When: Sat., Jan. 30, 9 p.m. 2016
ERIC BACHMANN | SATURDAY, JAN. 30
THE PINHOOK, DURHAM—For a moment, Eric Bachmann will again put the present and future on hold to deal in the past. At the end of January, Merge Records will reissue Bachmann's first two albums as Crooked Fingers, the delightfully dour, often-noir folk-rock group he anchored after the premillennial demise of Archers of Loaf, his Chapel Hill indie rock institution. Issued in quick succession after Archers played its final shows, those records—a gripping self-titled debut and 2001's grand Bring on the Snakes—found Bachmann shunning the chemically addled buzz of his rock band completely. He let his voice burn with baritone warmth through cold, lurid tales of deprivation, deviance and death.
"At that time, I was trying to write fairy tales from the perspective of a child, for adults," Bachmann says 15 years later, from his current home in Athens, Georgia. "I decided that the most punk rock thing I could do at that point was to go where I went. Success for that music is written from the perspective of fans of Archers hating it."
To coronate the occasion, Bachmann will play two shows—one in Durham, the other in New York—and deliver the albums in full, and in sequence. And when he's done, he'll break with the moniker Crooked Fingers (and some of the material), once and for all. He'll then turn to the nine songs of Eric Bachmann, a rather brilliant and surprising reinvention that finds Bachmann taking chances with imagery and arrangements in ways that latter-day Crooked Fingers records didn't. There's Beach Boys-like pep, slow country smolder and piano-led doo-wop, anchored by a voice that seems, at the age of 45, to have grown into its own grit with grace. Bachmann is pausing to look back, then, before making a big move forward.
This temporal discontinuity is a familiar one for Bachmann, who's spent much of the last five years leading a reunited, tour-only version of Archers of Loaf while building his own new music. Just as those early Crooked Fingers albums tumbled forward from the end of Archers, Bachmann's next phase comes at the end of at least one more era—Crooked Fingers and, possibly, the dream of more Archers action.
"It's a lot of homework to relearn some of these older songs," Bachmann says. "But it's nice in a way, because the material chooses for you." 7:30 p.m., $15, 117 W. Main St., Durham, 919-667-1100, www.thepinhook.com. —Grayson Haver Currin