2013 has been a banner year for both synthpop and female-fronted bands, at least where The Wonder Ballroom is concerned. Earlier this year, Portland was treated to visits from Polica, Bat for Lashes, and Chvrches - and things came full circle this Friday night when Channy and the rest of the gang returned to The Wonder in support of Polica's new album, "Shulamith."
If you've never seen Polica in concert, it's an experience. Vocalist Channy Leaneagh can seem a little somber, at times - she doesn't smile much and she tends to dispense with on-stage banter: there are no cute anecdotes about visiting Voodoo Donuts or Powell's, here. Leaneagh's often serious demeanor belies the passion behind her music, though - once she starts singing, she closes her eyes, dances to the beat, and lets loose with ethereal, hauntingly beautiful vocals.
While they played a few of their older songs (including the crowd favorite, "Dark Star"), much of Friday's setlist focused on material off of Shulamith - including the singles "Tiff" and "Chain My Name" - before closing out with a brilliant cover of Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me." One thing is for sure, though - whether they're playing new material, old material, or really old cover material - Polica's got a unique sound that will transport you to another place.
Industrial music fans were given a rare treat on Monday night, when rocker Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails returned to The Moda Center as part of their first tour since returning from a four-year hiatus earlier this year.
Following a suitably incendiary instrumental set from openers Explosions In The Sky, NIN came onstage amidst a barrage of light and sound that continued uninterrupted for well over an hour. I've been to concerts with impressive light shows in my day, but nothing quite prepares you for the sheer power and relentless energy that Nine Inch Nails has at their disposal. The set list for Monday's show included selections from every part of NIN's two-and-a-half decade long discography, including classics such as "Head Like a Hole" and "The Hand That Feeds" alongside selections from the band's new album, Hesitation Marks, finally culminating with a powerful and haunting rendition of their 1994 hit, "Hurt."
Although Nine Inch Nails' sound has evolved quite a bit over the past two decades, Monday night's show proved that Trent and Company are still as powerful and compelling as ever.