Monday, February 28, 2011

Show review: Akron/Family at Lincoln Hall, 2/24

By Conor O'Hagan

Akron/Family (photo: deadoceans.com)

Akron/Family are extremely difficult to label. And maybe that’s the point.

Last Thursday the band performed at Lincoln Hall, promoting their latest album Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT. I have no idea what that title means. By means of explanation, in a note sent to their record company, Akron/ Family were inspired by a note left for them which said: “Flourish. Flourish. Flourish. Fuck Shit Up.” The band took this to heart. That’s good enough for me.

The trio played six new tracks, mashing their sincere sing-along hippy-revival numbers with wild experiments in noise pollution. At times battling in Dan Auerbach territory, at times sporting a wide variety of miscellaneous instruments, and never seen without some of the best beards rock and roll has to offer, AK are cool customers and had the crowd dancing and participating throughout.

Forays into the audience with drums, mid-song shouting matches and mind-crushing spirals into what I dare describe as metal madness are some of the hi-jinx AK revelled in.

The most charming crowd participation piece was a combination of inner and outer dancing set to "Island." The inner: imagine you’re at a beach with your friends and family. The outer: a closed-eyed swaying, and the instruction: “We are all just bits of water. Surrounded by other bits of water. Remember what it feels like to be the ocean.” On paper it may be spiritual silliness, but it was too pure for anyone to pass up.

One of the most dazzling songs came from 2009’s Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. "River" is a calming tale of maturity, climaxing in a heartfelt exclamation of “you and I and the flame make three."

Although naysayers may not embrace the sporadic and sometimes slapdash improvisations, the majority would argue - hell, they’ve got the passion and they’ve got the heart. And that they do, by the bucket load.

In simple summation, who cares what category they fall into? What is freak-folk anyway? These guys are happy rockstars, and seeing them is an experience.

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  • Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT was released on February 8th on Dead Oceans Records.
  • Name your price to download their Totem - Improv Series 1.
  • Hear "River" from the Amoeba Green Room Sessions.
  • See Akron/ Family’s Lincoln Hall Set List.
  • Akron/ Family was supported by Delicate Steve (Bare feet. Youthful exuberance. Whistles. Mid-song riff competitions. Cheeky smiles. Carefree fun. What’s not to like?) and The National Information Service. 
Check out more show reviews:
Dropkick Murphys at Congress Theater
Murder by Death at Subterranean
Justin Townes Earle at Metro
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound at Metro
Free Energy at Double Door

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