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Concert Review: Caroline Polachek @ Warsaw and Rough Trade NYC
by Robert Porch

I will never forget the day that my friend sent me the link to Caroline Polachek’s “Door” music video this past June. At the time, I was spending my summer at UC Berkeley as a research intern, and her tracks (including the successive singles “Ocean of Tears” and “Parachute”) defined this period for me. Needless to say, her live show at Warsaw in Brooklyn on 1/18 was a personal and special night. 

The stage was embellished with a minimalist gate designed by Timothy Luke. Her arrival on stage was preceded by an outstanding avant-garde opening act, Lalita, who treated us with some mind-blowing unreleased tunes. Polachek’s set was broadly a track-by-track run-through of her latest release—and first solo LP under her name—Pang (a 2019 favorite among many of The Core DJs). However, she also flexed her musical history by performing Beyoncé’s “No Angel,” which she co-wrote, and an epic cover of “Breathless” by The Corrs. 

Polachek performed a solo keyboard set the next afternoon at Rough Trade NYC. The intimacy of this set was immediately evident, as she invited fans to sit on stage, humorously asked for help to identify the key of one of her songs, and did an improv performance of “Hit Me Where It Hurts” per the request of the audience. 

She finished her Brooklyn visit with an album signing/meet-and-greet with fans. She and I were able to bond over our experiences as college radio DJs (yes, she was one, too!). Rather than regarding me as a customer, she made the interaction incredibly friendly and personal, which is something that is exceedingly hard to come by. After over a decade of releases with the duo Chairlift, collaborations with the likes of Beyoncé, Charli XCX, and Felicita, and pseudonymous side projects, it is both thrilling and inspiring to see Polachek at her most outwardly personal, and I am honored to have been a witness.