Polica at First Avenue, 4/24/13
Photo by Erik Hess
Polica 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. Leaneagh might have slightly altered the element of surprise, though it was pretty classic, when she came out for the encore and had unintentionally already initiated her distorted, low vocals on the mic as she thanked everyone again for coming. But it didn't matter. The band played a Polica version of Keith Sweat's 1996 hit "Nobody." And it was awesome.
Photos by Erik Hess
It's understandable that the band must be worn out, ready for a break from touring, but besides her own acknowledgement of that, the show did not reflect any lethargy whatsoever. Leaneagh said that a new record would be coming out soon. In her effortlessly charming manner, Leaneagh reassured the crowd, "Life will go on in a grand continuum, and we'll all be lost and confused. Shoot, I was going to have so many funny things to say... Next time!"
Critic's Bias: Studied dance for many years, and beyond vocals, I can appreciate that this girl moves like she seriously feels the music in her body.
The Crowd: A crazy packed group of people, clearly true fans of Polica, not just because they are from Minneapolis.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I'm so sweaty!" The amount of body heat in First Ave was palpable.
Random Notebook Dump: Throughout the show, small, sporadic pieces of paper confetti would drop from overhead. I was hoping there would be a confetti drop in the finale.
1- Leading to Death 2- I See My Mother 3- Dark Star 4- Exit Raw (new song) 5- Wandering Star 6- Tiff (new song) 7- Trippin Down (new song) 8- Form 9- Lay Your Cards Out 10- Vegas (new song)
Encore 1- Nobody 2- Amongster
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.