P.O.S.'s Blowout night in the Entry, 12/07/11
Photos by Erik Hess
P.O.S., Poliça, and Marijuana Deathsquads
December 7, 2011
7th Street Entry
As P.O.S. came out to introduce his curated night in the Entry, his microphone frustratingly kept on cutting in and out, making his comical words of welcome a bit hard to hear. That turned out to be one of the only glitches at all during what was an exhilarating, high-energy night in the sold-out club.
The gist of Stef's greeting was that we all better be ready to dance, as he warned us, "I'm trying to encourage a lot of moving around and dancing here tonight...If your hair looks good now, I hope it sucks when you leave." And while it took him actually jumping into the crowd later on in the evening to fully get the audience moving, the stellar performances from all three acts were highly engaging and intoxicating, leaving all of us drenched in sweat by night's end and indeed looking a bit worse for wear. But we loved every minute of it.
Marijuana Deathsquads opened the show with an experimental, dynamic set that consisted of two "songs" stretched out over their tumultuous half-hour performance. P.O.S. and Poliça's Channy Leaneagh (formerly Casselle) both joined in the ruckus, adding their sonic textures and vocals to the band's turbulent sound (though you still couldn't hear Stef's mic). The first track started with a droney, hypnotic beat, before it eventually warped into a wildly percussive, white-noise breakdown, with Channy's vocals soaring amongst the din. Isaac Gale also added his fitful vocals to the fray, which was driven along by two drummers (a recurring theme on this evening), including the omnipresent Ben Ivascu.
After giving everyone just a moment to catch our collective breath, the second number started with a grimey, Massive Attack-like pulse, before the band again exploded into a wild, rhythmic cacophony of sound that was reminiscent of Squarepusher's electronic experimentalism. The enjoyable set was like a whirlwind of nasty dissonance that was over in a flash, and kicked off the night in a boisterous, untamed manner.
After a quick changeover, Poliça took to the Entry stage for their first time, and playfully appeared to be soundchecking right along with Ace Of Base's "All That She Wants," which DJ Fundo was playing over the PA. They eased into their opener "The Maker" while it seemed like they were still getting their sound settled, and it wasn't until the stage lights dropped and the churning rhythms of "Violent Game" kicked in before the set truly soared. Bassist Chris Bierden gave the track an ominous undertone, while drummers Drew Christopherson and Ivascu (he played with all three acts) both provided a thunderous tempo to the track, as Channy's pure, golden vocals rose above it all.
All of Poliça's numbers have a simmering, slow-burning quality to them that proves to be utterly beguiling. And even though their debut album isn't out until February, they still sprinkled a couple "new" songs into their set for an audience full of people that were hearing them for the first time. "Happy Be Fine" was gorgeous, and when the keyboard riff at the end of the track kicked in, it seemed that everyone in the band was smiling at how sick it sounded. The funky "Leading To Death" sounded absolutely enormous in the packed room, as the entire band lost themselves in the haunting pulse of the number. The exquisite "Wandering Star" and "Lay Your Cards Out" were at once a bit more familiar to the audience due to their radio presence, while the soulful "Dark Star" closed out their bewitching 40-minute set. As Stef said at the start of his set, "It feels special to have Poliça open up for me because that won't ever happen again. They are too good."
P.O.S. wasted little time setting the place off, as he eased into the a cappella intro to "Let It Rattle," with the whole crowd joining in during the boisterous chorus. The good vibes continued with "Goodbye" as Stef and Plain Ole' Bill got the crowd moving with the irresistible appeal of that feel-good anthem. P.O.S. dug deep into his back catalog on a rousing "Music For Shoplifting" from Ipecac Neat, causing him to endearingly joke afterwords, "I was telling Plain Ole Bill that I might mess up a few of these songs tonight. But it's not from not practicing. I've been practicing in my car the last couple days." And with that he busted out an intense version of Audition's "Paul Kersey To Jack Kimball" that simply slayed.
From there the set was just a blur of guest stars and absolute club bangers, as Astronautalis joined Stef for a blazing mini-set of Four Fists material. And, after a wild rendition of "Get Smokes," Sims joined his fellow Doomtree crew member for a few stormy numbers, with Sims telling the crowd "We've got to get super loud in here because this is my favorite song" before the place exploded with an incendiary version of "The Basics." P.O.S. said "We should play that song from your record," before the duo blew up "Too Much" from Sims' Bad Time Zoo, and the non-stop party kept rolling as both Stef and Sims jumped into the crowd to dance when Bill dropped a crazy cryphy beat on us and the place truly went off.
Instead of Sims popping back on stage with P.O.S., it was Mike Mictlan that made it out of the turmoil on the floor to join Stef on stage for a few new tracks. Then Channy, Ben, and Isaac joined Stef for the rest of the main set, adding drums and sonic textures to "Drumroll (We're All Thirsty)," "P.O.S. Is Ruining My Life," and "Never Better," giving them all an added edge and spirit. Rowdy versions of "Optimist (We Are Not For Them)" and main set closer "Purexed" really kept the energy level high, so much so that Stef said before the encore, "I'm coming back, just give me a second to catch my breath. But I'm coming back, trust me."
And come back he did, bringing out Dessa and Sims once again to help him tear through a jubilant run through of "Low Light Low Life" that was one of the night's clear highlights. And before his riotous closing track, P.O.S. took a second to thank everyone and said "This is dedicated to my whole fucking crew and everyone who does the cool shit." And with that, P.O.S. dropped another killer new track on us, "Fuck Your Stuff," which is just as awesome as the title would lead you to believe. Now THAT is how you throw a party. Damn.
Critic's Bias: P.O.S. has been my favorite local MC since the moment I heard "Kidney Thief."
The Crowd: Packed and rowdy, in a good way.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I'd dance more but Dessa is right next to me."
Random Notebook Dump: It was great to turn around and see Stef to my right during Poliça's set, getting as into it as I was, and seeing Dessa getting down during P.O.S.' set. This music community, and the Doomtree crew, are so supportive of each other. It's refreshing and encouraging to witness.
Photos by Erik Hess
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