Akron/Family with Mi & L'au | Live Review | Nick under Tours

I said it before, but I'll say it again, DO NOT miss these guys when they tear up your town.

We made the hour trip to Denton from Dallas, drove the wrong way on the one way streets in the downtown square, found a place to park out back and took a seat at the bar just in time to catch the last part of local band Shear Water's set as we notice the "$2 you call it" sign. These guys are rockin' the banjo like nobody I've ever seen before and singing a folk-ish pop ditty of "These drugs just aren't working like they used to", but from my perspective, these cheap kamikazes are starting to work just like they're supposed to.

If you've heard Mi & L'au's record (and you should've!), you know that their minimal style is not well suited for a noisy bar full of drunken college kids out on a Tuesday night. There's a dull roar of the chatter from the crowd there for the cheap drinks and constantly bar glasses clattering in the background. And that's all it takes to overpower their delicate guitars and hushed vocals if you're more than 10 feet from the stage. Fortunately there's a stocky little dude with long hair, wearing a sweater vest and hushing people with authority if they get too loud. And fortunately again, this is the kind of venue and crowd where you can get right up against the front of the stage and enjoy the show as if it's being played especially for you, and that's exactly how it feels. I catch up with Mi and L'au after the show to briefly interrupt them being asked by some chick if they have a label. "You guys are great", I say, but I really wanted to say, "Sorry about the drunk kid yelling 'What the fuck is this?!' in the middle of your set." Too bad sweater vest guy didn't take him out back and kick the shit out of him.

As the Akron / Family boys come out to get ready, bassist and lead vocalist, Miles Seaton, sans-shirt with a bandana covering his face, ties a Steven Tyler-esque piece of fabric around his mic stand and is obviously going to be the liveliness of the show. Ryan Vanderhoof hangs a little stuffed star (I think it was a star) on his, and other than a little arranging of equipment, that's about all it's going to take to rock the freak-folk like nobody else out there. I won't get to bed until 4 in the morning and have to be up at 7 for work, but this is one band that is worth missing a few hours of sleep to see.

On their records, they have a little more restraint and conformity, especially while doing their part with Michael Gira as Angels of Light, but in a smoky bar in North Texas - "Glad to be here. We've never played Arkansas before!" - it's another story. All caution is thrown to the wind along with most of the folkishness and their noisier moments and rowdy attitude take over completely. And make for the best show I've seen in quite some time.

Highlight moments come one after the other with these guys, but standout moments included a stomping, thrashing rendition of "Moment" with Seaton ripping on the strings of his green bass harder and faster than most metal bands, a swaying moment of relative relaxation with "Future Myth" and the band climbing down into the crowd and forming a sweaty jam circle with fans tightly packed around them singing repeated background vocals of "love and space", I think it was love and space, the $2 drinks were flowing and these guys played for hours.

After about 10 minutes of hippy time, they head back to the stage for a roof-raising version of "Raising The Sparks" that only a paraplegic could keep from stomping his feet to. And finally ending the show with some proper rock 'n roll antics, Seaton proceeds to stumple around the tiny stage, nearly falling off of it backwards, shoving all the mics into the amps for massive amounts of feedback and joins Seth Olinsky and Dana Janssen for a 3 man attack on the drums while Vanderhoof stays politely seated playing his guitar. Classic.

I said it before, but I'll say it again, DO NOT miss these guys when they tear up your town.