Up until a month ago, I often heard “Polvo” and “Double Barrel Benefit” in the same sentence, but only in the context of: “Hey, you know what would be a cream dream? Polvo headlining the Double Barrel Benefit." The conversation would then spiral into fantasies of Zach Galifianakis hosting a lineup of Ben Folds, Whiskeytown, Superchunk, or Archers of Loaf. Saying it was a long shot was an understatement. Polvo disbanded in 1997, and despite my past inquiries and pestering of Polvo’s bassist and Kings Barcade owner, Steve Popson, it seemed forever to remain "not the right time.”
But with Polvo reforming with a new drummer Brian Quast (Cherry Valence) to play last summer’s ATP festival, and a handful of shows afterward, the time became right and Polvo will be headlining Saturday the 7th for WKNC’s Double Barrel Benefit #6.
Polvo formed in 1990 in Chapel Hill and after releasing the double 7" “Can I Ride” on Kitchen Puff, signed with Merge Records to release their debut album “Cor-Crane Secret”. They followed tours wtih Babes in Toyland and Superchunk with the release of “Today’s Active Lifestyles” in 1992 and the EP’s “Celebrate the New Dark Age” and “This Eclipse” in 1994 and ‘95. After switching to Chicago label Touch and Go in 1996, Polvo released the double length album “Exploded Drawing” and put out their final record “Shapes” in 1997.
In the 12 years since their final release, Polvo’s members have kept making music and staying involved in the Triangle music scene. Guitarist and vocalist Ash Bowie played with Helium and released an album in 200o under the name Libraness. Dave Brylawski (guitar, vocals) played in Idyll Swords and joined bassist Steve Popson in Black Taj. And of course Popson was one of the owners of beloved Raleigh music institution Kings Barcade (RIP).
Now, it is entirely possible that some of you may not be as utterly geeked as I am about this development. Some of you may not have already bought your tickets for the second night (as if the promise of I Was Totally Destroying It, Violet Vector & The Lovely Lovelies, and Birds of Avalon wasn’t enough). That is fair. Polvo stopped putting out albums in the 90’s and some of the listeners of this station may have been born in that decade. So let me do you a favor and provide the following three good reasons you must not miss out on catching Polvo, Saturday February 7th at the Pour House.
1. Polvo put their own stamp on the Math Rock genre.
Along with bands like Slint, Drive Like Jehu, and Shellac, Polvo’s use of different tunings, complicated time signatures, and dense layering of sound, created a whole new twist on rock music. Polvo especially involved rhythms and drone-type sonics that drew heavily from Eastern music, creating music that could be appreciated by both shoe-gazers as well a punk rock fans. But their songs were never without that great pop hook, making Polvo a great band for new fans to acquaint themselves with the Math Rock genre
2. Polvo influenced your favorite bands.
Explosions in the Sky were such fans, when they curated last years All Tomorrow’s Parties in England, Polvo was on the top of their wish list. You can hear Polvo’s influence in national acts such as Pilot to Gunner and Pterodactyl, as well as local acts Des Ark and Noncanon. Even looking back at previous Double Barrel Benefit vets, you can hear Polvo’s inventive sonic layers in The Nein and complex beat counts in We Versus the Shark.
3. This is a rare chance to see a legendary band, in an intimate venue, in their home base.
Polvo may or may not play another show. Getting an opportunity to see a seminal band from the hey-day of the Triangle’s indie rock expolsion is a rare treat. This is along the same level of Slint’s 2005 reunion; an infuential band, whose members have not lost a step, coming together because they love the music they made.
Speaking as the past curator of Double Barrel Benefit’s, this year’s lineup ranks as one of the best. Top to bottom, both nights, is a solid representation of our vibrant local music scene. And if you have been to past DBB’s, you know that bands kick it up a gear when they play this event (Red Collar, Mountain Goats, and The Nein come to mind). And to have a band like Polvo reform and play this event for no compensation is both humbling and exciting. The Pour House looks to be rocking, and so will I. See you there.