Chairlift - Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto - March 28th, 2012
Chairlift's ice-cool, 80s-tinged synth pop sparkled at the Horseshoe Tavern last Wednesday.
The Brooklyn band, in town to showcase their excellent 2011 release Something, hit the ground running with vengeful opener 'Sidewalk Safari'. Lead singer Caroline Polachek's sultry promise to exact revenge by driving her car into a past flame - "I'm gonna run you down / in your direction!" - was menacing and sexy in equal measure.
Stunning tracks like 'Wrong Opinion' and 'Take It Out On Me', understated on tape, proved intense live. This more forceful sound was due to the beefed-up live ensemble with band members Polachek and bass player Patrick Wimberly joined by a live drummer, keyboard player and guitarist. Previously, the band had toured as a three-piece with former guitarist Aaron Pfenning. Chairlift 2.0 allowed the dramatic soundscapes to resonate, and Polacheck was able to express the songs with movement and castanets, freed from fronting the show from behind a keyboard.
It's hard not to be transfixed by Polachek. Her vocal range is able to effortlessly shift gears from the dreamy, meandering of 'Cool As A Fire' to the bubblegum pop thrills of 'Bruises', where the departed Pfenning's verse was notably shunned for a Modern English 'I Melt With You' interlude.
Heartfelt 'I Belong To You', fuelled by traces of Hall and Oates, and shiny new single 'Met Before', destined to be spun to death in Urban Outfitters, both glistened here in the live setting. The mostly reserved 'Guilty As Charged' erupted into a wonderful jam with Polachek picking up the drum sticks to add punch to the drums.
But not all of Chairlift's catalogue translated as well live.
The bland treatment of 'Frigid Spring' and the plodding 'Planet Health' increased the chatter on the floor while the haunting 'Ghost Tonight' (check the beautiful London Black Cab version) lost its impact. No doubt the live band - which has only been touring together since January - is still finding it's feet and these kinks will be ironed out.
A fresh take on old favourite 'Evident Utensil' almost edged 'Wrong Opinion' as the standout of the night, before Chairlift capped the show with Something's lead single 'Amanaemonesia', Wimberly's slinky bass as the backbone. Sadly, for fans of the bonkers’ video, Caroline did not replicate her lycra-clad dance but a charmingly reckless live rendition at the 'Shoe proved just as memorable.