#799: Yawn of Man

June 5th, 2017

There’s getting old, and there’s falling asleep at a punk show.

To be fair, I’m not entirely certain I fell asleep at Protomartyr’s late-night gig at Subterranean on Saturday. I know I was on the balcony listening to Joe Casey’s melodic groaning and wailing. I know I was watching the crowd of punks below pushing and hopping and yelping along to the music. I know the bass and drums were as tight and precise as a German watch.

Then I know I was leaning on the railing. And I know I could feel my eyes getting droopier and heavier and that late nights aren’t what they were for me. And I know my mind started to wander as it does right before I doze off. And I know anyone who saw me would just think I was really interacting with the music on a deep, emotional level if I just let my eyes close for just a…

And I know the concert ended. Lights went on, a line at the bathroom and then out into the nightlit streets of Wicker Park.

In fairness, it had been a day. I started it by burning my foot with molten plastic (I blanked and put an electric tea kettle on the range), then celebrated my foot with a bike ride, walking tour, party, other party I couldn’t go to and finally punk show where the doors opened at 10 and the opening act kicked off at 10:30. It was after 11 by the time Protomartyr stepped up to kick the crowd into frenzy.

I rocked and got into the music and all that good stuff. I joked with the friend who brought me and, if it was in fact sleep I fell into leaning on the balcony, it was only a seconds-worth. I did well for a man at the point where mid- becomes late-30s.

I wouldn’t have felt bad if it hadn’t been Protomartyr.

Frontman Joe Casey formed the band at age 35. No stage experience, tons of stage fright, he got on board with a group of 20-somethings to create a band that screeched the noises he wanted and has been at it for years since.

The show is an experience. Guitarist Greg Ahee, drummer Alex Leonard and bassist Scott Davidson are the traditional Detroit rock set. Late 20s, slightly shady, dressed and coiffed like they’re going to either sell you meth or a Christmas tree, but either way you’re going to meet them in a parking lot at night.

Then comes Casey, striding in with a suit jacket and slacks looking like the high school guidance counselor who sits backwards in a chair to look cool and relatable.

Then he opens his mouth and I don’t know if it’s punk or post-punk or rock or whatever category in the Russian nesting doll of music genres it falls in, but it’s original and sharp and savvy and I want more more more.

Even if I’m such a fogey I have a hard time keeping my eyes open.

I didn’t have enough energy to attend a show that a man three years older than me was putting on. You put me in my place, Protomartyr. And I thank you for it.

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You are currently reading #799: Yawn of Man by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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