Obsessive record collectors, potentially-autistic sonic geeks, students of the craft, this one's for you. It was 1:30 in the morning and we still had a half hour to go. Akron/Family were well into its second hour of a night that started as long-hair harmony and got weird from there. At one point toward the end of a song that lasted half an hour, guitarist Seth Olinsky was making nails-on-a-chalkboard sounds with feedback from his microphone.
The crowd was divided at this point; the forty or so packed around the stage were at their most awed and attentive; those in the back that had not already gone home were literally falling asleep. There was a kid sitting at a table trying to be covert about smoking his bowl. (Why bother? I bet if you looked close enough at the walls in this place, you'd find a layer of sticky pot resin.)
Saturday looked like the highlight of Akron/Family's three-night residency at Quixote's with Bad Weather California because of the other supporting acts. Candy Claws played the early set for a sparse crowd made up of their friends, the other bands, a few curious fans and at least one middle-aged couple who decided early on they were in over their heads and started pounding shots to compensate.
Candy Claws has gone from a seated quiet three-piece to an eight piece with seven statuesque performers and one tambourine player with the pep of eight -- she dedicated "Lantern Fish" to her black lab Sadie, if that gives you any idea.
The general stillness of the band befits the music. Candy Claws is so much a headphone band that its two front members actually wear headphones on stage. It's important they do this because there is a delicate construction going on in each song, and any imbalance might break the spell.
The band played more new stuff than old. The sophomore effort, Hidden Lands, is out July 20 on Twosyllable Records. It will see relatively massive distribution, and from the sounds of it, that is a fortunate thing for music fans across the country/world. As you might expect with nearly tripling the size of the band, these new songs sound larger and more open than the old stuff. If the last album was the soundtrack of an underwater dream sequence, this one is the soundtrack of the dream where you're flying.
Widowers played second. Of his three bands, this is where Mike Marchant gets his angriest (sample lyric: "People say that I am not afraid of you/and I'm not" and also where he gets his most meta (sample banter: "everyone [guitar adjustment I don't know how to do] together!"). We'll do some reduction and call Widowers a band of those two basic personalities -- kick-ass guitar rock and psychedelic pedal driven noodling.
Sometimes the two meet (as in the unreleased final song of the set containing the above lyric), and it's the sort of awesome where you look at the person you're with just to make sure she's smiling like an idiot too (she is). Those moments of instant gratification are sort of rare with Widower's. More common is the sort of brilliant rock band craftsmanship best enjoyed in headphones (again). In short, I'm guessing Mike Marchant's favorite Beatle is George Harrison.
Bad Weather California got all three nights to support the Akron/Family freakstravaganza. The two bands have a relationship outside this -- Akron/Family is producing the outfit's next album. The way that was related to this weekend's festivities was unclear. Was this a trial run for Bad Weather, so Akron/Family could see what they're all about up close?
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Bad Weather California is all about crowd participation. If you can make it through one of their sets without dancing/ singing along/doing the call and response bits, you are a stronger man than most. It all starts with Chris Adolf's infectious energy up front and Logon Corcoran's incredible work on the drums.
Akron/Family took this residency presumably because Quixote's is the sort of place where you can do whatever the hell you want musically, and you can play right up until 2 a.m. As noted, they did both. They filled the time with new material and material that will probably never see the light of day. This is a band that's very difficult to pinpoint because they can seemingly do it all, from woodsy folk to drone-y knob fiddling, from guitar freakouts to art-house jam sessions and rock monster epics. They did a little bit of everything on Saturday.
Bad Weatehr came back out for the half-hour, two or three song encore (depending on how you draw those sorts of lines). It was... jammy.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I respect Akron/Family always and enjoy a fair amount of the music. The three local openers are all solid gold. Random Detail: This was my first trip to Quixote's. That place is hippy heaven, complete with hula-hoopers I assume just pop out of bottles behind the bar like genies every night at 11. By The Way: You can find a cover of Bad Weather California's "Let's Get High" on Widower's myspace.