Protomartyr

Protomartyr

The Gotobeds, Big Quiet

Fri, September 15, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$13.00 - $15.00

Protomartyr
Protomartyr
I asked Joe Casey once why he chose to start his first band with a group of guys roughly ten years his junior. His answer was simple: He needed them, needed this, needed Protomartyr. He didn’t want to end up singing classic rock covers in a carport or dive bar one night a week. At 35, with no musical background and crippling stage fright, he needed friends who were young and hearty enough to want to write and record and practice and tour and be heard as badly as he did then. He’d just lost his father to an unexpected heart attack, and his heartbroken mother to the beginnings of Alzheimer’s shortly thereafter. He’d come to understand, all too intimately, how brutal and finite a life can be. Consider then the urgency with which he joined his bandmates—guitarist Greg Ahee, drummer Alex Leonard, and bassist Scott Davidson, fellow alums of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy—for the first time, in a basement full of unsuspecting onlookers. Consider the urgency with which they’ve approached everything since—three albums in three years, each more extraordinary and rewarding than the last. This music is inherently, unassumingly high stakes. I can think of no other band that moves me like they do.

This October marks the release of The Agent Intellect, their third and finest work to date. Named after an ancient philosophical questioning of how the mind operates in relation to the self, it’s an elegant and often devastating display of all that makes Protomartyr so vital and singularly visceral an outfit. Over the course of several months, Ahee waded through more than a hundred song fragments until he reached the bottomless melodies of “I Forgive You” and “Clandestine Time”, the inky depths of “Pontiac ’87” and titanic churn of “Why Does It Shake?” Lyrically, Casey is at his most confident and haunting. He humanizes evil on “The Devil in His Youth,” and, amid the charred pop of “Dope Cloud,” he reassures us that nothing—not God, not money—can or will prevent our minds from unraveling until we finally fade away. We are no one and nothing, he claims, without our thoughts. It’s a theme that echoes through the entirety of the record, but never as beautifully as it does on “Ellen.” Named after his mother and written from the perspective of his late father, it’s as romantic a song as you’re likely to hear this or any year, Casey promising to wait for her on the other side, with the memories she’s lost safely in hand.

I remember a story he told me in Detroit. A few months earlier, he’d been driving with his mother as a Protomartyr recording played on the stereo.

“Joe,” she asked him. “Who is this?”

“This is us, Mom,” he told her. “That’s me.”

“Oh!” she said, “This is very good.”


—David Bevan, July 2015
The Gotobeds
The Gotobeds
The Gotobeds

Hey, what’s this? Well that, my friend, is the newest album from The Gotobeds, entitled Blood // Sugar // Secs // Traffic. It’s their second full-length LP and their first for Sub Pop. Whoa, whoa, please slow down. I’m already completely lost. What you just said sounded like a stream of complete gibberish. Okay, I’ll lay it out for you and if you have any questions could you yell them at me? SOUNDS GOOD. The Gotobeds formed vaguely around 2009 in Pittsburgh and play a mutant strain of rock music that is often filed under punk, indie rock, or 99-cent discount bin. WAIT, THE GOTOBEDS? I HEARD THEY WERE KNUCKLEHEADS! Only if the knuckle is the part of the human body that contains the brains. Much like their previous releases on underground stalwart labels like Mind Cure and 12XU, this new album artfully slips intelligence and experimentation into a dying art form. It’s a harder feat than you’d think.

And sure, their live shows have often been compared to an “all night party where I feared for my life and the lives of everybody in the five block radius,” and their recorded output is akin “to the sonic manifestos of four men deprived of human love and raised on beer and Swell Maps, Mission of Burma, and old Fall records.” But what you get with The Gotobeds, delivered in spades on this album, is smart, noisy rock with just the right amount of stupid.

FAIR ENOUGH. SO HOW’D THIS GET MADE? It was recorded in bursts over several months of 2015 in their friend My War Matt’s basement in Pittsburgh. Unlike previously, the songs were conceived and recorded in blocks, which resulted in a more experimental feel. But this is no chin stroking curate’s egg. You like loud, double guitar leads? OF COURSE I DO. WHO DOESN’T? You’re in luck, because this album is carpeted with em, thanks to Eli Kasan and TFP. On a song like “’Bodies,’” it sounds as if you’ve walked into the biggest Guitar Center, but, you know, not terrible. Keeping it all locked down is the rhythm section of drummer, Cary Belback and bassist, Gavin Jensen. They allow the downright prettiness of a song like “Red Alphabet” to shine, and the lyrics on the anti-sexism thrash of “Crisis Time” to punch through.

THIS ALL SOUNDS WONDERFUL, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO CARE ABOUT? Eh, probably not. Except that Tim Midyett (Silkworm, Bottomless Pit, Mint Mile) and some bum (Protomartyr) are featured as guest vocalists on “Rope” and “Why’d You,” respectively. Also, I’d be remiss to not mention the fact that the band’s live show is a testament to the cathartic nature of speed, skill, repetition, noise, and red stage lights. If you don’t believe me, ask the bands they have played with, like Total Control, Tyvek, or The Replacements. Also, they rep Pittsburgh harder than anyone possibly could and come off better for it…which is saying something.

I THINK I UNDERSTAND. BLOOD // SUGAR // SECS // TRAFFIC IS THE GREATEST ALBUM SINCE THE LAST GOTOBEDS RECORD? Yes. Now please stop yelling.
Big Quiet
Big Quiet
Early R.E.M. meets Slant 6?
Venue Information:
Monty Hall
43 Montgomery St.
Jersey City, NJ, 07302
http://wfmu.org/montyhall