2017Protomartyr w/ Melkbelly
SeptemberDoors 8:30, Show 9:30 - $12adv / $14
This October marks the release of The Agent Intellect, their third and finest work to date. Named after an ancient philosophical questioning of how the mind operates in relation to the self, it’s an elegant and often devastating display of all that makes Protomartyr so vital and singularly visceral an outfit. Over the course of several months, Ahee waded through more than a hundred song fragments until he reached the bottomless melodies of “I Forgive You” and “Clandestine Time”, the inky depths of “Pontiac ’87” and titanic churn of “Why Does It Shake?” Lyrically, Casey is at his most confident and haunting. He humanizes evil on “The Devil in His Youth,” and, amid the charred pop of “Dope Cloud,” he reassures us that nothing—not God, not money—can or will prevent our minds from unraveling until we finally fade away. We are no one and nothing, he claims, without our thoughts. It’s a theme that echoes through the entirety of the record, but never as beautifully as it does on “Ellen.” Named after his mother and written from the perspective of his late father, it’s as romantic a song as you’re likely to hear this or any year, Casey promising to wait for her on the other side, with the memories she’s lost safely in hand.
I remember a story he told me in Detroit. A few months earlier, he’d been driving with his mother as a Protomartyr recording played on the stereo.
“Joe,” she asked him. “Who is this?”
“This is us, Mom,” he told her. “That’s me.”
“Oh!” she said, “This is very good.”
—David Bevan, July 2015
The group is comprised of four friends, Miranda W, Bart W, Liam W, and James W, each weathered veterans of the Chicago scene, and at only three years old Melkbelly has honed a kinetic voice all its own.
With these kinds of technical bonafides you might not expect the depth of Melkbelly’s lyrical ability, but lead singer Miranda Winters is no mean poet, and delivers her lines sometimes in gentle melody, other times in a full throat scream.
They’re very loud. They’re very tall. You’ll never see them coming.