Photo: Kia McGinnis
You gotta hand it to these hipsters. And when I say hipsters, I mean the Portland dwelling, bearded, easy-going, most likely stoned kind. Yes, Priory fits said cliche, but let’s not be too hasty to judge. Consider for a second how fucking competitive the music industry is in general, let alone in a city crawling with bands hoping to be the next Elliott Smith. The dudes of Priory stood out enough amongst the masses to land a tour, hop in a bus and live the musician’s dream.
I arrived at Kilby Court half an hour after doors, not very stoked to stand in the cold on a Monday night. It seems I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. It was dead other than guitarist Greg, who was keeping warm by the fire pit. We had a nice chat about the road, music and this and that. He was humble and much older looking than the 22 years he claimed. A story was shared about when they were touring this July, and their air conditioner went out- which vicariously made all the smoked salmon they had brought to eat begin to rot. A smelly trip, needless to say. After a while, a trail of band members from the local Rooftop Bandits arrived, eager to reunite with their friends from Priory, having played with them the year before. A little girl ran around screaming. Much fondness was shared all around—and probably much weed.
It became clear around eight o’ clock that the other bands had most certainly bailed. When enough shooting the shit had occurred, Priory tuned up their instruments and skipped the formalities a normal show would include. Their set was intimate yet slick, and thoroughly engaging. Priory’s sound could be described as electro-folk with notable use of the xylophone. It’s refreshing to watch musicians who are doing what they do for the right reason: because they love to do it. The word ‘priory’ means a place of seclusion, but their music has a lovely reverb-especially in a small venue. Smiles were slapped on all four faces of the members as they played a short, satisfying show. The song ‘’Lady of Late’’, their most popular tune, put the recorded version to shame. Kyle’s guitar filled the space with a distinct, warbly tone. The layers of instruments blended seamlessly with the endearing, harmonic vocals. ‘’Devil Vs Heater’’ was probably my favorite song, even though it was the slowest. It was soulful as an indie song can be. Joe, the drummer, plays like a madman, with his arms flying everywhere. At one point, he broke a snare and to fill time while he ran to the van to grab another, Priory asked if anyone knew a joke. I’d like to say my concert buddy/ little brother’s attempt at making everyone laugh was successful, but alas, awkward chuckles all around. Luckily, the band picked up where they left off and bad jokes were long forgotten amidst the last few songs.
Priory impressed me in several categories, including: friendliness, bad-ass music making and cool enough band t-shirts to make me buy one. As they bid the small crowd adieu, they made sure to thank every person and shake their hand- even though they had a grueling 12 drive back to Portland. These are the type of musicians I sincerely hope succeed. With close friends in bands such as Blind Pilot and a potential gig with Foster the People, it shouldn’t be too tough. Three cheers for talented, genuine hipsters!