Live Review: The Polyphonic Spree at Stickyz | Rock Candy

Friday, October 23, 2015

Live Review: The Polyphonic Spree at Stickyz

Posted By on Fri, Oct 23, 2015 at 10:17 AM

click to enlarge img_0575.jpg

This fall The Polyphonic Spree is celebrating the 15th anniversary of their debut, "The Beginning Stages of ...", with a tour of Europe and North America. The Dallas, Texas band formed in July 2000, born from the sparkling mind of lead vocalist Tim DeLaughter. DeLaughter and his band — a group of about 20 musicians — are currently on tour and performing their entire debut along with other originals and a few surprises. Coming off their stint in Europe, they stopped in Little Rock with a blazing performance at Stickyz Tuesday night.

DeLaughter has been through quite a lot since I first met him as front-man of the band Tripping Daisy at Vino’s in the early '90s. I was impressed then with the energy and effort of their stage show. The music was good, too, and had more of a psychedelic feel than the grungier stuff that was popular at that time. They even projected an oil and water color light show onto a white backdrop, giving it that classic '60s psychedelic look. Tim had these piercing blue eyes, a Cheshire Cat smile and was wearing a T-shirt with a Pepsi logo on it, but with the word Sperm instead of Pepsi. I immediately connected with him and his guitarist, Wes Berggren. They were headed straight for the top it seemed, and soon went from an independent label to Island Records. Their music video "I Got a Girl" got some play on MTV.

click to enlarge img_0580.jpg

The band ended abruptly with the tragic death of Berggren in his Dallas apartment in October 1999, not long after their final show in Little Rock at the old Juanita's. That show was kind of magical, larger than life. The sound was great and the band was tighter and more energetic than ever. The light show and glam costumes were over-the-top. Wes' death hit everyone hard. I can't imagine what it must have been like for Tim, having played and toured with him for almost a decade. There's this closeness band members get that's hard to describe after spending that much together, on the road for several years. From those ashes — or embers — came the formation of The Polyphonic Spree in 2000. Maybe it was therapeutic for Tim and the other band members, dealing with the loss of a close friend. Their first show as The Polyphonic Spree was a 30 minute set in Dallas with just 12 members, but with all of them already wearing their signature choir robes. They played with the bands Granddaddy and Bright Eyes. Soon after, twelve more members were added to the band and Tim recorded "The Beginning Stages of…" They've since had their songs featured in commercials, TV shows and have even opened for David Bowie on his Reality Tour. They’ve released four LPs now and have been on soundtracks for the movies "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Thumbsucker," "The Lorax" and more. More than 70 musicians have been in the band over the years, and there are currently 20 active members, including Tripping Daisy bassist Mark Pirro. Annie Clark - better known by her stage name St. Vincent - was their guitarist at one point.

Stickyz was packed by the time The Polyphonic Spree started setting up. As advertised, they played their entire first album before taking a short intermission. I counted 19 members on stage. The sound filled the room like a choir revival. Imagine a psychedelic "Jesus Christ Superstar," or "The Wall"-era Pink Floyd — that was the vibe. DeLaughter doesn't seem to have aged much, and took the lead as the director of this weird symphony of hope. He had pink-purple spiked bleached hair, somewhat like like cotton candy, and wore a white choir robe trimmed with purple silk and matching Vans shoes. Even the non-singing members of the band sang along. There were beautiful female back-up singers, a horn section, a harp player, a keyboardist, a cellist, two guitarists, a drummer and more.

click to enlarge img_0576.jpg

Their drummer, Jason Garner, played an elaborate double bass drum kit, picking up where Ginger Baker and John Bonham left off. For the second half of the show they changed from their white choir robes into a shiny top, like something a guru would be wearing while you tripped on mushrooms. They played songs off their other albums and a couple of covers. The first cover song was a deep cut, The Monkees' "The Porpoise Song," and the second was Nirvana's "Lithium." For their last few songs, Tim sang through a weird copper microphone. I later discovered it was invented by their bass player, Mark Pirro, and is called a "Copperphone." It's been used by artists like Green Day, Lou Barlow, Jack White and more. It gives the vocalist a vintage AM radio / carnival barker sound. The entire show was amazing and I felt sorry for people who weren't there.

The band's latest record is 2013 "Yes, it's True," and it's terrific.Their two-month tour will continue by wrapping around North America and will conclude December 12 with a "Holiday Extravaganza" show at the Majestic Theater in their home base of Dallas.  

click to enlarge img_0577.jpg

Tags: ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Shayne Gray

  • 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
  • Kanis Bash 2015 and a Q&A with Black Horse

    Kanis Bash is an annual fundraiser for Little Rock's Kanis Skate Park, featuring live music, art, merch, skateboarders and food. It started six years ago when finances became tight for a group of locals that had been volunteering their own money, time and services to maintain the free DIY community skate park. This year’s Bash attracted skaters, artists and fans from over a dozen states.
    • May 18, 2015
  • A Wizard, A True Star: Todd Rundgren in Little Rock

    Music legend Todd Rundgren released his 25th solo studio album "Global" earlier this month, and spent a few days in Little Rock in support of its release. On Saturday, April 18, I headed out to Arkansas Record and CD Exchange in North Little Rock for Record Store Day. They had food trucks, free merch and a special guest appearance by Rundgren himself. A steady line of Rundgren fans shuffled in line for over 3 hours getting an autograph and photo op. He even stayed an extra hour — missing lunch, apparently — to continue to signing autographs as his wife, Michele, offered to take pics with people's cameras.
    • Apr 28, 2015
  • More »

Readers also liked…

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation