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Poliça and s t a r g a z e Live Review

Photo credit: NPR

Witnessing the magic that is Poliça and s t a r g a z e performing their collaborative album Music For the Long Emergency is a surreal experience. From the Middle Eastern synthy pop folk vibes to the Portishead-like eeriness that very few musical groups can perfect, the show was entrancing. Poliça, a four piece band from Minneapolis, and s t a r g a z e, a German and Dutch symphony collective portrayed an array of genres that by the end I wasn’t sure what kind of a show I had just seen. I knew it was art, though, because each individual musician grasped the performance like it was the only one they knew. s t a r g a z e managed the left of the stage, Poliça took to the right, and to the middle stood Polica’s lead singer Channy. Together and at once they commanded the room to draw in for the night, and without hesitation the audience quickly fell under their spell of pure musical talent.

Music For the Long Emergency is a collaborative album that Poliça and s t a r g a z e created over the course of the past year together, both virtually and in person. Their performance at Memorial Hall marked the last show of the North American leg of their tour. The show took a very contrasting approach to the relationship of sound. It was super primal and elegant all at once, and they were both poised and profound.

Throughout the show there were several layers of slight pulsations and short noises looping about. Poliça’s DJ played an integral role and his position behind Channy, sort of in the shadows, helped to evoke mystery and intrigue. The slender changes and breaks in each of the instruments coalesced in ways that were expected, but in a split second they would divert into transy metal or funky upbeat dance grooves. None of the sheer brilliance was surprising, however, given that Poliça has been performing for the past thirteen years and put out six albums over the course of them.

The performance traveled through almost every genre. Packed in the rather short album (seven songs in total) are folk, rock, jazz, punk, pop, and metal extractions. Considering the plethora of sounds, you could certainly tell what a wealth of knowledge of music each of the members must have carried altogether. Channy’s multifaceted and impressive vocals easily transition from sweet to savory to singsong to angst. The ensemble of strings, horns, and drums was more than just complimentary, it felt central, and was utmost impressive. I couldn’t help but imagine the amount of time and energy it took to calculate each instrument’s character and function. Every transition, every revelation flowed flawlessly from each musician.

I much adored the fact that every member of s t a r g a z e was getting down! It’s more enjoyable than one would think to watch those who play the music truly love it, too. Channy had a way of showing her enthusiasm, too. She used her hands to follow the tune, her wrist was flicking away from the moment she began to the second the concert came to an end. The whole execution was pristine and peculiar in the way that the two bands merged and became one. It is safe to say that for the sake of this album, s t a r g a z e and Poliça had become one. And while it is particularly challenging to describe the music that eminated from Poliça and s t a r g a z e at Memorial Hall, the two groups curated such an elaborate and exquisite musical work that could be heartfelt and reach anybody. I, for one, felt especially near and dear to the first song, “Fake Like.” Bouncing from soft, melodic songs to bass- heavy and compact renditions, Music for The Long Emergency is sure to strike you, somehow. Check it out, maybe close your eyes, relax, but most importantly keep an open mind and the rest should beautifully follow.



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