Chairlift Elevates the Pop Standard


The Fine Line Music Café of downtown Minneapolis drew in listeners like a moth to the flame Friday. The small venue was host to rising alternative-pop band Chairlift, a band that’s riding the touring wave on its recently released third album “Moth.”

Chairlift has been known for twisting the typical norms of contemporary pop into a more tangible and abrasive product. The band first came to acclaim at the release of the single “Bruises.” The success that accompanied the single led the band to be signed with major label Columbia in 2009. Since then the pop outfit has been releasing a steady output of experimental pop music made evident in their live performance.

The mood in the venue was laid down by opener Starchild and the New Romantic. Starchild is a solo act that pulled inspiration from R&B, dancehall and ’80s hair bands. Starchild maintained a calm, cool and collective stage persona as he prepped the crowd for the main act.

Anticipation was steadily built until Chairlift finally made its appearance. The ensemble that filed out onto the stage included a saxophonist, bass guitarist, mulit-instrumentalist Patrick Wimberly with vocalist and front-woman Caroline Polachek.

Chairlift’s set list began with the subdued and ominous “Look Up.” Then the pace was picked up as the song melted into the jazzy, jam-worthy “Polymorphing.”

Polachek’s vocals were perhaps the greatest component of their live performance. The vocals were incredibly impressive and even surmounted her performance on the studio album. She was able to produce beautiful full tones despite tiring her voice every night on tour, a truly commendable feat.

Chairlift continued elevate the crowd’s excitement as it played some classics from its previous two albums.

On “Sidewalk Safari,” from their sophomore album, Polachek accompanied the track’s bizarre synth lead with a steady, curdling scream. This further demonstrated Polachek’s extreme vocal control and added a quality of excitement to the original. Wimberly then expertly broke out the bass line on “Amanaemonesia,” laying the foundation for an intense grove.

It was evident from the start that the band mates had undeniable chemistry as they danced with each other and tousled each other’s hair on stage. Even Polachek and Wimberly’s coordinating orange outfits were reminiscent of what a garage band in the future would sport.

Toward the last half of the set, Chairlift began to play more of their recent, adrenaline-inducing songs. “Romeo” had an athletic keyboard lead that could easily score the triumphant end of a marathon.

The mood was then brought down with “Unfinished Business.” Polachek stood serious and resolute center-stage and addressed the audience in front of a pulsating bass line.

“Moth to the Flame” wrapped up the concert. As one of the most dance-happy tracks on the “Moth” album, Polachek and Wimberly ended the show on a high note and played their hearts out.

Being able to see artists have such a passion in their work makes the show just that much more satisfying. Chairlift’s efforts and hard work are made evident in their performance, solidifying the band as one of the major proponents of pop music.

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