My initial appreciation of Detroit post-punk rockers Protomartyr came upon an album download of Under Color of Official Right and seeing them at the small but hearty Bootleg Theater in Silverlake in 2014, where the musicianship on display was a thing of beauty and leader Joe Casey was drinking beer and wallowing in his precise rants about everyday life. Much was the same at the Moroccan Lounge Monday night, perhaps with an extra case of beer and a few more people, but with two new albums released since then and an even tighter edge and studio-like clarity, the band has sounded better, performed as ferociously, or felt as meaningful as this very moment in time in their existence.


Photos by David Fisch

The band has been touring the U.S. in support of their recently-released record, Relatives In Descent, another big step forward for the band as they move to Domino Records and sound even more crisp and refined. Nothing is lost in the translation, as it continues Joe Casey’s spiraling mania of past and present while sounding just as expressive musically, with the band sounding its tightest.

Their 70-minute set consisted of almost the entire album, including the rollicking singles “Don’t Go To Anacita,” “A Private Understanding,” and “My Children.” Even with performing some of Under Color‘s or The Agent Intellect‘s most captivating and louder tracks like “The Devil in His Youth” and “Scum, Rise,” it was impressive to hear just how close to studio-recording level quality the band sounded at the Moroccan Lounge, which is either a testament to how well they perform live and have figured out their best mix of instrumentation or the venue, which just opened this month, has pretty much nailed the acoustics.

Though a slightly larger space than the Bootleg Theater, the Moroccan Lounge had the same energy as any small punk club, filled with passionate moshers from front to back and practically headbanging right up in the face of Joe Casey, who actively eyed the crowd, beer in hand, ready to unleash his frustrations against the brooding melodies.

The band was also supported by the fantastic opener Lars Finberg, who’s work has been known in smaller circles for years and has ventured into touring solo with a band who conjure early Queens of the Stone Age and Ty Segall garage rock.

Protomartyr is again this year’s brewing and boiling-at-the-brim answer to post-punk’s recent successes, and while they’re an animal in a live setting, they have channelled that studio finesse to deliver what they’ve recorded and then some to the performance stage. They haven’t skimmped one bit on their exuberance, and that they continue to perform to the small crowds in the small venues with twice the beer is something to cherish.

Relatives In Descent is now available on Domino Records.

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