Caroline Polachek @ CONTENT, Liverpool, UK, May 26, 2023 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, May 25th, 2024  

Caroline Polachek

Caroline Polachek @ CONTENT, Liverpool, UK, May 26, 2023,

May 31, 2023 Photography by Andy Von Pip Web Exclusive
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Back in 2008, there was a brief period of time when Caroline Polachek‘s vocals seemed omnipresent. As one half of the American synth-pop band Chairlift, Polachek and her bandmate Aaron Pfenning experienced something akin to a viral hit when Apple used their song “Bruises” to promote the launch of the iPod nano. Of course, the nature of going viral has changed since then, thanks to an actual virus/global pandemic, and more recently, TikTok. However, one thing remains unchanged: the exceptional quality of the music that Polachek has been creating since Chairlift disbanded in 2017.

Some might consider it a tad hyperbolic to label Polachek a visionary pop polymath genius (which she clearly is). But after witnessing her performance at CONTENT, a brand new venue in Liverpool, if you remained unmoved, either your sensory processing isn’t fully functional or you’re a Miles Kane fan. Polachek’s vocal performance is absolutely flawless, and her stage presence mesmerizing as she exudes cool charisma. The show begins with theatrical flair, as a ticking clock counts down as a presage to her arrival on stage before she launches into “Welcome To My Island” from her acclaimed album Desire I Want To Turn Into You.

Her live show, much like her music, is a masterclass in avant-pop experimentation. Polachek pushes the boundaries of pop, molding and shaping it into jaw-dropping and spectacular new shapes and forms. “Hit Me Where It Hurts,” “Pretty In Possible,” and “Bunny is Rider” not only showcase Polachek’s versatility but also highlight the virtuosic musicality of her live band. The transition from studio versions to the live setting sounds effortless. Equally impressive is the fact that this is the venue’s first “proper gig.” Yet at times, it feels like attending a stadium-sized concert due to the high-end production values, and Polachek’s artistic vision and her sublime vocals which fill every inch of the warehouse-like space.

Between songs, Polachek is warm and witty, clearly thrilled to be performing in Liverpool as a solo artist for the first time. She recalls playing in the city before with Chairlift in 2008 (I was there!) and shares an anecdote about an unpleasant sound guy. This time around, however, it’s a joyous and celebratory experience, with a killer setlist that is heavily weighted toward her latest album but also includes some choice cuts from her acclaimed debut solo album Pang. It’s a supremely well-judged setlist, and Polachek skilfully interweaves the slower numbers with the “bangers” to ensure there’s never a dull moment. I mean how could there be given the talent on display? To truly appreciate how exceptional Polachek is, you really have to see her live. She is scheduled to perform at Glastonbury again this year, on a bigger stage and if you’re fortunate enough to have a ticket, she is an absolute must-see artist.


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