By: Evan Stack
Tonight, a quiet, West Dallas neighborhood will go without the frenetic energy of a house packed to the brim with the art patrons of the DFW metroplex, without the harmonious sound of fifteen crisp Lone Stars being simultaneously popped open and a five-band lineup that culturally aligned a community.
Before, this was the home of The coOompound, a beloved Dallas DIY space.
The legacy garnered within the four walls of Evan Gordon’s home, shared with a few of his close friends, would provide enough stimulation for the scene to continue on at lightning-fast pace. The coOompound was many things. It was an undeniable haven of resources, a meeting of minds, a safe space, and the place in which Dallas would gain major recognition within the national DIY community.
For many, however, it was simply a symbol of acknowledgement. That others pursuing a similar creative outlet exist, as does the outlet.
This was the case for Evan Gordon, the man in the white suit behind all things coOompound. Gordon designed plans to throw a show at his house after the jam sessions his housemates held after their house parties matured into plans for legitimate shows. “Turns out 100 people showed up to the first [show],” says Gordon. “I didn’t necessarily plan to do it again, but once it happened, I said ‘oh - this is a thing that there a demand in this city for.'”
This overwhelming arrival of support – something Gordon hadn’t prepared for, but certainly wasn’t intimidated by – energized his efforts and brought an unmistakable passion for DIY culture right into the palm of his hand. One show’s crowd turned into every show’s crowd, and before they knew it, an entire community was flocking to the house on the weekends to catch the best in local music.
Gordon quickly adapted to fit his necessary role in the evolution of their music scene.
His devout intentions of simply “booking bands [he] liked” did not dissolve in the rush of the house’s growth, but his role materialized into a matured form – he was something of a competitive booking agent within the DFW area. He brought in high-demand artists, paid them a more than suitable wage, and was able to house them and feed them for their tenure at his house.
One show’s crowd turned into every show’s crowd, and before they knew it, an entire community was flocking to the house on the weekends to catch the best in local music.
One of his fondest memories arrived in February 2016, when Gordon successfully attracted the talents of Milwaukee-based rap-smith Milo. Gordon’s persistence was key, and after a while of maintaining constant contact with the rapper, the two agreed on a date. Milo came down from Wisconsin and brought one of the best shows The coOompound had ever seen.“I’ve met a lot of really cool people,” says Gordon, reflecting on his development as a show promoter and venue organizer.
Gordon’s reputation grew exponentially, and his house became one of the biggest DIY venues in Dallas.
A performer, Gordon has also grown more comfortable with his art-form and music. Being constantly surrounded by music and musicians has its perks – in addition to constantly riding underneath a large base of support, the local art scene has given back to Gordon, allowing him to also develop his craft in exchange for the usage of his house.
Gordon’s role as a performer has also diversified, accompanying the growth experienced by the house and the community surrounding it. Through his substantially increased involvement in a music scene as a mentor, a sage of creative advice, and underneath it all, a relevant composer and performer of original music, Gordon’s music was firing off in all cylinders. Evan blossomed into a unique and popular musician, all thanks to the development he experienced from the support provided by his surrounding musical community.
Gordon was admittedly very nervous about first performing. Whether or not nerves are a good thing does not negate the fact that they slide underneath your skin and turn your body into a convulsing system of uncontrolled energy. You can’t focus, can’t relax, and can’t channel that frantic energy into a settled, positive, enriching one, capable of really doing more overall good than bad.
The coOompound’s first show featured Evan’s first live set – ever. And better yet – he got paid at the end of the night.“On one hand, I can count the number of shows I’ve been paid at that I didn’t book,” Gordon recalls, laughing.
The coOompound rose in popularity, notoriety, and legitimacy. Whether or not this shift wound up helping or hurting the house’s trajectory is not certain.
According to Evan, the rise of The coOompound remained stringent upon the house’s size, and resulting influence. Their house had become a central cultural spot for the city of Dallas. Their shows continually garnered well past 100 people, and their fame brought them to an echelon adjacent to Milo. But they existed, functioned, and created their time’s history in the city in a house. In a neighborhood.
And that, ultimately, set the limits for The coOompound.
I was in the same hot pursuit as every other attendee of The coOompound a few months ago – a place to involve oneself in a thunderously loud musical culture, in any way whatsoever.
Growth is a complicated thing to handle and comprehend when it is as powerful of an entity as it was in the case of The coOompound. It is a natural human tendency to want to see something grow as big as it can. This is a process easier said than done, and much more tangible in theory than in practice. In the interview, I stole the words right out of Gordon’s mouth when I noted how their development perpetually fought the scrutiny of the suburban culture, and the aesthetic appeal of conventional silence.
However many noise complaints they may have received, the legacy of The coOompound carries on. It remains the bonding agent of a beautiful culture, and a source of power and motivation for Gordon’s personal and creative development.
You’d think that choosing to write a story on the legacy of a DIY venue would mean that I had a strong connection to said DIY venue. In reality, I heard about The coOompound just a few months ago. I was in the same hot pursuit as every other attendee of The coOompound a few months ago – a place to involve oneself in a thunderously loud musical culture, in any way whatsoever.
My friends and I just wanted a place to enjoy the music of our city together. We found that place, and it is only expanding on from here. Maybe not in the same space it initially existed in, but when it comes down to it, the place doesn’t truly matter as much as the people inside and around it.
Editor's note: This legacy piece is being published amid attempts by alt-right "safety squads" to infiltrate and shut down DIY venues nationwide, including in Texas. Here is a Facebook page you can look at for more information, if you feel so inclined.