Fully acknowledging that many of the patrons that filled about three-fourths of Music Box Supper Club had just eaten a meal, the Polyphonic Spree frontman Tim DeLaughter made a point to emphasize that “this is a rock show” at the beginning of last night’s 90-minute concert. “We’re going to need you to stand,” the mop-topped singer said emphatically. Early in the set as the band played “Hold Me Now,” a track from the Austin-group’s sophomore album Together We’re Heavy, he stood at the edge of the stage with his arms extended.
As the leader of the large ensemble that included 13 members playing everything from drums, bass and guitar to horns and cello, DeLaughter was like the ringleader of an enormous musical circus. Wearing a pastel smock, he looked like he stepped out of an Austin Powers movie. And the music had a decidedly ’60s feel too, something that came through in the jittery, caffeinated “Running Away” and the poppy “You Don’t Know Me.” He made the most of the instrumentation, starting off “2000 Places” with a dramatic piano riff and punctuating “Hold Yourself Up” with a mid-song horn solo.
The band also capably covered the Monkees’ “Porpoise Song,” inserting a mid-song “space out” that found band members sitting on the stage while they plucked away at their respective instruments, and the Wings’ tune “Live and Let Die,” a song that DeLaughter joked he wrote when he was 12 years old with a childhood friend. Toward the end of the set, the band delivered “Light and Day,” its biggest hit, in all its shimmering glory, DeLaughter’s high-pitched voice making him sound a bit like Yes’ Jon Anderson. For the ballad “Battlefield,” he and his band mates sat in the front row of the club and showed just how well they could silence a crowd that had been dancing and standing for most of the concert. It was nice way to bring the concert to a close.
Locals Seafair proved to be an appropriate opener. Their Arcade Fire-like music has an orchestral pop feel, something that was brought out by a two-person string section. It appropriately set the stage for the similar-sounding but more expansive sound of the Polyphonic Spree.