Tuesday night was another one of those nights where I was going into the show blind. I knew nothing about the two bands playing but knew that I wanted a show and my gut was telling me that The Turf Club was where I needed to be so I packed up all of my crap, scarfed down an unsatisfying dinner, and made my way over to Saint Paul bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

I was confused as I took inventory of the stage prior to the first band, Idle Ray, starting. Amps- check. Microphones – check. Drumkit– well, that’s where it got a bit strange. Instead of a standard drumkit, there was only a floor tom and then a snare drum covered in a shirt with colorful cats printed all over it. No cymbals, no bass drum– no fun? To say I was intrigued would be an understatement. Was this going to be more lowkey than I was in the mood for? Was I even going to like it? That’s when it happened– Idle Ray took the stage and I was instantly stuck in the palm of this band’s hand.

Although I stayed confused by Idle Ray’s sound overall, I was eating up. This band seamlessly switched from indie-pop vibes to, at times, moments of avant-garde chaos and then back to an almost post-punk exploration of singer-songwriter feelings. It was all over the place and, at times, it didn’t quite make sense to me yet I was struck by their creativity. Without much to say between songs, this Michigan-based band seemed to hurry through their thirty-minute set but, at the same time, I’m wondering if it only felt hurried because I was so ready to hear what they were going to do next. Idle Ray absolutely kept me on my toes in a way that very few bands are able to making their opening set a truly immersive experience for me and (hopefully) the rest of the audience.

Although The Turf Club was never really empty on Tuesday night, I feel like people started streaming in just in time for the headliner of the night and, by the time Protomartyr took the stage, the room had to have been damn near sold-out. If you know me, you know that a sold out (or nearly sold out) show that I know nothing about is one of my favorite things in the world. It makes me feel like maybe I’ve stumbled upon something worth my attention or at least gives me some great people watching. Within Protomartyr’s first song, I realized that, although I could still people watch, I had just stumbled upon a band that was more than worth my attention. I instantly started scanning my memories wondering if I had ever heard of this band before and had written them off or ignored them for some reason. I can to the conclusion that I hadn’t and this was honestly just a brand new act to me but also decided that I low-key hated myself for not catching onto this band sooner.

Protomartyr is a post-punk band from Detroit, MI. With six full-length albums under their belt and numerous live albums, EPs and other releases, calling this band a new act would be a complete lie but they were new to me. Nothing really sparked my interest as the band took the stage. I honestly just continued drinking my cider and having a conversation with a friend but then, just like that, Protomartyr jumped into their set and everything changed.

I will never forget the first time I saw IDLES live. I had this feeling of euphoria and bliss from the energy that they were giving off. Watching Protomartyr on Tuesday night was one of the first times I had felt that feeling since IDLES. Why do I bring up IDLES? Well, right off the bat, that’s the band that I want to compare Protomartyr to stylistically. From the energy to the intensity all the way to vocalist Joe Casey’s unexplainable British sounding vocals, everything was reminding me of IDLES but with a slight twist. Instead of having an audience turning into a sweaty mess full of pitting and crowd surfing, the audience on Tuesday night just sat there as they got blasted by the energy of Protomartyr. It was almost confusing to me but I also really liked it.

There’s a tenderness in Protomartyr’s sound that matches with their intense energy in a strange yet perfect way. Although everything about their sound is great, it was the shouted vocals that had my eyes glued to the stage and my ears glued to the speakers. Joe Casey had this way of being oddly threatening while coming off as super informal at the same time. Everything about him seemed to be a contradiction to the way he just nonchalantly sang while swinging a bottle of beer around to the way he was shouting so intensely at everyone while wearing a suit coat. Regardless of how confused I was, I was hanging onto every word that he was barking at me and was completely lost in the show.

Protomartyr was supposed to play in the Twin Cities a couple of years ago but then the pandemic happened and the world came to a screeching halt. Their performance on Tuesday night was a make-up of that cancelled gig and you could tell that people in the audience had been dying for this moment. Although there was no real pit happening in the intimate venue, you could feel an undeniable sense of energy radiate throughout the atmosphere. That was just the icing on the cake to what turned out to be one of those “I definitely made the right decision as to what show to go to tonight” nights and I am already craving another visit from Protomartyr.

Line Up:

Idle Ray


Venue: The Turf Club

Smell-O-Meter: Nothing

Average Age of the Crowd: 35

Crowd Surfers- None spotted

Stage Divers- 0

Mosh-ability- 6 out of 10

Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0

Broken Bones- None

Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing

Fights- None Witnessed

Pukers- 0

Passed Out Kids- 0

Idiots Taken Out By Security – 0

How Irritated I Was With The Audience – 0 out of 10

How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-

Idle Ray– 0

Protomartyr– 0

Celebrity Sightings – Ann of Mostly MN Music

Overall Score – 9 out of 10

Show on Deck — Fall Out Boy / Bring Me The Horizon / Royal & The Serpent / Carr

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