SOMA/music issue | Mila Zuo
One of our short term goals is to become the greatest rock and roll band in the world...Although their name, appearance and humble manners are indicative of their rural upbringing, the four young men of Akron/Family migrated to New York City in 2002 in hopes of finding a thread of inspiration in the city's well-worn music scene. "One of our short term goals is to become the greatest rock and roll band in the world," Miles Seaton (sometimes vocalist and instrumentalist) half-jokes. Sequestering themselves in their tiny Brooklyn apartment, the foursome has been creating unique folk rock symphonies for the past few years. After making at least three albums worth of music and sending Michael Gira (of Young God Records) demos along the way, Gira was convinced he had to see the band live. Like many Akron/Family first-timers, he was won over and the rest is history. Bravely inching towards their goal, the four men of Akron/Family are working harder on their first tour than any band on the road, playing two sets a night, first as Akron/Family, then alongside their new mentor and label-mate Michael Gira as Angels of Light. Meeting up with Akron/Family and company in San Francisco before their show, the group eagerly introduced me to their world of "bric-a-brac", a collection of colorful and strange objects they bring onstage. Among them: a cardboard fish that faces the audience, small piles of moss, an old black and white 10 inch TV set, a revolving fiber optic light, a broken porcelain gnome and a horse figurine, along with many other small creatures that inhabit the stage. â€œAt first we'd bring a bell onstage for a song, or play guitar with a screwdriver. We started to use weird little trinkets to make sound with, and at some point they just grew. People started giving us random things and we liked the way they looked so we began collecting, â€œpercussionist/vocalist Dana Janssen explained.â€It helps us get into our universe, puts us in our own place," added guitarist and vocalist Seth Olinski. Patiently waiting for the show to begin, the eclectic audience of indie rockers, hardcore kids, hippies, Goths, club kids and yuppies emitted murmurs of excitement, their obvious differences resembling the array of colorful trinkets Akron/Family bring onstage. As they played, a couple on the floor in front of me unabashedly kissed and gazed into one another's eyes. In between songs, grunts and shouts of joy expulsed from the band, usually led by Miles, the oft-smiling bassist/vocalist. With psychedelic folk-rock that is immense and gorgeous, yet light and serene, Akron/Family uses breathtaking orchestrations whose melancholic undertones at times border on heartbreaking. What is most striking about Akron/Family is the strength of each memberâ€™s unique vocals, combining to create lush harmonies. After the men of Akron/Family finished their set, they took only ten minutes or so to freshen up and return alongside Michael Gira to play as Angels of Light. With a mesmerizing double performance, the Akron/family's musical talents are apparent and their sound speaks for itself. Still, on their path to becoming the greatest rock and roll band in the world, Akron/family remains humbled young gods who cherish simplicities like coffee and Bach.