[Photo via Priests’ Facebook]
Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of seeing Priests at the Vera Project. Since their music came into my life about a short three or four weeks ago, I honestly haven’t been able to get them out of my head. My own relationship with the loaded word “punk” is complicated—more complicated, I think, then I sometimes portray “punk” itself as. Sometimes I think of punk in a similar way that I think of relatively unintelligent people loudly making a fuss about some political issue they don’t really understand on Twitter or something, just to broadcast their own egotistical opinion. Priests has shown me that this cynicism is not only wildly misguided, but it’s also dismissive of the whole reason for punk. The point isn’t to yell loudly for the sake of loudness; it’s that sometimes, the point is so unbelievably frustrating and deafening and powerful that it can only get across through the medium of noise.
But it’s taken a while for this point to get across to me. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview the band members about their new album, Nothing Feels Natural, a week before seeing them live, and had a really fantastic, mind-opening discussion with them about what their band is about. And yet, hearing them talk about it over the phone was nothing like watching Katie Greer scream into a mic the same thoughts and emotions, only in song.
Their show was opened by Nail Polish, who is a phenomenal local band I’ve been able to see at a couple different venues around Seattle. It was really great to be able to see them at Vera. They’re three musicians—Aden, Gems, and Sloane—meshing together in such a finely-tuned flurry of melodies and shrieks. Julia interviewed them for KXSU last year, where they talked about their music writing process, in which they hone their ideas into the “absolute components.” This really rings true when you hear them—they’re so full of straight-to-the-point ideas that blend together in lovely commotion.
Next up was Stef Chura, who was a sweet & fuzzy indie rock group from Michigan. Led by singer, Stef, who was super engaging with the crowd in between songs, the group heralded a lead woman whose voice was quietly confident. She seemed to know something you didn’t know, and had complete control over the musicality of her guitar. They were the perfect breather between Nail Polish and Priests.
Before the show, I had done my research: I knew Priests’s whole look and I had seen pictures of the group together, but it didn’t quite prepare me for seeing them all on stage in front of me. They each kind of look like a TV show character, but as if they’re all from different TV shows. That’s honestly the best way I can put it.
Katie Greer, the lead singer, writes most of the lyrics for Priests. She looks like how I wanted to look when I was in the eighth grade, except she actually pulls it off. She never stops moving across the stage. I’d describe her presence as “hypnotic,” and I’d like to think that’s exactly the word she’s going for. I can also confidently say that her voice is unlike any other live voice I’ve ever heard. It may be even better live than on recording. The sheer, earnest power behind her yells is unmatched, and it’s probably unfair to even call it yelling because of it’s also indisputably musical.
(Photo via Priests’ Instagram)
The rest of the band—G.L Jaguar on guitar, Daniele Daniele on drums, and bassist Taylor M.— give movement to her voice. They propel each song forward in dramatic fashion; they are relentless. Daniele on drums, especially, moves with an intensity and strong willpower; you can visibly see how much she enjoys it. She has a gripping speaking intro to “No Big Bang” about the “inexorable pull of progress” that yanks you along like a rollercoaster, much like her drumming.
The band moved through their set with ease. The collection of songs that make up Nothing Feels Natural seem strangely connected for how varied they are. They cover a lot of musical ground as the group explores different styles and formats of presentation. And yet, they are all still united.
They are united in ideas so radical and overwhelming that they cannot be quiet: a devastating frustration, critique, and rage against capitalism. Their lyrics pin a dirty label on you the moment they begin.
“Feels good to buy something you can’t afford / You are not you / Contestant, you’re on Wheel of Fortune,” and later, “Ooh baby, my American dream.”
They voice their resentment and resistance. “I’m gonna buy you before you buy me.”
And they stick it to you, to the political climate, to the establishment, and to anyone who has ever tried to confine them in one of the best lines I have ever heard.
“You are just a cog in the machine / And I am a wet dream, soft and mean.”
Their noise is their radical acceptance of themselves as agents of change, acknowledging themselves as a powerful threat in their self-awareness. “Soft and mean,” Katie Alice Greer roars; and it’s like a wink, or a nudge, for some girl in the second row of her show, to be the same.
ADRIENNE HOHENSEE | Soft and Mean | KXSU Music Reporter