Morgan Sullivan | Staff Writer
Children sitting on their fathers’ shoulders. A man in a neighboring apartment hanging out of his window. Old friends reuniting.
A gangly chorus of mix-matched people of all ages, religions and cultures joined together for a special hour at Oaktopia as the sun set Saturday evening. Music holds a tangible meaning for many people, and the festival was a chance for show-goers to leave all their troubles behind, worrying only about what set to watch next.
It was undeniable: among Dallas locals, the Polyphonic Spree was a crowd favorite. Friends and strangers filled the Wells Fargo parking lot that held the Audacity Brewery Mainstage.
Unlike many shows, there was a feeling of community and mutual respect throughout the crowd. There was no pushing or shoving. Audience members sang and danced along to the 15-piece band donned in white choral robes.
“It’s good to be back!” lead singer Tim DeLaughter said.
He recalled living on Hickory Street and eating at local Denton restaurants. This created a special bond between attendees and the band itself, a mutual respect and love of their city.
Otherwise, DeLaughter and the band did not interact much with the audience. Often this doesn’t work, but the Polyphonic Spree were such an enchanting presence that the show didn’t lack due to the minimal audience interaction.
The psychedelic choral rock group opened with a crowd favorite, “Have a Day/Celebratory.” The charisma was instant and infectious. As the sun set on another long and hot day in Denton, the warm tones of the song allowed the audience to slip into a world far away.
Soon, you’ll find the answer, the song said. A feeling of hope and serenity was a constant theme in the set. With so many layers beyond one vocalist and the traditional guitar, bass and drums, The Polyphonic Spree achieves a much more full and rich tone than bands with fewer members.
This fullness contributes to an overarching theme of happiness. Some contribute colors to musical sounds, and if one were to assign the band a color, it would be sunshine yellow. The set flowed seamlessly song after song, crescendoing into a frenzy of exhilaration as the band led into a cover of “Porpoise Song” by The Monkees.
At this time, DeLaughter requested that the light engineer turn the stage lights from stark white to blue. It was at this moment the set reached its peak. The color change emoted a new mood in the crowd. The energy level soared, and it didn’t back down for the remainder of the set.
Within the crowd, a juggler emerged, twisting and turning illuminated clubs. The colors swirled in the night, mesmerizing those around her.
It’s apparent the band enjoys what they do. Every element of the gig was clearly planned out, and yet so natural at the same time.
DeLaughter invited photographers onto the stage for the last song, allowing them to disperse all over the stage. While the photographers got their close-ups of the band, the singer jumped into the crowd.
As the band covered Nirvana’s “Lithium,” DeLaughter danced in the center of the crowd. Then, as the bridge of the song approached, the singer urged the crowd to sit down.
Suddenly, a sea of people all sat together on the cement.
Just as suddenly as the crowd had sat down, they were jumping up at the emergence of the chorus once again. Hopping and screaming, the audience gave their all as the band finished their hour-long set.
With a swift thanks, the band was whisked away, and the house lights came back up. Muffled chatter filled the air as the festival attendees traveled in throngs to their next destination.
They came in as strangers, but it felt as though everyone left as friends.
Featured Image: The Polyphonic Spree performed Saturday night on the Audacity Brew House Main Stage. Haley Yates | Staff Photographer