See the slideshows for more photos: The Protomen; Non-Commissioned Officers and Make-Up and Vanity Set.
Unlike some of our fellow nerds, who started at showing up at 9 o'clock in the freaking morning to sit outside Mercy Lounge, we waited until the new episode of Dollhouse was over to head to The Protomen show. (A true nerd will always opt for a new Joss Whedon show over waiting in line. Just sayin'.) After one truly bizarre cab ride, we arrived on Cannery Row just in time to catch the opening tune from The Non-Commissioned Officers, but mostly we were unsure if we had slipped through a rift in the space-time continuum.
By our clock it was 9:30, but the room was packed and the people were excited, which made us question if we were really in Nashville at all or some Bizarro World Nashville where enthusiasm and punctuality rule the day. Was somebody tampering with our concept of reality for nefarious ends? Was this some Phillip K. Dick-ish plot to woo us into a false sense of security and then steal the secret microchip implanted on The Spin's cerebellums? Possibly, but we weren't complaining.
The Non-Coms were on fire, sounding tighter and livelier than ever we've heard them before--obviously feeding off the crowd, who were totally enthralled with their Orchestral Maneuvers in The Dork-style zombie pop. Apparently, being tapped by The Protomen to open a show is like a license to print money, because by the time the Mercy staff sent everybody home, the Non-Coms had sold 50 copies of their soundtrack to Make-Out With Violence. A local band selling 50 copies of their CD? At a show? Amazing.
Intermission on the back porch was quite the mind-bending experience as well. Whereas the porch is usually a hipster refuge, this Friday it was like a refugee camp for Dragon Con attendees. Wall-to-wall black T-shirts with multifarious variations on the theme "I like video games," and the geek-stink of Cheetos, Game Fuel and ball sweat supplanted the skinny jeans and white belts for the evening. The fashion highlights by far were the two crocheted Mega Man helmets and the girl with the "I Heart Heart the Doctor" T-shirt. ('Cause Doctor Who has two...oh, nevermind.) But, as Non-Coms keyboard player Aaron Irons noted, if all these people were here, who's watching the comic book shop?
Sadly, by the time we made it to the bar we realized it was the former. C'mon dudes, Red Bull and bottled water at a rock show? This isn't some World of Warcraft LAN party, order a real drink or get out the freakin' way--we've been known to curb motherfuckers who get in between us and our vodka! Oh, and leave a tip for the bartenders you cheap fucks! Sheesh, we ain't at your mom's house. By the time The Protomen graced the stage, it was clear that the question "where'd you meet your wife?" will never be answered with the phrase "at a Protomen show."
The show itself was exactly what we hoped for: wicked fucking epic. Playing both of their albums in their entirety, aided by three giant video screens, a horn section, a string section and a chorus--in addition to their usual 10-piece ensemble--The Protomen managed to use every single line input on the Mercy soundboard, overwhelming the room with the power of rock 'n' roll. We're convinced they are the Grateful Dead of Nintendo rock and this city's answer to Gwar rolled into one--a pure and powerful spectacle that engenders the utmost devotion from their fans. By the time they finished covering "We Don't Need Another Hero," we were already stoked for the next time the nerd-pocalypse comes to town.