Protomartyr @ La Tulipe

The post-punk genre has seen a notable resurgence in recent years, with bands like Fontaines D.C. and Dry Cleaning breathing new life into the sound and captivating a whole new generation of music lovers. Among these acts are Detroit rockers Protomartyr, who have solidified their place in this revival over their 10+ years in the scene, amassing a considerable following along the way.

These devoted fans stormed La Tulipe in droves Sunday night, eager to see the band perform tracks off their latest album, Formal Growth in the Desert, which dropped just days prior.

As the venue began to fill, the excitement was palpable. Some concertgoers exchanged nostalgic stories of past Protomartyr shows, while others shared their enthusiasm for the new album. No matter the topic of discussion, there was a noticeable sense of camaraderie and collective anticipation in the air.

Soon, opening act Sunforger took the stage and kicked things off with their distinctly melancholic brand of post-punk, perfectly setting the mood for the rest of the evening. Their debut album, which was released just a year ago, provided the basis for their set (and which some might recall from their live session on a certain CJLO show). Their performance was electrifying and hypnotic, undoubtedly winning over new fans among those in attendance.

Once Sunforger wrapped up their set, a brief intermission followed, and soon, the lights dimmed. Excitable shouts rang out through the darkened concert hall, and from the side stage emerged our headlining act. The band dove headfirst into "Maidenhead," a moody track (and a personal favourite of mine) from their third album, which acted as my introduction to the band many years ago.

The band was in the element up on stage, its setup sparse and minimalistic and mirroring the musicians’ nonchalant demeanour. Frontman Joe Casey, beer in hand, delivered powerful and emotionally charged vocals, seamlessly navigating through the band’s extensive catalogue. The setlist was incredibly varied, featuring songs from nearly all their releases, ensuring that no one went home without hearing their favourite track.

As the show neared its end, Casey announced they had a few more songs left, much to the crowd’s disappointment. When the final note was played and the band left the stage, the audience erupted into the familiar chant of “Ole,” rhythmically stomping their feet to demand an encore.

The band soon obliged and returned to the stage after Casey playfully feigned reluctance. Fans were treated to a few more songs, including favourites “Ain’t so Simple” and “I Forgive You” and as the band jumped into their final song, The Agent Intellect track “Why Does it Shake?” a disco ball lit up, casting shimmering lights across the room and creating one hell of a memorable finale.

Protomartyr’s performance at La Tulipe was a testament to their enduring appeal and the passionate community they have built over the years. If ever you get the opportunity to see them perform live, a terrific night is all but guaranteed.

Cole is a co-host of In The Garage, Mondays 8PM-9PM.