Once the band scrambled onstage for their rather brief 45-minute set, Seattle folk were standing respectable distances from each other, apparently resisting the urge to hurl themselves into one another as Priests' music almost commands you do. Lead singer Katie Alice Greer glowed raspberry cotton candy, dressed in white underneath all those lights.
Fresh off the release of their second album, The Seduction of Kansas, (inspired by historian Thomas Frank’s 2004 book What’s the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America), the post-punk band from the other Washington belted out a solid performance for the crowd.
Their latest record marks a new and (in this writer's opinion) more interesting direction for the band, which almost fell apart in 2017 after their bassist left to focus on other projects during the tour in support of their first full length, Nothing Feels Natural. The band almost collapsed but reconvened to push out their second album.
The performance, like their most recent record, was both brash and sexy, political with a new wave sensibility about it. They came out playing some of their older stuff ("Anything You Want" and "JJ") pleading—as many traveling acts do—for the crowd to come in closer. I necked the rest of my gin and tonic and obliged.
Cruising through a cover of Danzig's "Mother," my friend (whose second language is English) leaned over and asked me if I could understand Greer. I couldn't. Her voice comes from the back of her throat, in a country-type growl that's equal parts animalistic and soulful. Coupled with G.L. Jaguar's searing guitar that often sounds like it could belong on a New Order track, Greer's unconventional voice is what makes the band spry, oscillating between punk, rock, and new wave. The band is grounded and made better by both these things.
Plus, Jaguar was wearing a fucking cowboy hat which means he has a lot of sauce. Lol.
When they began to delve into their newer songs, someone threw a pack of cigarettes onstage (not me). "If you haven’t noticed, I’m losing a lot of vocal range, so cigarettes might not be the best thing," laughed Greer before launching into the woozy "Youtube Sartre." Drummer Daniele Daniele switched spots with Greer to sing two songs, before switching back.
They rolled through the rest of their catalog at a tight clip ending with the two highlights off The Seduction of Kansas, the titular song and "Jesus' Son." "The Seduction of Kansas," sounds like it could be played in a club environment, with a tight sounding guitar. Before playing "Jesus' Son," Greer commented that some magazine has referred to it as a "great queer anthem"—which was cool—but it really is just a sci-fi song. As they played I thought to myself that I'd like to live in a universe where Jesus' son was "young and dumb and full of come."
Quickly the house lights came up, the band exited, and the crowd—dazed—shuffled out the door.