August 19 at Lille Vega
With the recently-concluded Strøm Festival still reverberating through the city, one would be forgiven for missing out on a memorable show at Lille Vega last night. Minneapolis quintet Polica (Polish for ‘policy’) are a critically-acclaimed outfit who've been impressing quite a few in the music industry of late with their curious forays into the warped world of synth-pop, with a slight touch of R&B for good measure. One of their admirers is non other than Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, who went as far as claiming that they are one of the best bands in the world.
Performing in front of a nearly sold-out Lille Vega, Polica were slow off the mark, playing with an uncanny casualness that left the audience somewhat in limbo. Sound issues did their bit to exacerbate things, making for an edgy half hour opening before a performance of 'Dark Star,' off their 2012 album Give You the Ghost, marked a positive turning point. The song showcased the unique quality of lead singer Channy Leanagh's coaxing, high-pitched voice, which lost itself eloquently in the immersive, labyrinthine instrumentation that accompanied her vocals.
More of the same followed as Polica looked more comfortable on stage and interacted with the audience with a bit of very straightforward stage banter. 'Wandering Star’, also off Give You the Ghost, punctuated the peak of the evening, with Leanagh's vocals given room to run amok once more, this time against a backdrop of sounds that reeked with the unlikely dichotomy of immense pain and great elation all at once.
Unlike their studio sound, the gloomy attributes of Polica's sound are hidden more subtly in their live performances. This notwithstanding, many of the songs sound very similar and with the band rarely venturing into their more adventurous, electro-heavy ethic, the concert did have the look and feel of a taciturn Monday night show at times. Venturesome antics towards the end did change this however, with a song that had been written only a few hours before the show being played shortly before an encore that sounded similar to the loud, distorted chaos of fellow synth-pop band, Crystal Castles (albeit with less of a rough edge). All in all, Polica put in a good show last night, though there are no doubt many areas for improvement. For a band with only one studio album they are, by their own admission, “only newcomers” so expect them back sometime soon.