Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

The Acorn & Akron/Family – The Luminaire, London 08/09/08

10 September 2008, 19:26 | Written by John Brainlove


The Luminaire in Kilburn was voted Timeout’s venue of the year last year for a reason. It’s a beautiful space for live music, draped in maroon cloth and flickering with flecks of mirrorballed light. At this venue, all eyes focus on the stage (or the considerately placed screens should the view be blocked), and there’s a refreshingly reverential respect for performance.

It’s the perfect location for The Acorn, who start off strong and never let up. They begin with an electrifying version of “The Flood pt 2″ before tumbling into the anthemic, joyous “Crooked Legs”. The group approach to syncopated rhythmic playing is powerful and well-executed, filling every space with clicks, strummed notes, picked strings, handclaps, snare touches and cymbal smashes to form a delicate matrix of sounds that carries each song forward. There’s a refreshing restraint and subtlety at play that shies away from an over zealous festival drum-circle pummeling.

The Acorn evoke a gentle kind of euphoria, touching on the cathartic power of The Arcade Fire, the wholesome melodic splendor of UK labelmates Fleet Foxes, and the energy and dynamism of ‘Feels’-era Animal Collective. It’s a mixture that completely wins over the sold-out crowd tonight, leaving the heaving room roaring for more at the end of their short support slot.

No such time constraints for Akron/Family, who play a sprawling 90 minute set. They’re a member down from last time I saw them (one of the beardies has left) and their wide ranging, often improvised performance struggles to define itself; but interminable blues-rock jams are never going to set the world alight no matter how well-intentioned. The same goes for sub-Battles math-rock passages, and goes doubly for anyone considering a cringeworthy beatboxing god-hop section, during which condescending proclamations like “hey guys, tomorrow’s another day, freak out, it’s okay!” make this reviewer want to run for the hills, and stay there.

Akron/Family are certainly reaching for the stars in trying to synthesize their talents in a wild, creative and challenging set, and those down the front were evidently loving it. But this music was doubtlessly much more fun to make than to listen to, and I ended up facepalming my way through the conclusion. There’s a great band in Akron/Family trying to get out, but we only caught the most fleeting glimpses of it here.

Photos 1,3 & 4 by Lucy Johnston. More here.
Photos 2, 5 & 6 by Rich Thane. More here.

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