Captivating the Crowd: Caroline Polachek’s Unforgettable Performance at ACL Live Review+Photos: Caroline Polachek and George Glanton at ACL Live 4/25/23
AUSTIN, TX- Caroline Polachek, the enigmatic songstress, graced the stage of ACL Live on the evening of Tuesday, April 25th, 2023, accompanied by the talented George Clanton hailing from the vibrant music scene of Los Angeles. As Clanton bid farewell to his role as her supporting act, he playfully addressed the crowd, humbly apologizing for any mixed sentiments they might have held toward him. However, it was apparent that the Austin audience embraced Clanton’s artistry with open arms, as the city’s familiarity and enthusiasm for his work shone through.
Since her emergence as one half of the renowned duo Chairlift, Polachek has remained an intriguing anomaly in an industry inundated with replicas of replicas. It has been four years since she fearlessly proclaimed that “women in music are taught that once you’re 35, you’ve expired.” Yet, Polachek’s ascent to mainstream success has proven to be far from a stroke of luck. As one of today’s most inventive and multifaceted artists, she has transcended the notion of “expiration,” with her creative zenith still on the horizon.
Having previously witnessed Polachek’s live performances, I eagerly awaited this particular show ever since its announcement, my expectations reaching lofty heights. Thankfully, both the artist and her volcanic stage presence exceeded all anticipation. The evening commenced with an anxiety-inducing countdown projected onto the backdrop, eliciting a euphoric response from the audience, whose diversity and queer energy were palpable—seemingly amplified since her collaboration with the illustrious Charli XCX. Even our little crew stationed in the photo pit couldn’t help but be swept up in the contagious joy. Personally, I found myself awestruck by the proximity to this towering, ethereal beauty illuminated by a fiery reddish glow, her movements so swift that capturing them through my lens proved an exhilarating challenge. It was an uncommon and unforgettable experience, one that left an indelible impression.
The setlist, spanning over two hours, revolved around the captivating track “Desire, I want to turn into you,” kicking off with the enchanting opener “Welcome to my Island” and followed by the pulsating beats of “Pang” and the soul-stirring “Hit me Where It Hurts.” Seamlessly transitioning between songs from both albums, Polachek curated a musical journey that resonated deeply with the audience. However, it was during the moments I stepped away from the pit to savor the euphonic delights of “Bunny Is A Rider” and “Pang” from stage left that I found myself completely immersed.
Polachek’s spellbinding vocal prowess intertwined effortlessly with a myriad of abstract, ambivalent, and flirtatious emotions, leaving an indelible mark on all who bore witness. Her frequent interactions with the audience further heightened the sense of connection and participation in the ethereal spectacle unfolding before our eyes.
The encore, featuring “Hopedrunk Everlasting” and “Door,” brought the night to a resounding close. The performance showcased Polachek’s fully realized and expanding repertoire, both musically and visually, as she painted an evocative landscape with a futuristic and ambitious palette.
In summary, Caroline Polachek’s performance at ACL Live was a testament to her artistic evolution and unwavering magnetism. She transcends the confines of conventional music, inviting her audience into a realm where boundaries dissolve, and imagination reigns supreme. It was an evening that left an enduring impression, a testament to Polachek’s status as a true visionary in contemporary music.