Katie Greer’s voice is half kitten purr and half jet engine roar.
Priests took to the stage as an opener for Parquet Courts in a sold-out show at the Black Cat Saturday night, and they blasted out of the gate so rambunctiously, you could be forgiven for forgetting everything that followed them.
Katie and company opened with “New” from their EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power, released in June 2014. The song has all of two lines really — and they are about the sensation of things being “new” when you’re a kid.
But the lyrics matter less in this case than how they are delivered. Katie’s growl grows more powerful as the song goes on while Daniele Daniele pounds away on the drums behind her, yelping out a high-pitched refrain behind her bandmate’s lower register. Taylor Mulitz completes the rhythm section with some deft handling of bass.
On my side of the stage, the show is dominated by guitarist Gideon Jaguar, who plays like a man possessed, melodically mixing sounds of punk, rockabilly and surf rock into a continuous stream of thunderous strings. The man is unstoppable, and he’s a blur of motion for most of the set as he bounds upstage and downstage from song to song. Gideon is a showman, and he’s really really good.
There’s no time to catch your breath in the next song as Priests leap into “Leave Me Alone” from their 2013 cassette, Tape Two. (Yes, I’m annoyed by the trend toward cassettes lately, but this is too good to pass up, seriously.) In the song, Katie screeches and wails to someone who apparently really has to fuck off. But as it winds down, it affords Priests a quieter moment where Daniele and Taylor wind down the song in a kind of quiet collapse after all the demands of the song’s title have been delivered.
While it’s fascinating to see Priests draw from other genres, they are indeed a punk band — and they are part Plasmatics, part Ramones, part Joy Division (!!) as they thunder through short, brutal songs. Later in the set, “Modern Love” epitomizes this well with its irreverance and two-minute playing time as Katie shoots through a list of things to care too little about in the face of thinking of someone else.
If you’ve someone managed to miss this band to date, get thee to a concert hall and see them the next time they play. In the coming month, they go on the road to nearby places like Pittsburgh and New York but they return to DC to play the Dance Institute (3400 14th St. NW, DC) on March 1 and again on March 8 at the Wilson Center (1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC) in a benefit for Positive Force.
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