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Akron/Family & Hamid Drake - June 8, Sala Rossa

Posted by Robyn / June 9, 2007

I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point I got the hippie out of me.

Oh but sure, now I call those hippie tendencies by different names: "yoga," "yogurt," "yo... g..." uh.. i don't know, i think I've exhausted all the "yog" words. And that "joke." But I would never unfairly judge or stereotype the so-called "hippie" - I mean, I grew up on the west coast, and from a very young age I went to peace marches across the Burrard Street bridge and I put feathered roach clips in my hair thinking they were barrettes. I know where all the planets are in my horoscope, I own incense, I even have long hair these days, and apparently play music that suits the ears of the more w33ded among us. I tune in to the universe. But have I ever been inclined to go anywhere near a Phish show? Do devil sticks and hacky sacks annoy me even from a distance? Do I avoid Mt Royal on Sunday afternoons? These are all sentiments I did not choose; they just are.

But things change, sometimes. As when I chose to go to yesterday's show at Sala Rossa (part of the month-long Suoni per il popolo festival), knowing Hamid Drake was great and having very basic Akron/Family knowledge that found me intrigued and hopeful. I was certainly not thinking about hippie sensibilities or anything.

When Hamid Drake walked on stage to begin a solo hand-drum set, I wished I'd been able to see his Thursday night show - he was friendly, inspired and real. And he got us all to happily sing and dance/sway and clap (in time!), softly, loudly, and actually in unison - people were all smiles. I LOVED IT and it truly made my day/night.

After that happiness, Akron/Family came on - four regular dudes, I mean, bros, who started out with an accapella song about love. Love is good, I am into love. They were pretty adorable and well-aware that they were there to put on a show, to entertain - and they were straight-up happy about it. They love this town: "it's like a second home to us" - aw :) The show above all felt welcoming and inclusive and fun - continuing Hamid Drake's instigation of lots of singing along, clapping, jumping up and down, all of which I participated fully in. Until suddenly I could not participate at all.

The show started off fairly tight, with catchy and more intense guitar riffs and drums than I had expected. Rock show! Somewhere between classic 70s rock and classic funk jams, with country-like folk and some pop, possibly indie-like, thrown in. After about 20 minutes, Hamid Drake came in on a second drum kit and sent things into a bit of an awesome frenzy. There was more loud singing along and even some wailing, though still jangly, guitar. But then those things got a bit loose. It wasn't the compelling (to me, obv) tear-the-top-of-your-head-clean-off rock-psych frenzy of, say, Comets on Fire, or the freak-out rock-noise of Sunburned Hand of the Man, but a frenzy maybe more akin to friendly bonfires and, oh, say, bongo drum circles.

I think what happened was that I hit the saturation point, the point where the vestigial hippie container in my soul could hold no more. Having fun, having fun, having fun, not really having fun. Similar to that David Cross comedy bit about extreme drunkness - one minute you're jovial and full of ideas and loving everything, the next you're "okay, gotta go, bye" and outta there. I think it was the band's pursuasion of the audience to "undulate." I kind of wanted to! And then I could not! Container full! Begin evacuation procedures!

Sadly, I deployed too late to see the awesome Mouthus across the street at Casa - catching the last 2 minutes, of what was apparently a short (but intense) set anyway, from the door. Which caused my curiousity to take hold and transport me back across the street and into the belly of the folk-rock jam-band beast once more.

At this point there were about 15 people on stage and the audience was bouncing up and down, singing kind of randomly along to a beat and strum and lyrics I could not quite find. It appeared that about half the people previously there had hit the same point as me at roughly the same time, but those who remained were INTO IT. That alone was a joy to see! But it is also possible that some shirts and shoes had been taken off.

So where was my own heart for it? Two sizes too small? In search of distortion and feedback? Probably. I heard the rhythmic stomping for an encore from outside, comfortable in my decision to be there. We can't help what we are, but hell, it's better to be it than deny it, and it is always better to have a damn good time and keep on keepin' on.

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