- Published on Friday, 26 February 2010 08:30
Review/Photos: Akron/Family with Warpaint at The Parish in Austin, TX; 2.24.2010
words by Andy Pareti please scroll down for photo galleries
photos by Randy Cremean
Half way through a long week of snow, rain, and general gloominess, Brooklyn’s Akron/Family brightened up a dark night on Sixth Street with a rambunctious show that featured hoots, chants, flags and a very big piñata.
Not to be shown up by their more well-known successors for the night, Los Angeles’ all-female rock outfit Warpaint stunned the crowd with a muscular set of hypnotic art rock grooves. From the first echoed vocal onward, Warpaint had the audience submerged in an aqueous bubble of Bitches Brew-sounding jazz grooves, gloomy psychedelia and direct, pounding rock riffs.
Deep beneath Warpaint’s sleek armor, one can see many musical components take shape, some more obvious than others. Press your ear to their towering monolith of sound and you may hear anything from Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd to Battles and My Brightest Diamond.
The two most notable elements of Warpaint’s musical style is their vocal harmonies, which can at any time collectively morph from a Breeders-esque sedated moan to a more pop-conscious chirp, and the dynamic drumming of Stella Mozgawa. Mozgawa is deeply fascinating to watch, possessing all the primitive bluntness of a Meg White while maintaining a technical fluidity and mechanical relentlessness seen in drummers like John Stanier (Helmet, Battles).
Of course, that was only half the show, and Akron/Family followed suit well. Very well. The trio has an incredible knack for sounding larger than they really are, and on Wednesday night, they turned the Parish’s small, tightly-packed room into a lo-fi, grass-beneath-your-toes hippy fest. That may sound like an awful time to some, but the trio – while they are bearded and quite peaceful – aren’t hung up on loopy jams. Akron/Family is shockingly unpredictable despite an image that may promise otherwise. Beneath the white tees, flannel and facial hair are three brains that house some strikingly virtuosic tendencies, both musically and compositionally.
Oh, and they love their on-stage gimmicks. Whether it’s passing out bubble wrap, adorning the bass drum in tinsel, bringing up an audience-member to play guitar, or smashing a huge, confetti-and-candy-filled piñata and singing “Happy Birthday”, it’s never a dull moment with these boys. The visual performance recalls a band like the Flaming Lips, and like the Lips, Akron/Family proves to be more than just a stylized vaudeville act. There’s the cheery trot of “River” and the sing-song “Phenomena”, which help to ground the band in folk roots, but then there are curveballs like the sprawling tribal chant of “Ed is a Portal”, which was stretched on Wednesday to astronomical proportions, elevating an already transcendent song into the realm of bug-eyed mind melting.
It was only fitting that Warpaint join Akron/Family on stage for one, big, happy hypno-jam complete with a massive rhythm section and some coaxing, meditative directions to the audience by the band. By the end, the mass of pulsating life was abuzz in collective love, and even the most consciously blasé hipster could have flashed a peace sign at any moment. Austin may not be known for its snow, but it sure is known for its sunshine. Sheltered from the black of a cold night, the Parish crowd was treated to a lot of it.
words by Andy Pareti
please scroll down for photo galleries