Disaster struck 10 minutes into Akron/Family’s headlining set Friday night (okay, technically Saturday morning) at Club Aruba, when bassist Miles Seaton lost power to his electric bass. Sadly, it happened just as the East Coast trio seemed to kick into gear with a long tribal jam that drew the crowd into the action. Worse yet, as, at one point, seven individuals crowded near Seaton’s bass amp (on loan for the night from openers Leopold and His Fiction), it soon became apparent conventional solutions would not fix the problem.
Though the technical snafu slowed momentum—and probably cost Akron a portion of its crowd—watching the musicians work through the problem at close range proved to be a fascinating lesson in ingenuity. Ultimately, the house sound man suggested Seaton run his bass directly through the PA system, which he did. The bassist later called that an Akron/Family first.
The temporary chaos seemed to establish a special connection between band and audience, and those who stuck around to hear the music continue after the unplanned intermission got what they came for, a strange and wonderful concoction of rustic folk and noisy (occasionally electronic) experimentation—presented with an instrumental mastery that would make many a jam-band musician drool. Longer numbers like “Ed Is a Portal” and “Everyone Is Guilty” made the threesome’s case as a worthy bearer of Frank Zappa’s brand of dense improvisation, while hushed closer “Last Year” ended the set proper with a moving sentiment: “Last year was a hard year for such a long time/This year is gonna be ours.”
Though the club attempted to end the show right there, flipping on its house music, Akron/Family seemed determined to reward the faithful few who remained with an encore, waiting for the room to go silent before producing a final acoustic number, around 3:30 a.m.