Akron/Family & Phosphorescent @ Cargo, 2 December 2007

Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 12:30 | Category : Uncategorized
Tags :

“This is your last fucking chance!” shouted Akron/Family’s Miles Seaton near the end of their encore. “We’re going home after this, so this is your last chance to go mad”. Even though his tone had a threatening edge, he really didn’t need to persuade us. All it needed was the drums to kick in again and we were off, going mad. This was at least half an hour past the curfew as well.

But before I relive the madness of Akron/Family further, let me backtrack a little, to something a bit less chaotic. Part of the appeal of this gig for me was the promise of the support act, Phosphorescent, given that I’ve grown to love his recent album Pride and this was the only chance to see Matthew Houck onstage in London anytime soon. He didn’t disappoint. Taking to a darkened stage without his fairy light-bedecked jacked he’s known to wear, he went straight into a cover of The Party’s Over, assisted by loops and shouting. A class start for sure. Apart from a fuzzed up version of At Death, a Proclamation, most of his set was a stripped down version of the tracks from Pride and his previous albums. Where the appeal in the recorded Phosphorescent lies in the beauty of the layered sounds, live and solo the production is stripped away to reveal the beautiful unencumbered core of the songs. Then the loops came back to glorious effect in his closing number Cocaine Lights, where he perfected the trick of harmonising with himself, and going some way to recreating the celestial choir present on Pride, only this time with added noisy wig-out ending. Superb. Could it get any better?

The answer was yes – but in a bit of a different way. The reverential silence that accompanied Houck’s fragile interpretation of his songs wasn’t really necessary for most of Akron/Family’s set. Mind you, it wasn’t all great and I did have my reservations. About halfway through their set, after the less-than-welcome guitar solos and extended white noise sequence, I thought they were going to clear the room. Then the noise stopped, they went straight into the quiet beauty of Crickets and from then on to the extended end sequence it was a non-stop rollercoaster of wonderfulness.

Akron/Family don’t play straight sets. You don’t go to one of their shows expecting to hear note-perfect renditions of songs from their records. Their thing is a lot more improv. Sure, there are renditions of their recorded work, but often it’s more of an extended jam where they play stuff and elements of their songs appear. It’s a tantalising recipe where you’re not quite sure what’s going to come next. From a band that some have wrongly labelled as hippies, you don’t expect the vaguely threatening calls for participation, the noise work-outs and the percussive mayhem, stage-diving and beat-boxing that accompanied their colossal set-closing version of Ed is a Portal. That track sounds great on their latest album Love is Simple, but live it’s in another dimension. The crowd were well warmed up by this stage and as the song progressed, the madness increased. I haven’t seen a gig go off like this for a long time, and that’s particularly impressive considering that it wasn’t exactly populated by The Kids either. Although the curfew was long passed, nothing could stop the clamour for the encore, and it all went off again. What a show. What a band. Why have I only recently come across these guys? And the most important question – when are they back in London?

Download: Akron/Family – Crickets
Download: Akron/Family – Gone Beyond

Love is Simple and their Young God back catalogue is all available to buy from emusic. As is Phosphorescent’s Pride and other albums.

Leave a comment