Live Review: Priory @ Hi Dive 11/20

Technical difficulties lead to a brutally brilliant performance by Priory.

Now I’m not saying this because my comped tickets were in fact not comped, or because the time it took to correct the technical difficulties came dangerously close to the amount of time actually spent playing by the Oregon based band or even because the laser lights during the show may have caused permanent retina damage, but seeing Priory live brought the fucking house down. And for all 12-ish of us that stuck around (bartender, Priory, four weird kids sitting on the ground by the Contra machine, sound guy and assumed guy doing coke in the back NOT included) Priory was well worth the ticket price.

The quartet, choosing to travel by bus, have been on heavy rotation on my iPod ever since I heard their first track off their self-titled album. Consisting of bass, guitar, drums and a killer mix of keyboard, glockenspiel and whatever else you can beat the shit out of, Priory can easily fit under the umbrella term of “Indie, but with a sub-genre labeled “Awesomeness.” I have yet to see a band handle technical difficulties with such ease. Having to stop several times midway through a song, giving the audience only a mere taste of there self-titled album, and finally having to take a 10 minute break to put the problem to rest. The guys of Priory did not just bounce back from what could have been a set ending malfunction and a long night at the bar, but exceeded expectations by keeping the audience involved and making them part of the show. I can’t even say that they “recovered” because the guitar and drum instrumentals kept the toes-a-tappin’.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. So much of what deems a show good, great or bad depends on what happens when there isn’t any music playing.

Perhaps I’m biased, because this band has quickly become one of my favorites. Regardless, Priory pumped out hits such as “Lady of Late,” Kings of Troy,” “Devil vs. Heater,” and I swear to god, I was holding back a tear when they played “Searching,” a ballad about the struggle of wanting to truly know and understand your family. When the band finally got all the kinks worked out, Priory performed as though they were making up for something, they had something to prove. With passionate gusto, Priory performed from the heart and left it on the stage for all of Denver to see (well, all 12 of us at least). The bittersweet thing about seeing Priory live is that listening to them after the show on an iPod was just an empty memory of how truly great they were live. Beware indie scenesters, Priory is about to missile kick you directly between the ears, much like if Fleet Foxes got some balls, turned the up the volume, and actually played their instruments with some might. With that being said, line-up for the night was an eclectic mix.

The first being Jesse Manley and his band. An act you would expect to see midway through a cross-country road trip in a podunk town, deeply imbedded in the heart of the Midwest, at a bar best known for their sarsaparilla. As my associate said, the members played with such precision and concentration that they were like a band of clock makers & craftsman with their instruments. Manley, with a soft and intoxicating voice sounding very close to that of Destroyer’s Daniel Bejar, switched back and forth between banjo and guitar while backed by drums, bass and lap steal. Their heavy western feel was undeniable, and an excellent opener for a night at Denver’s Hi-Dive. Jesse Manley can be found hopping between The Walnut Room, Meadowlark, Swallow Hill and Hi-Dive, and is definitely worth a listen.

Following Jesse Manley was Reviving Cecilia, who was seemingly aiming for a Mynnabirds sound, but fell short. With the support of their friends (approximately half the crowd, close to triple Priory’s last standing troopers) Reviving Cecilia is off to a good start, but needs to find their voice. Like a porcelain doll, Reviving Cecilia came off as pretty from a distance, but ultimately emotionless shell of a band. I’m not saying that I’d break up with a girl for loving this band, but I would definitely attempt to sway her towards something with more substance.

Back to the main point though, Priory put on one hell of a show, and the technical difficulties only brought out the best in them. The crowd that stuck around was delivered a show to be remembered. If Priory keeps up there intense touring schedule, I can only see good things in their future.

-Chris Barker

Editors Note: Due to some technical difficulties of our own the photos from this review can be seen here

Priory 11-20-2011 @ Hi Dive

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