We Went There: Protomartyr at the Turf Club
At a time when the world seems to be falling apart at a dramatic clip, Protomartyr’s ominous sound and driving sound seem like a great way to soundtrack the chaos. The band showed they are as powerful as ever on their latest LP, Relatives in Descent, where they were hyper-focused on the ills of world. The record churned out a timely songs that build on the band’s previous work and captures the zeitgeist many of us find ourselves trapped inside. The band brought their latest material for a show this week at the Turf Club, and delivered a spirited hourlong set.
There are two main parts I (and probably most of their fans) love about Protomartyr: Joe Casey’s cagey lyrical output and the band’s muscular, driving post-punk. On record the two blend together in a chaotic harmony that makes them such an exciting band. Live the later of the qualities stood out more than the former, without totally losing the duel nature that makes them so good. Casey was as confounding live as he is on record, lucid one moment and mumble-screaming the next. His rumpled suit and uninterested demeanor only added to the scruffy, college professor drunk on PBR feeling he projects. His energy came through as the band played most of their new album with a few old favorites sprinkled in, keeping the good-sized crowd engaged on a Monday evening. Their wasn’t a ton of bells and whistles, just distilled post-punk that was lubricated by the three or four Budweiser tall boys at each band members feet. The group are a testament to the power that vocals, drums, guitar and bass (with one song of synth) can bring to a room, and highlighted why they have been a band with consistent buzz over the first half of this decade.
Opening the show were two bands with local connections. First was the reverb-drenched, shoegazy local trio Waveless, who as always played a strong and emotive set. They hit the stage at the early hour of 8pm, but still blasted the crowd with their minimalist power. The middle spot was filled with Failed Flowers, who like Protomartyr hail from Michigan and were joining the band for a couple of nights for a leg of the tour. Their cheery, smart power-pop was a good change of pace between the heavy wall of sound from Waveless and the taut fury of Protomartyr.