Punk has always been a voice of protest and change, and for Washington D.C.’s Priests that voice goes further: putting their (and their donors’) money where their mouth is.
The band released their LP Nothing Feels Natural in January, a long-awaited follow-up to their 2014 EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power. The new record was bursting at the seams with amazing new riffs. It felt like a perfect evolution of the band, more sophisticated but with no less grit.
Just before their North American tour for this album, the band did something that not many bands do (let alone ones who still work on the side to pay rent). They held a successful fundraiser, on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Called No Thanks, the fundraiser featured artists like Waxahatchee and Flasher, at their local Washington venue Black Cat. The concert raised $12,000 for One DC, which through grassroots leadership seeks to create an equitable community for all, and local charity Casa Ruby, which provides aide to the most vulnerable in the LGBT community.
In addition, the band has been raising money for Casa Ruby while on tour via Plus 1, an organization started by Arcade Fire that allows bands to donate $1 of every ticket sale to the charity of their choice.
We caught Priests at their Montreal show. The band gave an intimately raw set in the small, crowded venue of Casa Del Popol.
Starting off with a gripping opening set from Montreal’s Fred Thomas and consistently engaging show from the young Baltimore band Snail Mail, the night was off to a promising start, despite the power dropping out momentarily during Snail Mail’s set.
The energy in the room came alive during Priests set as the band ripped into tracks like “JJ” with reckless abandon and the full-on intensity of “Nicki” and “Pink White House.” Singer Katie Alice Greer was a force of nature shouting out lyrics to songs like “Doctor” while the crowd yelled them back, she fell to her knees to belt out every last word and even arched her back to deliver one of the most striking stage moves of the night. Even the banter was fun as Greer asked the crowd how they could live somewhere this cold, and a Fahrenheit quote of the local Washington temperature getting hilarious “Nobody knows what that means” back from the crowd.
Drummer Daniele Daniele drove the band with her commanding drum lines throughout the set, never missing a single lyric in her vocal duties. Taylor Mulitz shook the room with powerful bass lines that had the crowd dancing. GL Jaguar destroyed his guitar performance crouching into several of his solos, and singing along even when he didn’t have a microphone.
One of the most memorable moments of the night came when the band played “Right Wing,” with Greer lamenting how much more real the song had become since they wrote it back in 2014, especially given the band’s proximity to everything political. Jaguar and Mulitz switched instruments and the band ripped into the track getting one of the night’s most unhinged reactions from the crowd, with shouts of “I’m not trying to be” roaring through the venue.
Closing on “Suck” the night ended on a groovy note, although the band’s short set definitely left the crowd aching for more as their raging “Modern Love/No Weapon” was notably absent. As one crowd member shouted out a request, Jaguar was quick to respond saying “What ever happened to leaving crowd’s wanting more?”
Despite the short set the band put so much energy into their hour it was easy to overlook how limited it was. To Jaguar’s point, the crowd was definitely thirsty for more from the band, so hopefully it won’t be too long before the band gives Canadian audiences another hit of their off-kilter political rock.
Follow Priests online here.