The inauguration of President Donald Trump begins today and concludes tomorrow. Not everyone is happy about that of course, and some of that unhappiness channels itself through protest concerts taking place over the next few days.
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.
DC’s explosive punks Priests are set to release their first full-length album in January — Nothing Feels Natural via their own Sister Polygon Records. The band is launching a US tour to support it, and that tour ends at the Black Cat in a belated record release party on March 11, 2017.
Priests recently released a second video for a track from the album, satirizing greed and consumerism with their song “Pink White House.” The video paints a grim picture of people sometimes literally murdering others for a buck. Even a seamonster gets on the action, mugging a hapless fisherman (portrayed by guitarist Gideon Jaguar).
Watch the official music video for “Pink White House” by Priests on YouTube:
In a press release, singer Katie Alice Greer said this of the song and video: “Lyrically, this is a Priests song I am maybe most proud of to date. I am very inspired by the filmmaker Adam Curtis, the first time I saw ‘It Felt Like A Kiss,’ I thought, man, I want to start a band where I can write lyrics the way this guy makes films, like these politically pointed surreal avant-garde narratives, and then I met Daniele and we started Priests.
“So for me, ‘Pink White House’ is a step towards achieving this style of lyricism. I’m excited about that. Musically we wrote the first half and then were like, ‘where do we go from here?’ We wanted the second half of the song to feel like you’re in a new scene of the story, where ‘come on palm trees’ starts. It was very fun and adventurous for us, writing this way! For the video, I wanted to do something playing on the notion that pop culture repackages your identity and sells it back to you for ‘entertainment.’”
Add to this that Priests are a thrilling live band, and you know you can’t miss this date. (Check out our Parklife DC reviews from Black Cat shows on May 10, 2016, Feb. 14, 2016, and Feb. 7, 2015.) Tickets are available online.
Saturday, March 11
DC punk quartet Priests announced their debut full-length album, Nothing Feels Natural, which will see release on Jan. 27, 2017, via Sister Polygon Records, their own label.
In 2014, Priests grabbed our attention with a significant EP, Bodies and Control and Money and Power, which contained seven songs of punk rock fury. Since that time, Priests have been playing new songs live, suggesting that another release was in the works. Those songs have now culminated into this new album, announced today.
The band — consisting of Daniele Daniele (drums), Katie Alice Greer (vocals), GL Jaguar (guitar), and Taylor Mulitz (bass) — has matured a great deal sonically since the release of Bodies and Control and Money and Power, and I find that Gideon Jaguar’s surf-forward rockabilly guitar has become a more pronounced pillar of Priests’ overall sound.
Watch the official music video for “JJ” by Priests on YouTube:
According to a press release today, the Nothing Feels Natural album materializes thematically as “nine stories that crystallize into a bigger picture about the economics of human relationships, the invisibility of feminized labor, and the dual purpose of art for both the group and the individual.”
Sister Polygon also has supported various Priests side projects in recent months, including the bands Gauche and Flasher as well as an EP from Katie under the moniker KAG — EP A, released only this past Friday, Oct. 7.
Nothing Feels Natural Tracklist
4. Lelia 20
5. No Big Bang
7. Nothing Feels Natural
8. Pink White House
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know DC has an awesome young punk band called Priests.
And, man, can they pack a house! As they did the backstage of the Black Cat on Tuesday opening for post-punk quartet Ought.
The first notes are a foreboding bassline. Drums drop in line. A guitar hums. Synths flare softly.
Sings Tim Darcy in his distinctive drawl: With the light coming down over your shoulders, saying, “What is that sensation?”
As “Beautiful Blue Sky” unfurls, it becomes more frenetic and the band scatter pieces of a life across the audience like a hyper-montage from a forgotten movie — war plane! condo! How’s the church? How’s the job?
For my money, no professional music critic “gets” post-punk more than Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone (the man wrote a heart-breaking autobiographic account of his first marriage and love of music in “Love Is a Mix Tape,” after all).
And as such, it came as absolutely no surprise to me that he would love Ought, a Montreal-based quartet that draw comparisons to the Talking Heads and other bands that Rob has saluted in his various essays. Rob picked Ought’s song “Beautiful Blue Sky” as his #2 song of 2015, praising the song for its lyrical bravery.
Said Rob, “The Montreal postpunk kids lock into a staccato guitar groove and stretch it into a beautiful long marquee moon of a thing. Tim Darcey starts out sneering easy-target buzzwords (‘Warplane! Condo!’) and then the kind of phony clichés people say in cartoons (‘Fancy seeing you here! Beautiful weather today!’) then his own awkward confessions: ‘I am no longer afraid to dance tonight, because that’s all that I have left.'”
The song appears on Ought’s sophomore album, Sun Coming Down, released on Constellation Records in September 2015. Have a listen to it via Soundcloud:
Ought are touring in support of their new album, and the band stops locally at the Black Cat on Tuesday, May 10.
I first discovered Ought when I saw them perform at DC9 on Oct. 16, 2014, touring in support of their debut LP, More Than Any Other Day. At the time, I said, “Ought opened with ‘Today More Than Any Other Day,’ an amazing tribute really to living one’s life. It’s a bit like lyrics by [David] Byrne superimposed over melodies that could have come from Television. Musically, Ought could have sprung straight from 1977 via New York City.”
This show already is amazing enough, but it becomes even more amazing because DC punks Priests join Ought on the bill! In fact, Priests jump onto the Ought tour starting next week in Boston on May 4 and stick with them throughout the month.
Priests have a number of dynamic and great songs — and like Ought, they are a “must see” live band. When I last saw Priests at the Black Cat in February, the band performed a number of new songs they have been honing over the past year or so — songs that sit well with the Priests’ published catalog even if they aren’t always as frenetic.
This is one of my most anticipated shows of 2016. This concert will brim with vitality, intellectualism, and damn good music from both bands in a way that strikes me as if a young Talking Heads and Blondie were to have dropped by about 40 years ago (and that is the highest compliment I can think of!). Tickets are available online.
Ought and Priests
Tuesday, May 10