Concert review: Poliça + stargaze at First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN – February 21, 2018

All photos courtesy Joe Stadele Photography.  All rights reserved

They’re a studio quintet, a live quartet, and for the last few years, a 12-piece collaborative. Their sound bounces from synth to drum & bass to rock to hip-hop and, now, orchestral. In a musical landscape of experimentalism, the ever-evolving Poliça have met a contemporary spirit in the alternative orchestration of Berlin’s Stargaze. On February 16th, the collective released Music for the Long Emergency. Wednesday night, Poliça + s t a r g a z e brought the album home to First Avenue stage.

From performance and guests to a very special cover, Wednesday’s performance was a demonstration of artistry. Stargaze’s string accompaniment filled out and even propelled Polica’s “sound” to a completely other experimental level. The collective shifted from shoegaze to hip-hop to post rock. Surrounded by that level of musicianship. there was a confidence in Channy Leaneagh’s performance I previously haven’t witnessed. Wednesday night, it was clear this collaboration is more than the sum of it’s parts.

Poliça + s t a r g a z e performed nearly every song from Music For The Long Emergency. After the subdued shoegaze of “Speaking of Ghost,” “Fake Like” was a pure explosion of strings and horns, crashing drums and disturbed vocals. Highlights from the night included guest appearances by Nadine Olmo and Ryan Spencer. Bathed in red light and strobes, the dancers exhibited the tension of 10-minute epics “How Is This Happening?” and “Reich.” Local rapper Crescent Moon took the stage for “Cursed.”  The Daniel Wohl penned “Angel” pushed into Sigur Ros-level post modern beauty. While Poliça + s t a r g a z e left the audience with a gorgeous rendition of their title track, the band surprised the audience with a cover of Prince’s “Something In The Water.” They made it completely their own, which was evident when the audience only caught up with the band when Channy sang, “Does not compute.”

On a similar note, it was clear some fans that arrived early for sets by IN//VIA and DIVIDE AND DISSOLVE were not ready for their ideas to be challenged. DIVIDE AND DISSOLVE did exactly that. Between drum and guitar drone jams, guitarist T//R took the mic, quieted the audience and spoke out against white supremacy and the taking of Native American lands through the Dakota Access Pipeline. In a room filled primarily with white people, you could feel the tension grow as T//R’s bravery was met with disgruntled comments spewed by the obvious white players. [The true reality of “Minnesota nice”….right?] Unfortunately, no one took T//R invitation to plead their case on the stage. After a performing “Marrow,” Leaneagh summed up everything perfectly, “We’re not here to make you guys feel nice and comfortable, it’s time to make people uncomfortable and speak out.” Thank you Channy! It is time to evolve.

Setlist
Speaking Of Ghost
Fake Like
Marrow
How Is This Happening
Angel
Lipstick Stains
Agree
Cursed (feat. Crescent Moon)
Reich
Something In The Water [Prince cover]
Music For The Long Emergency

 

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