Akron/Family / Absolutely Free Il Motore, Montreal QC, April 20
Published Apr 21, 2013Non-standard rockers and ex-DD/MM/YYYY Absolutely Free got the ball rolling without saying a word or giving the impression they were about to deploy enough artillery to threaten the background music spat out by the sound system. What initially looked like four random espresso aficionados knobbing on their instruments became increasingly engaging when drummer Moshe Rozenberg stepped behind the kit. You might catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but the creatures attracted to vinegar are more likely not to flee the scene when your shtick gets confrontational. Absolutely Free's opening "koshmiche" numbers (for lack of a better comparison, think of the repetitive drumming on Neu's "Hallogallo") culminated in a good 20 seconds of white noise, clearing off the path for another group that has not been driving its wagon in circles since its inception.
As a matter of fact, Akron/Family's weird, wide and wonderful sonic spectrum enables them to ruin a first date for someone who thought it'd be pleasant to take a prospect see a band that sounds like the Unicorns with a bit more crunch, after hearing "The River." Unhappy campers were more than welcome to leave during the first few bars with their ears plugged or towards the end of the set with their iPhones steaming, as they forsook their entry into the Akron's world and got back to where their favourite Grandlatterock band probably hashtag-killed-it. Staying far from the sound of softer numbers such as "Before and Again," the quartet kicked off the set with "No Room," the opening track on their upcoming Randall Dunn-produced album on Dead Oceans (featuring artwork by Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley).
The group fully embraced their louder side and their Swans/M. Gira connection was underlined during a new track entitled "Way Up," when multi-instrumentalist M. Geddes Gengras's drum pads crashed loud enough to confirm that the Brooklyn-based chaps had absorbed their former label mate's aesthetics. Unfortunately, the trio's tendency towards heavy textural details, amped-up on this tour by Gengras, hardly measured against the sound system's constant hums and hushes, as Seth Olinsky and Miles Seaton jokingly remarked, before delving into the rest a set that showcased most of their new album Sub Verses in its entirety.