While the Minneapolis band Polica has picked up steam lately, and while they won over the crowd last night, most of the room seemed unfamiliar with the music. Frontwoman Channy Leaneagh and her group played a buzzed-about show at Coachella last year, prompting at least a few Clevelanders to come out to last night’s gig. An act like Poliça doesn’t seem like it would benefit from having two drummers on the smallish Grog Shop stage, pounding away at their respective kits, but it definitely worked for them, leaving all of the highly produced electronics to the laptop tucked away between all the percussion and letting Leaneagh do her thing next to bassist Chris Bierden. This is the first time the band has played Cleveland.
The band played computer-generated compositions, and all of the synths ran on a laptop, synching the two drummers with a click-track, ensuring that their frenzy of sticks are perfectly in time. The sheer accuracy of the beats was a marvel on its own. Ryan Olsen, who produces and composes music, looked relaxed despite the physicality of his swift drumming — you could see him smiling a little when things heated up. Leaneagh controlled her own vocal effects from a couple of gadgets to the side of the stage, giving more power behind her powerful and intimate performance, while obscuring her lyrical statements.
The band played flawlessly, but at times seemed like it wanted a little bit of freedom to experiment. Poliça just released a deluxe version of last year’s Shulamith with four new songs they didn’t hesitate to bust out. The crowd actually really loved the new stuff that included a cover of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.” “Tiff,” the lead single from Shulamith got little love from the Grog Shop audience. Although they played two songs in encore, Leaneagh seemed to crave some energy from the crowd that she just wasn’t getting, opting instead to create some chemistry with the bassist. Hopefully, she gets that chemistry the next time she comes to Cleveland.
The stage was crowded with gear, leaving no room for local act the Very Knees’ hyperactive distortion saturated antics (they had to play in the corner of the room). After the duo’s bombast, the downtempo style of Lolawolf, out of New York City, was a nice contrast. Lolawolf, fronted by Zoë Kravitz (yes, the actor) has this ’90s throwback sound that’s part TLC, part Enya. They ran a minimal setup of electronic drums, synth and vocals.