Remember the first Archers of Loaf reunion gig in Chicago—after an approximately 12-year hiatus—last year at Bottom Lounge? If so, you might recall bassist Matt Gentling's hilarious, unrelenting knee-slappers and the unbridled energy felt throughout the turbo-charged set. And though Friday's performance got off to pleasant enough start, that same wild excitement was noticeably absent. Singer/guitarist Eric Bachmann and his Archers led with a string of pretty sleepers that got heads (many, many of them bespectacled and freshly shaven) bobbing, but did little in the way of eliciting a riotous, off-key scream-along.
However, about halfway through the set, after a lovely rendition of "Dead Red Eyes," in which a seated Bachmann fluttered his fingers across a small keyboard on his lap, the foursome pulled back the throttle. Mustering much younger men's energy, they launched into the explosive "You & Me," as well as "Might," "Nostalgia," "Harnessed in the Slums," and "Plumb Line," riling the adults-only room of longtime fans to a frenzy. Gentling even brought his signature head-banging…and a few groaners.