Last Friday, February 12th, Detroit post-punk outfit Protomartyr performed at Philly’s Underground Arts in support of their critically acclaimed record The Agent Intellect, their second release via Hardly Art. It was a frosty evening, but the intensifying snowfall did little to deter a boisterous crowd from cramming into the dimly lit venue.
First on the evening’s bill was Taiwan Housing Project, a local Philly noise rock band that pays homage to ‘No Wave’ provocateurs before them such as Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. The band features both screeching saxophone bursts reminiscent of James Chance noise experiments as well as lead singer Kilynn Lunsford’s devastating howl, who also strikes an uncanny resemblance to a young Lydia Lunch. Their sound is an excruciating blanket of atonality and dissonance. Their debut Taiwan Bulding Project 7″ EP is available via M’Lady Records.
Next in line, hailing from D.C., was Priests, a four-piece “Real Life Non Internet Band” that combine psychobilly antics of The Cramps with a relentless tension and grit of punk. The formation of a mosh pit almost immediately commenced upon Priests taking the stage. Cans of beer began to fly overhead. Audience members, perhaps uninitiated to the more visceral edge of live punk performance, showed visible distress and disorientation. It was chaotic, experiential, it was, “real life non internet.” Their debut EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power is available via Sister Polygon Records.
Protomartyr closed the evening’s festivities with their smart and gloomy brand garage rock. Songs like “I Forgive You” kept the crowds on their feet with the off-kilter post-punk grooves of Greg Ahee’s impeccable angular guitar hooks and Alex Leonard’s precise drum execution. Front-man Joe Casey was in signature dapper attire as he shared disparaging tales of a crumbling Motor City necropolis in his somber baritone. The performance was an immaculate reproduction of their record, rewarding avid listeners with a near-complete track list of The Agent Intellect, along with a selection of other select tunes from previous output.