I missed Protomartyr at Hopscotch last year or the year before or whenever it was, but I remember people that I trust giving them a big thumbs up and that was enough to get me out of the house and into Slims. The place was packed, probably sold out but I didn't poll the doorman or anything. As I hadn't even listened to more than a song or two of their music, I was forming most of my opinion on the band from this show. You would definitely never know what you were getting into from just looking at this pack from Detroit - singer Joe Casey looked like the doppelganger for Craig Finn of the Hold Steady, the guitarist looked like a refugee from a frat jam band, and i don't recall the bassist or drummer (insert rhythm section jokes here), but everyone looked like they were coming from something different. More importantly though, the music - rad. Super rad. The overwhelming vibe was a protopunk/postpunk sound along the lines of the Fall or Pere Ubu depending on the song, with moments of noise sludge like US Maple and pop punk like Jawbreaker making occasional appearances. Did I mention how rad they were? So rad. Radical. Radiating radicality. I can't recommend this band enough.
Saw Whatever Brains again, they had the middle slot. Shocking, I know. They were rad as per usual, equal parts weird and rock, but the only thing particularly noteworthy here is it was their first gig with their new bassist, or at least the first I had seen and the first for Slims. Maybe because he is still being indoctrinated into the cult of WB, it was their most "traditional" set I've seen in quite some time...no long jams, no keyboard skronk offs, no weird covers. But again, rad nonetheless.
The opener was a band called Spray Paint from Austin. I had briefly listened to a couple of songs online and while it didn't wow me, it was interesting enough to see what they were all about live. It turns out they are one of those three piece bands that features two guitarists and no bassist as seems to be popular these days. All three band members sang, and often it was two or even all three of them singing at once. And while I never really got this vibe from my brief foray into their recordings, I got a strong A-Frames vibe this night at Slims. Anything that even slightly reminds me of A-Frames is a very, very good thing.
As a side note, someone obviously needs to set up a show where Charlotte's Paint Fumes follow Spray Paint.