Local Current Blog

Photos: Poliça and Marijuana Deathsquads at Mill City Nights

Photos by Nate Ryan/MPR

Poliça warmly welcomed the sellout crowd at Mill City Nights on November 30; it was the second of the band’s two headlining slots on consecutive nights at the downtown Minneapolis venue. The crowd was slightly older and more mainstream than the crowds the band attracted in their first shows (circa 2011), evidence of the national success Poliça have quickly achieved.

The majority of the crowd seemed to be there for Poliça, and they were a little slow to react to the opening set by Marijuana Deathsquads. The Deathsquads put on one of my favorite sets I’ve seen them do in a while, using a little less of Isaac Gale’s screechingly satanic voice than usual. As always, both Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu were drumming; they were also joined by Freddy Votel. Gale, P.O.S, MAKR, Slapping Purses, and Spyder Baybie were all conducted by Ryan Olson. For the final two songs of the set, Poliça’s Channy Leaneagh joined the Deathsquads, adding her voice to the chaos. Their final song had a great dynamic with Leaneagh and Spyder Baybie trading vocals back and forth.

“I had seen Poliça live before,” adds Jacquie Fuller, “but never Marijuana Deathsquads. Seeing these guys live was on my Minnesota Bucket List, and Saturday night’s show totally met my expectations. The music, the visuals, the fog—it was like dance music from a dystopian future. All those guys hovered around their boards and laptops made it feel like I was witnessing something ritualistic: scary, but generative. I was also struck by how collaborative and—yes, I’m gonna say it—multiracial the band is. It’s just not something you see all the time, and I feel like it’s indicative of the music scene here: artists constantly hop genres and blow apart our notions of who should be playing what music. It makes me giddy.”

Poliça turned in a strong set. Leaneagh was typically engaging, dancing with a slight awkwardness, almost as if in a world of her own. For one song, Olson snuck on stage to even further distort Leaneagh’s vocals and add ghostly echoes. The encore started with a stripped-down version of “Wandering Star” featuring just Leaneagh and, on bass, Chris Bierden. As the song segued into a cover of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me,” Christopherson and Ivascu retook the stage, and the band closed the night out on a rocking note.

Marijuana Deathsquads


  • capodibloggo

    “50s rock ballad?” Uh, no. That amazing encore song wasn’t from the 50s and it certainly wasn’t a ballad. It was Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” from 1963, a famous, #2 on the pop charts, proto-feminist anthem spiritually aligned with many of the themes on Polica’s new album. They’ve been bringing down the house with it on tour this fall; Channy’s transformative performance of this old classic was a highlight of the show for sure.

    • Thanks for the correction! We’ve fixed the error.

      • capodibloggo

        My pleasure. Fantastic photo set.

  • Katie Monson Peterson

    I was at the show on Saturday night, and it was amazing. I would say seeing Marijuana Deathsquads live was a little like watching the scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where they are riding the boat on the chocolate river. Pretty amazing to experience firsthand.