tue 21/11/2017

Priests/Downtown Boys, Deaf Institute, Manchester review - lively political punk-fest | reviews, news & interviews

Priests/Downtown Boys, Deaf Institute, Manchester review - lively political punk-fest

Priests/Downtown Boys, Deaf Institute, Manchester review - lively political punk-fest

A refreshing and energized musical response to Trump and the rest

That would be an ecumenical matter

Both Rhode Island’s Downtown Boys, and Washington D.C.’s Priests sit at the centre of today’s feminist punk scene. As stated in a recent Downtown Boys press release, they oppose “the prison-industrial complex, racism, queerphobia, capitalism, fascism, boredom, and all things people use to try to close our minds, eyes and hearts”. This, perhaps, explains why the promoters have listed the night as a “radical double bill”. Having also both released extremely well received albums this year - Cost of Living and Nothing is Natural respectively - they descend on Manchester’s Deaf Institute amid a flurry of hype and expectation.

London-based support act No Home is on stage as I enter, with a sizeable crowd watching the singer thrash at a telecaster and viciously pour her soul into the microphone. She’s a singer-songwriter with real guts. Although she’s not the most polished guitarist, the grit of her performance adds to the sense of catharsis about her music. The highlight of her set is the acapella “Who Cares”, which deals with teenage isolation and ends her performance in a hauntingly beautiful manner.

With their manic female vocalist and smatterings of saxophone, it's almost lazy to mention the obvious X-Ray Spex comparison in regards to five-piece Downtown Boys, but there’s a real musicality and rhythm in their music which they share with their punk predecessors. The growling bass pulls the crowd up by their feet, until the floor is quite literally shaking.

There’s also a curious blend of fun and politics in their set, as there has been across their three LPs. 2017’s Cost of Living, for example, heavily nods to Trump’s Presidency and the fear that it has resulted in. A skanking stage invader has just left when we’re treated to the first of several political speeches, all of which keep the audience captivated. Their music is equally charged, with the passion of singer Victoria Ruiz at its most evident in the attack of “Lips That Bite” or high-point “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas).” By the time the incendiary set closer, “A Wall” finishes, the whole audience is dancing and whooping. Even if just for this moment, I feel like I’m standing in (what No Home described as) a sea of “super-funky ultra-revolutionaries”.

The four members of Priests come on to both roaring cheers and roaring heat. Greeting the crowd with a new song, and then ballsy album cut “Appropriate”, they take a moment to find their feet, but by the time fan-favourite “Jj” pounds in, Priests have the crowd hypnotised. The band move between scratchy feedback and coy melodicism with ease, with magnetic singer Katie Alice Greer swaying like a charmed-snake at the front of the stage. Dressed like a gothic 19th-Century prince, she’s at her best in the Sonic Youth-tinged “No Big Bang”, almost spitting into the microphone over an oddly catchy one-note bassline. At the end of the set, the audience mill about for a while. No one wants to leave the Deaf Institute and admit the evening’s over.

Priests drummer Daniele Daniele revealed mid-set that Priests feel a special bond with Manchester and, judging from the crowd’s reaction tonight, Manchester also feels a special bond with Priests.

Overleaf: Watch the video for Priests "Jj"

With their manic female vocalist and smatterings of saxophone, it's almost lazy to mention the obvious X-Ray Spex comparison in regards to five-piece Downtown Boys

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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