The protocol for a so-called post-rock show like this one almost demands that the crowd avoid any overt or spontaneous signs of enjoyment while the music is playing. Between bursts of song-ending applause, audience members should stand still, ineptly imitating mannequins in the window of a Salvation Army thrift shop, but nodding their heads occasionally in what looks like the act of chewing a particularly firm piece of gum. What all this is meant to suggest, of course, is enjoyment of a cerebral kind -- an appreciation for the music that goes beyond the crass hooting mocked in the movie Heavy Metal Parking Lot
. But behavior like this misses the point of a band like Trans Am: The worn-out forms of rock, especially those of the muscle-car-driving variety, are not only still fun, but awfully funny. It's a point the Maryland trio has proved on its last five albums, as well as on its latest effort, Double Exposure
, a split release with San Francisco's The Champs. Dubbed the TransChamps, the band finds snarling enjoyment in the act of raving up the cliché of guitar-dominated '80s rock bands such as Rush and Iron Maiden. Trans Am's music, however, doesn't get held up by this red light of the past; as with its Thrill Jockey labelmates Mouse on Mars and Tortoise, the group uses both outmoded and modern electronic elements to put together its soundscapes. The prog-rock and kraut-rock loftiness is there, and so is the precision playing. Thankfully, the pretension is completely absent.