East London based band Shopping recently embarked on a fall tour of the US that kicked off in early October, to coincide with the US release of their album Why Choose. Having garnered critical acclaim in the UK, including being named by the NME as a “band you need to hear,” Shopping are now in the homestretch of introducing themselves Stateside. Helping them over the finish line are Priests, a 4 piece punk band from Washington DC. The first night of the tour that these two live powerhouses shared the stage was at the Pinhook in Durham NC.
Not sure if there was a coin flip backstage, or how it was decided, but first up for the evening was Shopping. Fronted by Rachel Aggs on guitar and vocals, the band delivered a top notch but all too short set of songs that quickly won over the crowd. Their sound was a mixture of aggressive 70’s punk and post punk that was tamed by a jangly hook-laden pop sensibility that brought back memories of R.E.M. and the B-52’s in their early Athens, GA days. With Andrew Milk on drums and Billy Easter on bass, the songs were driven by a propulsive backbeat. Their set was blissfully delivered and enthusiastically received. At one point during the set, the band paused to encourage timid fans to move closer to the stage and cut loose. By the end of the set, the gap between band and audience had dissolved and there was plenty of shimmying taking place both on and off the stage.
Closing out the evening fell to Priests. Having built a wave of momentum in the DIY Washington DC music scene, Priests are poised to generate attention on a wider scale. They released Bodies and Control and Money and Power, an EP on Don Giovanni Records this past summer and are currently playing shows while they work on a debut full length record. Announcing that they were the American half of the bill, captivating lead singer Katie Alice Greer grabbed the attention of the crowd with an intense charisma and held it while her bandmates ripped through a frenetic set of punk songs that channeled the ferocity and unrefined rage of Bikini Kill. Priests created a storm of sound based in surf guitar and pounding drums with a nod toward the historic DC hardcore punk scene. Their furious set hit hard and quickly dissipated like a summer thunderstorm, leaving the band and audience dripping sweat and smiling.