With Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme currently relieved of his Eagles drumming duties, the other members took the hammy guitar-god thing to its limits, making me forget that I'm not even a fan of the Eagles I think they sound like a diluted QOTSA cut with the Supersuckers, but not as dense as the former or as droll as the latter because at this show you'd have to be a real rock asshole not to take part in the overwhelming crushed-out feeling the fans emitted like so much back sweat. Not to mention that, as my friend aptly observed, Hughes looked like a "dirty Brad Pitt," making his cheeky charisma that much easier to appreciate. Another fan summed up the performance differently, as he held a beer close to his chest and extolled the virtues of "a good old-fashioned, straight-ahead rock 'n' roll show." Amen on that one.
As a gal reared on what I call the Midori Sours of the hard-rock world the sticky-sweet, gateway power hits of bands like Guiffria, Slaughter, and Def Leppard I still crave the straightforward sugar rush of a pure, anthemic rock fix. I appreciate metal in many of its heady, brow-beating (and -furrowing) extremes, but there are moments made for a throwaway lyric like Priestess "I can't complain/ When I've no real pain." The Montreal band (which hits the Independent at 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, with the Riverboat Gamblers and the Bronx) released a CD full of Loverboy-meets-Thin Lizzy-meets-Nugent pump-yer-fistalongs in Hello Master, a record that earned it a spotlight in the New York Times' breezy "A Night Out With" pop culture column and a Time Out plug that claimed, "Theirs is '70s metal of the purest variety: larger-than-life, bluesy hooks that follow Angus Young's blueprint with lumbering accuracy." Unlike the Eagles of Death Metal, though, Priestess offers nothing camp in its aesthetic. The candid song narratives tell of wooing the "company girl" when you live in a factory world, and other loose girl-meets-rock-dude themes. The bleakest number, "Two Kids," adds a touch of the Grim Reaper, but, overall, Master was made for a big Friday night-style release.
Priestess isn't a Midori Sour, but it's not a firm metal fit, either the act is quick to point out the distinction in interviews, insisting that it's hard rock. Really, is there that much of a difference that you have to protest the m-word so much? Pounding rhythm section? Check. Distorted guitars? Check. Vocals that totally shred on the chorus? Check. Heck, the Eagles of Death Metal aren't even vaguely in the genre their moniker depicts, but they don't seem to be sweating it. I doubt Priestess will strut the stage for G-strings (and that's a good thing), yet its general populace-friendly melodies and layered-thick riffage are made for the fanaticism lavished on the Eagles if Priestess can hold up the live end of the bargain as well as Mr. Hughes and crew.