Object Collection’s It's All True

This opera culled from Fugazi concert detritus was an endurance test for both audience and performers

Photo by Henrik Beck

Moving way beyond deep cuts, It's All True probed the archives of some 1,500 hours of D.C. punk band Fugazi's "live-concert detritus," or everything that happens during a live show except the songs, to stage an opera that, while certainly operatic, exploded any ordinary understanding of the word. In a Sunday night performance presented by Co-Lab Projects, Sean Ripple, and Vault Fine Arts Services, Brooklyn collective Object Collection did their part to close out this year's West Austin Studio Tour with a hefty bang.

The show is assembled in such a way that, while an intimate knowledge of the originating material likely aids in appreciation and situates you as decidedly more game for the treatment you will endure, hardcore Fugazi fan status is not necessary to partake. I won't say enjoy, because I did not, and you're not meant to.

At 100 minutes, the show was an endurance test for both audience and performer. And while some of the former tuckered out early (the couple in front of me spent a lot of time fidgeting and adjusting their earbuds before, finally, walking out about 30 minutes in), the performers never once tapered off. For nearly two hours, they kept the energy high and the show tight, because, for all the impulsive chaos depicted, the performance was tightly rigged. The quartet moved in and out of vocal synchronicity with expert timing, while still nailing a freneticism that fed the rambling rage. The archival flotsam was presented onstage in an anxious, occasionally approaching melodic, arrangement complete with filler sounds, "uhhh," in between screeds against violences ranging from audience assholes to Bush-era imperial wars. Throughout, composer Travis Just led the band at the back through a winding arrangement of "random feedback" and "aimless drum noodling."

The stage was set in an almost domestic waiting room minimalism – four mismatched conference chairs and as many differently shaded standing lamps got shuffled around as the vocal performers stalked the stage with various postures of dread. Catrin Lloyd-Bollard's herky-jerky rigidity was compounded by Avi Glickstein's giddy brooding, and Deborah Wallace's squirming unease was refracted in Daniel Allen Nelson's leering grin turned grimace and back.

With no narrative, the main throughline was the discomfort foisted upon the audience. At one particularly aggressive point, the quartet had the house lights brought up so that they shone, excessively bright, into the faces of the audience. The four of them sat in the chairs, lined up at the edge of the stage, facing the audience, sunglasses on, as they jeered at, ostensibly, a light crew. Imagine a frustrated litany of requests shouted to the booth from the stage at a live show, yells and mumbles about house lights, yellow lights, spotlights. The requests went on, with sneers from those seated onstage and squirming from those seated in the audience, blinded, until we were told with resignation that we would "just have to suffer through." Indeed.

It's All True

Stateside at the Paramount, 719 Congress
May 20

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