When I walked into the Blind Pig, I found myself surrounded by guys with waxed mustaches, drowning in PBR. I came to the realization that I was in the center of “dad culture.” You know what I’m talking about. It’s like that awkward stage hipsters fall into when they feel too young to take life seriously, but they dress and act like dads. They’ve got the flannels and corduroy pants, their mustaches are straight from the ’70s like their favorite folk band, and they have a small beer belly. Probably every person you’ve met who has succumbed to dad culture was at this Protomartyr show. It was an experience.
The night started off with the Deadbeat Beat. They’re a soft punk band from — as their Facebook page says — “AROUND TOWN, MI.” Their sound was as vague as that location, but the guitarist and front man Alex Glendening was shredding so hard that one of his strings broke mid-set. Accompanied by an insanely talented female drummer, they were captivating. I wanted to sway back and forth and close my eyes to immerse myself in this weird punk rock that made me think of summer and the beach, but the crowd was close to lifeless during their whole set. It was kind of a bummer.
My soul was revived again when the second band, Rebel Kind, took the stage. The band was composed of three women (hooray for all-girl bands!), and they totally kicked ass. They sang about boys and being broken and piecing themselves back together again, which sounds kind of sappy and lame, but they displayed it in such a punk-rock way. Each member contributed some vocals, but front woman Autumn Wetli had a particularly dreamy voice. It was soft yet aggressive and sounded like it should smell like vanilla. They made me feel like I should put on a velvet skirt and punch someone in the face and there’s just something about that strange combination that makes me feel — as corny as this sounds — alive or something.
They announced that it was their drummer’s 29th birthday and I remembered that the lead singer of Protomartyr, Joe Casey, is 38 years old. Just try to picture his lifestyle for a second – being almost 40 surrounded by people a decade younger than you who try to dress like you, traveling on the road probably eating McChickens every day.
And just that simple thought made me appreciate their set so much more because of this dynamic. There’s this crowd of people stuck between adolescence and adulthood trying to have a good time on a Friday who probably have a passion they can’t afford or are too afraid to follow. These bands aren’t giving up; they’re trying to fulfill their dreams and passions by evoking some emotions in at least one person. That’s what Protomayrtr did.
The band of four took the stage and with minimal crowd interaction, they put on a very enticing show. Joe Casey sounded like an angry drunk dad in the best way possible; he was enveloped in the music. His words came out harsh and cut the audience with every syllable. I could even see the beer spit fly out of his mouth — which was kind of gross — but with his eyes closed and head turned to the ceiling, he gave the set raw emotion.
Witnessing this 38-year-old man and even some of the older people in the crowd get totally entranced by music was inspiring. There were 30-year-old guys throwing down in a mosh pit screaming the lyrics of “Boyce or Boice” at the top of their lungs while making friends out of strangers.
The experience was a reminder that no matter how old you are, live music allows you to regress to a simpler time. There’s something kind of beautiful about being surrounded by sweaty bodies in intense heat, accepting gross conditions to hear something you love. And listening to a man who could be your drunk dad just makes it a little better.