Monday, February 21, 2011

Akron/Family for Family Day (Horseshoe Feb. 20)

A night of indulgence began with All-You-Can-Eat sushi luckily I slipped away from that smorgasbord to continue with Delicate Steve at the Horseshoe. The five-piece out of N.J. seemed like Akron/Family lite, in that their music was slightly improvisational, kept vocals to a minimum but featured some tight musicianship. Not ordinarily considered an instrument, the keyboardist also threw down some intense clap patterns (intense judging by his facial expressions anyway). Additionally he was featured with a whistle solo, but unlike Friday night's whistle solo at the 'Shoe this one was played on a gym whistle! These were just eccentric aspects of a thoroughly entertaining opening set where the singing guitars and driving drums carried us through. Having the drummer prominently sat sideways, facing the band at stage-edge was an added treat too. The closing song had a drum machine in addition to his drumming, which they turned down for a stellar mid-song guitar solo and then cranked back up to finish an already strong set with an intense melding of everything all at once. This was met with an equally intense response from the crowd and these lads looked genuinely appreciative of the outpouring of appreciation.

$10 seemed like a steal for an Akron/Family-Day eve spectacle and many others agreed with me as the place was packed out (likely sold out) and heating up by the time the beloved band took to the sweaty stage. Indicating that they were going to play some slower older songs, and hoping that was okay with us the three stood with their guitars and did just that. It was good but I was anxious for them to turn the volume up, forgetting the old notion of being careful what you wish for. Perhaps 15 minutes later they took advantage of the eagerness of the crowd and began interaction through an 'internal dance' followed by a swaying, humming dance too and fed off of this for the first song featuring percussion. Before we knew it the drummer was working a light-induced effect box of some sort (a theremin?) with the flashlight in his mouth, then the floodlights on the stage. The others worked their tables of pedals too, as well as effect mics jammed in their mouths, producing a large sound. The drummer and then the bass player from Delicate Steve took turns in succession joining the band on stage to add another layer to the dense mix. Upon their departure the band brought things back to only vocals again only to build things back up. Admittedly at times when all rhythm was lost, the percussion had stopped, and there was only a wobbling screech coming from the awfully loud speakers steps away it did become a little wearisome. However for the final song they brought the drums back in, picked up the guitars again for a semblance of a 'conventional' song, complete with lyrics.

Upon exit the crowd began their own improvised chanting, clapping, stomping and cheering, all in time and eventually Akron/Family returned and simply joined in, with little to differentiate the encore cheer from the encore itself. That is until they took over for another ear-drum numbing, face-melting, wall of sound experience. As with the main set the closing number saw them pick up their instruments again (rather than poke and prod and wobble buttons and dials) to close out. It had neared two hours of full-on music stimulus - sometimes to the point of excess but always with the potential for greatness and many times hitting that mark. A Family/Day event well worth the cover charge!

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