THE PSYCHEDELIC OPTIMISTIC POP CONGREGATION

04 JULY 2002: THE PSYCHEDELIC
OPTIMISTIC POP CONGREGATION

From the Austin Chronicle:

Austin’s Waterloo Records
is one of the most in-store-friendly shops in the country, sporting a convenient
stage area that doubles as a listening station. Yet it can’t even hope
to contain The Polyphonic Spree,
whose 28 members would probably make the store look half-full just mulling
around. The group’s Saturday, 6pm in-store is the last one scheduled this
year. It won’t be the first improbable thing the band has pulled off in
their thrilling two-year run.

“I put this thing together
in about two and a half weeks,” says founder and leader Tim DeLaughter,
frontman for Dallas’ Tripping Daisy from 1991 until the group’s dissolution
in ’99. The Polyphonic Spree’s debut came the next summer, opening for
Grandaddy. “Chris [Penn], my friend and partner in [Dallas store] Good
Records, booked us for that show, and I didn’t even have a band. The whole
thing just started coming together. Once we got one person in, he knew
somebody, they came in, and the thing just literally grew overnight into
a band.”

What has evolved is a self-described
“choral symphonic pop band” that has regularly squeezed its way, with difficulty,
onto nightclub stages in Dallas and Austin. Their Good Records debut, The
Beginning Stages of … was recorded soon after their formation. All 28
band members (give or take a couple on maternity leave) sport white robes
onstage, and their sing-along blasts have won over even the most hardened
of cynics. Featuring piano, flute, brass, strings, theremin, and who knows
what-all, the Polyphonic Spree are the church choir of a never-never land
where the congregation has blue hair, digs psychedelic rock, and sings
at the top of their lungs without embarrassment.

“When you get that much energy
going on, with that many people on the same page, there’s a lot more going
on than just playing the songs,” says DeLaughter. “If you’ve seen it on
a night when it’s just totally on, it’s overwhelming.”

THANKS: G.SORIA, S.STERLING!

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About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in Tucson, Arizona with Stephanie Smith. https://linktr.ee/jaywbabcock