Poliça at Mill City Nights, 11/29/13

Poliça at Mill City Nights, 11/29/13
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen


with Marijuana Deathsquads
Mill City Nights, Minneapolis
Friday, November 29, 2013

Mill City Nights played host this past weekend to Poliça and Marijuana Deathsquads' two-night homecoming after a month-long national tour. It was clear they were happy to back. Friday night's show saw a packed venue and an excited pair of local bands made good.

Over the past year or so, the profiles of both groups have risen considerably. That's relatively quick considering Poliça's short existence and Deathsquads' initial laissez-faire attitude. As their latest project Oh My Sexy Lord proved, the latter's sonic freakout tightened as the group solidified into a more official touring and recording group. But their set maintained the explosive chaos that sparked their origins and made them such an intriguing unit.
Poliça at Mill City Nights, 11/29/13
Poliça at Mill City Nights, 11/29/13
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen

With fog wafting around the trio of drummers and visual projections playing over the five-person huddle, all knob-twiddling and yelping through distorted filters, their stage presence is all-encompassing. It's refreshing to hear the rhythms of tropical bass coincide with dubstep's angry drops and drone's gigantic sound wash, all triggered with the punk mindset these would-be electronic gurus beside the pummel of a rock drum trifecta. Their sound is really unlike anything else. 

Marijuana Deathsquads wasn't just a great fit for opener because the bands share members. Beyond the label connection, Ryan Olson's producer role in both groups, and the multiple drummer angle, the bands share a sense of sonic exploration that really came to light seeing them back to back.
Poliça's M.O. is far more song-oriented and spare in comparison to their warm-up act, and their performance felt controlled and tight while still maintaining the night's sense of abandon. Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu's dual drumming has a precision and a specificity to it that distinguishes it from their work with Deathsquads, with each focusing on a different nuance to bring a bigness to the intricate rhythmic patterns. Chris Bierden's atmospheric bass playing is essential to bringing together the live and electronic aspects of the group, and watching him play live distinguishes the importance of his role despite its subtlety. Ryan Olson's production work is ever-present but never overbearing, and though he only joined them onstage for one song, his additions were felt throughout the show.
Poliça at Mill City Nights, 11/29/13

Poliça at Mill City Nights, 11/29/13
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen

But it's Channy Leaneagh that really steals the show. Wearing a black wig and American Apparel's infamous bleeding vagina shirt, she commanded the crowd with her trademark ghostly vocals and delightfully awkward charm. Her dance moves tap into the spirit of each song without ever feeling overdone, and her voice hits powerfully despite being airy and shrouded by abstracting vocal effects. You can make out lyrics when necessary, but often it's an atmospheric element that floats above the rest of the music. Their live set brings out the individual textures of each song and made me appreciate more some songs that were not immediate favorites.

Poliça at Mill City Nights, 11/29/13
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

Each of the elements sits in the mix well and it's clear that they've grown since taking their set on the road. It's heartening to see deserving local bands do so well on a national scale, and they were clearly happy to be back playing for those they considered "friends and family." One of the strongest bands to emerge from the local scene and really take it somewhere, they've got all the pieces in place to continue their run and take their music even further. 

Personal Bias: The first time I saw Poliça was at Nick and Eddie, doing the opposite as here and opening for Marijuana Deathsquads. The mindset that this family of bands come from is something I love and can easily get behind.

The Crowd: A nice range of hip types. Very cool to see Poliça warrant a two-night run at a big venue.

Overheard In The Crowd: A delightful couple's spat, concerning the boyfriend not offering the girlfriend weed ahead of his friends, which lasted essentially the whole show.


Spilling Lines
Lay Your Cards Out
Very Cruel
Warrior Lord
Chain My Name
Dark Star
I Need $
So Leave
You Don't Own Me (Lesley Gore)
Wandering Star

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