Words by Keith Hadad | Photos by Mark Dershowitz
Back in the mid-90’s, Polaris, a one-off side project of Miracle Legion, created an original pop-rock soundtrack to a surreal kids show known as The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Some twenty odd years later, Polaris reformed and played live for the first time at a Pete & Pete reunion panel to grand acclaim, which prompted tours of the East and West coasts. With their Waiting for October Tour close to finishing, Polaris landed at New York City’s Highline Ballroom and put on a show that many ’90’s kids have been waiting to see for most of their lives. They surely did not disappoint.
The entire room was buzzing with a high, contagious energy. Polaris was in top form, performing as a tight and well-rehearsed unit, tearing through the rockier moments of the soundtrack album like “Saturnine” and “The Monster’s Loose” with bristling intensity. In fact, lead singer Mark Mulcahy’s voice was so smooth and sturdy and the entire band sounded so fresh, it felt like no years have passed at all since Pete & Pete originally aired.
Mulcahy and the rest of the group set the tone of the evening by opening with the addictively catchy and immensely fun “Baby Tae Kwon Do,” one of the two new Polaris songs that debuted last year as a cassette single. This lead straight into a spirited version of “She is Staggering,” one of the songs most utilized on Pete & Pete. The chorus of “Staggering” features a strong walking bass line by Dave McCaffrey, which he took full advantage of at this performance, thumping out thick fuzzy beats. His efforts were rightfully met by wild applause from the audience.
Of course, with Polaris being a variation of Miracle Legion, they treated the crowd to a few of their former group’s material, giving new life to timeless songs like “Madison Park” and “All For The Best” (the latter of which was dedicated to the late B.B. King, who passed away only the night before). Each of the Miracle Legion songs that were played fit perfectly into the whole vibe of the event, sounding right at home intertwined with the Polaris songs.
Mulcahy’s aforementioned strong and impressive vocals helped make the heartbreak of “Everywhere” and the pure joy of “Summerbaby” all the more captivating and transmittable, in turn making these songs two of the many standouts of the evening. Another of the other countless high points of the show was Rain Phoenix singing a duet with Mulcahy on “Ashamed of The Story I Told,” bringing the already gorgeously melancholic tune to an even higher level of auditory beauty.
Being surrounded by so many people who came to this show not out of curiosity, but out of a major love of this music and with a band who was clearly so appreciative of this love made it hard to accept that it was almost all over by the end of the night. However, before saying goodbye, Polaris blasted out two last classics: “Homer,” an underrated Miracle Legion song, and then the namesake of the tour, the fan favorite and apocalyptic themed “Waiting for October.”
As we all know, TV actors grow up, shows get cancelled and entire formats of entertainment evolve over time. However, Polaris, at this specific night at the Highline Ballroom proved that despite these changes, music can live on and carry a spirit that you might not find anywhere else.
Check out Keith’s recent interview with Polaris here…
TheWaster.com | NYC