As Daniele Daniele’s sticks hit the drums an electric charge seemed to sweep through the air. The crowd instantly jolted into a blurry tangle of limbs and flashes of hair. The room shimmered and shook as the music of post-punk band Priests pounded through the space.
The three-piece, D.C.-based band played a show in the Horn Gallery last Saturday. The group, composed of Daniele, vocalist Katie Alice Greer and guitarist G.L. Jaguar, was accompanied by touring bassist Alexandra Tyson.
Priests’ unique sound brings together biting post-punk beats, buoyant indie pop melodies and surf rock rhythms. Lyrics lie at the core of Priests’ music and stem from a range of ideas.
“Sometimes movies, sometimes just reading the newspaper, sometimes just a weird turn of phrase that I’ll hear someone say and just write down in a notebook,” Greer said. “I just sort of go after whatever I find interesting and try not to think in terms of what I should be writing songs about, because that’s kind of boring.”
In songs like “Lelia 20,” Priests’ music borders on melancholic as Greer’s voice swims hauntingly through darker vibrations. “You are a common thief in my worst dreams,” Greer croons. Others have a more upbeat quality, although they still carry a sense of urgency and meaning. A political current runs through songs like “Pink White House,” where Priests rail against a hollow political system that they compare to “a puppet show in which you’re made to feel like you participate.”
Despite these lyrics of frustration with the government, Priests resists what they deem the vagueness of a political label. “For whatever reason we have always been described as a political band, and it often feels like that word doesn’t really describe a whole lot anymore almost because it describes so much,” Greer said. “You can really find a political dimension in almost anything that you are talking about.”
Priests gave an energetic and joyful performance. Greer, in a leopard print jumpsuit, tossed her head back and forth as Daniele somehow seemed to jump up and down from her seated position behind the drums. The group’s mesmerizing, full-body, engagement with the music lasted the duration of their concert, maintaining the sense of electricity in the room.
Priests’ performance was preceded by Kenyon bands Three Beers Richer and Mark Twang. The two groups set the tone for the night with their own energizing, room-shaking sounds. As they played, people threw purple beach balls, which seemed to perpetually hover above the heads of the dancing crowd.
When the evening came to a close, the crowd was left hungry for more, but cries for an encore were left unsatisfied. These eager viewers will have to wait for Priests’ upcoming record The Seduction of Kansas, set to be released on April 5.