TV Party - A

ARCHERS OF LOAF, THE - What Did You Expect? Live At The Cat’s Cradle {MVD} Have to say, I’ve had little concern for this band outta Chapel Hill, North Carolina before. That fucking awful name always put me off and they always sounded a bit too much like a bunch of MISSION OF BURMA wannabes. However, this live DVD, recorded on the band’s 2011 reunion tour in their hometown, has changed all that.
The main feature consists of the gig - a 20 song affair recorded on what must be about six cameras with excellent sound and little in the way of attention-diverting effects. It’s a jarring start too - no introduction just straight into opener ‘Audiowhore’ which blew me away - intensely rocking with a bassist going hard-out, much like Chuck Dukowski in his BLACK FLAG days. That’s followed by a song that could define the band’s sound - ‘Harnessed In Slums’. It brought to mind ...BURMA of course but played via PEGBOY with a hint of AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB. Other highlights include ‘Greatest Of All Time’ which featured incredible lyrics, ‘You And Me’ which out-pixied THE PIXIES and ‘Wrong’ that was just full-on rocking out and impossible to resist.
Don’t think this is a mere ‘concert video’ though. The songs are cut up with interviews with the band members - and interesting ones at that. We hear of the origin of that god-damn name, some obligatory tour stories (with a great one about the band visiting Mt Rushmore), Punk Rock and influences, the hassles of de/re-tuning, day jobs and the difference between playing ‘then’ (circa early 90s) as opposed to ‘now’. All the band seem very down to earth, unpretentious, interesting and generally guys who I imagine it would be good to share a few beers with.
There are a bunch of extras too, including six songs shot at the same venue but at the second of these two-night gigs which include a spectacular wall-of-guitar sound during ‘Let The Loser Melt’ and, what could be the most obvious nod to ...BURMA, in ‘Form And File’ that includes tape loops. Then there are additional, but relatively short, interviews with the band and finally a trailer for the film.
Interestingly, this is shot and directed by Gorman Bechard, the guy who did the REPLACEMENTS film, ‘Color Me Obsessed’. Where that film lacked any musical footage, this is the polar opposite and I’m pleased to say Bechard has done a cracking job on both scores. He’s made a band that plays incredibly complex music but make it look so easy sound accessible and destructive, melancholic and intense, refined and raw and certainly entertaining on every level.
As someone who let this band pass him by, this has proved to be an introduction to one of those great bands that went outside my radar. That alone is surely what any artistic release (album, book, film) is meant to do: please those who are already fans (and I’m sure LOAFers will love this) while reaching out to a whole new set of people. (09.08.14)

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