Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Show Review: Akron/Family & Delicate Steve, 3/28/2011

In preface: I have long loved Akron/Family. Was head-over-heels smitten after their Angels of Light split (still their watershed moment as far as I’m concerned). I’ve followed them on each album since their debut, albeit with a slightly lesser attention/expectation than I did when they first hit the scene, but not much less. However, and this despite Erin’s love for it, I have not given more than a couple listens to the first few songs of this most recent one record, S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT, (not that I don’t have plans to).

In post-preface preface: I am, regrettably, and even while in the midst of my late twenty-somethings, becoming an apathetic, curmudgeonly doubter when it comes to live shows. I’m a wet blanket, pure and simple, holding every expectation that I’ll be let down, constantly wishing that instead of standing in a bar/garage, I was plushly seated in a concert hall, and even more than that, laying in bed at home.

A post-preface-preface note: Being an Akron/Family show, there was no shortage of lengthy haired, full bearded men in the audience. Something to keep in mind I suppose.

My nonexistent expectations were underscored by the fact that I brought a book (David Ohle’s The Age of Sinatra). How ridiculous am I.

Fortunately there was a rock ‘n’ roll Cinderella story. Delicate Steve, the opener, the band that I planned on reading through, was spect-cussing-tacular. Like super much. Which saddens me slightly because half the people who eventually made the show missed them. It only took a couple notes before I was out of my booth towards the back of the venue and pressing up closely as possible to the stage, directly behind the drummer to be exact. Bursting forth with a frothy, tropical space punk, complete with tangled guitars, melting electronics and animalistic, bass-heavy drumming, it was all I could do to keep myself from flailing about like an idiot (only a couple people gave in to this tendency, something both respectable and utterly embarrassing/hilarious). Still, the jam-heavy instrumentals (something that was more than a little reminiscent of headliners, Akron/Family) contorted me into a head-bobbing mess, surely a hilarious sight in and of itself.

And I realized, I don’t really want to be sitting when I’m at a concert, I just want the band to be so good that I can’t help but fidget and dance it’s so great. Delicate Steve were that great. Super tight, and utterly fantastic, never approaching a lull in their awesome instrumentals. How about we listen to some right now?

Sugar Splash - Delicate Steve

Delicate Steve - Butterfly

Oh, and Akron/Family played too.

But seriously, Akron/Family did play – and for the first time in SLC (suprised more people didn't make it out). Maybe it was the steam rising off the backs of Delicate Steve, but it seemed to me that the headlining trio started things off a little slowly, dragging their wobbly voices here and there, their guitars here and there, they played that song where they sing, “put me in, let me run with the ball – ha,” some other ones also, they segued into some weird, utterly bizarre, totally hilarious, and at the same time awesome, but utterly hilarious (the new Andy Kaufmans?) moment where they instructed the audience on an inner and outer technique of water-based undulation, instructing them to raise their “ones” in the air and sway from side to side, eyes closed, while Seth walked them across a beach or something, all this before really hunkering down into what became an incredible, hook-laden, guitar-blitzing, psych-folk-rock blowout -- the real meat of the show.

Which isn’t to say that the introductory songs weren’t all good and well, but it should be known that Akron/Family are best when going all out. These dudes seriously know how to rip into a rock song, how to scream manically, how to loosen things up to the point where it feels like it’ll all fall apart and then, in perfect unison, string it all back together for a uniform, mind-crushing, body-tangling, teeth-gritted monstrous groove. This was apportioned to the remainder of the set; Akron/Family finally asserting why they were headlining.

Most everything was culled from the three most recent albums, but in the encore, Akron/Family showed just how beautiful they can be, harkening back to that aforementioned watershed split to play “We All Will,” a perfect good-night lullaby, them singing:

“Sad that we have to go home…”

Extra notes:
  • Awkward drunking couple in my line of sight that were half making out during some Akron/Family loveliness and then transitioning seamlessly into a half-hearted freak dance session when the band went for broke.
  • "Blessing Force," I remember being particularly good amongst the melee of chop-heavy psyh freakouts.
  • A weird anticlimax when, after some incredibly sumtuous electronic dissonance, Akron fell back into a ballad (commence awkward makeout scene).
  • The second song of the encore preformance, presumably from the new record, reinvigerating me to want to get super into their new album, soft and beautiful and then loud and rocking.  Really great.
  • After all was said and done, listening to Delicate Steve's most recent album was the number one priority on my list.

1 comment:

Kevin Fairbairn said...

I saw this show in Chicago, and though I wasn't quite as impressed with Delicate Steve, I have to say that 'Butterfly' is one of the most magically ecstatic melodies I've heard in years.

I wasn't too impressed with the setlist for Akron/Family, neglecting to play any songs from the s/t, Angels split, or Love Is Simple. Those are the reasons most people paid for the ticket. They pulled the same 'hold your ones' trick in Chicago, and probably do it in every city. Terrible gimmick that is.