Polyphonic Spree at the Pageant, August 4: That's Them in the Corner, Finding Their Religion



For a band that tries to play down its cult reputation in the press, (the comet-worshipping type, not cult classic kind), the Polyphonic Spree does little to dispel that image with its live performance. So much so that after frontman/high priest Tim DeLaughter dedicated the second song of the set to Hare Krishna, I became suspicious that the bartender was going to offer me a free Kool-Aid sample to accompany my gin and tonic.

Thankfully, the spiked punch never came, but in its stead the Spree offered what I suspect was a much more subtle programming regimen, consisting of two-plus hours of confetti, strobe lights, existential video projections and songs with uber-happy lyrics such as, “I am so excited and delighted today,” and “Hey it’s the sun, it makes me smile.”


The Wu-Tang Clan of indie-rock, the band’s line-up occasionally tops out at nearly 27, but on this occasion they apparently left the Theremin player at home, and settled for a spare 21-person set-up, which included: a flautist, a harp, a three-piece horn section and a six-girl choir complete with choreographed hair-flicking moves. The result was some positive vibes and the equivalent of a rock-out competition, with each black-jumpsuit-clad member trying to set themselves apart with their own eccentric moves.

The pinnacle of the set was a cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium” -- chosen, I suspect, for its lyrics: “I’m so happy cause today I found my friends…In a daze cause I found God,” which incited the crowd to break into a no-contact, good-natured moshpit.

After a break, the band returned clad in its trademark white robes for a lengthy encore, kicked off by “Light and Day,” and followed by several songs by DeLaughter’s previous band, Tripping Daisy. The line-up also swelled to 22 as the band was joined on stage by DeLaughter’s elementary-school-aged son, who banged on an un-mic-ed snare drum while wearing a creepy, MF Doom-style mask. The kid managed to provide a good laugh as, between songs, he took the mic from his dad and described the difficulty of seeing out of the mask since he started sweating.

-Keegan Hamilton


Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.