I was introduced to The Protomen by a dear friend and contributor to WPR, Evan Burkey. The whole concept of a band being inspired by Capcom’s Mega Man game series was something that I was practically salivating over until I heard their first album, after which I was made a lifelong fan. A group that is capable of twisting the never ending battle between the good Thomas Light and the dastardly Albert Wily into a soon to be three album rock opera with styles of music that span from western infused rockabilly to mathcore metal.
Don’t forget to listen to the hour long PODCAST we did with them before the show.
These chiptune inspired chaps have been rocking venues all across America since their founding. The most exciting thing is that this was their first time stopping in our neck of the woods in Salt Lake City, Utah. I found this out about a week ahead of time, something that will never happen again as I’m now on their mailing list and will get much more advance notice of all their shows. So with cash in hand I purchased my ticket because I had been lusting after this group ever since I saw a few YouTubes of them performing at PAX Prime before it had the word Prime added to it.
The venue’s name is Kilby Court and is the main stage for indie groups touring through SLC…and on any other night would be a great venue for most bands to play…except with the Protomen, there is much more to their show than a bunch of guys and one gal standing on stage. On one hand, the members of this group are multiple talent musicians that transition from guitars, to keyboards, to sledgehammers against steel pipes. There was simply not enough room for the band to get comfy.
On the other hand, a venue this size allowed for us to engage the band directly, no security, no barricade, no strip searches, no crowd surfing, just a whole bunch of fans standing literally feet away from the performers (I could have rested my junk on Panther’s keyboard if I really wanted to). This was pretty much the most intimate concert that I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending and made me realize how much I’ve missed attending shows, especially when it comes to groups who have less than mainstream notoriety.
Don’t get me wrong. The Protomen deserve every ounce of fame and respect as ANY mainstream group. They’re consummate professionals at what they do and with time will become very rich from all of their talent and hard work. It’s just nice to be able to see a group that I’ve held high on such a pedestal for so long, to see them on the same level as the audience, really made me love these guys even more.
The first interaction with the audience, well most the interaction with the audience, was through the band’s hypeman K.I.L.R.O.Y. who let us in on a short narrative about the band’s adventures through the Great Salt Lake (hint: don’t swim in it). The group then jumped onto the stage and proceeded to melt the faces off the entire audience. The sound was so raw and alive considering we had Peavey stacks and PAs in a room that felt no larger than 400 square feet. The amount of volume these guys pumped out left me with a good case of tinnitus for the last couple of days.
Up until seeing the band live, I had no idea who sang what parts on what song even though a quick search on YouTube or Vimeo would have erased many of my wonders. Armed with this, I had no clue that Panther sang 95% of the male vocals for both albums. Seriously, the guy has one of the most amazing and dynamic ranges I’ve EVER heard from a singer. We’re talking a guy who could possibly go toe to toe with Freddy Mercury on News of the World and beat him. The only other guy who dared stealing the mic from Mr. Panther was none other than Turbo Lover who provides the vocals for the sinister Dr. Wily (and makes a much better looking version of the villain BTW). Of course you have the backup vocals and female lead vocals from The Gambler…again another amazing vocalist AND musician. Seriously, nobody in this band wears just ONE hat. Case in point was KILROY working the merch booth before the show (I had no idea thanks to him being there sans-mask).
This really was a show that I will never forget. Easily this was the best concert I had ever attended…which is a charge I don’t level lightly. I’ve been to close to 200 concerts in my brief time on this planet and this ranks as my number 1. It’s going to take something extra special to knock these guys off of the top spot. Then again, when/if they come back next year, that JUST might do it.
Perhaps the only thing that made this concert any better than finally being able to see one of my favorite bands live, was the magic pulled by our very own Mr. Thomason in arranging a sit down interview with some members of the band. That’s a subject for another post, but know this…I’ve talked with plenty of people who travel as musicians and these gentlemen were by far the most approachable group of individuals I’ve ever met.
What can I say about The Protomen that hasn’t been said before by their growing geek following? I’ll just have to go with my gut. Since I have been our guy at WPR that tries to make contact with people or companies, I’ve never worked group of guys there were so personable, down to earth, and just insanely awesome people. I’ll admit I was nervous when we first sat down with them to do a podcast in a dilapidated corner at the end of a street near the venue. We borrowed some white plastic chairs that were stacked on the wall, who’s they were, I’m not sure, they were clean, enough. While Murphy and Commander were mainstays on the podcast from start to finish, some of the guys like Raul Panther and Reanimator filtered in and out while we were podcasting. I’m used to doing my Lincoln to the Past podcast, with a four year old talking about kid stuff. Talking to adults and people that I admired was a little out of my comfort zone, I tried, maybe too hard, but it still felt like we could have shot the shit even longer than we did, they’re just those kind of guys. It could have gone bad really fast, we didn’t have anything set to talk about, we just wanted to have a relaxed fun time talking about whatever random stuff that come up in the conversation and man did they deliver on that.
The concert was a whole other animal. I’ll admit, I’ve liked The Protomen for a little while now, but the most I’ve done is listen to their songs on a Pandora station in their name I created to listen at work. After the concert? I’m getting all of their albums and other merch with my flex money in the family budget. I’ve been to a bunch of concerts in my life, but there was something about the near cramped conditions at Kirby Court, being probably 3 feet from Panther whole he tore it up with his voice that has helped make them one of my favorite bands. K.I.L.R.O.Y. oh, yes, I will now frown upon any band that doesn’t have as great of a person who brings so much to the whole experience. From him engaging the crowd before/after the sets to him coming off the stage and jumping around with Xopher and I in the front. Bands need to ask themselves. Do we have a K.I.L.R.O.Y.? There were so many elements to the show that everyone in The Protomen bring that makes the atmosphere something special, something electric, you could feel it. I looked at Xopher after the show and we agreed that we’re so lucky to catch these guys now, before they raise to a level where getting in touch with them will be a tad bit harder to do for our website. I honestly want to see these guys rightfully get to play at Saltair where they told us they wandered around the day before, even if the shitty lake smell will hang around. I want to hear them blow the place up with their sound, till next time you come to Salt Lake City, Protomen, thanks for a night I’ll never forget.
Oh and a FYI, if you go into the “photo booth” with Commander, and he says “lets do a tough guy face.” Do what he says, you’ll be pleased with your results.
Here is one of the videos we shot while at the concert with our GoPro HD HERO2 Camera, check out the others videos from the concert in our Youtube Channel