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In concert: No Age at Black Cat

no ageDistortion and feedback were focal points of No Age's Friday show at the Black Cat. (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

By Mark Jenkins

On its new album, "Everything in Between," No Age unveils a surprisingly orderly sound, with electronic effects and drummer Dean Spunt's vocals prominent (and well separated) in the mix. Friday night at the Black Cat, however, guitarist Randy Randall reasserted himself, immersing the hour-long set in distortion, feedback and complex overtones. The songs were harder to tell apart, but more exciting.

The Los Angeles art-punk duo hasn't abandoned loops, samples and synthetic din; from stage right, supplementary musician Facundo Bermudez provided a mini-LAX of jet-engine whooshes and industrial clatter. But the difference between album and show was obvious from the opening number, "Life Prowler."

Except for the stray word or phrase, Spunt's vocals were engulfed by Randall's waves of sound. His guitar stormed and crashed, but also offered melodic motifs and shimmering tone colors.

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Like essential precursor Mission of Burma, No Age balanced such textural depths with rhythmic immediacy. With its singer seated at a drum kit, the band lacked a dynamic on-stage focus. But whenever Spunt began a rousing beat or Randall commenced an elemental riff, an eruption of slam-dancing certified the duo's ability to make a visceral connection.

No Age was preceded by Holy F, whose mix of instrumental and electronic timbres was similar to the headliner's. But the Toronto quartet spurned lyrics (although not vocals) and songs in favor of more abstract compositions. At its tightest, the band recalled German groove bands of the '70s; at its flabbiest, British prog-rock groups of the same decade.

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By Click Track  | September 20, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  No Age  
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Next: In concert: Garotas Suecas at U Street Music Hall

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