Poliça at the Turf Club, 11/7/2011

Categories: Last Night
Polica 1.jpg
Photo By Zoe Prinds-Flash
November 7, 2011
Turf Club

It takes a special band to completely enthrall an audience with a bunch of songs that most of the crowd hasn't even heard before. And that was indeed the case with Poliça's sold-out show at the Turf Club Monday night, as the band played their as-yet unreleased new album essentially in order during their 55-minute set, transfixing everyone in the room with their sultry, groove heavy songs.

Frontwoman Channy Casselle consistently propelled the songs forward with her soaring, soothing vocals, which she frequently manipulated throughout the performance, sounding distorted and heavily textured one moment, while heartbreakingly vulnerable the next. Bassist Chris Bierden really formed the heart of their dynamic sound, delivering a roiling baseline over the prerecorded material that was augmenting the band's live show. And the soulful rhythms provided by the dual-drums of Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu really gave the diaphanous material an added vitality and much needed punch.

The capacity crowd, who were loudly chatting away during the opening sets, immediately quieted down as Poliça took the stage, a combination of everyone wanting to finally hear what all the hype was about and the fact that the songs were simply bewitching. After honing their seductive sound and their still-developing live show with a bunch of East Coast dates, the local band returned to find an entire music scene waiting for them, as the club was packed with musos of all types, many of whom were getting their first chance to see the fledgling band live.

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Photo By Zoe Prinds-Flash
Polica 3.jpg
Photo By Zoe Prinds-Flash

Casselle teased us a bit midway through their performance, playfully introducing a track by saying, "This is a new song. It's going to be on our second album." All of us are still getting our heads around the beguiling material that will eventually make up their debut record, so her statement was particularly humorous. After telling the crowd that the band was playing the record from start to finish, Casselle implored us to "Have these songs ringing in your ears until the album comes out, we're not really sure when that is going to be." 

It's a challenge to analyze songs that you have never heard before, but that unfamiliarity really gave their material a charming, unsettled quality that only added to the live experience. The raw, genuine emotion of the numbers were easily conveyed to an audience searching for something in these unknown tracks to grasp on to. Most often it was Casselle's dulcet vocals that propelled the songs skyward, and she frequently dropped out of sight to the comfort of the stage as if the strong sentiment of the song finally overcame her. The vocal manipulation that she drew on throughout the set was able to mask some of the stark feelings she was expressing without sacrificing any of the passion of their material. It was a heady sonic balance that she, and the rest of the band, executed to perfection.

Polica 4.jpg
Photo By Zoe Prinds-Flash
Polica 6.jpg
Photo By Zoe Prinds-Flash
Polica 5.jpg
Photo By Zoe Prinds-Flash

With all of the hype and hyperbole surrounding Poliça, it would have been quite easy for the band to fold under that pressure and deliver a disappointing set. But Poliça responded with a stirring live performance worthy of all the early adulation and then some, exceeding everyone's already lofty expectations with a show we're all sure to remember for quite a while. This band is truly onto something big here, and we all have the distinct pleasure of seeing them flourish and grow.

Critic's Bias: I was hooked two minutes into the opening track.

The Crowd: A true cross-section of the Twin Cities music scene.

Overheard In The Crowd: "Channy's voice is so sexy."

Random Notebook Dump: Andrew Broder's (performing as BrodR) opening set of experimental beats, samples and many other sonic flourishes was hypnotizing, and served as the perfect setup music for the headliners.

For More Photos: See our full slideshow by Zoe Prinds-Flash.

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"Wandering Star" is the only song I have heard from this band, but I can already tell they will be a favorite of mine. For them to be so new, they are passing up bands who have been doing forever. In my personal opinion, I think it all comes down to having a new sound, a natural talent and not adding too much to the equation...

I would love to work with them on a song, writing process and everything. Also check out the live performance they did at Nick and Eddie's.. Perfect.

Erick Define
Erick Define

Wish I would've been there! I see this band really going somewhere!


Larry, why did you wait 2 hours to get in?  I ate dinner in the neighborhood and walked right in with no one in line at 9:30pm, then walked right up to the very front in time to see Brodr and Polica up close.

I love Channy's voice and of course Roma di Luna, but I have to say it's always interesting to watch an unknown band "blow up".  They only have 2 songs that you can hear on the radio and online, that you can't even purchase, and people are scrambling to get to see them because...well...the hype machine is in full effect.  Channy herself deserves this success, but I don't feel that this project is that special yet.  It's too fresh and I hope it evolves more from here, for sure.

Chris, I too enjoy the minimal qualities of this type of music.  That said, I don't think that this particular band brings much to Channy's vocals.  Again, I think with some touring and more playing time under their belt they could get really interesting.  Right now I think people are just making more out of this than they should.  The show was "sold out", but the room was only 2/3 full.  I watched up front for a while and then went to the back where the mix was obviously better.  6 to 12 people left after each song and their set was only about an hour.


The show was amazing.  I have heard two comments now that Polica should add [guitar, horns, etc.] and I think this would be exactly the wrong thing to do to this band.  They have such a unique instrumentation and, in this case, less is more.

The starkness in the musical texture that is created by just having bass and (programmed) synths creates the perfect space to showcase Channy's voice.  But it is this contrast with the drumming powerhouse in the back which creates the *incredible* dynamics that give Polica both a touching accessibility, and a deep, groove-driven musicality that defies a genre classification.  This contrast is one of the strongest things that make this band unique and why they are so captivating.


I saw the band last night and I agree--it was a terrific performance all around. 

For future gigs, I think the sound guys need to pull back on the bass and the drums  and let Casselle's vocals break through even more.

Finally, I think adding a guitar, keyboard, and saxophone could launch Polica into the superstar category.

BTW, if it's any indication of what's to come, I rarely go to clubs, but I waited almost two hours to get into the Turf Club to hear this band, based solely on airplay and their web tracks.  

Raghav Mehta
Raghav Mehta

thank you thank you thank you thank you. 

Phew. For a minute there I seriously thought I was the only one. 

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