Jules eats world.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Polyphonic Spree

Most indie-rock shows in New York are competitions in looking the most blase. Who has their arms folded the most nonchalantly? Whose head is cocked back at just the right, disinterested angle? Who keeps a running commentary to friends at the best stream-of-consciousness pace about what other show/restaurant/club/party would be so much more interesting at the moment?

Try the contest a Polyphonic Spree show. Let's see...the girl next to you is singing along, her face shining in rapt attention. The guy in front of you has his hands held high, thrusting in rhythm to the music. Hmm...the girl next to him is swaying, sometimes jumping up and down.

Ironic postures are difficult to maintain in the face of the joy-blast that is a Polyphonic Spree concert. Friday night at Terminal 5 (a new venue that was a dance club called Club Exit in its previous incarnation) was a typical love-fest.

A large red banner was stretched across the stage before the show began, blocking any view. Then, a pair of scissors appeared at the center, eventually cutting out a giant heart. Finally, frontman-cum-cult leader Tim DeLaughter stepped forth and cut the last piece away, revealing the 20-something-piece ensemble in all their glory. DeLaughter demands, and gets, concertgoers' attention with his blend of love and neediness, constantly exorting the crowd to participate. His charisma -- and the band's militaristic uniforms -- always lead Mr. H and I to wonder if there are vials of Kool-Aid hidden in the bass drum. The music is tough to describe specifically, but one can say it's anthemic, epic, orchestral, uplifting. The spiritual feel was reinforced when halfway though, the band exited the stage and reappeared wearing white choir robes. Cannons periodically shot confetti over the crowd.

One of Mr. H's favorite stories:
He saw Polyphonic Spree play a few years ago at Central Park Summerstage. It was a gray, blustery day. The band began performing the song, "Sun." DeLaughter sang, pointing his finger straight up to the heavens. Then, the clouds parted as he sang, "Hey it's the sun and it makes me shine/Hey now it's the sun and it makes me smile." The 5,000-strong crowd, including Mr. H, went crazy. Then DeLaughter took his finger down and the clouds rolled back in. "Pretty neat trick, huh?" he said.

Dream double-bill: Polyphonic Spree and Flaming Lips.


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