On Tuesday night, Caroline Polachek brought her Heart is Unbreaking tour to Portland’s Wonder Ballroom for a night of sweeping and melodic art-pop. Polachek was first introduced to the music world back in 2005 as a member of the indie-pop band Chairlift, but after their disbanding in 2017, she began making music under her own name. Since then, she has collaborated with notable artists like Charli XCX, Danny L Harle, and Christine and the Queens, and released her stellar solo debut album Pang in late 2019. Following the success and acclaim of Pang, she released the fantastic single “Bunny is a Rider” this summer which Pitchfork named as the best song of 2021. Polachek has been riding a much-deserved wave of popularity that propelled her into her first solo U.S. tour that we were lucky enough to catch when she stopped in Portland.
From the early moments of the show, Polachek proved to be an effortlessly evocative presence on stage. She posed and swayed around the Wonder Ballroom stage with unmistakable presence, bringing a new layer and dynamic to each song she performed. Her voice is commanding yet intimate as she sings about everything from losing and finding love to moments of pure euphoria. To Polachek, Pang is a means to explore her own powerful, concentrated emotions that manifest themselves as a sort of emotional adrenaline rush, and through her dynamic voice and movements, she was able to translate that feeling into a live setting.
The show started with a brief instrumental of Pang‘s opening track “The Gate” which was followed by the album’s title track; Polachek became engulfed in light as the track boomed into its shining chorus that perfectly set the tone of the night. Standout tracks like “Bunny is a Rider”, “Ocean of Tears”, and “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” followed, as well as unreleased tracks “Sunset”, “Billions”, and “Smoke” which gave the crowd a taste of what’s to come from Polachek. Late in the show, she was joined by opener Oklou for a cover of Massive Attack’s “Tears”, which saw the two slowly spinning in the middle of the stage, perfectly mirroring each other’s movements. No matter the song or style, Polachek knew exactly how to bring it to life, and we’re so happy we got to catch her at her first headlining show in Portland! Check out some photos from the show below, and click here to see if Caroline Polachek is coming to a city near you.