Some of the time Joe Casey is a doorman at a comedy club back home in Detroit. But tonight, here in Brisbane, he’s in a band.
Joe’s voice fly’s out of his body. As much as he’d be at pains to deny it, there’s something special inside of him. A tired cliché but true. It sits within a damaged vessel, but it’s too magnetic to be cast aside.
Casey thunders about the stage, a cloud of charisma. A mess. The set is dominated by material from Protomartyr’s Domino debut Relatives in Descent.
“To create, pass on, pass on”
Lyrics are dense, literate and topical. Musings on all facets of life, they’re exceptionally moving when followed word to word. As part of a greater musical alchemy live they’re only a portion of the equation. The band conveys an atmosphere, a mood. Their sound is collective anxiety. Confusion, grief, anger and a grim industrial deadness – post-punk.
Casey wilters a little, taking back seat to the rest of the group. Drummer and band work around him. Guitarist Greg Ahee, percussionist Alex Leonard and bassist Scott Davidson power on unforgiving, relentless. The crowd is getting primed.
Fuck you excitement.
The set whips up in aggression, Protomaytr gives leave to let loose.
‘A Private Understanding’ flickers with energy. Casey stares aimlessly above the bobbing sea of heads. ‘Here Is The Thing’ pummels after. Sonically strange, it paints the story of a protagonist which awakens in a grim world littered with unsettling feelings of strangeness.
Relatives’ final song smoulders, snaking the set to a crashing conclusion. “Truth is a colicking horse that serves no purpose,” Joe dismays. A crumpled dream, a sick and babbling prisoner, a half-sister unforgiving and never forgotten. Yet hope is out there, it’s trying to reach you. Wake up.
Things close with an uproar of applause.
Review by Riley Fitzgerald