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Akron/Family, Crawdaddy, Dublin, 30 April 2006

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I was expecting Akron/Family to be quiet, subdued and very serious. Sometimes they were all three but most of the time they played like demons. The songs shifted and changed constantly, going from harmonious vocals with gently strummed guitar to the loudest sound I’ve heard at a gig since I was in a room filled with 500 people banging on scrap metal.


The Maladies just about filled the support slot. They could have been any bar band from anywhere, the type that is essentially just a standard indie band but own a Tom Waits CD so they’re a little edgy. Luckily they only played a short set but I was glad when they were over. I can’t even remember what they were singing about because I tuned them out and ruminated on life during their set.

The quiet/loud thing is hardly a new concept but with most bands you can tell when they’re going to change. Akron/Family on the other hand gave no indication, they were totally unpredictable. There was a genuine sense of experimentation; they seemed to have a general plan of how a song should go but the execution was still open ended. Guffaws would erupt from them as they messed around with effects pedals or played something goofy. It’s rare to see a band look like they’re having fun.

Musically, Akron/Family showed many influences ranging from the Velvet Underground’s wall of fuzz to The Flaming Lips’ poppy psychedelic sound and heavy doses of folk and even touches of religious music. Although I could hear all these influences in them, they were warped into something else altogether. It was exciting listening to them as it was both familiar but equally there was a unique quality to their performance that made them quite unlike any band I’ve seen before. Not only were they talented musicians in the traditional sense of playing an instrument but they also used a lot of unconventional techniques like sticking a metal plate to the pick ups and playing the plate with a screwdriver. They all made great use of delay pedals to loop sounds to make a beautiful cacophony before shutting it off and playing something at odds with the noise like gospel.

As much as I think they deserve huge success, I can’t see Akron/Family following in Devendra Banhart’s footsteps. They are far too confrontational and difficult for a major label. Any compromise to make their music palatable for the masses would destroy it.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 May 2006 09:36  


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