John Dee, Oslo on 11th April 2007
Reviewed by Andreas on 23rd April 2007
If I'm going to a gig with a band I'm not too familiar with I like to do my "homework" so to speak. I'll get my mittens on some of their albums and have a bit of a listen, check out some websites and whatnot. Akron/Family make quite lush, folky and mainly acoustic weirdness/campfire songs. Their self-titled debut was very calm and serene, and the album they're touring at the moment, "Meek Warrior", is down right pleasant. It'd fit in with the likes of Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, being in possession of that cosy, homey feeling those bands swing about. Also, in every single picture I've seen of them, Akron/Family have been sitting down. I thought "Great! It'll be a thoroughly nice time!". Turns out Akron/Family have gone electric.
Turns out guitars that are plugged into amps, the signal fed through three distortion boxes and whatnot, make a lot of noise. Especially when the band wielding those guitars are hammering out minute after minute of ear-killing noise. Suddenly, as a howl from one of these very-beardy-beasts of men erupts, the chaos falls into place and an actual song emerges. It's rhythmic and led by chanting voices and... Squeaky toys that make bird-like sounds.
These moments of brief prog-rock jamming, beards that would suit a yeti and campfire chants is not at all what I had expected. Songs like "Suchmess" off the band's self-titled debut are all given electric reworkings, mostly to great success. All through the gig the music swells and dies down in waves, going from the quiet of the quiet to, well, stuff that made ears hurt (rawkstar.net's delegation included). In a few of the more ambient moments, a ratty fellow with pupils too dilated appears and does a dance in front of the stage. The band quickly nicknames him "The Dude".
The low point of the gig is that the band has a tendency to drag the minimalistic/bombastic jamming thing into what feels like an eternity. The strange monotony of noise is punctuated by massive singalongs that last for about twenty minutes, as well as hand clapping lessons. Akron/Family are a very social band, and near the end get half the audience up on stage and pass out instruments - everything from tambourines, maracas, recorders and other things.
And so I stood on stage, recorder in hand, a sweaty guy with a huge beard being generally strange next to me, a horrible racket/jam emanating from the 30-odd people on stage. It's not pretty, but as I get to do a recorder solo (this must have rocked!) I must confess to having had an absolute whale of a time.
After about 10 minutes of noise, bad dancing and lots and lots of sweat, everyone, the sound guy and his dog do a dance whilst rapping along to an improv song about shapes. "Circle, triangle, square - Yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah".
Akron/Family are very, very entertaining live. If you get the chance to see them, remember that you might get to do a recorder solo.
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