10 Thousand Sounds 2014: Behind the bands

Running down the Polica-led lineup of this year's festival

10 Thousand Sounds 2014: Behind the bands
Emily Utne

The second year of 10 Thousand Sounds is upon us. After a rollicking party in downtown Minneapolis last year, we're back in a new spot with the same bold mission: to bring to the stage six musical acts that we think are among the best performers and artists out there today. It's the first time this year that Poliça has played a headlining show. That should be enough of a hook to sway most of you. Here's our rundown on the whole day's entertainment.

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Cameron Wittig

Polica

Channy Leaneagh's evolution from folk to the synthesizer soul of Poliça has been well documented in these pages already. But how about punk?

Hair and makeup by Amber Rose Hair + Makeup. Styling and photography by Emily Utne. Top by Hackwith available at Cliché. Earrings by East Fourth Street, necklace by 3jag Design; available at Showroom.
Emily Utne
Hair and makeup by Amber Rose Hair + Makeup. Styling and photography by Emily Utne. Top by Hackwith available at Cliché. Earrings by East Fourth Street, necklace by 3jag Design; available at Showroom.

Details

City Pages 10 Thousand Sounds Festival

Saturday July 26, 2014
Hosted by DJ Barb Abney
of 89.3 The Current

Schedule:
4:10p.m. Tree Blood
4;55p.m. Frankie Teardrop
5:40p.m. Carroll
6:30p.m. Allan Kingdom
7:20p.m. Sylvan Esso
8:35 p.m. Poliça

Tickets:
General Admission: $25 advance / $30 door
VIP: $45 advance only
Includes a private entrance, preferred seating near the stage, all-you-can eat Pizza Lucé and Noodles & Co., VIP bar featuring top-shelf liquor options, free water and NA beverages, and exclusive restrooms.

Tickets & more information:
citypages.com/10ksounds

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"I'm going through my 16-year-old Crass phase right now," Leaneagh says during an hour-long discussion amid the bustle of Spyhouse on Hennepin.

Over iced beverages, we consider the hot, violent summer in north Minneapolis, where she and Poliça co-founder/producer Ryan Olson live. We talk about her daughter Pela starting kindergarten and the music her bandmates blasted in vans criss-crossing the world for the past two years. In that time, they've played at Radio City Music Hall, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, and dozens of cities on a tour with local cohorts in Marijuana Deathsquads.

"Those guys were playing Men's Recovery Project and Butthole Surfers and Crass and the bands of their youth," she says, the recollection pleasing her. "They all have those songs memorized."

Her short brown hair, streaked with blue, frames a semi-translucent face, and she wears a tiny, black Crystal Castles shirt. On it, the face of Madonna has one of her eyes swollen shut. It's a bit like an errant mid-mosh elbow hit her Madgesty right in the kisser.

Another pop icon got punked up when Poliça began tossing a cover of Lesley Gore's 1963 hit "You Don't Own Me" at the end of sets. Along with three "lost children" from the sessions of their sophomore album, Shulamith, the track anchors this year's Raw Exit EP. Equal parts bleak and beautiful, the updated "You Don't Own Me" is a window into insurgent new live and recorded possibilities.

"It's really a great song," she says. "It's the first time we've ever had a song where people sing along that loudly, and it meant a lot of things to people way before I ever sang it. So that's really powerful. You know, everybody, men, women, children, animals — everybody."

Even as Poliça's stature as touring artists has grown, Leaneagh hasn't settled into a singular way to present herself, and why should she? Her stage presence has broadened to a powerful place, her hair constantly changes color and length, and her attire hasn't hit a predictable note.

"I will start a tour and have something that friends have made for me," she says. "It's nice clothes, hair will be styled, and about a week and a half in I'll say 'fuck it' and just wear jeans on stage. I can't believe that people can't enjoy music unless the female singer is like super hot or is done up. So I'm battling with that in front of people on stage sometimes. The deal with us is you don't always get the same thing, and I guess that's kind of fun. I don't have to be the same person every time I perform.... Kind of going back and forth between trying to play the game, or fight the game."

Poliça discovered an ugly side of the game upon the release of Shulamith last year when iTunes and other retailers censored its cover. It features the back of a woman's head covered in blood, and its immediacy makes it hard to know whether to stare or turn away. "Exploring things that make us afraid is not something you should shy away from," Leaneagh asserts. By censoring the cover, "iTunes is dumbing down the opportunity for musicians to have a voice to speak."

She's tired of thinking about "the man," though. Poliça already have new songs they want to try out, and the future boasts a return to local stages — including this Saturday's 10 Thousand Sounds performance. There's always the possibility of Leaneagh gathering around the table of gear with Marijuana Deathsquads unannounced, as she often does without the pressure to lead the group. Maybe a performance in north Minneapolis, she adds.

"Right now it's like this balance between feeding your older kids," she says, referring to new Poliça material, "and making them interesting and stimulating — while nurturing these babies that haven't been born yet."

So what about that punk influence? Growing up listening to R&B and hitting lot of Kill the Vultures and Atmosphere shows, Leaneagh says her exposure to certain harder sounds was virtually nil until Poliça, but it was easy to see punk's potential for amping up a crowd. She found herself able to relax in a new way after a couple of hours of this raw, unfettered noise.

Turns out, fighting the game in this case had the opposite effect.

"You can set out to do something and then it's cool where it goes," she says. "We set out to make a hardcore record, but it ended up that a lot of the songs are really sweet. It's smoother than the other ones." Read our full interview with Channy Leaneagh at blogs.citypages.com/gimmenoise —Reed Fischer

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