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Akron/Family - ICA, London, 20/5/2009

  by Sarah Rowland

published: 8 / 6 / 2009

Akron/Family - ICA, London, 20/5/2009


Despite having recently lost founder member Ryan Vanderhoof and now being reduced to a three piece, Sarah Johnson at the London ICA finds New York experimental folk act Akron/Family having lost none of their spontaneity, but also having an increased tightness

Support band, Blind Pilot, set the scene for the night delivering a laidback alt country sound with moments of rock guitar and rising layed-up percussion. Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dobrowski were joined on stage with a hefty backing band to recreate all the sounds of the album. They managed to draw the crowd in and their enjoyment of being on stage was infectious. The band's sound has obvious influences from Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown, with lead singer, Israel, delivering rich warm vocals that stir up strong imagery from the duo's travels and encounters. When Akron/Family take to the stage it is clear most of the audience are already big fans of the band. They start with a quiet harmony with Seth Olinsky, Miles Seaton and Dana Janssen all crowded around a single mic at the front of the stage. The audience is silent. The trio then build up the set playing most of the songs from new album 'Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free'. They also diverse into a few songs from previous albums, but manage to slide into each new track very smoothly giving the set a feeling of completeness. Before the latest album was released the band lost fourth member Ryan Vanderhoof. The biggest change to the band live since then has been it’s tightness and clarity. Their music has always been quite reflective and live they have a habit of meandering off in to very sureal jam sessions. While they still have this spontaneity on stage, it is now more inclusive of the crowd. The highlight of the set was when, after ending the song ‘Last Year’ with the repeated line "last year was a hard year for such along time, this year is going to be ours", all three walked in to the crowd with a guitar and a few percussion insruments and managed to get the whole crowd to continue singing the line. It started gently before it built and becme louder with the crowd providing a drum beat of hand claps. The buzz and energy from the crowd didn’t fade and even once the band had finished the set and left the stage people were dancing and singing as they left the venue.

Picture Gallery:-
Akron/Family - ICA, London, 20/5/2009

Akron/Family - ICA, London, 20/5/2009

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