Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Protomen at Game Over Video Games

About a month ago, I was listening to the Wired Audio Playlist Podcast (one source I use for new music) and immediately noticed a cut called the Hounds. The production on this cut was exceptional, and had a very familiar vibe. I remember having to rewind the podcast later in order to find out that the band was the Protomen.

Finding their website and myspace pages, I listened to some more of their tracks and enjoyed them as well. I found out that Hounds was a track from their recently released, second studio album, Act II: The Father of Death. The songs all had a Meatloaf feel to them, mashed-up with some Peter Gabriel.

A little further research on the Internet and Wikipedia revealed that they had 3 albums total (1 live), the band was from Nashville, and the second album had in fact been produced by famed Meatloaf producer, Alan Shacklock. I noticed that I had missed them performing at this year's SxSW, chalking that up to bad luck.

The most interesting thing about this band the fact that they have conceptually based all of their music, on the Capcom Video Game for the NES, Mega Man. (Which I had played with my little brother about 20 years ago). Obviously, they have a small cult amongst the gamer crowd. Although not a gamer, I had already decided they were creative and great musicians, after listening to their material.

Fast Forward to Friday

Friday evening I noticed a tweet go by about the Protomen being on tour, and their Battle Wagon having broken down, in Texarkana. I went over to their website and discovered that they were scheduled to play in Austin, Sunday night, with two opening bands, at Game Over Video Games. I really don't get into video games, and am not that into All Ages shows, but decided to go anyway.

When I arrived at the venue it was obviously a congregation point for those on the nerdier side of the tracks. The store was in a strip mall near the corner of Anderson and Lamar, and is like a museum for video games and game consoles, going all the way back to the Atari days. The actual show was in an empty stall next door. About 30 people were already milling around waiting for the show.

An announcement went out that the band had arrived late, without the 2 opening acts, but that the show would be going on. When they finally let us into the empty stall, it was hot and loud. None the less, this 9 piece band (7 guys and 2 gals) delivered the goods. They have multiple vocalists, and every person was a first rate musician. In addition to synths, guitar, bass and drums, 2 of people also doubled on trumpet and violin. Their set consisted mainly of the Act II material, followed by a smattering of the songs from their first album, and a cover of Styx's, Mr. Roboto complete with Vocoder.

The lighting was insufficient to get a good picture, but these guys were fantastic. I would recommend you check out the samples on their website, and would go on to say that I would gladly see them again (hopefully in a better venue).