Poliça's Album Release Show at First Avenue, 02/14/12

Polica_Stacy_Schwartz.jpg
Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Poliça and Brute Heart
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Tuesday, February 14, 2012


View a slideshow from the concert here.

If Twin Cities music fans hadn't completely fallen for Poliça before their sold-out record release show at First Avenue, they certainly did by the end of their stirring Valentine's Day performance. Lead singer Channy Leaneagh mentioned partway through the night that "this is a show for the lovers and also the lonely," and there were certainly elements of both affection and isolation threaded throughout Channy's impassioned lyrics as well as the evocative music of the band itself. Having already seen Poliça at the Turf Club and the Entry, it became quite clear that the band sacrificed none of the intimacy of those smaller club shows in the move to the larger room, as their intoxicating sound had no problem filling the Mainroom.


But it did take the band a few songs to really hit their stride. Perhaps it was nerves from the big night, or a matter of just getting settled in, but after somewhat lukewarm versions of "The Maker" and "I See My Mother," the band finally caught fire towards the end of "Fist, Teeth, Money," which earned them a lengthy ovation. At which point Channy addressed the overflow crowd, who sold-out this show months before Poliça's stunning debut album, Give You The Ghost, was even released. "We're blown away and completely humbled by all of you turning out. Happy Valentine's Day. I swore off wearing dresses with this band, but I dressed up tonight and you guys are my date."

And with that the band launched into a thrilling version of "Dark Star," which really ignited the performance. Poliça also played four new songs throughout the course of their set, two of which immediately followed "Dark Star," including one particularly moving new number called "Exit Raw," that features a plaintive chorus of "I was ready to die alone," which Channy lovingly dedicated to her Valentine. "Lay Your Cards Out" completly soared in the packed club, as most of the crowd moved in time to the hypnotic rhythms the band were generating.

Channy was in a talkative mood throughout the entire performance, taking a moment to say, "This is my band that I love so dearly," before introducing drummers Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu, and bassist Chris Bierden. She went on to talk about the band's future plans, "We leave on tour tomorrow, and this is a great sendoff before leaving home for a while. We truly appreciate that you like our music." A moody, intense version of "Violent Games" quickly followed, and was one of the night's many standouts. The song is simply massive live, and its churning, roiling rhythms thundered through the room. The momentum was kept high with another new song, as well as a slow-burning rendition of "Happy Be Fine," which closed with a slightly jazzy finish.

There were moments during the early part of the set where Channy didn't fully hit the high notes that the song demanded, a point which she addressed before the band delivered a rousing version of "Form." "I'm losing my voice, but I'll sing this one out for you guys." But we should all sound as angelic as Channy when we're losing our voices, as her lilting vocals filled the room and guided the song forwards. "Wandering Star" was completely captivating, as Christopherson and Ivascu's dual drums meshed perfectly with Bierden's smooth bass lines.

The main set closed with a funky version of "Leading to Death," with the band leaving the stage to a lengthy, well-earned ovation. When the applause didn't show any sign of letting up, the band somewhat sheepishly returned for an encore, immediately easing their way into a bluesy cover of Sam Cooke's "Laughin' And Clownin," which smoothly flowed into another new song that built towards a rousing finish featuring Channy saying goodbye in her own unique way.

And all that was left was an explosive, cathartic version of "Amongster" which ended the show in a fiery fashion. Poliça have steadily been making believers of most of the music world, and this triumphant, exhilarating show should only solidify the band's rapturous hometown reputation. Here's to hoping we get the chance to see plenty more record release shows from Poliça at First Avenue in the future.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I didn't think it was possible for the band to deliver a show any better than their Turf Club performance in November. Oh, how wrong I was.

The Crowd: I thought Valentine's Day would keep some people away, but the club was completely packed. As it should have been.

Overheard In The Crowd: "Oh my God, I want Channy's yellow dress."

Random Notebook Dump: Brute Heart delivered an inventive, expansive opening set which was heavy on experimental rhythms and a bold, unorthodox lyrical delivery. I'm sure they garnered themselves plenty of new fans with their performance.

Setlist:

The Maker

I See My Mother

Fist, Teeth, Money

Dark Star

Exit Raw (New Song)

New Song

Lay Your Cards Out

Violent Games

New Song

Happy Be Fine

Form

Wandering Star

Leading To Death

Laughin' And Clownin' (Sam Cooke)(Encore)

New Song (Encore)

Amongster (Encore)




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15 comments
LocalSkeptic
LocalSkeptic

Wow, my comment from a week ago was "flagged for review," but apparently has still never been reviewed. Then I posted a comment about how I was flagged (even though there was nothing offensive about my post, except that I disagreed with the CP-manufactured hype about a band), which I see has since been removed too, but without even noting that one was flagged at all.

Nice to know the local "alternative weekly" censors dissenting opinions about music on its online comment thread; how weird is that?

LocalSkeptic
LocalSkeptic

I love that someone now is apparently "flagging my comments for review" --- did I piss off the local hype machine?

ArealPerson
ArealPerson

pretty sure people who left early were going home to have sex.

LocalSkeptic
LocalSkeptic

You know, gosh, the show was good, but not great. Come on. Channy hardly enunciates well to start with, so when you add the excessive AutoTune I heard one person near me joke that "Polica" must be Polish for "indecipherable." My date actually commented 2/3 of the way through the show on how many people seemed to be leaving early. Same thing happened at the Turf Club in Nov. People wanted to see what was going on, but a surprising number streamed out well before it was over. After last night's show ended, the first txt msg I received from another friend there summed it up with one word: "meh". The hype machine is revved up a tad too high on this one, I'm afraid.

Reed Fischer
Reed Fischer

We don't censor dissenting opinions. There was no conspiracy against you -- other than that there are other tasks required of this job other than closely monitoring every single comment that comes in.

Your comment has been restored, and we hope to host your dissent again sometime in the future.

Ilovemoremiles
Ilovemoremiles

Agreed, LocalSkeptic. I really don't understand all of hype. EVERY week in CityPages, and usually Vita.Mn, too. Polica is... okay, and I liked Channy in Roma di Luna, but I really cannot make it through these mumbly, incoherent, awkward, AutoTuned songs. Perhaps I could be a bit more patient and be more inclined to like them if they, and Channy in particular, were not so undeservedly drooled over by the weeklies in each and every issue for the past several months. I agree with your friend's text: "meh".

SkepticsAren'tFans
SkepticsAren'tFans

Well I would say most people there were fans of the music - it's obvious Poliça is just not you're brand of tunage. The excessive auto tune is used as an instrument in their case. Their not using it to autotune their vocals, more so to distort and do something more creative and artistic with it. 

LocalSkeptic
LocalSkeptic

 Thank you, I sincerely appreciate the reply.

LocalSkeptic
LocalSkeptic

I second that "Eww." AutoTune isn't an instrument, it should be used with proper adult supervision. I don't want to turn it into a debate about my taste in "tunage," but I've watched Hope Sandoval (the original "Wandering Star") sing an entire show in the dark, or Tricky perform with his back to the audience the whole time. I loved Portishead, Massive Attack, Thievery Corp out in DC, etc. This isn't about tunage. There are people who can get away with quirks, and people who aren't there yet, or never will be. I hope Polica does grow into the hype. I've met Channy, she's wonderful. And her voice, wow. The acapella "Silent Night" she did at the Cedar Xmas gig 2 yrs ago sent chills down my spine unlike almost anything else I've ever heard live---go buy the EP of it! I'm criticizing the hype here, not the band.

More generally, SAF, the truth is that people in Mpls. aren't first and foremost "fans of the music," rather we're fans and "heir[s] of nothing in particular." At base we're fans of being perceived as ahead of the curve---whether it's being at Eat Street Social on Thurs when it quietly pre-opened via a hint on Facebook; finding that purple door of Marvel Bar; or racing to get tix to Polica, because The Current, CP, Vita.MN told us for the past two months that this is The Next Big Thing. Oh, this is where I'm s'posed to brag with passive aggressive pretension that I knew to catch Bon Iver's 1st CD release gig at the Turf Club 2 yrs ago, regardless of whether I liked his music. To quote The Dresden Dolls, "that's the way it is in Minnesota," n'est-ce pas?

Iam
Iam

The fact that most of the music was played through or by a computer wasn't very artistic....I love the songs and album, but it was disappointing live.

Heydudez
Heydudez

"The excessive auto tune is used as an instrument in their case." --- Eww.

LocalSkeptic
LocalSkeptic

But I miss Vampire Hands too, not just Roma.

Obviously Ryan Olson is a mad genius. He's pretty much responsible for this without even being in the dang band. A local up-&-coming new Phil Spector, with his own AutoTuned wall of sound style. Let's just hope he doesn't shoot any blonde floozies in his secret lair till well after he's relevant anymore.

PutSomeRanchOnIt
PutSomeRanchOnIt

Hear here. This band's first shows would not have sold out if it were it were simply because 1500 people are "fans of the music". The hype machine worked well for Polica.

Of course, they are all bad-ass scene vets, and they deserve it.

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