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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Caroline Polachek writhed, vocally and physically, through concert

The effortlessly calm, cool and collected indie pop star’s show was a goth masterclass in low-key song and dance.
Image by James Schaak
Caroline Polachek sang and danced her way through a goth performance at First Avenue on Tuesday night

With an arm often outstretched and an occasional leg kicked in the air, Caroline Polachek worked through many of her “Pang”-era songs in an impressive set on Tuesday night at First Avenue.

Polachek leaned heavily into goth aesthetics for her Heart is Unbreaking tour design. Ants line the sleeves of her recent promotional photography and the background design consisted of ominous black gates, smoke and lightning bolts.

Polachek’s long, dark hair and skin-tight black clothing meshed well with the overall vibe, creating a mise-en-scène similar to that of The Hex Girls.

Of all the visual choices, Polachek’s eyes were what truly stole the show.

Raised eyebrows, forlorn stares and sassy rolls enhanced the rest of her physicality as she performed emotions that ranged from boredom to fear, exhibiting the kind of “final girl” material that should catch the attention of horror movie directors.

After all, the cover art for her single “Bunny is a Rider” gives total Hollywood horror. The song, which came into play near the middle of Polachek’s set, held special importance after indie tastemaking website Pitchfork crowned it as the best song of 2021 the day prior, an honor she acknowledged via Twitter within hours.

The 36-year-old Connecticut-raised singer-songwriter began her rise to indie royalty during her sophomore year at University of Colorado-Boulder, as part of the synth pop band Chairlift. The group started out as just another millennial pop-timistic group soundtracking the recession and iPod Nano commercials, à la Passion Pit and MGMT. As a couple years passed, Chairlift steadily gained steam, moved to New York and eventually made songs with Beyoncé for her decade-defining self-titled album.

In 2017, Chairlift finished up their final tour together and Polachek embarked on her solo career, collaborating with A.G. Cook, Charli XCX and Danny L Harle in a series of moves that pushed her towards the PC Music frontier.

The critical success of her debut solo career single, “Door,” and the accompanying album, “Pang,” solidified Polachek’s artistic future.

On Tuesday, Polachek performed “Door” to an adoring audience after the encore: “Back in the city, I’m just another girl with a sweater,” crowd members sang back at the stage during the performance.

Despite Polachek’s brushes with the more energetic flavors of pop music, the crowd on Tuesday was turnt down at times. During opener Oklou’s performance, conversations were hushed by the people standing near them, as if the small talk could drown out First Avenue’s industrial-grade speakers.

In the spring, Polachek will be back in Minneapolis, across the street from First Avenue at the Target Center, opening for Dua Lipa’s nu-disco stadium romp. It’s hard to imagine any hushing will take place at that concert.

Nevertheless, Polachek, who has been touring for weeks, brought enough energy on Tuesday for everyone. Sporting hairy pits and possibly-choreographed moves, Polachek moved her way through the set with ease.

Backed up by a stylish two-person band that included a head-banging guitarist and a drummer with a Dua Lipa-esque platinum haircut, Polachek paused at one point to say, “My voice is breaking so much, I’m giving you the yodel remix.”

Honestly, the voice breaks must’ve gone over my head. All I noticed was an experienced artist fully in control.

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