On October 21st 2023, genre-bending progressive rock band Polyphia played a sold out show at History as part of their Remember That You Will Die tour. Esteemed progressive jazz duo Domi and JD Beck opened the show. Having listened to their unique brand of electronic jazzy drum and bass music before, I knew the audience would fall for their signature quirky sense of style, crispy rhythms and blistering synth solos.
They mainly performed songs off of their Grammy-nominated debut album "NOT TiGht", including "SMiLE" and "WHATUP". They also did a very impressive cover of Weather Report's "Havona". Both musicians also effortlessly played their instruments while also singing individual parts for tracks like "BOWLiNG" - an impressive feat for even the best of musicians. As they finished off the end of their set, they walked off stage to a huge round of applause and what I hope to be a ton of new potential fans.
Polyphia soon arrived afterwards, kicking off their set with "Loud". Immediately, the crowd was hype. The whole stage was set ablaze with lights that matched the crowd's energy. The series of LED panels on stage formed intricate light patterns that danced around Clay Aeschliman and the other performers.
The band mainly performed tracks off of their 2022 album "Remember That You Will Die" such as the funk "Reverie" and the anthemic brassy "All Falls Apart". They also performed a few selects from their previous projects such as the mind-bending "O.D." from their 2018 album "New Levels New Devils" or "Champagne" from their 2014 album "Muse".
I was very glad to hear how clean and airy Polyphia's guitar riffs and the drum fills are in person.
Their musical chemistry during the show felt more notable than their recorded songs. It's a testament to both the group's songwriting ability that the crowd would verbalize their fast arpeggiated riffs and guitar solos as if it were a singer's vocal melody.
The crowd favourite song was "ABC" - a track that accompanies their technical virtuosity with bright bubblegum pop vocals from actress and singer Sophia Black. The crowd's intensity heightened as people chanted the lyrics back at the band. It was very fun to witness people headbang and crowdsurf to the equivalent of a prog metal J-pop track.
They closed off the night with a two song encore run of the flamenco/bossa nova-inspired "Playing God", the brassy anthemic track "Genesis," and the stank face-inducing, headbanging track "G.O.A.T." Hands down, this was one of the best concerts I've been to this year. While I would've loved more audience interaction between songs, Polyphia is a band that knows how to entertain and keep the energy going.
All photos by John Mendoza or @iblibs on Instagram.