In early 2012 a song came into heavy rotation on 6 music, and almost every play came with an attached quote, or endorsement if you will, from Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame. He had declared the then-little known Poliça ‘the best band I’ve ever heard’. Quite the soundbite.
It helped that the song itself, Lay Your Cards Out, was brilliant and distinctly different sounding, as was the entirety of their debut album, Give You The Ghost. Layers of ghostly, autotuned vocals. Duelling drummers. It was an electronic cacophony, a storm of noise and ideas.
And last night, with a storm raging outside, they brought it to Birmingham.
Ambling on stage and casually launching into Dark Star wasn’t a stormy beginning, but it was an appropriate starting point as the whole gig is casually dark - from the music to the lighting - but also punctured with energetic and bright moments.
With two drummers on stage the gig is heavily focused on the percussive, and this is a performance that makes more of an impression sonically than it does lyrically. With soaring sounds, aggressive drumming and a frontwoman throwing shapes, the crowd duly responded in movement rather than vocally.
Channy Leaneagh is a schizophrenic frontwoman, flitting between introverted synth operator, to grooving disco queen, to arm throwing hip-hop assaulter. She occupies the stage in front of the twin drummers and bass player, delivering and layering her distinctive vocals with aggression, apomb and autonomy.
She only talks to utter an apology for the weather outside. But she delivers Leading To Death, The Maker, and Amongster like her life depends on it. And the aforementioned Lay Your Cards Out sees the crowd raise their hands and shift spasmodically throughout.
A compact performance sees most of the album played, with the encore only comprising a vocal solo and a brief new song. The crowd wanted more, but oh well, they’ll be back.
Over a year on from that infamous soundbite, Poliça have come a long way, maybe not enough for everyone to agree with Justin, but enough to justify themselves as a truly exciting band.