Concert Review: The Protomen and Urizen

Taken by Juan Barragan

Taken by Juan Barragan

Juan Barragan

The Protomen / Urizen

The Merrow

24 October 2014


There is only one good music venue in Hillcrest, and that venue is called The Merrow. It is located in the exact location where the old Ruby Room used to be. However, the owners of the Ruby Room took off leaving only one of the original owners behind. The owner renovated the place to make it Gaelic themed. The interior décor reflects this theme, as you can see steel fish on the walls as well as mermaid paintings around the facility. The only thing this Gaelic themed Irish bar is missing is Guinness on tap. Although it would be pricey for the bar to get, it would complete the theme in a perfect manner. In just a few months, the place has picked up the pace in bringing top-notch talent through the doors. Taking the stage that night would be Urizen and The Protomen, two huge rock bands that are known for putting on quite a remarkable show. Fans were ready to see these two bands for quite some time, and with the ticket supply about to dry up hours leading up to the show, dozens of fans almost crashed the ticketing website trying to purchase tickets, fearing that they’d have no choice but to listen to the show from the parking lot outside. It wasn’t until the venue made room for more people that fans were reassured they’d be able to get in when they walked up to the door. This was key, because even with more room, the place eventually filled up to capacity.

For many, this was the first time that they had seen Urizen. The band channels their musical creativity by playing video games. The music in these retro games is then emulated on stage by the band members, who use these classic sounds to create epic new music. As soon as they took the stage fans knew they were in for a very special show. The band members were wearing binocular-looking goggles that lit up like flashlights and were aimed at the crowd. These mind-altering devices on the band’s heads made them sound amazing. At one point, a mad scientist and known nemesis of the band snuck into the venue and got on stage to try his newest creation on his subjects, the band members. The first device he tried was an electric mind-controlling helmet that was attached to each member’s head and connected to a mainframe machine that was controlled by the mad scientist. Clearly there were some malfunctions with his machine, since eventually one band member was able to break away his helmet from the machine and quickly tried to detach his fellow band members from this mind-controlling device, to the chagrin of the scientist. The band continued to rock on, but the scientist wasn’t finished. He eventually came out from behind the stage with a hover machine with guns that he used to attack the band. The band, devastated, retreated in shock, and this was when the mad scientist turned to the crowd to shoot rounds at them. Eventually a roadie disabled the hover machine inconspicuously from behind, leaving the mad scientist once again helpless. The band, once again, continued to play. The last encounter that set back the band yet again was the appearance of a 12-foot cycloptic goo monster that was attacking the band. One of the band members was almost engulfed by the monster, and it took a little improvisation to get rid of this nuisance. The weapon of choice this time was a machine that shot out toilet paper as a weapon. It worked like magic, however, the venue was TP’d in the process. For those who have never seen this band, they put on quite an incredible performance on stage, and their music is really solid as well.

By the time The Protomen hit the stage, the place finished filling up. The Protomen is a Rock Opera band that’s been around for 11 years now, and their stage presence reflected it, in all nine of the members. The vocalist, Raul Panther III, started the set by asking the audience if they were ready to fight for the city. Everyone put their fists in the air and confirmed with a massive roar of approval their willingness to fight that evening. The band unleashed one of their most popular songs, “III: The Will Of One,” from their self-titled album. Raul Panther III was able to showcase his vocal talents in the later portion of the song. He was able to nail his notes with precision and skill, and every word was on pitch. That song was a great way to start the show, as people jumped up and down and sang along to every word. The music can be described as video game rock because the sounds from the synthesizers resemble the sounds of older games. That, combined with the guitars, brought life to a whole genre of music that 8-bit and 16-bit games gave birth to. The song was most impactful at the end where the whole venue shouted the chant, “We have control – We keep you safe – We are your hope.” The band followed suit by going full speed through “IV: Vengeance.” This gave birth to a medium sized mosh pit in the middle of the room where bodies were flying everywhere. This activity unfortunately didn’t last too long, however. The band not only played hits from their old material, but also played songs from their release, Act II: The Father Of Death. The first track that they played was called “The Hounds.” Here, the band members with synthesizers and keyboards, which included pretty much everyone, but more specifically, Raul Panther III, Murphy Weller, Commander B. Hawkings Jr., and The Gambler. The next one was a chilling performance of “Keep Quiet.” It was chilling because the band really nailed this song. From here on out the band kept playing hit after hit. Next up was “Light Up The Night,” a song that was reminiscent of the 80’s and evoked nostalgia when the electronic drum fill came in at the beginning of the verse that says, “I’ve got this burning like my veins are filled with nothing but gasoline.” The crowd went wild for this one, as they had been waiting to light up the night ever since the show was announced and put on sale.

Altogether the show was a success for everyone involved. Concert goers after the show came up to the band to ask for autographs and pictures, and the bands were asked to return to the intimate venue the next time they were in town. There is absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind after seeing this epic performance that the bands have something going for them. Watch out people, because when The Protomen come back to San Diego, they will not hesitate to light up the night once again like they did last weekend. People unfamiliar to The Protomen should listen to “The Will Of One,” or “Light Up The Night,” to get themselves hooked on the band. Beware, their music is addicting.