There's something kind of romantic about walking through an empty theater, up a few service steps, and into a small black box of a room behind the other side of a projection screen to watch a punk show. The Texas Theatre and promoters Spune spread the word about Friday's No Age and Protect Me show, but didn't explain exactly what "Behind The Screen" meant.
There was a speakeasy element to the whole thing, a feeling reinforced by overhearing No Age guitarist Randy Randall in conversation, admitting that he wasn't even sure of exactly where the stage would be set up until the last minute. It was almost as if Oak Cliff was under some kind of punk prohibition. The neighborhood does lack a proper venue for the genre.
Starting off the intimate floor show was another L.A. post-punk duo, Protect Me. Where No Age dwell in melody and form, Protect Me fragment and distort their sound with long knob-twisting breaks, shattering-glass sound effects and secondary percussion via drum machine. It was the darker, more abstract side of the spectrum. You could hear the influence of Martin Hannett. Their first Dallas show was well-received. They would fit well into slots at Denton DIY-friendly spots like Rubber Gloves or any of the plethora of house venues.
By the time No Age started, the space had filled up significantly. The crowd was mixed in age range, and energetic, but not wild, pogoing and bobbing along to every fuzzy guitar riff. Five amps stacked behind Randall and at least another three speakers beside Dean Spunt's drum kit made for just the kind of set you want from this band -- small, intimate and loud as hell.
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Their set was spanned their catalogue pretty comprehensively, with a focus on their latest effort, last month's An Object. In an extremely meta statement about their art, Randall and Spunt insisted on printing, packaging and shipping 10,000 copies of the Sub Pop-released album by hand themselves. New standouts live included "No Ground" and "C'mon Stimmung." Old favorites like "Teen Creeps," "Eraser" and "Fever Dreaming" were thrown in for good measure. The crowd went nuts for a cover of Black Flag's "Six Pack."
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No Age are one of the most relevant and frenetic touring punk bands of the last seven years. To see them in such a unique setting will certainly be a live show to remember for years to come. As they closed out the night, they implored the room's DIY sensibilities, urging of the crowd to continue supporting their local independent theater and thanking staff members of the Texas by name. Hopefully, they will return for another Behind The Screen performance, because they're the perfect band for it.
A note about the photography: Daniel Rodrigue shot the photos in this post with a Polaroid Spctra SE. The washed-out shots are on very expired film, and the lead photo was taken after No Age's set.