Profane/Sacred
Canadian Country

Home/Away

DSC00209

It's funny how sometimes you need to travel 3,000 miles to experience something that's been hiding out in your own backyard for years. Last night, experimental folk trio Akron/Family - long-time denizens of the Williamsburg underground - headlined Portland's Bagdad Theater (sic): a beautifully restored movie palace in the arty Hawthorne section of town that now hosts occasional concerts and other events.With capacity somewhere around 3,000, it was a far cry from spots like Death By Audio, but Akron/Family must be getting used to playing these sort of massive spaces: they were at Bumbershoot on Monday, and APW earlier this summer. 

Their sound is trippy and psychedelic, quiet and orchestral: a throwback to the classic rock of the late 60's (driven home by Seth Olinsky's Jimi-style blues guitar.) As if to drive the point home, they all wore dashikis; a homemade American flag hung above the stage, the blue field filled with a tie-dyed pattern. Indian blankets hung over all the monitors; on one was Walt Whitman's portrait. They sung of following your dreams, of living freely. Clearly, they seek to resurrect the more idealistic America of our parents: a mission that would seem to play perfectly in a place like Portland, which still embodies the that open vibe nurtured in places like San Francisco, about nine hours south.

"We love this town," drummer Dana Janssen said at one point from the stage. "So much so that I might move here." 

But, it wasn't all flowers and rainbows. Towards the end of their 90 minute set, bassist Miles Seaton unleashed a primal scream into a pair of mics that was both tterrifying and exhilarating, making everyone stop dead in their tracks. A potent reminder of the power of a single human, unleashed. 

After leaving everything they had out on stage, the band asked the audience to clap and sing along with the encore, which felt less like a burden than a benediction. The words speak for themselves:

"I've traveled all around this country past 28 years

I've traveled all around this country past 28 years

I've traveled all around this world past 28 years

And I've found out where I want to live.

I wanna live in Woody Guthrie's America

I wanna live in Woody Guthrie's America

I wanna live in Woody Guthrie's America

That is where I'll lay my head and call it Home." 

Comments