Akron/Family’s psych-rock thrives with improv & freak-folk weirdness

Akron-FamilyPhotos by Sam Heller ~ Written by Kevin Quandt

A banner night in the Bay Area featured a plethora of psychedelic rock acts playing throughout the region. While Tame Impala and Jonathan Wilson held court at the Fox in Oakland, an impressive double-bill of Avi Buffalo opening for Akron/Family was happening across the Bay at the Independent in San Francisco. Those not in Oakland or scared off by a blustery Wednesday night show were treated to two fine American rock acts, each bringing something unique to the table, er, I mean stage.

Avi Buffalo has been missing from the live stage for a couple of years after breaking out as prodigal teenage songwriter and performer, and he’s reemerged with some serious maturity and further guitar prowess. The three piece act, featuring longtime Avi side-gal Sheridan Riley on drums, curated a set heavy on new songs for a moderately filled room. Avi has a great knack for silky guitar effects and note-filled solos when not manning the vast majority of the vocal arrangements. No release date in sight has me thinking he’ll road test a new batch of songs before entering the studio. Catch him this summer with Portugal. The Man, as he is sure to be a name to look for, once again.

Next up would be the reigning, underground freak-folk kings to kick up the ‘weird’ in the room just a few more notches. From the opening, totally-improvised full band drum jam, you could clearly tell they’re flying by the seat of their pants, patiently waiting to see what comes, only to further expand off that thought. They also occasionally play songs, and on this tour many were featured off their latest LP, Sub Verses. The dynamic play between members is key to their longtime success in the arena of envelope-pushing, much like acts such as Menomena, and even Animal Collective. Still flying under the radar, this is a band you should surely see while in smaller clubs across the nation.