Local Current Blog

Review and photos: Poliça climb new heights at First Avenue

Channy Leaneagh of Poliça. Photos by Steven Cohen for MPR.

For the past three nights, Poliça have made the rounds at various venues in the Twin Cities to put their new album on blast to their local following. United Crushers celebrated its official release last night at First Avenue. Twin Citians will recognize the title’s allusion to a common local graffiti tag — most recognizable atop the oft-scaled grain elevator in Southeast Minneapolis. Like those who venture to the top of the aging structure, Poliça hazard new heights in their third LP, risking bolder sonic endeavors and flirting with destruction.

As one of Minneapolis’s premier acts on the national stage, Poliça have every reason to play confidently on their home turf. The material on United Crushers gives them the ammunition to do just that. With more precise storytelling than ever before, the band brought dramatic force to their sold-out show in First Avenue’s Mainroom.

Their two openers, Kill The Vultures and Fog, primed the audience well with hard-hitting hip hop and bass-heavy electronica. The low vibrations resonated through the many bodies in the sold-out room, warming up everyone for the main attraction.

Poliça began with “Summer Please,” Channy Leaneagh’s familiar ghostly murmur floating over drums and bass. Leaneagh’s vocals were alternately angelic and robotic, crushed by distortion into almost inhuman timbre. These switches were made on a dime, without hesitation or gradation, and illustrate the core conflicts on United Crushers: Polica’s exploration into the personal and the political, the romantic and the existential, does not betray realism for comfort.

In “Someway,” pointed political commentary were accompanied by piercing sonic jabs. Leaneagh’s poetry was accented with sharp hits from the double drummers and rapid bass licks, and in between her vocals had space to breathe. On their previous two albums, the band have filled every beat with synths, bass, and percussion. On Friday, moments of quiet afforded the audience the opportunity to parse and process before being thrown back into the fray.

With United Crushers, the band are charting new instrumental territory, at times rising to the cinematic. On “Berlin,” trumpets accompany Leaneagh’s lyrics about her pregnancy, wailing from behind the band’s wall of sound.

Poliça are bringing something totally fresh to the stage, transitioning from implicit to explicit political commentary and demonstrating a new level of musical maturity. Fans responded well, exploding in applause after the band closed with “Lose You.” With haste, they returned for an encore, giving the fans what they wanted with a powerful reprisal of their 2012 hit “Amongster.”

Part of the proceeds of the United Crushers tour will go to benefit the Northside Achievement Zone, a project aimed at closing the achievement gap and ending poverty in North Minneapolis.

Summer Please
Lime Habit
Chain My Name
Melting Block
Lay Your Cards Out
Top Coat
Fish On The Griddle
Warrior Lord
Baby Sucks
Lose You

Robb Larson (@masluzquecalor) is a senior Technical Writing and Communication major at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities.

Kill the Vultures