I’ll be the first to admit I don’t like jam bands. Blame it on too many run-ins with sweaty, high-as-a-kite Phish fans, or my general impatience with gratuitous guitar solos, but they’ve just never been my thing—which is perhaps why Thursday’s Akron/Family show deserves such high praise.
Starting off the night were area indie songsmiths Little Owl, who delivered an earnest and energy-filled set of songs off their recently released EP, Stories and Observations of Argus Madur. Then came Delicate Steve, a five-piece, David Byrne-approved instrumental collective from New Jersey that nearly outshone its predecessors by way of heavy percussion, a whole lotta guitar jams, and a few well-placed whistle blows.
Despite a relatively small turnout, Akron/Family spent their set delivering the goods and rocked the socks off those who had come out in support. Cuts ranged from the newer, psychedelia-inspired “Silly Bears” and “Island” to the older, folksier sounds of “River” and “Love, Love, Love (Everyone),” and almost always wound their way into some twisted reworking or alternate ending. Likewise, frontman Miles Seaton’s turns at the loop-machine/pedalboard made for some of the night’s brightest, most whacked-out moments. From atop the stage with knobs, dials, and mike in hand, he created some of the fastest, most nonsensical beats and arrangements I’ve seen thrown down in ages—and bandmates Dana Janssen (drums) and Seth Olinsky (bass) were more than happy to keep pace. In turn, the small crowd yielded big, joyous reactions, while Akron/Family proved you don’t need a big band to make big noise.