Beer and Pavement

Archers of Loaf Is Happening

Posted in Live by SM on February 9, 2011

This isn’t breaking news[1], but all signs point to an Archers of Loaf reunion. First, there was the surprise show the band did a few weeks ago. Then, came the information that Archers of Loaf are playing Sasquatch. A full-on reunion tour is inevitable at this point.

In case you missed the surprise reunion show in Carrboro, NC almost a month ago, there’s media out there to digest. You can watch basically the entire set on mumblepop’s YouTube channel. For those who want the audio, check Willfully Obscure‘s post.

Why would Archers of Loaf reunite?

Well, first you have to understand who the band was. AoL was the quintessential indie band of the early-to-mid-nineties not named Pavement or Superchunk[2]. Like Superchunk, Loaf hailed from Chapel Hill[3]. Unlike either of those bands, Archers of Loaf rawked with reckless abandon, pummeling their audiences into submission. Their songs were often as clever or heartfelt as any indie band, but they had a blue-collar, ruffian angle few could pull off in the underground. They were absolutely one of the most dynamic live acts of the era as they shredded and beat their way through set lists[4]. An Archers of Loaf show is one of the most intense rock experiences one could ever have.

The band nearly broke through with their college radio hit “Web in Front,” but it was not meant to be. They toured as much as any band in that time. I felt lucky to have seen them as often as I did, almost always in a shitty little club[5]. During the nineties, the band released four full-length records[6], a rarities compilation, a live album, a couple EP’s, and numerous singles.

A band’s worth, especially as far as nineties indie rock goes, is often measured on the influence they had on the scene. I have stories of Lee Renaldo sneaking underage kids into a Loaf show[7]. I’ve read Conor Oberst drop them as a major influence. They have the new and old of indie covered. They are still a uniter of a band when they’re brought up in conversation.

Unfortunately, the band didn’t make it out of the nineties, a decade they helped define in underground/indie music. Frontman Eric Bachman moved on to his side-projects including Barry Black and the nearly as successful Crooked Fingers. They have been missed and no one has yet to fill the gaping hole left in their absence.

That is, until now.

With the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, Pavement, and others getting back together for another go, it only seemed logical that Loaf would join them on the indie reunion circuit[8]. There’s money to be made there. I don’t blame them. All the kids who followed them in the nineties now have real jobs and can afford to see them for five or six times what they used to pay. And we’ll gladly pay.

The question is no longer if Archers of Loaf will play again. The new thing to ponder is when they’ll play and how often. Plus, I have to wonder if they will come to Missouri, certainly not a high priority for a band that might just do the summer festival circuit[9]. However, I sort of suspect this will be an old-school Loaf tour and there’s a chance the band stops in either Kansas City, Columbia, or St. Louis. I’ve seen most of my heroes – white trash or otherwise – on their reunion stints, I certainly don’t want to miss this one.

Previously in regards to Archers of Loaf: here and here.

1That’s not what I do here. Obviously.
2I often see these three as the triumvirate of nineties indie rock and I’d challenge anyone to contradict that assertion.
3There was a time when everyone was looking for the next Seattle. Chapel Hill was the leading candidate for a while. Oh, and so was Austin, Columbus, Dayton, Athens, Portland, etc.
4And at the end of every song, bassist Matt Gentling would graciously grunt “thanks” when he wasn’t filling the void with drunken witticism.
5Two years in a row, I saw them play the now-defunct-Stache’s, a gig and all-night drive to Cleveland’s Euclid Tavern, and a final show in some shitty metal bar in Cincinnati.
61993’s Icky Mettle is easily one of the 5-10 most essential indie rock records of the decade.
7Instant credibility is thrust upon your band when members of Sonic Youth travel to your hometown to see you. A friend of a friend met Renaldo outside the club only to find that he was too young to gain entrance. Renaldo searched him out and let the kid use his ID. It didn’t work as the kid guessed the wrong year of birth, but Lee got him in anyway.
8I sometimes imagine state and county fairs being taken over by hipsters and artists. Old indie bands would play the grandstands and we’d all have a grand old time.
9STL has a newish end-of-summer thing, but we are devoid of summer festivals for the most part. My hope is that they’ll play a proper club tour with a stop or two or three in the Show-Me State.

Tagged with:

File Under: Miscellany

Posted in Beer, Life by SM on January 21, 2011

Several things have crossed my network of RSS, Facebook, and Twitter feeds that could be worthy subjects on this blog. I’m using this post to sort through them and hopefully stumble upon one that can be developed[1]. I’ll at least have a complete blog post when it’s all said and done.

Archers of Loaf Reunite
As I once proposed, it’s time for Archers of Loaf to get back together. Well, they did, but there’s no indication it will happen again[2]. Still, one has to suspect that a tour is in their future. However, how many dates will they play and how far will the tour stretch? Some bands do a weekend in a major city. Others do the full-on Pixies/Pavement model. I’m hoping for the latter as Middle Missouri gets so few great bands as it is. That and I suspect Loaf will do smaller venues like they did way back when. I’m certainly not hopeful for a reunion record, though. There’s a reason that bands like Pixies and Pavement didn’t do much if any recording after reuniting[3]. With band members taking up various projects, these bands stood no chance at picking up where they left off or even resembling their former selves. I’d be happy with a tour that stops through Missouri. That’s all.

Still, if you click through to the videos of the show last weekend, you’ll see why Archers of Loaf were considered among the best live performers in the indie circuit. They were so good that I think they’ve ruined live shows for me forever. So, let’s hope they make it this way at some point in the coming year.

Hopslammed Cont’d
The Beer Holiday I described on Wednesday has come and gone. By early afternoon, Sycamore’s keg was blown and nearly every store carrying the beer was sold out. There are rumors that more is coming to town, but it won’t be much[4]. It was like a Depression-era bank run a la It’s a Wonderful Life.

That said, an offshoot of the Coalition emerged. My beer club pooled their resources and insured that none was without Hopslam on this great day. Facebook group threads kept folks abreast of developments. And when a few unlucky beer enthusiasts were without the sweet nectar of the gods, a few generous members either offered some of their own stash or provided hints as to the whereabouts of additional cases of the good stuff. For these efforts, this Coalition salutes you!

Here are some pics from the day. Those blatantly lifted from Facebook are so noted. Now, enjoy the beer porn…

Lifted from FB and taken at Sycamore by Father of the Month.


Father of the Month again.

Mine. (Notice the retro rotisserie.)

And while you’re thirsty from all those pics, check out this review from It’s a Fucking Beer[5].

No Rock Show
Even though my Freshly Pressed post claimed that attending more local rock shows is the way to get back into music, I skipped out on a show Wednesday night. Why? Well, it snowed like a foot here, I had a glass full of Hopslam, and there was a basketball game on TV[6]. So, no rock show for me. Besides, I’m not 100% sure I wanted to see a poor man’s Animal Collective or whoever was playing[7]. It’s probably for the best. I’ll hit the upcoming show on a Friday for my token local show this year.

January Catch-Up
At the end of every year, I find a ton of records that I somehow missed over the year. I’ll slowly begin to order said records just to see hear what I’ve been missing. A few arrived in December, but I honestly haven’t given them enough of a listen to tell you what I think[8]. There are two more coming soon. So, I’ll have old records to tell you about in the coming week. Stay tuned.

Beard Update

The Ace of (Indie Rock) Cakes
The Pavement reunion was etched in digitally-televised stone forever and it wasn’t MTV, rather Food Network did the honors. That’s right. MTV doesn’t do music anymore. Nope, Food Network’s Ace of Cakes featured Pavement receiving one of those ridiculous cakes only possible on basic cable. With Brew Masters on extended hiatus[9], Ace of Cakes had to fill a void Thursday night.

While it was nice to see my heros on TV, I had my issues with the episode. First, the Pavement cake split time with a cake for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Who cares? Second, the person in-charge of decorating the cake, Elena Fox, was supposedly a big Pavement fan. Of course, there was no way to confirm this fandom as Fox didn’t share any knowledge about the band and used this past year’s greatest hits comp as inspiration for the cake. The kicker was when Fox blushed that she never thought she’d get to see the band until now. Really? How is she such a huge fan that she’s never seen them before? Yes, it’s a bit ageist, but painting her as a huge fan was a stretch[10].

That said, the tiny bit the band was actually on the show was sorta cool. We got to see the band with their spouses and kids. Mark Ibold wore a t-shirt that proclaimed “Good Evening We Are The Fall[11].” The cake itself was well-executed as it depicted a horse as featured on the artwork from Quarantine the Past and various other images from the record. I heard several snippets from “Cut Your Hair,” but that was all the Pavement Ace of Cakes could fit into the eleven or so minutes dedicated to the Pavement cake. Still, it was nice to see the band get a little love from basic cable that wasn’t nearly as awkward as their visit to The Colbert Report.

Beer Marketing Rant
A beer blogger went on a rant about gimmicky beers. While I recognize that this is not a huge surprise nor a new development, the rant itself is perplexing. The Mad Fermentationist rants about brewers using odd ingredients or over-the-top amounts in beers as marketing devices rather than sound brewing choices. In other words, he complains that the marketing around such “gimmicks” overshadows whether or not the beers are any good.

I find this odd as this blog mostly features homebrewing topics. The one thing nearly every homebrewer does is experiment with one-off brews that feature strange ingredients or hyperbolic amounts and varieties. And what is TMF doing but judging brewers and their beers by the marketing and not the actual quality of the beers?

Whatever, it’s a fucking beer. It’s good or it’s not. It might be good because it uses an ungodly amount of hops. It might suck because the combination of malt just didn’t work. Whatever. Judge the beer by how it tastes, smells, and looks, not what marketing tells you. That’s all.

Nanobreweries are growing all over the country and there’s one right here in Columbia. Hellbender is the brainchild of fellow beer geeks Jarrett and Josh who brew constantly and have a ton of great beers in their repertoire. Hellbender is certainly a welcomed member of the Coalition, a relationship that could blossom in coming months. The boys are primed for big things as their entrance in The Bruery’s Batch 300 contest is a sure finalist. “Rosemary, Baby” is the kind of beer The Bruery makes. It’s delicate, subtle, and an ideal pairing for poultry or fish with hints of rosemary (What else?) and low ABV. The nano is planning a party next month in preparation for the stretch run toward finalizing some paperwork that could make them a legit brewery. Cheers, boys! The Coalition supports your endeavor!

Monday’s post should be more of a normal post. In the meantime, stay warm, put a record on, and drink all your Hopslam before those hops fade into the ether.

1This is mostly because I don’t want to write an entire post about any of these things.
2Of course, we all know it means that they will play more shows. Once the rumor or even reality of an indie rock reunion begins, it will happen. It might be at an ATP or a full-fledged tour, but it will happen.
3A Pixies album would be awful and a Pavement album would be a simplified version of SM’s solo work. Neither would do these bands any favors. It’s better to leave their legacies alone and play the hits for all the kids who missed them the first time around.
4And now I hear we won’t even get any minikegs. I was hoping to score one for a birthday bash next month. Hopefully my Ohio hookup can…well…hook me up.
5I apologize for the misogyny. The kid’s just trying to drive home the point that the beer is really good. Let’s just say that he’s excited.
6My Buckeyes are now 19-0 and #1 in the country. Their schedule gets really treacherous over the next 2-3 weeks. So, we’ll see what they’re made of. It’s a team loaded with a solid group of seniors and a talented group of freshmen. Ohio State could have a football-sized dynasty in the making.
7Admittedly, that was a bit harsh. The bands playing all sound like Animal Collective is a major influence. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just trying to justify not going. I’m the lame one. They rocked out in a snowstorm.
82010 records purchased: Double Dagger, Screaming Females, and Born Ruffians.
9Apparently, it’s coming back, but Discovery is trying to kill it. Why else would they continually change the nights it’s on and wait months between episodes without a programming note. #fail
10I’m not denying this woman a right to like or even love Pavement. In fact, I support her love of the band. My problem is that the show worked really hard to paint her as a huge fan and she wasn’t. Why not point out that Fox is in a band herself and knows something about indie rock? I’m probably just jealous, but I thought that connection to the band was forced. That’s all.
11Pavement has long been compared to The Fall. Some have even suggested that the band ripped off The Fall’s aesthetic. Whatever. The Fall wasn’t on Ace of Cakes, were they?

Young and Old

Posted in Manifesto by SM on February 11, 2010

A comment in my last post struck me. Longtime reader and taint haiku-ist Carrie had this to say1:

This is why I feel I have to fight so hard to be credible, because most of the people my age–quite frankly–listen to music with no reference points (also note: I had a moment of swelling pride today when a 40-something guy on one of the online forums I frequent told me my musical depth gives him hope)

Two things: 1) The fact that as a youngster, Carrie has to fight for credibility due to her generation’s inability to move beyond P4k and iTunes. 2) Carrie is not like her peers in that she has impressive “musical depth.”

First of all, Carrie doesn’t have to prove anything. A quick glance of her blog, Colossal Youth, and you’ll quickly realize that she has plenty of credibility. This is also proven by my second thing above. I’m glad that is out of the way.

What I wanted to get at is the fact that it’s way easier to have musical reference points when you’ve been at it as long as I have2. Of course I know Pavement, Brainiac3, Guided By Voices, and Archers of Loaf3. I lived those years. There was no work involved. I went to the club once or twice a week and saw some shows. The local record emporium kept me updated. There was very little work to it.

I don’t blame the young for not always knowing music’s history. It takes work4. I don’t know that I always put in the work to know newer bands these days. It’s OK.

On the other hand, I did do a lot of the work necessary to gain that point of reference. I loaded up on quintessential albums in the used section at Used Kids5. I’ve read the books and magazine articles. I put in my time to learn about the trajectory of music. It’s not easy, but it’s totally worth it.

There’s no excuse with Google and Wikipedia and whatever not to know about music’s past. It’s easier than it used to be. Someone name-drops Lydia Lunch. You run over to Wikipedia and search it out to find that she was a pioneer of No Wave and has deep connections with Sonic Youth. It’s really not that hard.

Of course, we older folk can’t expect younger generations to know about our music if we don’t teach them. Take this evening. I had a conversation with a friend about the indie scene in Ohio back in the nineties6. It got some wheels in my head spinning. I put on some Guided By Voices while I fed and bathed my daughter. I sang and danced to the music and taught her a new word: Ohio. Her indie rock education began a long time ago, but this was the beginning of another conversation over Ohio’s contribution to music.

This does not leave out the young people. They have to hold old cranks like myself by the hand and tell us about new bands so that we don’t fall behind7. Of course, an exchange between young and old is always necessary to advance thought, even in music.

Anyways, Carrie’s comment made me think and think some more is what I’ll do.

There are more angles to look at this topic. Take beer, for instance. Kids know how to get shit-faced and have a good time no matter how terrible the beer tastes. Older beer drinkers know what tastes good and how to get the same effect out of three beers as opposed to twelve.

I have always felt that I’ve had a lot to learn from those younger than I, but they can learn from me as well. So, that’s where this blog fits in. I don’t have many readers at the moment, but I know someone will glean something worthwhile from my words at some point.

What do you think? What can we learn from each other? What have you learned from folks younger/older than yourself?

1In her comment footnotes no less!
2I was one of those kids affected by Nirvana. I smelled of the teen spirit. I grew up in grunge and the early days when hardcore transformed into lo-fi which later became the all-encompassing indie.
3If these boys are too obscure for you, look ’em up. Buy something today. I’ll wait.
4Although I always prided myself at understanding from where a band came or their influences, I can’t say I always put in the necessary work to truly get a band.
5If you’ve never been, it’s really worth the trip to Columbus, OH.
6Yes, we had a scene. Guided By Voices, The Breeders, Afghan Whigs, Brainiac, Gaunt, New Bomb Turks, etc.
7Or we could just read some blogs.