Monday, May 28, 2012

Polyphonic Spree Builds a Cult at DC's Chinatown Synagogue

As the crowd settled in at 6th and I Synagogue in DC's Chinatown, there was a buzz in the room that made it feel like we were about to be swept off our feet.

Perhaps we would drink some Kool-Aid and leave our Nikes under our seats. Or maybe we would be wisped off to live on a farm behind the mountains of L.A. At the very least, we would all hop on the tour bus of the Polyphonic Spree and ride along to the next stop on the tour, making Hari Krishna chants all along the way.

Surprisingly, none of this happened on Monday night. What did happen, nonetheless, was a transcendent rock n'roll concert that Chris (my brother), Rachel (my wife), and I will not soon forget.

The story of the Spree is that they were lead singer/creator/mastermind/resident Jesus Tim DeLaughter's answer to putting a positive spin on a former bandmate's death. I was never a huge fan of his old band, Tripping Daisey, but whether the Polyphonic Spree is a clever marketing ploy to build a fan base out of people like me who are suckers for a good cult story or a genuine musical experiment (my opinion leans heavily towards the latter), it doesn't matter. The Polyphonic Spree were a huge leap forward for DeLaughter and simply makes irresistible and bursting psychedelic power pop that was almost too big for the synagogue to contain.

The band played "Light and Day/Reach for the Sun," which most people in U.S. probably don't realize they know. It was used in multiple pop-culture moments, such as a joint Volkswagen/iPod commercial, an NFL tribute to former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh, on the TV show Scrubs, and in the movies Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Lorax.

Other highlights included "Soldier Girl" (captured by me in the short video below), a medley of Who songs "See Me Feel Me/Listening to You" and "Pinball Wizard," "I'm Calling," "Together We're Heavy, and "What Would You Do?"

And while the band's white robes and alluring stage presence are difficult to top, I've been dipping back into its three full-length releases and handful of singles, and there are few to no snoozers in the bunch.

**** out of ***** stars

No comments:

Post a Comment