Photos by Krystina Gabrielle
After their big national tour, D.C.’s own Priests returned to Black Cat’s Mainstage on Saturday night. The sold-out venue was packed with fans coming together to celebrate the release of their debut album, Nothing Feels Natural. In fact, it was a record release show for all three acts on the bill. The event also functioned as a benefit show—a portion of each ticket sale was being donated to LGBTQ resource center and non-profit Casa Ruby, which the bands made sure to plug throughout the night.
Richmond’s Atta Girl had just put out their second EP, Betty’s Begonia that day, and kicked off the night with a solid set. Vocalist RM switched between loud shouting and a soft head-voice, while the rest of the band provided bright and jangly riffs behind her, making the music a vibrant mix between indie rock and punk.
Coup Sauvage & the Snips, also hailing from D.C., performed tracks from their newly-released album, Heirs To Nothing. The six-piece’s disco/dance vibes felt a little strange sandwiched between two punk-rock acts, but their “kiss-off” songs shared a common political message. The first few tracks felt a bit thin, but fortunately they got stronger as the set went on. They finished with a passionate funk gospel about D.C.’s gentrification, and turned the room into the Church of Sauvage as they preached: “Your small plates will not protect you!” and “We got a problem with urban pioneers!”
The now fired-up crowd eagerly awaited Priests, ready for the homecoming party to begin. “We’re just gonna play the album,” said singer Katie Alice Greer, and drummer Daniele Daniele launched into the explosive intro of the album’s first track, “Appropriate.” G.L. Jaguar thrashed around the stage with his guitar as Taylor Mulitz thumped out bold bass riffs, forming the gritty foundation underneath Greer’s growling and aggressive vocals.
They then played the album in full, only deviating from the tracklist by throwing in the fan-favorite “Doctor” after the first few songs and ending with “And Breeding,” both of which come from their earlier Bodies and Control and Money and Power EP. About halfway through the set, Priests brought up local musician and Wedderburn Records’ founder Janel Leppin to accompany them on her cello for a few songs. Leppin wrote and performed the interlude on Nothing Feels Natural, and the band took this moment to give shout-outs to many of their collaborators on the record. Between artists, fans, and friends, Priests have built up a dedicated community around their music, and they couldn’t have been more thankful.
Although Greer expressed her dislike of encores, Priests returned after the main set and satisfied the crowd with two especially politically-relevant songs to close out the night: first, “Personal Planes”—with Greer screaming about Air Force One over and over into the mic—and then Jaguar and Mulitz switched instruments to end with “Right Wing.” It wouldn’t be a punk show without a bit of protest, after all.