Priests @ The Hug & Pint, Glasgow, 14 May
Offering a night of infectious fun, Washington, DC's Priests should probably be on a bigger stage, but at The Hug & Pint they're right at home
When the basement doors of The Hug & Pint swing open, Michael Kasparis is propositioning crowd members to text him facts to read out onstage in between songs. One, he says, comes from Priests guitarist GL Jaguar: 85 per cent of men who have heart attacks during sexual intercourse do so while being unfaithful. Or something like that. The factual accuracy of the donated ‘fact’ isn’t important (although I wouldn’t want to question Jaguar’s knowledge on these matters).
Soon after, Apostille – a kind of alter ego of seemingly untapped energy on Kasparis’ dark side, as far as this very recent introduction says – is in full flow behind some punishing electro-pop, with thumping beats scattered over with pinged, perhaps improvised, one-liners delivered in a hoarse scream that elicits both dancing and laughter. It's more than an ounce disorienting, and totally unexpected. But it's punk as fuck and an ideal opener.
Priests follow and, while their new album The Seduction of Kansas saw them attempt to shed the thing that lured the ‘punk’ signifier to them – their overt politics – in favour of more nuanced, characterful storytelling, on stage they embody punk. Katie Alice Greer is utterly magnetic, brash, unapologetic; rarely, if ever, breaking eye contact with the crowd in front of her. They open with Pink White House, with JJ soon after.
The rest of the set is exclusively given over to their latest tracks, the DC band clearly revelling in their newness. Jaguar’s slicked hair and vintage shirt seem like they’ll be shorn straight off such is the sharpness of his post-punk riffs. Drummer Daniele Daniele steps to the mic for the emphatic I’m Clean and the plastic pop of 68 Screen. But it’s Greer, an encapsulating presence, that steals the show from the front. Her noir-ish Not Perceived is a slow build highlight.
Jesus’ Son is a microcosm of the whole set. It’s a spitting icon that sits perfectly as a set closer, paired with audience singalong and numerous runs through of the chorus that leave you baying for more. If The Seduction of Kansas received muted praise, undeservedly, compared to Nothing Feels Natural because of its non-conforming attitude to style and playfulness, it has manifested as a big middle finger live – Greer and her bandmates are having infectious fun. Priests should probably be on a bigger stage, but here they’re right at home.