Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre is one of the more elegant, small venues I’ve attended in the past couple of years. Unfortunately, it isn’t an ideal venue for seeing Akron/Family. Considering the audience only filled about one-tenth of the space, the band did its best to get people involved. But quite frankly, the only people that seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the show were those standing against the stage.
This isn’t to say the Akron/Family were playing a necessarily bad set, but it’s common knowledge that you can only be as good as the audience’s participation. The evening began with a below-mediocre set from Raleigh’s Megafaun, a melodic three-piece that descended into useless noise near the end of every track, which came off as awkward and humdrum. Solo-experimental-laptop artist Greg Davis followed with an ambient Gregorian chant-like set of intense melodies and nature samples that provided a giant sense of relief from the earlier near-disaster of Megafaun.
By the time Akron/Family came on, the clock was nearing midnight and the crowd seemed antsy, if not downright exhausted from the late-start and the two opening acts. The band sounded phenomenal, but this was a case of not knowing how to appeal to your audience on a specific night. It’s understandable to want to play all new tracks, but it didn’t seem to be the right move for the evening. This crowd looked around a bit confused during tracks off of Love is Simple, waiting for old favorites, catching mutters for “Running, Returning” and “Italy.” Ultimately, they played less than a handful of songs from previous records.
I’ll take it easy on Akron/Family though. I believe they are one of the best working bands in America today, and deserve more than one chance – because we all have our off nights. I’m almost positive they could be a much better band in a much different atmosphere that wasn’t a near empty theatre.