With Help From Friends, Akron/Family Soars
Tuesday, March 11, 2008; Page C04
By Patrick Foster
"We care a lot!" Faith No More sang sometime during the 1980s; since then, few bands have shouted, stomped and seemed to care as much as Akron/Family. During its kaleidoscopic two-hour set at Jammin' Java on Sunday night, the Brooklyn outfit was unwaveringly passionate. The trick was figuring out just what it was the band was caring so much about.
Start with an extra emphasis on family. The three core Akrons were joined by North Carolina trio Megafun to create a six-piece group (keyed by dual drummers and Seth Olinksy's lithe guitar) able to take full advantage of a dizzying array of flutes and percussion instruments and give sung/chanted interludes an impressive gravity. Those vocal anchor points were welcome during a set that was heavy on new material.
Familiar songs such as "Phenomena" and "There's So Many Colors" were distended and splayed to fit an ever-shifting template encompassing gently rippling folk, unabashed hippie jamming, blissful harmonic drones, African pop and springs-sprung improv. So when the Family steered the nearly 40-minute concluding piece into "Turn on Your Lovelight," it was un-ironically digging on both Bobby "Blue" Bland and the Dead. That stunning final piece climaxed with the Akron's best song, "Ed Is a Portal," which threw the band's startling inventiveness into high relief but didn't shed much light on the roots of its passion. Mystery, however, is what the Akron/Family really digs, and mantras like the one chanted Sunday are explanation enough: "We've gone where we've gone."
Catch the "experience" for yourself:
03/15 Austin, TX @ Emo's Inside Room (SXSW showcase12:00 AM)
04/26 Indio, CA @ Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
04/29 Santa Cruz, CA @ Crepe Place
04/30 San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
05/01 Visalia, CA @ The Cellar Door
06/21 Philadelphia, PA @ Popped Festival on Drexel University Campus
07/24 New York, NY @ River to River Festival at Castle Clinton