Thursday, July 19, 2012

Artist of the Day: Polar Bear Club

Some bands were made to excel in the studio. The Story So Far put together a high octane whirlwind of a pop-punk record with Under Soil and Dirt, but their live show isn't as clean cut. They put on an energetic display at best. At worst, it's all over the place, frenetic and put to shame by their pristinely produced album.

Polar Bear Club is one of those lucky bands whose concerts transcend the solitary pleasure of listening an album. Like their namesake, the Rochester punk rockers plunge headlong into their performances with reckless abandon. Deep cuts like the anthematic call-to-stagedive "Living Saints" and "Burned Out in a Jar" pepper their sets with hardcore edge, but Jimmy Stadt and company have never sounded better than when they're blistering through tracks from last year's Clash Battle Guilt Pride.

"Killin' It" is probably the band's newest go-to crowd rouser. When Stadt unleashes the first line, "Watch it break like knives in the pavement," the rest of the band kicks in with a frenzy of majestically thunderous punk chords. And it's hard not to imagine a young Chuck Ragan leading Hot Water Music's early efforts with tracks like earnest  but breakneck "Pawner" or infinitely catchy "My Best Days."

Polar Bear Club's urgency never lacks, even when they sink into the slower fare on their set lists. "I'll Never Leave New York" tugs on heartstrings with a middling tempo and plaintive lyrics and "3-4 Tango" broods until it spirals into sonic despair. The only thing scarier than the gut-wrenching story the track tells is the fact that it was written by a young band on their sophomore album, an effort that has room to grow. The best is still yet to come.

The band's still "Killin' It" on the Vans Warped Tour for now, but are slated to release a live album, "Live at the Montage," which translates their best tracks acoustically. With covers of the Weakerthans and Saves the Day shuffled into the track listing with fan favorites, it's shaping up to be a solid alternative to catching one of the most energetic bands on the rise in concert.


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