Friday, March 02, 2018

Concert Review: Protomartyr at Zanzabar

Joe Casey was in a wistful mood at Zanzabar on Thursday.  The front man of Protomartyr recalled that “we were paid in quarters to play pinball” the first time his Detroit band appeared at the Louisville arcade, beer hall and music venue.  Protomartyr’s riveting performance last night merited far more than chump change.

Several college professor-types and old-school crust-punks mixed with the usual indie-rock scenesters in the audience of about 125.  The cover charge was $15.  Casey toted three cans of PBR to the stage.  The beer presumably helped him sustain his strident bark.  He’s often compared to the late Mark E. Smith of the Fall, but last night Casey resembled an agitator giving a rousing speech at a union rally.

The pontificating made me realize that Protomartyr’s post-punk attack is almost incidental.  Casey would be no less effective working in a dub-reggae format or with an avant-garde jazz ensemble.  That’s not to suggest that guitarist Greg Ahee, bassist Scott Davidson and drummer Alex Leonard aren’t satisfactory rock musicians.  They’re excellent.  Even so, it’s telling that Casey is the only member of Protomartyr armed with a microphone.

Deflecting applause at the start of the encore, Casey suggested “we’re not that good.”  On a night filled with clever feints and willful deceptions, the statement was the only outright lie.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

No comments: