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POLICA (Concert Review) | Philly Music Vocalizer

What's Old Is New Again: POLICA at The Foundry at The Fillmore Philly

By Ashley Hans: Philly Music VocalizerPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
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PHOTO CREDIT: Lauren McLean/Queen McLean Media

What's old is new again. That's true not just of my personal experience with the Minneapolis-based synth-pop band POLIÇA — who performed recently just a couple of Fridays ago (on Friday, June 17th, 2022) —at The Foundry at The Fillmore Philadelphia. It's also true of the venue itself, The Fillmore Philly.

It was my first time ever at The Fillmore Philadelphia, a fabulous Fishtown venue with a long and storied history. In fact, the first and original Fillmore opened in San Francisco in 1965. The San Francisco Fillmore helped to launch the careers of some psychedelic rock legendaries like Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few.

The Philadelphia Fillmore, on the other land, opened in its current iteration in Philadelphia's Fishtown district in 2015. That's when Live Nation converted the historic 100+-year-old Ajax building on Frankford Avenue to what it is today, a modern-day and beloved musical mainstay of the Philly music scene. (The building has operated under many names and managements throughout its long years, including as a dance hall in the 1910s and as a roller rink in the 1940s. It originally opened its doors in 1907 as Ajax Metal Co., a metalworking complex.) Live Nation's 2015 re-opening of the 25,000-square-foot venue upholds the building's industrial architectural elegance, embodying an undeniably cool gritty rock vibe in the now-iconic state-of-the-art music gem.

PHOTO CREDIT: Lauren McLean/Queen McLean Media

POLIÇA's show on Friday, June 17th, 2022 was at The Foundry, which is a 450-capacity "club within the club" at The Fillmore Philadelphia. The Foundry is on the top floor of The Fillmore; it's complete with its own private side entrance, found on the mezzanine level off to the side of The Fillmore's street-facing main entrance. The Foundry — a second live music club that manages to feel just as exclusive as it does intimate — is the perfect place to dance while getting close to singer-songwriters on showcase, local musicians and smaller acts on tour, and DJs at their soundboards infusing sick beats throughout the lounge.

That's the manner in which I discovered POLIÇA at The Foundry. And, despite outward appearances, it was eerily similar to the first time I ever saw POLIÇA perform. This was almost a decade ago, all the way back in 2013, for the amazingly magical XPonNential Summer Music Festival.

At the festival, POLIÇA was performing at the Susquehanna Bank Center as opposed to Wiggins Park, which is where most of the artists were performing. Not just that, POLIÇA performed on a side stage at Susquehanna Bank Center, just as they performed in a side room at The Fillmore Philadelphia. And despite being part of a huge festival (XPoNential Summer Music Festival 2013), and next to a huge venue (The Fillmore Philly), we — the audience — felt like we were in our own little universe. We were loving every second of our connected closeness.

At both shows, the audiences were not immense, but they were immensely engaged. As well as friendly and fun!

At the 2013 festival, when I was in my late twenties, I was taking show notes with a pen and little notepad. A guy who couldn't have been any older than his early twenties came up to me and started talking to me about music journalism, telling me how it's something he wanted to get into, and asked me if I had any tips on breaking into the industry. I told him my story, most notably what had worked for me, and we continued to chat for a bit. It was a pleasure to meet and speak with such a bright and young affable dude. Fast forward to June of 2022 and POLIÇA is nearing the end of their most recent Philadelphia set. I'm off to the side of the stage taking a few pictures, and a lady whom I had seen earlier dancing the night away with one of her girlfriends, came up behind me smacked my derrière. Perhaps I should've been offended, but she did it so playfully and with so much love, that I could do nothing but laugh. I continued to take more pictures and got a couple really cool shots of her and her friend dancing in front of the stage, their jamming silhouettes contrasted by the colorful stage lights. I showed the butt-smacking mistress these pictures and we did a double high-five in the air, followed by an animated and undulating handshake. The POLIÇA crowd is full of my kinda peeps: delightful dancers and perky peaches.

PHOTO CREDIT: Lauren McLean/Queen McLean Media

The most noticeable difference between POLIÇA's two shows— aside from lead singer Channy Leaneagh's change in hair color (she was a brunette in 2013 and a blonde in 2022) — was the music itself.

I don't remember POLIÇA's music being so dancey back in 2013, which makes sense considering at the time POLIÇA was promoting their second studio album Shulamith (2013; Mom + Pop Music), named after the late feminist writer Shulamith Firestone. This album takes a bleak look on relationships, brooding with the frustrations of corrosive communication and loss of identity that all too often occurs in the wreckages of romance.

Compare that to the more textured and thudding instrumentation of Madness, POLIÇA's sixth and latest studio album, which dropped on June 3rd, 2022 via Memphis Industries. Standouts from the album, as well as POLIÇA's June 2022 gig at The Foundry in Philadelphia, include "Alive," "Violence," and "Blood." "Alive" and "Violence" both make use of a four-on-the-floor kick drum that submerges listeners in a shady, sweltering underbelly of a louche lounge. Then you have the masterful momentum of "Blood," a bright and nearly beaming bopper, which infuses the funky with the the fun.

The dancier, the better; that's my personal belief, particularly so for live music. I love me some scintillating synth-pop, which explains why I downright adore getting down at concerts of dance party indie-popsters like Hot Chip, STRFCKR, and of Montreal. POLIÇA can now be added to this list, only adding to my curiosity of discovering what this inventive quintet will come up with next.

PHOTO CREDIT: Lauren McLean/Queen McLean Media

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About the Creator

Ashley Hans: Philly Music Vocalizer

Indie music lovers pride themselves on having an eclectic taste in music; so do I. But there are two differences between the pretentious masses and me. One, my taste is better. Two, I'm not pretentious.

(e): [email protected]

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