It was 1998. Bill Clinton was president. The dot-com bubble hadn't yet burst. The national debt was under control. And who could foresee a housing bubble, 9/11, two foreign wars, or a black president? That's when Archers of Loaf broke up. Thirteen years later, as captured in this fannish documentary by Gorman Bechard, they reconvened for a two-night stand at the Cat's Cradle—a popular club near Chapel Hill, N.C., where the band made its reputation. Do we really want to go back to the '90s for yet another aging-indie-rocker reunion? Bechard certainly does, and the crowd looks happy. The four band members, when interviewed, seem less nostalgic. Singer/bandleader Eric Bachmann says of their current musical activity, "We're just sort of weekend warriors." Why did he pull the plug on the group? Bechard doesn't ask. Are the other three guys bitter about it? Could Archers have been bigger? Again, there are no hard questions in a film that's about 80 percent performance footage and 20 percent reminiscences.The bass player talks of bonding in the van on road trips, back in the day, without GPS or cell phones—then adds with a laugh, "not to sound like a cantankerous old man." He doesn't, but neither do Bechard and these affable dudes make the case for the band's continued relevance. Archers played Sasquatch! 2011 and Neumos last fall (their reunion tour coinciding with the re-release of four albums on Merge). If you were there, this doc's for you.
The Archers in their indie heyday.
Runs Fri., Oct. 5-Thurs., Oct. 11 at Northwest Film Forum. Not rated. 88 minutes.