- by Tim Sentz Rating: Release Date: Label:
I’ve managed to catch the Calgary post-punk band Preoccupations on three separate occasions. Twice now at the same venue (though the physical location has changed). Back in 2015, they swung by the Record Bar while running their victory lap as the buzzy new band Viet Cong. Back in May, they swung by The Firebird in St. Louis, right after they hit a bad streak with their van being stolen which housed all their equipment. A GoFundMe later, and they were playing with new equipment that they’d yet to become accustomed to.
It was comforting to see them on Saturday at the Record Bar perform a tight set with no issues. They blasted through material across all three of their albums – leaning heavily on this year’s New Material with top performances of “Espionage” and “Disarray.” Frontman Matt Flegel has shifted his vocal stylings with each release – the latter material features a more snarling approach, which lends it’s hand to intensifying the older material off of Viet Cong, though it has a few mixed results – namely “Continental Shelf” their most well-known single.
That aside, the band had nary a misstep – and kept the small talk to a minimum but took time to point out their last visit to Kansas City and even remembered the Record Bar’s old location at the Westport strip mall. Flegel joked that there’d be an after party down there later, but it was too cold for me to find out if that was true. Overall a solid performance that featured none of the frustrations from their St. Louis show. A minor gripe – they seem to distance themselves from their second album Preoccupations and have yet to play some of that albums highlights like “Fever.” Regardless, they appear to be in tip-top shape once again.
Thirty minutes in between sets, and Protomartyr took the stage just after 10 pm. The stoic Joe Casey took the stage as he always does – buttoned up, casual, like a preacher about to condemn the masses. Red-faced and possibly inebriated, the Detroiter laid into the packed crowd with cut after cut from all of their albums – highlights including “A Private Understanding” from Relatives of Descent, “The Devil In His Youth” from The Agent Intellect, and of course “Scum! Rise!” from Under Color of Official Right.
I had the opportunity to see Protomartyr back in March up in Omaha, and while I preferred that show to this, the band run a tight ship. Instrumentally they have a cohesion that parallels few in the scene, and while Casey emulates his best Nick Cave, the crowd was hooked on every chord, every growl, and every thunderous boom from the drums. The two bands touring together is a dream come true for post-punk enthusiasts, and this tour has not disappointed.