Protomartyr / Strange Wilds / The  Gotob - Live in Brooklyn (Cover Artwork)

Protomartyr / Strange Wilds / The Gotob

Live in Brooklyn (2015)

live show

The annual CMJ Music Marathon (a week long run of cheap concerts taking place in various NYC venues) is reliable for enabling some interesting concerts with many great acts on the same bill to take place. The main issue I have with these concerts are the truncated set times. 6 or more bands in one night is cool, sure, but 20 to 30 minute sets can leave something to be desired. With the exception of headliners Protomartyr, the other acts on this Sub Pop/Hardly Art Records showcase had just enough time to make a solid impression before leaving the stage to make room for the next act. But, I digress, this 6 act lineup at the Knitting Factory made for a tempting way of spending an aimless Thursday night.

Unfortunately, sometimes we are placed at the mercy of the pizza makers. The pizza maker I had chosen this night had decided to slowly and lethargically prepare the slices I had ordered. So, after quickly stuffing my face with cheesy grease triangles, I headed to the venue and discovered that I had missed a vast majority of opener Mass Gothic's set. The recent Sub Pop signee played a lightly danceable form of indie pop (at least as far as I could tell from what little I saw). The following act, S, performed their form of billowy and emotional indie rock to an appreciative audience. The set was well curated, with songs that were eclectic enough to sustain interest, but similar enough to sustain the woozy haze the band felt comfortable in.

Things took an odd turn when comedian (and voice actor behind Gene on Bob's Burgers) Eugene Mirman came out with an employee at Sub Pop. They performed a short sketch that involved H. Jon Benjamin (Archer, Bob's Burgers, the can of Pozinsky's Quality Mixed Vegetables from Wet Hot American Summer) getting pranked and listening to phone calls involving child neglect, fiscal trouble and an odd extramarital affair. It was a fitfully funny bit that seemed (and probably was) thrown together at the last minute. It was nothing revolutionary, but it was a solid way to waste time in between bands.

The Gotobeds are beginning to make good on their Post Punk nerd inside joke of a band name. The music on last year's vastly underrated Poor People Are Revolting consisted of burly punk rock dipped in messy angularity borrowed from The Fall. During their endearingly sloppy set, the band performed several new tracks set for release on their Sub Pop debut next year. The new stuff definitely leaned more towards Mission of Burma and Wire than The Fall. More importantly, they were damn catchy and infectious. Definitely keep an ear to the ground for that new album.

Strange Wilds, who released an excellent collection of grunge influenced noise rock called Subjective Concepts earlier this year, continued the night with a strong and aggressive set. The three piece never let their energy falter over the course of their brief, but burly set. As far as noisy post hardcore is concerned, Strange Wilds lean a little closer to the brawny violence of the Amphetamine Reptile roster than the brainy surge of mid-90's Touch & Go. They left the stage with the audience feeling as if their ears had been caked with mud.

Protomartyr's new album The Agent Intellect, is full of heady mumblings on death, what our minds are made out of, why our memories deteriorate, children locked in cars, the unearthly stares of Detroit lawyers, shady Pope visits, violence, scummy drunks, drug deals and more. After hearing this (unbelievably excellent) album, it would be easy to assume that the band's set would be broody and downcast. Anyone who has seen them before knows that this is never the case, as they have a propulsive live energy which even extends to Joe Casey's usually reserved and smirking vocal delivery.

Protomartyr came armed with a tightly curated setlist focused on their two most recent albums, though we did get a rarity ("French Poet") and a song off of All Passion, No Technique (we didn't get usual set closer "Jumbo's," but instead the equally great "Three Swallows"). The band opened with the moody "Maidenhead" off of Under Color of Official Right before launching into "Coward's Starve" and the ecstatically delivered "I Forgive You." The band maintained their usual rhythmically flourished performance through set highlights "Uncle Mother's" (which was just as haunting live as it is on record) and "Why Does it Shake?" Even slower songs like "Clandestine Time" had a nervous, skittering energy to it; like a feeling that it's all going to implode at any moment. Of course, once their set ended, I wanted more of their rumbling drums, floating bass lines, shattered guitar riffs and acerbic lyrical delivery. The upside of this whole CMJ business is that most of these bands play several shows throughout the week. So, I wisely bought tickets to see Protomartyr twice more over the weekend.