Katie Alice Greer stood focused on her electronic rig Thursday night at Comet Ping Pong, presenting quite a contrast to her explosive persona as lead vocalist of Priests.
Rather than wailing at the top of her lungs as DC metro’s resident punk banshee, Katie instead sang minimally over droning beats, often directing her voice into an old telephone receiver plugged into her gear. In so doing, Katie made her cassette release party as solo project K A G a far cry from her frenetic kinetics in Priests.
Seeing Katie as K A G is akin to listening to an AM radio signal, straining your ears until the signal clears and once garbled music becomes intelligible. You experience a similar moment of clarity when you begin to understand the rhythms and grooves.
K A G’s debut songs also are online as EP A, released in October via Priests’ Sister Polygon Records. You can listen to it or buy it via Bandcamp:
Bandcamp also spells out the inspiration behind the new electronic music: “K A G ‘EP A’ is a 15-minute EP of music inspired by weird suburbia, formidable famous women, and the 1947 film Black Narcissus. K A G is a solo moniker for Katie Alice Greer (Priests) who began writing and recording these songs at home after moving outside of a city for the first time in a decade.”
Appropriately then, there is a level of remoteness to the experience of listening to the four songs on EP A. As Katie stands affixed behind a Korg keyboard, her voice and hands generate fuzzy electronic punk, composed of dreamy noise. The sounds seem removed and distant. But in some ways, the performance also invites images of the ’70s and suburbia wrapped in a cold disco aesthetic.
On Thursday night, Katie’s striped dress and feathered coif certainly recalled the ’70s but then so did the whiff of disco that peaked through the droning beats of her new music. “Narcissus” itself begins with a sound reminiscent of a train pulling away from a station but then Katie’s telephone-receiver vocal rides alongside a funky bass beat. Katie also performs a song called “Diana Ross” after the disco chanteuse. Here again, Katie’s voice is indistinct and blends into the droning electronics as part of the mix.
In wrapping her show, Katie sings a song that samples “Turn to Stone” by the Electric Light Orchestra — surely a tip of the hat to inspiration as Jeff Lynn’s prog rock outfit often favored rhythmic electronics and falsetto voices often favored by disco.
Priests will soon undertake a big tour, sweeping Katie and her bandmates up into the big project of releasing their debut LP. Let’s hope she makes a bit more time to indulge her electronic eccentricities in the days ahead as well!