protomartyr_vice_670– FALLOW CAFE, MANCHESTER –

Despite being scheduled for the Ruby Lounge, tonight’s festivities instead take place at Fallow Cafe. The stage at Fallow Cafe is tiny, last time I was here even the two piece bands on the bill looked a bit cramped. The people of Fallow Cafe have tonight extended their stage slightly, but it still looks awfully small.

First up to try and cram themselves in are Cheshire trio Déjà Vega. They just about manage to fit into the space and storm through a set of eight songs. It’s loud, and before the second song is even over the drums take enough of a beating that they need emergency repairs. My favourite song of their set is ‘Bad Boy’, largely due to it’s simple, but effective, slide guitar riff.

The next band to hit the stage are Autobahn. The five members of the band are one too many for the stage. Frontman Craig Johnson instead elects to stand in amongst the crowd as the band build a wall of noise behind him. The PA system in the venue struggles to keep up, leaving the vocals almost inaudible, despite being enthusiastically performed. The set is well received nonetheless, with the crowd slowly increasing in size throughout, and the anticipation building for this evening’s headliners.

Tonight is only Protomartyr’s second gig in the UK, with the first being last night in London. Despite that, there is already a buzz building around the band. Their performance at South By Southwest in Austin earlier in the year was a noticeable catalyst to the attention.

With four members, they start with all members on the stage, but frontman Joe Casey does occasionally step down into the crowd. The set opens with ‘Maidenhead’, though not long into the song, the sound stops and Casey remarks “the drummer just died”. Luckily it wasn’t quite that bad and after resetting himself, drummer Alex Leonard leads the charge of ‘Maidenhead’ once again.

Second track of the set is ‘Ain’t So Simple’, making the opening two songs the same as the opening two songs of recent album Under Color of Official Right. It’s the band’s second album and has been attracting very favourable reviews. Tonight’s set is mostly made up of tracks taken from that album, but that’s no bad thing, since it is an excellent album.

The performance continues without any breaks for talking, “this one’s short” Casey says to introduce ‘Pagans’, but that’s about the closest we come. The trio of songs to close the set, ‘Feral Cats’, ‘Come & See’ and ‘I’ll Take That Applause’, get the crowd most excited. There is even a two-man moshpit during ‘Come & See’, if it still counts as a moshpit with only two participants.

Following ‘I’ll Take That Applause’, bassist Scott Davidson rushes straight to the bar to try and get four beers for the band. Before he manages that, he’s ushered back to stage to play out the encore song ‘Jumbo’s’. Another song taken from the latest album. The rest of the band play the introduction while Casey stands and watches from the crowd. He saunters back on to the stage with perfect timing to sing the vocals.

It was a very enjoyable, and very loud evening. Despite taking a while to fill up, there were plenty of people in the venue before Protomartyr took to the stage. All three bands also hung around drinking beer and chatting to punters after their performances. A symptom of the intimate venue perhaps, but it was nice to be a part of that atmosphere and everyone, punters and performers alike, had a good time together.

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Adam Smith

There is nothing I'd rather be doing with my evenings than watching excellently crafted live music. In fact, there isn't much I'd rather be doing than watching half-decent live music. Having too often seen excellent bands fail to garner the attention I believe they deserve, I'm here to spread the good word of the under-appreciated musical performer. I encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same.