Priests - The now veteran upstarts of the local scene are up first and it has been a while. Katie Alice Greer throws a bit of a pall on the upcoming set by saying she lost her voice and the drummer takes a lot of the lead vocals in the opener. But after that Greer seems to do quite well, although stage patter is a little hoarse. But her vocals add to the mysterious music the three behind her cook up. They are at their best when they morph that early Banshees sound into something fresh and invigorating with guitar moves that have an unpredictable edge to them even as the melodies always make sense. Big crowd tonight in the backstage and they pretty much got what they wanted from this fine set.
Ought - This Montreal quartet does far more right than wrong during this fascinating set. I have heard the term art punk used and that is close enough, although I think you can kind of narrow it down to the punk and post punk pioneers that kept their krautrock records and wanted to morph into something more like that (John Lydon, Nicky Garratt, and more). There is kind of a Warsaw meets Alternative TV vibe much of the time and the band really nails in when they lock into a droning riff with keyboards that do subtle shape shifting moves and a rhythm section that keeps it nimble throughout the length of the song. At their worst, there are a couple of songs that lack that edge of your seat attention, but it probably doesn't hurt to pull it back at times. For much of the time, this is compelling music that is just unique enough and well thought out.
The loss of John Stabb - Priests dedicated the set to his passing this Saturday night and the Sunday fund raising show that became a tribute show was sold out and quite memorable for the attendees. This has been a rough 2016 for musicians and I have slight personal connections to four musicians that have had serious health problems (and now two have passed). Thurston Moore flew from his England home to play a benefit for Ivan Julian in NYC before heading down here to help out John Stabb and his wife and family. It is great to see that, but sad that you can almost do benefit show tours.
John Stabb should be remembered as one of the most galvanizing and accessible punk rockers of the DC scene. While others made their fame elsewhere, and while the Dischord scene (great as it is) always had an insularity to it, John Stabb through Government Issue was the guy that connected with people all over the world, as well as his being a fixture in the local scene. Perhaps he was the Jimmy Stewart of punk rock with his unique personality, humor, and accessibility always at the fore. He just went and did it like few others and was always a great front man to see on stage or a likable bloke to talk to off of it. I hope a lot of younger musicians got to meet him, as he offered a shining example of how to do things in this crazy musical universe. I was fortunate to have seen him play in the old days and be one of my most reviewed people at this blog. He is missed.
And you can still help his wife and family with the extreme financial burden by contributing here.