The Polyphonic Spree, spreading positivity at an earlier show.Photo: FilmMagic
Polyphonic Spree leader Tim DeLaughter cut a heart out of a swatch of red fabric that hung across the length of the stage to start Friday night’s show at Terminal 5. Then he cut down the whole thing to reveal the rest of the band (23 members by our count, but we might’ve missed somebody behind the harp, the horn section, or one of the two drum kits) and waved the heart around like a peaceful matador. The theatrics continued throughout the set, aided by a sextet of synchronized, hair-swinging backup singers and the confetti cannons that lent the night a New Year’s Rockin’ Eve vibe.
After an hour, the Spree walked off the stage one by one, returning moments later having changed out of their military-style uniforms and into the culty robes they’re better known for. They picked up their instruments and blasted into Nirvana’s “Lithium,” which may not be the most obvious cover song for a band that’s the personification of a smiley emoticon, but by then we were putty in their hands. DeLaughter stood before the crowd with arms outstretched looking like a cross between a statue of Christ the Redeemer and the Big Bad Wolf in Grandma’s nightgown and thanked us for being there to spread the positivity. That sounds hokey now, but on Friday night there was no name calling or fighting over cabs as the crowd filed out onto a cold, remote stretch of Eleventh Avenue. —Elizabeth Black