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

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.


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


Wandering Star

Leading To Death

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

New Song (Encore)

Amongster (Encore)

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