Akron/Family, Young Coyotes, Pee Pee @ the Oriental TheaterBy Billy Thieme | March 19th, 2009 | No Comments »
Everyone was a member of Akron/Family on Tuesday. Hold on. The ride is about to start. Photos by Brian Carney.
Ecstasy, anyone? Akron/Family is holding. Not the psychotropic drug, but after seeing them onstage March 17, I’m still experiencing flashbacks.
The trio headlined a St. Patrick’s Day lineup at The Oriental Theater, with Pee Pee, Young Coyotes, and Hawks of Paradise, in an exquisite example of the venue’s progress in solidifying its place in Denver, and its success landing more local and national talent.
Akron/Family is a trio of multi-instrumental alchemists who started in Brooklyn, N.Y., whose live show is a melange of freak-folk, ’60s proto-punk, deep trance and wild, noisy, metal-doused cacophony that forms and reforms itself in front of the audience continuously. They thunder through improvisational songs with roots in wildly divergent genres that still flow smoothly into, over and through each other, leading the audience down through a rabbit hole into another world.
The trio features Miles Seaton (bass, vocals), Seth Olinsky (guitar, vocals) and Dana Janssen (drums, vocals), though they all play many other instruments, and switched them throughout the show constantly. They play with music as an archetype, living it as their show surges, feeling every note, every beat.
Their set started with quiet, trance-like rhythm, and the crowd moved toward the stage like moths toward light. The sound built slowly and methodically, adding layer upon layer, until the band was pounding out bulldozers of loud melody and complex harmonies on top of infectious rhythms. I heard CCR ’60s pop, Butthole Surfers freakedelia and Smashing Pumpkins metal swirling in and out of Grateful Dead jams and Burning Man trances, and even the complexity and passion of Igor Stravinsky (imagine “The Rite of Spring”).
The aural cleansing I received recalled the experience of Swans onstage in the ’80s and ’90s, minus the abrasive and dissonant aggression. It also recalled the intensely intimate beauty of Angels of Light (which makes sense, as Akron/Family played with Swans frontman Michael Gira on several tours in 2005 – as Angels of Light).
Denver’s Young Coyotes and Pee Pee also appeared, and for the entire second half of Akron/Family’s show, members of Pee Pee were onstage, taking part in the orgy of improvisation. Pee Pee’s set was similar to Akron/Family’s in its improvisation, although literally childlike, more naive. But naive in an endearingly creative way, swaying at times from funk to R&B, and then into music from Sesame Street. Doo Crowder’s project seems to have evolved significantly, as well as adding members.
The Oriental stage is huge, almost daunting, and Pee Pee had no trouble filling it with 10 musicians. Their performance had no trouble filling the huge venue’s space, either.
Young Coyotes’ heavy, rhythmic music, with innovative guitar, vibraphone, and top-of-your-lungs vocals, continues to woo the Denver scene. With guitarist and lead vocalist Zach Tipton in front of Adam Halferty and Matt Wilcox’s shared trapset, their set was a fitting pallet cleanser between Pee Pee and Akron/Family, and undoubtably gained them some new fans.
Billy Thieme is a Denver-based writer, an old-school punk and a huge follower of Denver’s vibrant local music scene. Follow Billy’s giglist at Gigbot.
Brian Carney is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.