Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Poliça Wows First Avenue Crowd On Valentine's Day

It’s rare that a band sells out the First Avenue mainroom before their album officially drops, but such was the case with Poliça and their Give You The Ghost release show on “ValenTuesday” night.

While some of us saw this success coming since the initial listen of “Wandering Star” last fall, there must be a devil’s advocate or two who doubted another auto-tune influenced electronica outfit could get off the ground.

Well, get off the ground they did, and Poliça has proven itself to be nothing less than a sonic triumph.  Following substantial buzz on the local scene, Poliça’s video for “Lay Your Cards Out” was featured on rapper Jay-Z’s website, and Rolling Stone magazine recently gave the group’s debut album a 3.5 star review.  Grammy winner Justin Vernon of Bon Iver even gushed, “They’re the best band I’ve ever heard” after he himself took home awards for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album on Sunday evening.

Poliça’s hybrid of hip-hop, techno, and new wave indie sounds is indeed addictive.  The double-drummer set-up of Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu is astounding, as is Chris Bierden's tight talent on bass.  And we haven't even mentioned frontwoman Channy Leaneagh yet; hers are the kind of vocal chords that make hairs stand on end.  Together, Poliça is a powerhouse quartet whose jams demand attention.

Photo by Erica Rivera

The First Avenue crowd was entranced from the very first beat on Tuesday night and there wasn’t a lull in the energy for even a second during the hour-plus set.

“This is a show for the lovers…and for the lonely,” frontwoman Channy Leaneagh said early on in the evening.

Those extremes are what makes Poliça so endearing; Leaneagh has a deft ability to balance vulnerability with strength, tenderness with truth, and breaking down with breaking through. 

“You are my date tonight,” Leaneagh announced midway through the set list.  “I wore a dress for you.”

Though Leaneagh is the pretty face and sinewy form associated with the band’s name, what’s refreshing about Poliça is that it’s not about celebrity or even any one particular band member; it’s about the music.  And that music is thunderous, ominous, haunting, and heartbreaking all at once.  Doubly so if you know that Poliça was born, in part, from the dismantling of Leaneagh’s prior band, the much beloved Roma di Luna, and Leaneagh’s split from former husband and band partner, Alexei Casselle, with whom she has a daughter.

“This is the first Valentine’s Day I’ve enjoyed,” Leaneagh said as the performance wound down. 

We couldn’t have agreed more.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" on Wednesdays from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more amazing local music.

- Erica Rivera

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