Akron/Family | Live Review

MetroLand - Albany Alternative Weekly | John Brodeur

beautiful four-part harmonies that were face-melting

It’s about 20 minutes to 2 AM. On a Monday. Late. But it doesn’t feel that way, not after what just went down inside the club. The music fans the ones who came to get their heads transformed; the ones who, with patience, got what they were looking for are beginning to file out of the old White Tower, the last notes of Akron/Family’s fine set having dissipated only moments ago. Try finding a complaint around here right now. It just won’t happen. On the self-titled record by the peculiarly named Brooklyn quartet, the spirits of Nick Drake and Syd Barrett inhabit moderners like Idaho and the Flaming Lips. Medicine-mouthed folk tunes are interrupted by white noise and synthesizer bleats; really well-miked wind chimes trample over spacey sound effects and slo-mo jams. It’s among the more promising recordings released this year, but would their live set be worth waiting for through a multiband endurance test on a Monday night? The run-up made that a tough call. The noodlescapes of Matt Valentine, Erika Elder and Samara Lubelski meandered on and on under a din of air-conditioner noise and audience chatter. Lincoln Money Shot (now with bass clarinet!) juxtaposed the quiet with brief, brain-rattling sets before and after the trio. Sir Richard Bishop followed with another lengthy set, hammering away at his nylon-string guitar like a man unhinged. He swayed wildly, looking like a rabid Bob Ross, digging into his tunes with a sinister style that Akron/Family bassist Ryan Vanderhoof would later call “face-melting.” And then, finally, the band of the hour. The group revisited only a couple tunes (including “I’ll Be on the Water,” on which guitarist Miles Seaton played a television set) from the record. Instead, they relished in loop like repetitious, lengthy jams (for lack of a better word), bursts of white noise, and lush, barbershop-quartet-like vocal arrangements that were all but nonexistent on record. An ominous, finger-picked electric guitar pattern; hard, Hendrix-like jamming; pot-fried vocals about some kind of awakening; beautiful four-part harmonies that were face-melting in their own right. That was just the first song. It was like listening to all four sides of the Beatles’ White Album at once. Multifaceted song structures transformed with a natural grace where most acts might have relied on pastiche. The three guitarists (Vanderhoof, Seaton, and Seth Olinsky) rocked back and forth on volume pedals all night, moving their parts in and out of the mix like the prey in a game of Whack-a-Mole, while percussionist Dana Janssen provided a strong guide marker. They saved the best for (almost) last 1:18 AM by my watch. “You Found What You’re Looking For” was rooted in a quiet, descending guitar pattern, not far removed from Ten Years After’s “I’d Love to Change the World,” then blossomed into a thick wall of harmonious vocals and guitars, like a truck full of pianos landing on a church choir. Consider my face melted. Nick Carpenter of Lincoln Money Shot deserves special mention for putting the whole show together. It’s a great thing when a guy can hear a record he likes, invite the band to play in his town, and actually make it happen with visible success, no less.