We had a good feeling about this one.
It had been a while since Team SGTMT had looked forward to a gig with the anticipation which Poliça‘s show at the City Arts & Music Project commanded. This small basement venue below an office block would need to be a scene of a real triumph to justify the build up. Anything less and we’d head home nursing disappointment to go with our hangover.
Slipping on-stage, the quartet (creative force Ryan Olson is present, but doesn’t perform with the band) look anything but imposing. Frontwoman Channy Leaneagh is slight and exudes serenity, bassist Chris Bierden bounds across to his instrument, the curls on his head bouncing in time. There’s little clue to the physically arresting sound that will erupt from this small stage. Or that for all the talk of the twin-drummer attack, the show will actually be driven by the impressively skilful Bierden, vying with Leaneagh for our attention.
Lots of surprises: the double-drums work as well live as everyone says, Bierden’s bass-playing is immense and Leaneagh’s serenity would give way in an instant, and without warning, to reveal a surprising ferocity.
She was truly mesmerising. Moving as if riding the waves of her band’s music, she means every word, straining sinews for her delivery. It was hard to drag your eyes away.
Poliça’s live sound is big, irresistible and dynamic. It’s raw and muscular in a way the band’s debut Give You The Ghost LP doesn’t quite capture.
We were enraptured. We normally make quick notes throughout gigs in order to jog the memory later and a few songs in we glanced down at our notes to see we’d only written one word; “incredible“. Succinct, but not very helpful.
The highlights are many. Favourites Dark Star and Lay Your Cards Out for a start, the former a pounding monster of a song with a devilish hook.
Amongster is overwhelmingly good, prowling, synth-heavy and unforgiving.
Form is turned into a pounding dance track and will not give up until we’re moving in time.
Many of Poliça’s songs are formed along the same lines: clattering drums and pounding basslines with swirling vocals, but there is enough variation in the template to hold the attention all night.
New song Tripping Down has a different sound. A warm melody and stop-start verse which we can’t wait to hear again.
Mainly, it is Leaneagh who makes them so irresistible. Her charismatic presence, the way she personifies her band’s sound, the way she switches between yearning and vicious at the flick of a switch. She’s quite something and with three other talented guys on stage (they say a band is only as good as their drummer, Poliça seem to have two excellent replies to that) they’re going to take some beating. They really have to be witnessed live if they are to be fully understood and enjoyed.
Too soon Poliça exit, giving genuine thanks to the sold-out venue. They leave us wanting more. It’s not too long until they are back, in November, but they’ll never be seen in a venue this intimate again. If you missed it, well that’s that.
What a triumph. We went home more than satisfied.
Want some of the action? Buy tickets for their return here.