Music Festivals

Post-Punkers in Detroit's Protomartyr Headline the First Night of Rocky Mountain Low

The first Rocky Mountain Low festival starts on Thursday, August 11. Organized by Reed Bruemmer, formerly of Speedwolf and currently of Poison Rites, and Brian Castillo of Heavy Dose Records, Rocky Mountain Low will be a curated showcase reflecting a slice of underground music in Denver and beyond. Expect punk, experimental and more adventurous heavy music. 

Detroit-based post-punk band Protomartyr headlines the first night of the festival. The last time the group played in Denver was at a house show, and most people who went knew little about the band. But Protomartyr's set proved it was a secretly amazing band that you hoped would be discovered sooner than later by the part of the world that would appreciate its inventive take on post-punk and noise rock. Though obscure to us that evening, it turns out that Protomartyr was on its way to garnering critical acclaim for its second album, 2014's Under Color of Official Right, and touring internationally.

Having critics rave about your records doesn't necessarily mean that you take advantage of the good things in life, namely your humble beginnings. Protomartyr singer Joe Casey speaks fondly of the perspective the band got from being part of an underground music community. “The only influence I could say I got...was that it is okay to toil in obscurity and poverty,” says Casey. “Scenes come and go as the hip grow up or die out."

Listening to Protomartyr, you can hear remnants of musical influences that the group has outgrown over the years as it has learned to work together. “At the beginning, the only real overlaps in all our tastes was the great Detroit band Tyvek and maybe Wire,” says Casey. “What got us on a right track, I think, was working correctly within our limitations. It's a friendly argument between four people that makes the sausage.”

That it doesn't fit strictly in a genre or a scene is one of Protomartyr's strengths, and it will be in good company at the Low with Colorado's Gleemer and American Culture, as well as the Bay Area's Night Shapes.

Rocky Mountain Low's schedule by day and venue:

Thursday | August 11 | Larimer Lounge

Gleemer 9-9:30 p.m.
American Culture 9:45-10:15 p.m.
Night Shapes 10:30-11 p.m.
Protomartyr 11:15 p.m.–close

Friday | August 12 | Meadowlark Matinee

Barbed Wire 4:15-4:55 p.m.
Sin Cave 5:10-5:50 p.m.
Goon 6:05-6:45 p.m.
Domicile Corpus 7-7:45 p.m.

Friday | August 12 | Larimer Lounge

Poison Rites 9:30-10:15 p.m.
Modern Convenience 10:30-11 p.m.
Bummers Eve 11:15-11:45 p.m.
Mean Jeans 12 a.m.-close

Saturday | August 13 | Meadowlark Matinee

Born Dumb 2:30-3:10 p.m.
French Kettle Station 3:25-4:05 p.m.
Usurper 4:20-5 p.m.
Echo Beds 5:15-5:55 p.m.
HIDE 6:10-6:50 p.m.
Tollund Men 7:05-7:45 p.m.

Saturday | August 13 | Larimer Lounge

Chemically Crippled 8:30-9 p.m.
Negative Degree 9:15-9:45 p.m.
Vermin Womb – 10-10:30 p.m.
The Eight Bucks Experiment 10:45-11:15 p.m.
D.R.I. 11:30 p.m. to close

Sunday | August 14 | Larimer Lounge

FUBAR 3:15-3:45 p.m.
Frontside Five 4-4:45 p.m.
The Eight Bucks Experiment 5-5:45 p.m.
D.R.I. 6-7:30 p.m.
Native Daughters 7:45-8:45 p.m.

$50 for four-day pass, $10 individual days except August 11. $12, $15 for Mean Jeans show, $20 for D.R.I. shows. For more information, contact Larimer Lounge at 303-291-1007 or Meadowlark at 303-293-0251. You can also purchase advance tickets at All shows 16+.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.