I had so many problems with Chairlift’s set last week at The Space in Hamden, Conn. that I don’t even know where to begin. The time in between the opener and the Brooklyn-based synthpop headliners was longer than the band’s actual set (OK, let’s start there). They kept us waiting for a little over an hour, while the set was about 50 minutes, if that. So first of all, fuck that shit, cuz we were standing in 150-capacity club. This wasn’t by any means a large-scale production. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the house music played in between sets had more energy than Chairlift did.
Rewind, shall we?
It was the night before the New Yorkers’ third album was set to drop. Singer Caroline Polachek made mention a couple times throughout that the [extremely bipolar] Moth record would be released in just two hours, and that they were going to play us a lot of music we didn’t quite know yet. She wasn’t lying. Approximately 90 percent of the set that night was comprised of new material. In fact, the only non-Moth tracks played were “Sidewalk Safari” and “Bruises.”
Now, before I get pegged as a hipster who only prefers “the older stuff,” I’ll say there are some really strong tracks on the new record and those tracks made for the couple highs of the evening. “Romeo,” “Ch-Ching” and “Moth to the Flame” sounded fantastic and are the true peaks of the new release. I loved hearing them.
Frustratingly enough, the rest of the set was flat out dull. Opening with Moth lead-in “Look Up” was quite possibly the worst choice to play to an antsy, already impatient crowd. In fact, the first third of the set was bogged down by ballads. You know what’s worst than lackluster energy caused by ballad after ballad? Ballads that you haven’t even heard yet. “Crying in Public,” “Ottawa to Osaka,” and “Unfinished Business” all came out to play, and while I won’t say that all three are bad songs, by any means…I do take issue with the choice to play them live. The set had no flow to it, making it a struggle to care about “Sidewalk Safari” or even “Bruises,” which Patrick Wimberly neglected to sing about his beloved frozen strawberries.
Wimberly hid stage left as far as he could possibly get from his bandmates. Their chemistry was very odd. Though Polachek seemed to be having fun with one of the hired hands, Starchild, the four-piece just seemed completely disconnected from each other, which isn’t to say that the sound was impacted from it, but there wasn’t much of a performance or tangible experience to be had.
Polachek deserves accolades, however; her vocals were strong and extremely controlled. I’d love to hear this woman sing acapella one day.
The set left so much to be desired: a couple extra older tunes, some energy, something! The band hightailed it out of there without an encore, but at that point, it didn’t even matter and no one seemed to care.
Perhaps it was an off-night for them, but based on the amount of times I saw people squawking with friends and playing with phones, I’d say I’m not alone on this one. Chairlift failed to fully grab the crowd’s attention and neglected to give us anything to remember them by.