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Review Fri Aug 22 2014
The Polyphonic Spree is a really big band. They often are made up of more then twenty members playing an impressive range of instruments. Although the band was pared down to around fifteen members for this showat SPACE in Evanston, it was very clear that the energy and talent was not scaled back at all. With no opener, The Polyphonic Spree played for a spectacular hour and forty five minutes. SPACE turned out to be the ideal venue for the band, big enough to house their still large numbers and enthusiasm, but intimate enough to create the perfect atmosphere for everyone at the show.
It was near impossible upon entering the venue not to immediately notice the large white partition separating the crowd from the stage. It spanned across the room, attempting to obscure the plentiful colors and shiny streamers of the set display. Audience members, most of which were obviously die-hard fans of The Polyphonic Spree, would sneak glimpses from both ends of the divider, feeding their anticipation. That wait was infectious, spreading throughout Space till the moment the house lights went down and the soft blue beams lit up the opaque cloth followed by a steady plume of smoke. The wonderful droning of instruments was accompanied by faint hiss of a spray paint can that rose from behind the canvas, producing a decree written in reverse from the band's leader Tim DeLaughter. Every letter that appeared prompted a louder response than the last, ultimately convening the message: MAKE SOME ILLINOISE. The partition was brought down in quick flash, revealing the members of the night's Polyphonic Spree.
DeLaughter grooved along with the music, raising his hands up with his eyes closed, truly feeling the experience he was creating. He was brimming with a sense of fun and joy that often spilled out toward the crowd. He would take audience members' phones and played camera man for them, taking their devices through a psychedelic journey on stage. During "Hanging Around the Day", DeLaughter reached the microphone out to a particularly devoted fan to belt out a small section of the song. Later on the crowd sang the first chorus of "Two Thousand Places" by themselves, but to the glee of the band.
There is no doubt that the experience of a Polyphonic Spree show is as important as the music. It was a living breathing kaleidoscope of colors accompanied by a dizzying array of horns, strings, keys, and a choir of voices that were at their joyous peak. DeLaughter joked about the opener, an emu, being unavailable for the evening's sho They covered The Monkees' "The Porpoise Song" and Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" with a particular zeal. The biggest high occurred during their most noted and popular song "Light & Day/Reach for the Sun". Guitarist Cody Helms started the song at the edge of the stage, light strumming the opening chords before reaching the familiar loud and ecstatic rhythm with the entire band.
Before the penultimate song, "Battlefield", DeLaughter came out into the crowd, settled in the middle and asked everyone to sit down for the song. Everyone, save for a few pushed up against the walls obliged, nestling down to join DeLaughter in his performance. It was one of the few moments in the set that wasn't boisterous and explosive. Everyone hung on his every word, gazing at his calming presence. Everyone followed along with his movements, standing just as he did as the final notes of the song played. "Battlefield" was meant to be the final song, but through pure exuberance from the crowd prompted The Polyphonic Spree to end the set with "A Long Day Continues". There may have been fifteen members on stage, but band made sure everyone felt like an integral part of The Polyphonic Spree.