Priests at Hexagon, 6/9/14
Hexagon Bar, Minneapolis
Monday, June 9, 2014
In a world with no shortage of politically fueled punk and hardcore bands, how do you keep your sound fresh? For Priests' lead vocalist, Katie Alice Greer, the answer is simple -- you abandon all fears of losing your shit on stage. You never stop moving, questioning, or fighting back. You spit at the critics who say it's been done before and retort, "Well, now we're doing it our own way."
On Monday night, the Washington, D.C.-based post-punks played back-to-back shows in Minneapolis, starting with an all-ages early show at Extreme Noise and ending with a late show at the Hexagon.
Priests are on tour promoting their newest EP, Bodies and Control and Money and Power, a name reminiscent of Foucault's entire collection rolled into one. The album is a fast-paced post-punk powerhouse that delves into cliched political sentiments while still managing to stimulate with help from Greer's in-your-face vocals and the band's endless pool of energy. And let's be real -- the problems Priests' lyrics confront haven't been solved, so why should they stop singing about them? Capitalism, racism, sexism, and homophobia remain very real things. Until changes are made, bands across genres will continue to sing, scream, and pig squeal about them.
Waveless started the night out on an introspective note with their high-intensity, reverb-heavy breed of shoegaze, in which the vocals are barely discernable from the instruments.
"Priests will be here soon," guitarist Dustin McChesney announced before the set, effectively humbling himself and the band. Modesty, though appreciated, was unnecessary. The kid can shred. As McChesney played a particularly technical solo, a man in the front row turned and looked around at the audience with an open mouth, wordlessly inquiring, "Are you guys seeing this shit?" We were. McChesney knows his way around a set of guitar strings.
Whatever Forever, fronted by Prissy Clerks' Clara Salyer, was up next. Their infectious, fast-paced pop-punk inspired some particularly aggressive headbanging from Frankie Teardrop's drummer, Gunnar Kauth, who stood mesmerized in the front row. It appeared that people wanted to dance, but it was too early for anyone to break through their social anxiety and indulge -- anyone, that is, but the the lone, off-beat dancer in the empty space near the front of the stage.
Monday night marked Trash Swans' third show. The New Orleans duo have an endearingly sloppy but powerful style, reminiscent of Two Gallants for grade schoolers. Before their last song of the evening, the guitarist and singer announced, "We both teach kindergarten and just got out of school about a day before we left. The important thing about being a child or adult is that you've got to know how to wiggle." His announcement transitioned into a rollicking song during which the crowd was commanded to wiggle. Many obliged.
Priests took the stage shortly after and blasted through a 10-song set, starting with "Doctor" from Bodies and Control and Money and Power. Greer, who wore a long blond wig and floral dress, looked despondent for the first few songs, but cleared up any self-consciousness on the part of the crowd when she announced that she didn't feel well.
"I kinda feel like I'm gonna barf."
"Yeah! Do it!" someone from the crowd screamed.
"It's like a 'maybe I've got the flu kind of barf.' It's not like 'party!,'" she added.
Despite her physical state, Greer was as entertaining as ever with her eye rolls, wig pulling, stomping, and moaning. It's difficult to take your eyes off her -- she can't help but embody her lyrical content. Sometimes she looks like she's going to sob, and other times looks like she'll hit you in the face and kiss you on the cheek right after.
Some audience members became vocal about their love for the band halfway through Priests' set and Greer responded in kind.
"You like it? Thanks. We like you," she said. "You don't always have to talk, you know. But you don't have to apologize." Whether or not she was joking is hard to say -- her aggression immediately transformed into maniacal laughter.
Highlights from the remainder of the set included Greer humping her mic stand, performing an entire song atop the bass drum, and breaking out into an Ian Curtis seizure-inspired dance during "And Breeding." As the last notes of "Radiation" were played, Greer grabbed her sweatshirt from the corner of the stage, nodded at the crowd, and disappeared.
As if the audience hadn't witnessed enough intensity, local masochists Brain Tumors ended the night with a sprawling mosh pit, a healthy dose of blood, and a horde of flying beer cans. Before frontman Drew Ailes muttered the first word of his satirically self-important introduction, a PBR can was thrown at his head. Gimme Noise was too busy putting Ailes in headlocks to pick up on any specific musical stylings but suffice it to say, the mosh pit had extended toward the back door by the time the set ended.
Crowd: A fairly average, but massive, Hexagon crowd. Lots of tattoos, dreads, ironic mullets, and black band shirts.
Overheard: "Does anyone even read the print edition of City Pages besides drunk homeless people?"
"They're always making impressive DJing decisions here."
Critic's bias: I'll always have a soft spot for politically charged punk, especially when extremely attractive people are involved.
Notebook dump: The distinctive smell of rotten hard-boiled eggs filled my nose for a solid five minutes at one point in the evening. Protip: Go to the bathroom.
On a serious note, that was one of the best shows I've seen in a long time, especially for a Monday night.
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