The Polyphonic Spree/ Phillip E Karnats/ Nobody & Mystic Chords of Memory
Henry Fonda Theater
The night began with a short set from Nobody & Mystic Chords of Memory, a joint venture between the hip-hop DJ and the psychedelic folk duo. The music was ethereal and atmospheric. It was slow, trippy, and created a sensation of floating, if you gave yourself over to it. Unfortunately, the band suffered from a terrible mix through their entire 20-plus minutes. The bass overpowered the speakers to the point of distorting the sound and obliterating the vocals. They didn’t have much stage presence as they played their instruments rather than performing a show. Their songs were very similar and blended together. If you like one, you’ll like them all. The band included a multi-purpose instrumentalist who played keyboards, steel guitar, and an accordion device that he blew into. Overall, they didn’t do justice to their studio work.
Next up was Phillip E Karnats, former guitar player for Tripping Daisy during its last couple of years. A bass and two drums backed him as they blasted through a set of short, dark, fuzzed-out rockers that were a good contrast from the previous band. Behind them in red-lit letters, “WAKE UP” cast its glow out of the darkness. Former Daisy bandmate and leader of The Polyphonic Spree, Tim DeLaughter joined them to sing one song.
After a break, videos of flags waving and a lava lamp effect announced the arrival of The Polyphonic Spree. DeLaughter, joined by former Daisy members Mark Pirro and Bryan Wakeland, fronted the 21-piece ensemble this evening comprised of three guitars, bass, trumpet, trombone, violin/flute, keyboards, theremin, harp and an eight-member female chorus. They wore matching black uniforms instead of their usual matching robes.
The ensemble, which refers to itself as a choral symphonic pop band, took the audience on a magical mystery tour as they rejoiced against the machine with their uplifting, positive messages of love and happiness. While songs with lyrics like “Trees wanna grow” and “Have a day, celebrate, soon you’ll find the answer” can easily be scoffed at as sappy and corny when taken out of context by the grumpy and bitter, it’s a fun, refreshing change of pace from so much gloom and doom that many bands have to offer. The Spree allows you to have as much fun as you allow yourself, illustrated by the packed dance floor of revelers.
Confetti cannons filled the air a couple of times and the video screens showed all assortments of visuals, including clips of Dave passing through the monolith in 2001 and what may have been Kurasawa’s Dreams. The music was very loud, more than it needed to be. They altered the music of their big hit “It’s The Sun”, and included some songs off their new EP Wait. It was amazing to listen to a group of this size go from being so loud to so quiet so quickly.
When they returned for their encore, the band, now wearing their robes, walked through the audience, starting in the balcony, holding hands and chanting, “Love”. They concluded with a cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium”.
Fellow Snob Mil Peliculas accompanied me. He had never heard The Spree before and after the show told me he was going to seek out their albums, and he is definitely no hippie. Any time a band can make a convert in a live setting says a great deal about their music and their performance.
Their next release is supposed to be The Fragile Army and I will be enlisting.