Polica at First Avenue, 4/24/13
Photo by Erik Hess
With Ronia and Night Moves
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Channy Leaneagh is a dancer. She is an animated stage actor and makes eye contact with an audience as a whole as if it were one person. That's all in addition to Polica's intoxicating musicality. Listening to their records doesn't come close to evoking the energy and authentic expression that she exuded during Polica's homecoming show at First Avenue on Wednesday. She bounced around on stage with deer-like agility and grace, using her arms to make drawn-out sounds become visual in extension, and the hip-hop percussion behind her was emphasized with flicks of her hand and the aggressive nodding of her now-red pixie hair.
Polica spent the last few months playing SXSW and multiple shows throughout Europe, and making an impressionable appearance at Coachella. Yes, they just so happened to miss the extended, ridiculous winter here, away from their native Minneapolis, but they expressed their happiness to finally be back at home.
Photos by Erik Hess
After the impressive electronic set from openers Ronia and the groovy rock set from Night Moves, who are really damn talented, Polica came out, greeted by a shoulder-to-shoulder packed crowd. Leaneagh seemed surprised by the turnout, "What's going on here? Is it a festival or something?"
They opened the show with "Leading to Death" from their 2012 debut Give You the Ghost. Leaneagh sang with such conviction, as if to reveal to the audience information they did not previously know. The crowd was so captivated that movement was limited at the beginning -- slight head-bobbing with mesmerized gazes at the astonishing natural performer. This with the exception of a small group nestled up front with glow sticks. "Thanks for bringing these glowing things. That's really great," Leaneagh said with understated gratitude.
Photos by Erik Hess
This band seems so happy and fulfilled. The two drummers, Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson, are fully in tune with each other, either playing simultaneously for impact or seamlessly juxtaposing different elements of percussion. Chris Bierden plays bass more than well enough to compensate for the lack of guitars. The best part about seeing Polica live is getting the opportunity to witness the pure, legitimate vocals from Leaneagh. Being recognized as a Helicon-centric -- Helicon is the AutoTune variant she uses to manipulate her voice -- band, it can be hard, just from the records, to know if she actually has reputable natural pitch, but she proves herself more than adequately. The vocal filters are a mere styling instrument that she manipulates on stage like it's an extension of her body.
The band's most recent release, "Tiff," showed up in the middle of the set, sans collaborator Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, but a truly sufficient version. Biggest hit thus far, "Lay Your Cards Out," met a welcoming roar from the audience, whose energy had left the phase of infatuated-stupor and entered the hand-waving collective soul part of the show.