Chairlift shimmers at Firebird

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Chairlift shimmers at Firebird

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Since dipping their feet into the waters of modern mainstream music after their 2008 single “Bruises” was featured in an iPod Nano commercial, Chairlift has always felt like a band whose music transcends their stature in the landscape of popular music. While critics have always looked upon the band favorably, Chairlift has never been able to achieve much commercial success. The band has never scored a Billboard Hot 100 single, and has only recorded one Billboard Top 200 album.

Still, recent albums “Something” and “Moth” have earned the band plenty of admiration and respect, and lead singer Caroline Polachek is an established solo artist in her own right. In 2014, she released her debut album “Arcadia” under the pseudonym of Ramona Lisa, all while penning a track for Beyonce’s self-titled 2013 album the year prior.

Combining elements of inventive pop, synth and dreamwave with homage to some of the deepest idiosyncrasies of 80’s pop music, Chairlift is a Brooklyn-based duo comprised of Polachek (lead vocals, keyboards) and Patrick Wimberly (vocals, guitars, bass, drums). Rising from the same Brooklyn music scene of 2008 that produced indie music dandies such as Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer and MGMT, Chairlift brought their show to the Firebird on March 31.

Kicking off the set with the ethereal “Look Up” from the recently-released and critically acclaimed “Moth”, Chairlift turned to a couple of their more slow-burning, brooding numbers to begin the show, holding a couple of aces up their sleeves for safekeeping. After making their way through “Polymorphing” and the quirky yet deceivingly dark “Sidewalk Safari”, the first ace was dealt.

The ace — and Moth’s second single — “Romeo”, came fifth in the set, sounding all too big for the 400-capacity Firebird. “Step up, lover. Big talker, take a number. I’ve got all day to wipe the smile off your face,” Polachek confidently and mischievously crooned.

Quickly following were the dreamy “Ottawa to Alaska” and a pair of infectious singles taken from 2012’s “Something” –”Amanaemonesia” and “I Belong in Your Arms”. Here, Chairlift showed off a rendition of “I Belong in Your Arms” that was slightly more restrained than the album version, going a long way to help the ebb and flow of the setlist that had suddenly gained a lot of steam since its almost-meditative beginnings.

Multi-instrumentalist and opening act Starchild & the New Romantic — also known off the stage as Bryndon Cook — joined Chairlift onstage for the emotional and vulnerable “Crying in Public”, dueting with Polachek throughout the song’s chorus. Cook himself graced the stage with an exceedingly debonair demeanor throughout his 45-minute opening set, channeling the spirits of artists such as Prince and Dev Hynes with his moody, pop-tinged R&B.

Chairlift brought their main set to a close with an exclamation point, dusting off the timeless “Bruises”, a nuanced near-replication of the studio recording that resulted in a massive sing-along. “Bruises” segued into the absolutely infectious and danceable cut “Moth to the Flame”, with handclaps, shimmering synths and all.

While the band did indulge the audience with a few tracks from their earlier albums, they showed a preference to let recent material dominate most of the setlist, and rightly so. Though one track from 2008’s “Does You Inspire You” and three standout tracks from 2012’s “Something” were played, the vast majority of the songs played at the Firebird were from “Moth”, Chairlift’s most refined album to date.

As the band exited the stage, the audience made it clear that they weren’t ready to leave the venue just quite yet. Amid chants of “One more song!,” Wimberly returned to his drum kit and Polachek to her keyboard, promising not one, but two more songs.

To begin the encore, the band treated the audience to a new song not found on any of their studio releases in “Get Real.” Not entirely dissimilar to “No Angel” – the track that Polachek penned for Beyonce’s self-titled 2013 album – the song slowly crescendoed among its fusions of pop and R&B, allowing Polachek to show off her voice’s upper registers.

After thanking those in attendance one last time, the band broke into the gigantic “Ch-Ching”, the lead single from Moth. “Getting what you want can be dangerous, but that’s the only way I want it to be,” Polachek sang over the song’s heavily percussive beat. There wasn’t a song that was more warmly received than the closing “Ch-Ching”.

Chairlift brought a near-perfect hour-long set to the 400 people in attendance, showcasing all of their songwriting strengths, saccharine melodies and artistic energies.

But yet, somehow, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that Chairlift would be perfectly at home playing to an audience five times the size of the Firebird, making this intimate show feel even more special.