They say we’re not getting any younger, but apparently the DC music scene might be. Akron/Family played for a crowd full of X-ed hands at the Rock and Roll hotel last Friday. Opening for them were Bad Weather California, whom I unfortunately missed but was reminded of, as their name was stenciled prominently on the front of the drum set Akron / Family used during their set.
Known for their spirited improvisational shows, Akron / Family’s Miles Seaton, in urban outfitters tribal printed pants snarked to the audience that they would be setting up for the entire night, while he tweaked and tuned the instruments that the band would trade back and forth through the show, which included a Native American hoop drum that I kind of lusted after.
A/F started their set with a harmonious vocal chant and world influence that reminded me of Paul Simon’s Graceland a bit, but with a bit more of a kraut rock Can edge. I make my way from the right of the stage towards the middle after snapping a few pics of the hoop drum and aztec printed fabric that draped the keyboard stand, where I meet a girl with a scarf around her head who seemed to know every word to every song. At this moment, A/F beckons everyone to clap along, and the whole crowd is dancing and clapping. The kids know how to party.
I’m a huge fan of any band that invites the audience into their performance, and A/F merit much respect for successfully doing this. Through a pedal noise effected interlude, Dana Janssen and Seaton ask everyone to join them in a dance inspired by Deepak Chokra and Santanna. Through a steady drum beat, they tell the audience to raise their hands in the air and close their eyes. To my surprise EVERYONE does it (except me, because I’m too cool).
“Visualize yourself on a beach. You are very attractive… and wealthy.” I giggle and take pictures of the amazing energy. “Now for the dance portion…” The music swells, and Janssen and Seaton start to sway with hands in the air. Hilarious and effective, the energy rises, and the song swells into a noisy psychedelic breakdown. Seaton jumps in the crowd and starts singing with the girl in the scarf. Janssen joins the crowd banging the hoop drum above his head. He passes it off to Scarf Girl who is all smiles, banging away the rest of the song.
Some songs progress into psych jam band territory, such as “A AAA O A WAY” off of the newest album Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT, but A/F keep it noisy and electronic enough so that the performance is never boring or the slightest bit annoying. For an accessible and delightful encore, A/F waste no time hopping back on stage to play “Silly Bears,” ending on a playful note. Akron/Family’s performance is constantly maturing along with their music and is never ever sophomoric, even if the DC indie scene might be progressing in that direction.