Words and photos by Farrah Skeiky
What makes this fresh crop of DIY talent so great is that each band shines for different reasons. Some have got the jangle factor that edges on twee, some are reviving the style of their favorite DIY legends on their own terms, and some are bringing something completely new to the table. A bill like this one that is tied together by spirit and not just genre quite literally has something for everyone. If you want to go home and start your own band now, we don’t blame you.
Radiator Hospital out of Philadelphia delivered a good dose of jangle pop, with a good bit of pop-punk vibes sprinkled throughout some songs. It doesn’t get more DIY than pressing on a show with a broken string or two. Armed with a good sense of humor and an LP that’s fun to listen to (which is a really important factor that seems to be neglected lately), Radiator Hospital crank out songs that earnestly, brightly get to the point– unless they’re in the middle of telling a joke or two about penguins. Everything from scratchy, feedback-filled jams to sweet acoustic melodies meld together seamlessly to produce the most cohesive set of the night.
2014 has a lot in store for Priests, or maybe it’s the other way around. The DC punk outfit prove once again that they’re not meant to be an opening act unless whoever is following them can match or rival Katie Alice Greer’s tenacity. It’s especially noteworthy that Priests aren’t yet touring on an album yet, just tapes (but the album’s on the way as the group have recently signed to Don Giovanni). There’s a difference between tacking a brash performance onto songs to give them life, and building your band’s identity around being brash. Priests fall into the latter, and deliver the kind of provocative performance that instills a growling energy into the audience. It’s the kind of punk that 80s TV moms are scared of; the kind that supposedly makes kids go out and perform reckless acts of vandalism and general distaste for society.
A great performance will drag you out of whatever warm blanket burrito you’ve fashioned yourself this winter, and entices you with astounding chemistry between bandmates– Greer and guitarist Gideon Jaguar play off of each other constantly while relentlessly delivering musical blows, the kind of palling around that makes you want to start your own band. The entire set is inspirational in a strange, subversive manner. It’s hard to walk away from it without feeling, okay, what about YOU? What are YOU going to do with all of THIS? Priests have dared you to make something of the high they’ve created in a small, sweltering room.
I feel for a band that has to follow Priests, because it’s a difficult performance to follow. Potty Mouth cranked out a solid, cohesive set that sounded like it was coming from women in their late 20s reviving the sounds of their college-era bands, and not from four girls who’ve got X’s on their hands. Potty Mouth strung together fuzzy, scuzzy riff laden tracks with pop-punk melodies that teem with honest lyrics about insecurity and frustration. It’s widely accepted that Black and Studs may be their best song to date, and it’s also the only one to touch on the counter-intuitive traditions of punk. Punk means making whatever the hell kind of album you want to, but we’d be lying if we said that we didn’t want to hear more of this, because it brought out the most engaging performance of the night.
Potty Mouth are getting closer and closer to combining all the sounds they love and all their shining strengths into one streamlined sound that would allow them to shine their brightest. Frontwoman Abby Weems and bassist Ally Einbinder are constantly engaged, excited to be where they are and smiling through most of the set. Their energy is on the bring of translating and inspiring the crowd, but perhaps that energy will be amplified once their sound is a little more reliable. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed with how this band clicks, despite the fact that each member is at a completely different level of instrumental aptitude. Not that inexperience has ever stopped anyone from making great music before– but we can’t wait to see what Potty Mouth will bring after a year of tours and new songs.