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Review Thu May 17 2012

Review: The Polyphonic Spree @ Park West, 5/16


Photos by Sara Pieper

The Polyphonic Spree is a spectacle to be witnessed: numerous robed singers and musicians, an assortment of instruments (cello, an array of horns, various percussion, etc.) and an outlook that can make any dreary day sunny. But this is live music, and just looking good doesn't cut it. Where the Spree earn their accolades and separate themselves from many other large pop-oriented ensembles is in the full presentation when 14 people (the smallest I've seen them, actually) are completely in synch with each other. There are moments when it seems like everyone in the band is functioning off of one brain. It'd be easy for Tim DeLaughter's symphonic choral rock band to come off as a gimmick. But a lot of their songs would still sound good if by a standard 3-piece band. The extras just sweeten the deal.


A teasing opener and far too much standing around (the one clear drawback of the evening) kept the band from coming out with a bang, but they quickly pulled together for a rousing "Two Thousand Places" that elevated the crowd from gawking to engaged. From there they tackled songs from across their three full-length albums, though focused on the first two. And a nifty "Pinball Wizard" cover was a pleasant surprise in the middle. There's no excuse to not try new things when a large band's at your disposal, and they didn't disappoint by stretching songs with a little psychedelic rock edge or peppering in some horns and another layer of percussion.


DeLaughter runs shows as a singer and pep rally leader, and he's usually in control. But late into Wednesday's set, the crowd was dead. Maybe it was because atmospherics were stalely linking songs to one another. His attempts to amp the crowd (waving arms upward repeatedly and yelling "come on") were failing and he appeared a little flustered before finally getting a good reaction during a bridge. "Soldier Girl" and a new uptempo song "What Would You Do?" were late highlights that jumpstarted the show from rare low points. It really is difficult to stay down too long when a dozen-plus people in heart-adorned robes are smiling, singing, laughing and generally having a little party on stage. By the time the band exited, returned through the crowd for an encore and then exited again one by one (or in pairs), any deadness had been resurrected. Not too bad for a group who'd been on an extended hiatus for years and is just getting their bearings back.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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