Protomartyr @ Blå

Protomartyr combines energetic musicians with a serene and deep-voiced lead singer.  

Photo: Richard Ashton

The American band Protomartyr likely got some new fans when they guested Blå on Friday the 27th of April. The band was formed in Detroit in 2008, and features Joe Casey on vocals, Greg Ahee on guitar, Scott Davidson on bass, and Alex Leonard on drums. This is the first time I’ve seen them live, and I must admit I discover this band a little late in their career (I was actually introduced to it by Joe Robertson, our new collaborator at Disharmoni. Welcome Joe!).

An experienced rock band, already on their fourth album “Relatives in Descent”, brought a unique performance style to Oslo. It combined energetic musicians with a serene and deep-voiced lead singer. Instruments and vocals complemented each other well, delivering an exciting yet thoughtful punk rock act.

Powerful presence

An exciting yet thoughtful punk rock act.

Before the four Detroiters entered the stage, Tyvek, the opening band and fellow Detroit band (bassist Kevin Boyer is a former member of Protomartyr) started with a fun, crisp punk rock act. I was happy to catch them.

As their act finished, you could immediately feel the powerful presence of Protomartyr. Beer in hand, lead singer Casey entered the stage. Composed, serious and well suited, he started off with My Children with calls, or more like howls, to the public, animating the room.

The well-thought out sequence of songs clearly reveals a well-balanced band, with many of the songs giving them all opportunity to shine from time to time. Like the fun bass rhythm during Corpses in Regalia, and the guitar intro on Devil in his youth. Special mention to the continuous mesmerizing and mathematical repetition of the drums.

Enigmatic and uneasy

It is Casey’s voracious and deep voice that really completes the act.

However, it is Casey’s voracious and deep voice that really completes the act. Talking (in fact more like giving a speech), singing or shouting at top of his lungs, you can almost feel the nonconformity almost as an anger in his tone. The uneasiness reflected in the enigmatic lyrics. Together it creates an atmosphere of reflection and completion in the crowd, a far cry from the classical pushing and jumping during the punk acts. Despite the intimacy of the venue, the audience is almost left to itself, which only adds to the enigmatic performance.

Casey continues drinking his beer, barely moving on stage. Contemplating the nothingness and waiting for the right queue to resume singing. The audience at an almost tight packed Blå seem pleased and happy. After eighteen songs, covering all of their four records, I am left convinced there is something special about this band. Hoping that their recent signed contract to Domino Records leads them to more albums, more concerts and tours. They are currently on a tour around Europe and U.S., I am certain Protomartyr will be able to keep attracting new fans. They can count me as one of them.

Protomartyr @ Blå: 8 / 10

Protomartyr on Facebook

Set list:

My Children, I Stare at Floors, Don’t Go To Anacita, Corpses In Regalia, Wait, Windsor Hum, Up the Tower, Male Plague, What the Wall Said, The Devil in His Youth, Trust Me Billy, Principalities, A Private Understanding, Here Is The Thing, Come & See, Half Sister, -Encore: Why Does It Shake?, Scum, Rise!



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