Protest punk didn’t die... it was just taking a few years off. Now, when every day brings a new reason to protest, there has never been a better time to get together in a large group and be angry. Enter Priests, Washington D.C.’s foremost social-punk band. After years spent tightening and refining their style of protest punk, Priests come to the Southgate House Revival as a band with a lot to say, in an era when a lot needs to be said.
Priests’ first full album, 2017's Nothing Feels Natural, was very much an album of the moment. Released just one week after Trump’s inauguration, Nothing Feels Natural hit a raw nerve that was just freshly exposed to many people. However, Priests would probably resent the idea that their music is anything as simple as anti-Trump (the album had been in development since 2014). Indeed, Priests are here to wake you up to everything. Society didn’t break when Trump was elected, it allowed Trump to be elected because it was broken.
Priests’ music communicates this discord deeply. From singer Katie Alice Greer’s snarl to the slightly off-key guitar of GL Jaguar, the feel of Priests’ work reflects a society where things don’t quite mesh. Punk is often derided as one note, a genre where aggression makes up for creativity. This criticism cannot be levied against Priests. Nothing Feels Natural is a diverse record that features off-kilter surf music, noise rock, and even a splash of disco by turns. The band’s whole discography reflects this; even their earliest work experiments with spoken word tracks between standard punk fare.
Opening for Priests, Toon Town’s swampy, psychedelic rock is twisted and revived in a ghostly take on bayou blues. The Cincinnati band released their first full-length album, Stay Lost, last spring, two years after their debut EP, The Great Dissolve.
From Cincinnati’s Northside, Alex Otto, Adam Stone, and Sasha Suskind revive Southern rock into Stay Lost, taking The Great Dissolve a step into the ghostly side of music. Fresh and full of life, Toon Town promises a modern, spooky, and experimental swing take on rock. Their music has the mood of The Black Keys, Beaten Awake, and Dr. Dog’s album The Psychedelic Swamp; a rhythm that’s easy to move to.