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Archive for Friday, November 14, 2003

Polyphonic Spree shines at Liberty Hall

November 14, 2003

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Tim DeLaughter's last band, Tripping Daisy, always seemed to be hinting at a level of pop majesty to which it could never quite ascend.

DeLaughter's newest, The Polyphonic Spree, reaches that level and much higher, as the 20-plus member group proved Wednesday at Liberty Hall. Living up to its name (an indulgence in multiple sounds), the self-proclaimed "choral symphonic pop band" wowed the crowd with songs from its debut album "Beginning Stages of ..."

A group with a fluctuating lineup on its first domestic tour and featuring more than 17 instruments and 12 voices at one time or another shouldn't sound as crisp and cohesive as The Polyphonic Spree. That the artists work so well together is partially attributable to many having been in the group for a couple years (including bassist Mark Pirro and percussionists Jeff Bouck and Bryan Wakeland, all of whom were part of Tripping Daisy at one point) and partially because they seem to be having so much fun.

The concert was accompanied by various movies on a screen high above and behind the group. Although the films were perfect accompaniments to the music, it was far more enjoyable to watch DeLaughter, both as a singer and conductor, and the other 22 members jump, dance and enjoy the experience. Few bands show as much enthusiasm for performing -- or perform as well together -- especially flutist Audrey Easley and keyboardist Jessie Hester, both relative newcomers to DeLaughter's flock.

Along with the group's infectious enjoyment and orchestral music, the member's matching white robes -- which would fit well in a gospel choir -- added a nearly religious aspect to the event. Polyphonic Spree's chosen deity isn't a person, though. It appears to be the sun (and the joyous day it brings) as shown in the uplifting "It's the Sun," "Hanging Around the Day, Part 2," and "Light & Day/Reach for the Sun."

The group also played U.K. hit "Soldier Girl," but could have strengthened the show by including "La La," a less poppy track that would have been a nice addition to the more saccharine-heavy set.

The sing-along encore of "Wig in a Box" (from the movie "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"), "Have a Day" and a harp solo by Ricky Rasura were a perfect ending to the concert, though, making the crowd beam just as the sun makes The Polyphonic Spree shine.

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