Akron/Family, The Garage, November 17th

November 24, 2009

Akron/Family are a band guaranteed to make you feel good. First there are the compliments: ‘You’re so polite. You’re so intelligent. You’re so spiritually advanced. You’re so sexy,’ cooed Seth Olinsky spreading well-being across the small crowd at London’s Garage.

Then there is the uplifting atmosphere they create. It’s practically impossible to leave an Akron/Family gig without joining in a communal hand clap. The band are famous for their riotious sing along complete with audience choreography to the nonsensical feelgood of ‘Circle, triangle, square (yeah, yeah, yeah yeah, yeah)’, filmed here spilling onto the street outside Emo’s at SXSW 2008:

Since Ryan Vanderhoof departed two years ago to join a Buddhist Dharma Centre, the band have performed as a threesome. Drummer Dana Janssen, guitarist Seth Olinsky and bassist Miles Seaton took turns on vocals, and for the final half an hour they were joined by a flautist, saxophonist and trumpeter.

With the tie dyed bastardised American flag seen on the cover of their fifth album, Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, pinned up behind them, stripey shawls draped over their mixing desks and obligatory sweatbands and beards in place, the scene evoked band practice in a student’s bedroom.

They played a diverse set moving from African inflected tribal drumming and township guitars of River and Ed is a Portal to bouncy dance beats, Indian rhythms and various prolonged psychedlic wig outs.

Yet things didn’t quite descend into the delicious chaos the band are capable of, instead we got protracted noodling. Perhaps the crowd was too sparse and too polite, perhaps it was because the vocals were so low in the mix they were barely audible, maybe 12 dates into a 20 date European and Antipodean tour the band are weary and homesick.

Akron/Family still sprinkled their warmth and joy across us frosty Brits, but those who came with the hope of partying on the streets must have been bitterly disappointed when the band left without so much as a goodbye or whiff of an encore.

This piece first appeared on Drowned in Sound

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