Protomartyr Triumphs at Sidewinder, Returns for SXSW

Protomartyr_022616-4A week ago, lauded post-punk outfit Protomartyr performed at The Sidewinder, an Austin venue still in its infancy. The event marked the first sold-out show I’ve seen in the space, since Red Eyed Fly closed and operations at Red 7 effectively switched to inhabit the venue as The Sidewinder. Even before the openers began, the room was full and only grew fuller as the night went on.

Protomartyr_022616-2Before Protomartyr began their set, frontman Joe Casey swayed lethargically, smoking a cigarette with apparent apathy and grasping a PBR tall boy. Donned in his usual full suit, he’s iconically paradoxical in a live setting. The set began with lukewarm energy, but retained the definitive power of the group’s angular guitar riffs and propulsive rhythms. Slowly, the band worked into a frenzied state. The set grew more caustic with each song played until each cut was unapologetically blistering. Protomartyr performed live versions of excellent songs from their new album, The Agent Intellect, including “I Forgive You” and “Why Does it Shake?”. The record is the band’s third and follows another widely acclaimed album “Under Color of Official Right,” from which the band culled several songs for the performance. The band will be back for several shows at SXSW, and I highly recommend checking them out.

Spray_Paint_022616-3Austin punk veterans Spray Paint opened the night. The three-piece is all business onstage, keeping the banter to a minimum while powering through dissonant songs. With two guitars and no bass, the song structures utilize competing discordant notes to bounce off of one another in contentious harmonization. Forceful and imposing, Spray Paint’s songs feel like theoretical explorations of sound and rhythm, and their songs translate more clearly live than on any recording. The group plays out frequently, so if you haven’t seen them yet, it’s on you.

Xetas_022616-5Xetas opened the night with a set of furious punk songs, as guitarist David Lee Petro and bassist Kana Harris alternated vocal duties. As an added benefit the bands already arresting songs, Xetas literally bound about the stage with relentless energy. Petro bounces up and down as Harris takes a wide stance, grinning as she thumps out steady bass lines. Xetas previously released material on Gerard Cosloy’s respected 12XU imprint, and rumor has it they’ll have some new material in the impending future.

Dig a track from Protomartyr below and check out our full photo gallery of the night following the embed.

All photos © Bryan C. Parker & Pop Press International; all rights reserved. Click any image to open set in slideshow viewer.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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