Chairlift in Manila: The Show, The Synths, and 5 Things We Learned About Them

Caroline Polachek is a dream.

If I could sum up this article in five words, that would be it. And I wouldn’t need to say more, because justifying what is already ~perfect~ would be futile. But, hey, for the sake of all you fans (I assume you are otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this?) let’s talk about Chairlift in Manila more.

Chairlift in Manila Caroline Polachek Patrick Wimberly

I know and love Chairlift, a synthpop duo from Brooklyn, but never in a million years would I have expected they would actually come to Manila. If I ever saw them in a show, I always imagined it would be in some hip intimate bar with brick walls in Brooklyn, not in a hip intimate bar with brick walls in Manila. But—what do you know—that is exactly what happened on December 1st at Black Market in Makati. And I don’t complain. Perhaps things are changing around here.

I got to chat with Vicky, one of the organizers of the show, and she told me what all music lovers from the Philippines have always wanted to hear—they want to bring good music to Manila, in a price that’s reasonable and affordable. An average of 2,000 pesos and below, Vicky told me. That’s it. (Chairlift in Manila was P2,500 per ticket.) Good music should be accessible to everyone, she adds, and I absolutely agree. Concert prices here in Manila have always been quite ludicrous (shout out to all you putting your livers up for sale for Coldplay tickets), but visionaries like Vicky’s group, The Invisible College, dare to change the game. Perhaps what I wrote earlier was true—things are changing around here.

Chairlift in Manila Caroline Polachek Patrick Wimberly

Thanks to the ever-efficient traffic situation in Manila, it took the band a while to get to the show. But the show’s opening acts kept the floor busy. Roberto Seña, frontman of band She’s Only Sixteen, played a DJ set as his side project St. Vincent and the Grenadines. BP Valenzuela also took the stage, followed by CRWN & Jess Connelly.

Chairlift in Manila Roberto Sena St. Vincent and the GrenadinesSeña aka St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Chairlift in Manila CRWN Jess ConnellyCRWN & Jess Connelly

I was standing by the bar, drink in hand, when Chairlift, headed by Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly, emerged. The crowd went wild, as expected. This is what I love about small shows. They’re intimate and you’re sure that however how many people turn up, no matter the small crowd, they will be the right ones—the real fans.

Chairlift in Manila Caroline Polachek Patrick WimberlyPatrick Wimberly

Chairlift in Manila Caroline Polachek Patrick WimberlyCaroline Polachek

The band kicked the show off with “Look Up”, the first track in their latest album, Moth, released January 2016. Caroline was in a two-piece pink suit with long flowy sleeves and pants, her hair tied in a long braid. Her whole ensemble, plus her stage antics, and the colorful, geometric projection lights serving as their backdrop, completed a dreamy, trance-like experience for the crowd.

The crowd sang, danced, howled, and yelled. And Caroline Polachek stood there gleaming, pleasantly surprised at the reception they were getting. You could tell she was having the time of her life.

Chairlift in Manila Caroline Polachek Patrick Wimberly

We also got to sit down for an interview with Caroline and Patrick, and here a few things we discovered about them:

Chairlift in Manila Caroline Polachek Patrick Wimberly

Caroline directs most of their music videos.

When asked about the concept of their music videos, Caroline said she’s directed them in the past, but have worked with directors for the new album. To which Patrick interrupted and said, “she’s being modest. Usually it’s her.”

Chairlift in Manila Caroline Polachek Patrick Wimberly

Their new music is more emotional.

I asked them how they feel their music has evolved from their very first album to the latest, and they told me it has definitely “grown up.”

Caroline shared that they’ve learned a lot from the last few records, and that they “feel more comfortable now in front of audiences, in the studio, and with ourselves.” They’ve opened up in their songs more, for Moth. “It changed with us,” added Patrick.

Chairlift in Manila Caroline Polachek Patrick Wimberly

They love Filipino food.

They had limited time in Manila, and Patrick joked that all they’ve seen so far was the traffic. But they both gushed about Filipino food, saying they absolutely loved it.

Chairlift in Manila Caroline Polachek Patrick Wimberly

They are fascinated with the jeepney.

“I want to ride one!” Caroline exclaims. They didn’t have enough time to spend in Manila, they had to leave for Australia the following day, but Caroline said she absolutely has to ride one before they leave. (Hoping she got her little wish!)

Chairlift in Manila Caroline Polachek Patrick Wimberly

They are super friendly.

Caroline and Patrick are adorable, okay? Their songs are a breath of fresh air. They are a vision to watch live. And when I met them after the show, they were all smiles and even gave every one at the interview a hug. Plus 100 points to artists who make you feel like you’re beshies.


Chairlift in Manila is The Invisible College’s debut into the music scene, and after that solid night at Black Market, we are definitely looking forward to seeing more from them.

Follow The Invisible College for updates:
Instagram: @INVSBLCLG

All photos in this post by Stephanie T. Chan

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