Monday, August 27, 2012

Light Up the Night

Last year, I wrote about attending a Protomen concert on my birthday. Well, they came back to my area this year, this time the day after my birthday. Once again, my excellent friends got MLW and I tickets to the show, and this time, everything was better than last time.

To begin, the venue was bigger, with some air circulation, a raised stage so that we could see the band, and a sort of backstage area where the band could get to and from the stage without having to go through the crowd. This was already a huge improvement over last time.

The opening band, Arnocorps, was better than both of the other opening bands put together. Last time, I suffered through the opening bands while waiting for the Protomen. This time, I genuinely enjoyed the opening band. I felt like I was watching a band I wanted to be watching, which felt great. I know what you're thinking: surely there can't be a band out there whose schtick was entirely based on Arnold Schwarzenegger's films? Well, prepare your mind and your deltoids, because that's exactly what Arnocorps is.

It's hard to believe that last year I was watching Sigourney Reverb, with their lame frontman, complete lack of stage presence, and obnoxious songs. Arnocorp's lead singer had tons of stage presence and really got the fans pumped. He hammed it up, he stage dove, he pulled fans out of the audience to dance (and flex) on stage, and he did it all with a great--well, cheesy--Austrian accent. He didn't waste time describing the band's ambitions, instead spending time bantering with the audience and getting us pumped for each song. At one point, he had us all singing these memorable lyrics: "I'm ballsy! I'm a stud! I don't take shit from anyone! I'm ballsy! I'm a stud! I smoke my stogies wherever I want!"

When it was time to play, they knew how to rock. The band didn't just play brutal riffs, shout lyrics, and pound out percussion--though there was plenty of that--they also injected their songs with over-the-top energy and fun. I would love to see these guys again. Seriously, you should check them out. And yes, they did play "Crom (Strong On His Mountain)."

Then the Protomen came on, and man, was it awesome. This time, I didn't stand in the audience, since there was a perfectly fine (and uncrowded) space over by the bar that allowed almost full view of the stage without having to worry about getting drenched in other people's sweat. Even though I was standing off to the side, I still got a better view of the band than I did last year, and I didn't have to fight any drunken frat boys for my position. Bonus.

As the Protomen recently put out an album of Queen covers, they started with some Queen songs. The thing is, I don't actually know all that many Queen songs (outside of Bohemian Rhapsody and We Will Rock You and other songs that everyone knows), so this was great and all, but not my favorite part of the show. But then they started playing the crowd favorite songs, like "Father of Death," "The Will of One," and "Hope Rides Alone."

The first Turbolover song was a Queen song, but when he returned to the stage in his Dr .Wiley costume, the audience knew that he was about to sing "The Hounds" and they started going crazy. When he started singing, it turned out his microphone was off, but without missing a beat or losing an ounce of manic energy he grabbed another microphone and kept singing. As always, his facial expressions and stage antics were one of the best parts of the show. You can see a video at Emma Story's fantastic Vimeo page of a previous performance where the camera is right up next to the stage. Check it out.

Not to be outdone, Raul Panther brought huge energy to all of his songs. I don't think I can properly describe the ultra-dramatic head-snap he sometimes does in his songs, so you should check out some videos for good examples. There are some pretty good ones in this video, especially at the end.  He channels the over-the-top, self-indulgent, unapologetic rock of the 80's and gives it a grandeur that I can only compare to Meat Loaf.

And sometimes, he also channels Elvis. Come to think of it, I don't think "over-the-top" really covers it. It's like there's a mountain of guitars, and he's driving a motorcycle made of smaller, firey motorcycles right over the top of the mountain of guitars, which then burst into flames, at the same moment that the flames on his fiery motorcycles burst into meta-flames.

Toward the end of the show, the Protomen actually played Beards Going Nowhere. For those of you not versed in the more obscure Protomen songs, Beards Going Nowhere was a song they did in support of Whiskerino, one of those don't-shave-your-face-for-a-month things. So yeah, everyone's favorite Megaman band did a song with lyrics like:

You'll watch me hop on my pegasus, girl
10000 angels singing for me as I ride my pegasus through the city to the edge of the city and then out of the city and into the fields
Fields thick and strong like the beard that I'll grow

And now I think you all understand why I make such a big deal out of Protomen.

But really, the greatest thing about Protomen is that, despite their songs about robots fighting robots, and a love triangle involving mad scientists, and a song about beards, they can genuinely move me with stories of love, sacrifice, and defiance. Light up the night.


Doomfinger said...

I've been listening to ArnoCorps lately. "Get yer ahss, get yer ahss, to Mahs!" Classic.

Doomfinger said...

This may be of interest.

Baron von Chop said...

Looks promising! It reminds me of the Mousling miniatures by Reaper, and the Mouse Guard RPG that uses the Burning Wheel rules.

Doomfinger said...

Have you seen the H+ series? It's interesting so far, but jumps back and forth. It doesn't help that each episode is only a few minutes long. Still, I'm curious to see how the story plays out.

Baron von Chop said...

I haven't seen H+ yet, but I've been meaning to check it out. I've also been meaning to check out Mortal Kombat: Legacy. Who can pass up free web series, right?