the Archers to perform an encore. A few post-performance puffs on their American cigarettes and back they come. Drummer Price and bassist Gentling take front and centre to enact their version of "the bagpipe song. . ." straight-handing their windpipes and pinching their noses. The army of Loaf fans love it. To end the night, two more songs go out to an already quenched mob, this time with Bachmann's goggles back in place.

The Archers of Loaf are a band with integrity, creating distinctive sounds to fit their musical mission. Whether acute, obtuse or oblique, the angle's OK.

–Jennifer Leonard

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997