Having spent most of Saturday rehydrating myself from the sweatiness of the first Archers show, by the time we all headed out for the requisite pre-show meal, I was quite water-logged. For this round, the minions were again me, PostLibyan, as well and Mr. and Mrs. Malimus. While I couldn't hope that this show would be as sheerly wondrous as the first one, at the very least I was hoping for no bluegrass in the opener.
After a much needed burger from The EARL, we again wandered down for iced coffee so as to be properly caffeinated for the long, hot night ahead. Again, we returned back to the EARL where shortly after door time of 9 PM, they began to let people into the venue. In a replay of the previous night, we were some of the first people in the door, primarily so that we could enjoy the AC before it was overwhelmed and so that we could claim the one relatively well-ventilated area at The EARL.
And then we waited. And the venue began to fill a little. And still….we waited.
Finally, the first band, called Fan Modine, took the stage. From the little research I did prior to the show, Fan Modine (who I persist in calling "Zen Modine") is the recording name for one Gordon Zacharias, who releases albums only intermittently. However, conveniently enough, he has a new record out, called Gratitude for the Shipper (which I persist in calling Gratitude for the Stripper). The reviews I read prior to the set indicate that perhaps Mr. Zacharias has a vaguely Stephin Merritt-y voice and his music has a jangly poppy sound.
Fan Modine keyboardist in a rare moment of stillness.
As the full group took the stage (including the world's bounciest keyboardist), it quickly became apparent that this comparison was in fact apt. Mr. Zacharias does have a very very deep voice (ala Stephin Merritt) and his songs seemed to be rather poppy, albeit with an off-kilter, introspective tone. If anything, I think Fan Modine reminded me a bit more of the more recent recordings by Say Hi, after Eric Elbogen threw off the synths and went more into guitarwork. Nevertheless, I kind of enjoyed their Fan Modine's jangly sound, except for the fact that, to me, it seemed like they played some 15 minutes too long. Or rather, the band's 45 minute set left me looking at my watch and thinking, "Finish already! I want to see Archers of Loaf!"
Very grateful for that stripper. I mean shipper.
Luckily, the bands were all sharing the Archers' backline, so the changeover to the second band went quickly and efficiently. Shortly after 10:30 PM, Electric Owls took the stage. Like the previous band, Electric Owls is really the alter-ego on a single individual, albeit one backed by a band. In this case, the individual in question is one Andy Herod, best known to readers of EvilSponge as the frontman of The Comas. Historically, we here at the Sponge have been fans of both The Comas (if only for their brilliant song Employment) as well as the various side projects of the band members. So, I had high hopes for this act.
Electric Owls in action.
However, in this case, Electric Owls has less indie and less pop than The Comas; instead they were more stripped down, with a strong emphasis on the guitars and the vocals. The effective was disconcerting, especially considering that Herod has a somewhat nasally voice, which came across as a bit whiny in the mix. In addition, it seemed like many of songs focused on the Southern countryside, so that I was reminded of Knock Knock by Smog, which was the album Bill Callahan released after his own abortive retreat to the rural South. Nevertheless, in listening to Electric Owls, I could hear something interesting in the music and I suspect the songs would come across better in a recorded medium as opposed to the live setting.
And then, at last, it was time for Set two from the Archers of Loaf. As the band prepared to come on stage, I glanced around and noticed that The EARL felt less crowded than on the previous evening. However, I quick realized that this was not in fact the case. Rather, the crowd was pressed up closer to the stage, which meant that back where I stood, there was more room. Likewise, even before the set began, this crowd seemed more overtly enthusiastic and rowdy than the night before, with more shout outs and a little bit of heckling mixed in amongst the cheers and catcalls.
Archers rocking out, night 2.
The tone for the entire set was put in place with the opener, Audiowhore (which had started off the encore in the previous night) and flowed into Harnessed in Slums, to which the entire crowd shouted along. Along the way, Archers hit most of the same songs as the night before, albeit in a different order, and engaged in more banter and laughter than the night before.
The stage dialogue memorably included Matt Gentling thanking their touring guitar tech for keeping the strings in tune as, per Gentling, "this is not our forte," a line that cracked up not only the crowd but Eric Bachmann as well. For me, one of the highlights of this set was a tune that they didn't play on Friday: Scenic Pastures, which has been stuck in my head ever since we reviewed All the Nations Airports.