The band finished their sound check and prepared to play their first note when the lights went out.
Some bands might have picked up their amps and headed for the door, but not Polecat. They lit some candles and played an acoustic set as Lopezians danced in the shadowy light of the Galley. As the guitars were plucked, the lightning struck outside, illuminating the ocean and casting a bluish-white light on the musicians.
“Whenever we come to the islands it is a different vibe,” said Jeremy Elliott, songwriter and guitarist in Polecat, recalling a past show on Lopez. “Everyone there is ready to go with whatever happens and raging the whole time. It’s a breath of fresh air … just to have a party and have a good time and have good energy.”
Polecat is playing at the Rumor Mill, Friday, May 23 at 8:30 p.m.
Formed in March 2010, the group is based out of Bellingham, Wash. and has been making a name for itself throughout the Northwest for its expressive roots tracks and explosive live shows.
Elliott describes the band’s sound as “stomp-grass, world, Americana” with intense, complicated rhythms, and infusions of funk, soul, reggae and Celtic tunes. These infusions are what has set Polecat apart from the more traditional string and bluegrass bands, which have seen a recent growth in popularity. With instruments like an electric guitar, 12-string guitar, fiddle, upright bass and vocals, Polecat is able to explore different genres and each member has his/her own diverse background to add flavor to the music.
“We have a lot of fun, but we also take it very seriously, in regard to our music—our instruments in our hands,” Elliott said. “My connection with my guitar will never match anything else. It has been great being able to pursue a career where my guitar is feeding me, giving me life physically and mentally.”
The five bandmates have a diverse background in everything from African beats to classical Indian music to jazz and orchestral. They also try to mix up the sounds streaming through their own brains, listening to everything from Phish to Bill Monroe to Britney Spears to Dr. Dre. And it shows on stage when they make well-known covers like “The Land Down Under” by Men at Work into their own work of art.
What they all have in common, according to Elliott, is a love for the mysterious and powerful language that is music and having that unique “conversation” with an audience.
“I think there is a connection when you are having a conversation with someone speaking the same language – a rhythm, cadence and tone of voice that makes it pleasing,” Elliott said. “Music is a form of communication where there is rhythm in time, in tones and a lot of the time we are playing to complete strangers but they are connected to our type of music and understand that we are pouring ourselves out in the most intimate way.”
When that connection happens, Elliott said you access a deeper form of communication – something you don’t just hear but feel.
“When we have a group of people soaking it up… that’s the biggest pay off, we could not ask for more than having a lot of fun,” Elliott said.