PREMIERE: Priests Bring Their Spooky Energy to Pickathon’s Slab Sessions with “Leila 20”
DC punk’s holiest emissaries belt out the cut from last year’s Nothing Feels Natural.
In the tubthumping tradition of anarcho-punk’s pop-wary emissaries, Priests’s single “JJ” was among the catchiest surf rock earworms of 2017, blending sunny riffs with Katie Alice Greer’s piercing vocals. Beneath the pristine surface of their post-breakup radio-ready jaunt—superficially more we-are-never-ever-ever-getting-back-together in tone than fuck-you-I-won’t-do-what-you-tell-me—Greer snarls the perils of brand loyalty when reducing someone to their taste in cigarettes, mockingly throwing around immature labels like “jock frat boys” and “hipster fag” to inject a brutal reality into the Swiftian high school fairy tale.
Two tracks later, the DC quartet’s debut LP Nothing Feels Natural ebbs into an eerie elegy to Greer’s worst dreams, a sinister rain cloud threatening the remainder of the album with brooding guitar and horror-film strings. “Leila 20” showcases the band’s newfound sense of lyrical and instrumental uncertainty (their album was released on January 27, 2017) in place of the well-cultivated angst of their Don Giovanni–pressed EP, while Greer’s vocals remain unflappable in the spotlight.
Such is the spooky energy Priests brought to their Slab Session, belting out “Leila” (Eric who?) in the foreground of the titular slab. With guitarist GL Jaguar toting the reverberated unease, drummer Daniele Daniele working through some complex fills in the guise of an eloped bride, and an ever-charismatic Greer (dressed as Daniele’s maid of honor, assuming the year is 1983) rocking the mic, their engaging stage presence certainly reflects the tradition of their genre’s raw performance considerably more than that of the Kmart choreography “JJ” so spitefully riffs on.
Keep an eye out for Greer snatching a literal low-hanging fruit, giving new meaning to the name “Pickathon.”
As always, this episode of the Slab Sessions was produced by the excellent folks at Half Stop Sessions.