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The Drums, Archers of Loaf
4Knots Music Festival Main Stage
Saturday, July 14
Better than: Going to the park.
The Drums’ bouncily fey music is well-suited to anyone who’s been eagerly devouring the entirety of the Real Estate/Craft Spells crop of purely enjoyable modern guitar pop. Live, their songs sounded more or less exactly as I expected they would. But I hadn’t expected singer Johnny Pierce. Looking vaguely like Joan of Arc teaching aerobics in San Dimas (floppy but impeccably precise bowl cut; oversized t-shirt), he spent the set moving around the stage in a charmingly shoulders-first way, seeming like he was a sail that had caught the wind. He was undoubtedly Performing the entire set, bringing a sort of mournful intensity to his work. When a friend of mine described him as “very Morrissey,” I was at first a little bewildered, but, in truth, that’s exactly what he was like. And it was great to watch.
When headliners Archers of Loaf went on, evening was just beginning to creep over the sky. They band sounded impeccable, and looked to be enjoying themselves (or at least the fact that it had cooled off a bit by their set time).
The children of the many 1990s-vintage alts who’d come out to see Archers were getting restless. I happened to be standing next to one such pair, Cena Crane (44, of Brooklyn), had an adorable eight-year-old son flitting around her Chucks, filling a sizable plastic bag with small circular stickers from the Xciter.com Respect the Music tent.
Had the elder Crane seen Archers, who are now about a year deep into their reunion, before? “Oh sure,” she told me, “in 96… No, maybe ‘9, I saw them at a club. I remember it being really… intense,” waving her hands by her ears to signal all-encompassing noise. Are they the same? She gazes a long wistful moment at the stage, as Archers plowed through their noisy and surprisingly emotional back catalogue. “Yeah. Yeah. It sounds about the same.” She had to run off around then to help her son on his scavenger hunt. I told her she might try to grab a beach ball, too. “In my apartment?” she said, a smile playing around her face. “That’s the last thing we need.” And then, the show more or less over, she dissolved into the crowd to grab some dinner, maybe, then tuck everyone’s sun-drained bodies into bed. It was a good day.
Critical bias: I love mingling in a crowd on a hot day and meeting new people with the help of a few weird cocktails. Maybe that’s not your thing?
Random notebook dump: During Archers’ set, I saw a father hoist his baby in the air like some ’90s indie Lion King. The baby wore a pageboy cap and blue headphones that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a shooting range.