Tiny Desk

Protomartyr

The Detroit band Protomartyr makes loud, screeching rock that's more thoughtful than thrilling. It only takes a few seconds of the group's brightly lit Tiny Desk performance for things to get pretty deep: "False happiness is on the rise," enigmatic frontman Joe Casey deadpans. "See the victims piled high in a room without a roof."

The song "Why Does It Shake?" is from the band's profound, poetic, often grousing third album The Agent Intellect, a title derived from Aristotle's theories about human thought and how ideas move from the possible to the tangible. (Cue sound of brain exploding.)

Casey never cracks a smile and barely moves throughout this performance, hiding behind dark sunglasses and looking sharp in a gray suit, hands in pockets. It's almost bewildering at times to watch someone so composed deliver such sharp narratives, backed by squealing guitar noise. But that's part of Protomartyr's allure. Casey quietly contains the storm as Protomartyr finishes its set with the darkly twisted "Devil In His Youth," also from The Agent Intellect, and the ruminative "Three Swallows," from the band's 2012 debut on Urinal Cake Records, No Passion All Technique.

The Agent Intellect is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)

Set List

  • "Why Does It Shake?"
  • "Devil In His Youth"
  • "Three Swallows"

Credits

Producers: Robin Hilton, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Julia Reihs; Production Assistant: Kate Drozynski; Photo by Jun Tsuboike/NPR

For more Tiny Desk Concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Chicano Batman performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Mar., 30, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman comes with a sound that perfectly captures dark lounges, quinceñera dances, car shows and backyard parties.

Ljova & Kontraband perform at Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 13th 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Ljova And The Kontraband

Composer, arranger and viola player Ljova lead his Kontraband to the Tiny Desk for an eclectic swirl of Western classical, jazz, tango and Eastern European and Balkan folk music.

Sinkane performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 21, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Sinkane

You can hear a great New York jazz band in the rhythms of Sinkane, but you can also hear the influence of Bob Marley and the hypnotic repetition of Sudanese desert sounds.

Noname performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 28, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Noname

The power of language to penetrate a difficult subject, and the power of performance to share that language, are the gifts Noname brought to the Tiny Desk.

Delicate Steve performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Mar. 3, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Delicate Steve

This fierce and lyrical guitar player writes playful instrumental music led by hooky vocals — but there is no voice, just the human-like twang of a glass slide on a guitar.

Sampha performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 7, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Sampha

A Tiny Desk Concert as intimate as it gets (that's saying something). Just Sampha, a piano and three heart-wrenching songs that seem to double as coping mechanisms.

Red Baraat performs at Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 8, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tiny Desk Special Edition: Red Baraat's Holi Celebration

The Brooklyn bhangra band come to the Tiny Desk in celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of color that welcomes the coming of spring.

Tank And The Bangas perform perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Mar. 6, 2017. (Niki Walker/NPR) Niki Walker/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Niki Walker/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tank And The Bangas

Tank And The Bangas' victory lap around the Tiny Desk was momentous, celebratory and deeply touching, with a flair and alchemy of styles that could come from New Orleans.

Maren Morris performs perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 16, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Maren Morris

One of the newest Grammy winners stops by the Tiny Desk to share her winking, sometimes tongue-in-cheek songs.

Ninet Tayeb performs perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 14, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Ninet

One of Israel's very popular artists may be walking a similar path to early-career Joan Jett — she brought that same intensity to the Tiny Desk.

Back To Top