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Protomartyr live at the Echo: Review

Photo taken by Ethan Goodman - Monsters & Critics 2016 ©
Protomartyr at the Echo in LA. Photo  by Ethan Goodman – Monsters & Critics 2016 ©

Thursday night at the Echo in LA and the crowd is buzzing, lined up and ready for the one-two punch of Seattle label Hardly Art’s Chastity Belt and Protomartyr.

Shortly after homegrown opener Shark Toys’ loud, fast set, Chastity Belt take the stage and immediately drop into woozy, washed out grooves that send the audience swaying.

Singer/Guitarist Julia Shapiro proudly sports a hat that simply reads “BITCH,” casually saying “This song’s about being a slut” before they drop into a mesmerizing mix of simple, driving beats and clean chords drenched in reverb.

The casual, comedic bits of feminism and social politics are fun and casual without ever becoming preachy.

Bassist Annie Truscott keeps the songs bouncing while lead guitarist Lydia Lund adds a layer of intricate plucks that provide the perfect foil to Shapiro’s vocal.

The set is a slow burn sprinkled with new songs and fan favorites, building from slow, hypnotic tunes, to the fever pitch of set–closer “Joke” in which the band take an extended jam in which the two guitarists fluidly weave gentle melodies together, keeping the audience transfixed.

The casual, comedic bits of feminism and social politics are fun and casual without ever becoming preachy. Bassist Annie Truscott keeps the songs bouncing while lead guitarist Lydia Lund adds a layer of intricate plucks that provide the perfect foil to Shapiro’s vocal.

The set is a slow burn sprinkled with new songs and fan favorites, building from slow, hypnotic tunes, to the fever pitch of set–closer “Joke” in which the band take an extended jam in which the two guitarists fluidly weave gentle melodies together, keeping the audience transfixed.

Conversely, Protomartyr take the stage and immediately break into the high-energy “Cowards Starve,” immediately sending the front half of the club into a flailing, chanting mosh pit.

The four-piece were incredibly tight and energetic, spitting out song after song with barely a word in between, allowing them to play an impressive, 19 song set.

The set itself was varied, consisting of old fan favorites like “Feral Cats” and “How He Lived After He Died” along with dynamic renditions of last year’s The Agent Intellect. “I Forgive You,” “Dope Cloud,” “The Hermit” “Uncle Mother’s,” the rolling epic of “Ellen” and sing-along “The Devil In His Youth” were all passionately present, only to be topped by the mind-blowing encore of “Jumbo’s”.

At first, frontman Joe Casey seemed uncomfortable, taken aback by the mosh pit, but after a few songs and a few sips from a Budweiser seemed to loosen up, pushed along by the energy of the band behind him and the audience in front.

After snapping some pictures, I got sucked into the whirlpool of sweat, arms and legs during “Why Does It Shake,” chanting along and nearly breaking my thumb on someones shoulder.

The musicians were able to make quite a racket given their minimal setup, with Greg Ahee’s guitar going from screeching fuzz bursts to gentle strums lost in huge reverbs.

While Ahee’s skills were impressive, that doesn’t take away from the rhythm section, who locked into deep post-punk grooves, making the perfect bed for Casey’s witty, rhythmic and depressing lyrics.

All in all, both bands put on impressive sets and are well worth checking out. Thankfully, Protomartyr will be playing the US and Canada through August, and I’m excited to see where they both go musically.


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