LOCATION: The Bellhouse BK.NY
SUBJECT: Eric Bachmann
I quite nearly forgot to go to this show. It's happened to me a few times—for some reason twice at the Bellhouse already. Luckily right as doors were opening, some tiny spark-plug in my brain fired. I hustled on over by bike, and I was there in time to catch the second set of three, Andrew St. James, which frankly made me wish I was later. St. James was fine enough, I guess. The only offensive thing about hime was an unremitting blandness.
I could chalk my continued devotion to Eric Bachmann up to my teenage love of his arty grunge band, Archers of Loaf, but he's travelled so far afield the explanation no longer holds water. In fact, if I could only have one in my life, at this point—even with all the nostalgia involved—I would choose his post-Archers career.
While the majority of his (mostly) solo work has been under the Crooked Fingers banner, his newest album is in his own name. It came with high expectations, as his last self-titled release (from 2006) is an evergreen classic for me. Asking a new record to measure up to an all-time personal favorite is perhaps too high a bar to set, though. Regardless, I was pleased to see him perform a number of those songs live.
Each time I've seen Crooked Fingers it's a been a different configuration: solo, Eric and a drummer, more full ensembles… This time he had small band which included two backup singers dressed to the nines in matching, vintage, gold sequin dresses—I'm sure with wistful touch of nostalgia and a dash of irony.
His songs touch a nerve for me, like a cross between Elliott Smith's wounded exposure and Tom Waits archly dramatic caricatures. It's like deeply moving works of fiction: the once-removed quality of it doesn't at all affect the emotional impact of it. The stories don't need to be real to be true.
NOTES: Eric Bachmann (and band); Andrew St. James.