Review: The Polyphonic Spree | Rock Candy

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: The Polyphonic Spree

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 1:00 PM

The Polyphonic Spree played Revolution Wednesday night.
  • The Polyphonic Spree played Revolution Wednesday night.

It should be a no-brainer that live music fans would come out to see a sixteen-piece white-robed bright pop ensemble, simply for the spectacle. I guessed the crowd would be a gathering of Bonnaroo- and Wakarusa-attending college kids there to catch a whiff of impending warm-weather festival euphoria. Needless to say, the crowd for Wednesday's Polyphonic Spree set was thinner than expected — there was only one presiding hula hippie and she pretty much dropped the ball twenty minutes into the show.

As much childlike fun as PS can be, with its orchestral balladeering glam-rock arrangements reimagined for the hippie set — it's also totally overwhelming. Multiple songs segue from one to the next with long passages of ambient looped flute noise and other dissonant effects, like new age music. I admit there was an entire left wing of the stage that I fully neglected to watch, and that's where the violin and cello (my favorites!) were located, as well as an additional percussionist helming such wonders as chimes and a bell lyre. The band's layout was confusing — the flutist and a guy alternating between trumpet and a mixing console were practically front and center. The four-girl back-up chorus was elevated at the rear of the stage beneath the band's flag. They were cute but their Supremes-esque choreography was so unwavering and robotic it ultimately gave me the creeps.

As the show endures, it becomes very clear that this entire project is very much frontman Tim DeLaughtner's baby. He is enjoyably manic, jumping around, taking one knee to direct his choir, or leaping on top of the bass drum. In fact, he's the only person not confined to an instrument, or several, and free to wander the stage, the audience, and the (presently occupied) piano bench, if desired. While this can be charming at times, the identical robes (this time with sweet giant heart patches on the tummy, like a bunch of Care Bears) and sanity-breaching enthusiasm exhibited by the band give DeLaughtner this mystique of a benevolent dictator, or militant choir director — one can pretty easily imagine him in rehearsal, rapping the wrists of bandmembers who fail to demonstrate proper ardor. This stranglehold over the ensemble was most eerily demonstrated during a masterful encore in which the band remained frozen for several minutes (even down to their facial expressions) while DeLaughtner roamed the stage picking at their instruments and pantomime-punching several of the male members in the groin, fully expecting them not to flinch or smirk.

But it is, ultimately, a project of love. Their theatrical encores are worth the ticket price alone (steep; I know) — one song required a capella audience participation that earned warm reception from DeLaughtner and a comment, "Where have you guys been all night?" It's true, the crowd seemed more bumfuzzled by most of the set than willfully exuberant. And we can only imagine how disappointed that might make DeLaughtner feel.

At the finale, the entire band stood downstage with their arms around each other, beaming and panting. DeLaughtner kindly related that one of the young members was from Arkansas, and his family was in the audience, cheering him on. Then he flashed peace signs and told us all to be safe getting home. After all the rock-opera encoring, even such thoughtfulness felt a little anticlimactic.

All photos and video by Cheree Franco.

The Polyphonic Spree
  • The Polyphonic Spree

The Polyphonic Spree
  • The Polyphonic Spree

The Polyphonic Spree
  • The Polyphonic Spree

Crowd at The Polyphonic Spree
  • Crowd at The Polyphonic Spree

The Polyphonic Spree
  • The Polyphonic Spree

The Polyphonic Spree
  • The Polyphonic Spree

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Natalie Elliott

  • The state of Arkansas hip-hop

    New kids on the block.
    • Jul 4, 2012
  • "Conlon Nancarrow: Virtuoso of the Player Piano" at LRFF

    Of all the famous Arkansas musicians you can name, it's all right if you're not familiar with avant garde composer Conlon Nancarrow.
    • Jun 2, 2012
  • 'Teddy Bear' at the Little Rock Film Festival

    "Teddy Bear" opens with the brooding, hulking figure of Dennis (Kim Kold) standing in a stark, cold-tinted bathroom and staring at himself in the mirror. He says nothing and his expression is chiseled into what can best be described as a soft-eyed grimace. It's practically his only expression, and one of many scenes where Dennis contemplates the mirror.
    • Jun 1, 2012
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Arkansas Times Recommends: A Literary Edition

    Arkansas Times Recommends is a series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week.
    • Jul 1, 2016
  • Checking in with Hard Pass

    Shayne Gray talks with Mitch Vanhoose and Chad Conder of Hard Pass (formerly Cosby) ahead of the band's album release on July 22.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • The trailer for Jeff Nichols' 'Loving' looks great

    The latest from Little Rock's Jeff Nichols hits theaters Nov. 4. It's Nichols' telling of the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, whose marriage led to the landmark civil rights case Loving v. Virginia, which ended laws preventing interracial marriage. Ruth Negga's performance as Mildred Loving generated Oscar talk after the film debuted at Cannes.
    • Jul 14, 2016

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation