Akron/Family is known for bending the rules. Over the span of the its 10-year history, the band has melded folk and rock and free jazz and metal into one dizzyingly splendid package — and made it listenable, to boot. For its sold-out Tuesday-night set at Muddy Waters, the band took things a step further, delivering a full set’s worth of unreleased material from its forthcoming LP, Sub Verses. About 30 minutes into the night, bassist/vocalist Miles Seaton addressed the packed house with a smile, laughing that the band’s decision to play all new tunes was “more of an artistic decision than a listener-enjoyment thing.” Fortunately for us, the two were not mutually exclusive.
As guitarist/vocalist Seth Olinsky hinted in his recent interview with The Santa Barbara Independent, Akron’s new tunes are markedly heavier fare, and Muddy Waters proved a pretty ideal spot to watch the band let loose. In that tiny tile-floored room, drummer Dana Janssen’s fills seemed to burst with energy. Meanwhile, Seaton and Olinsky embraced the reverb with unbridled joy, stretching Muddy’s meager PA system to its limits as they noodled through new track after new track.
While the night’s encore brought a few familiar jams (including a well-received rendition of “River”), it was the excitement and newness of the first set that ultimately made Tuesday worth watching. Even for a band that banks on throwing its listeners for a loop, Akron/Family surprised us this week. And for that we thank them.