Scenes From Saturday's Polyphonic Spree, Sam Lao and Quaker City Night Hawks Show at Club Dada.
Tonight, when the Polyphonic Spree takes the stage for a gig in Los Angeles that comes as part of a summer tour in support of last year's Yes, It's True LP, the plus-sized, often cult-compared outfit will celebrate its 14th birthday as a band.
Yup: It's been a full 14 years now since the Spree first collected en masse on stage, performing as the local opener on a three-band Gypsy Tea Room bill also featuring touring headliners Grandaddy and Bright Eyes.
Fourteen years, folks. That's pretty remarkable stuff — especially when you consider the fact that, for frontman Tim DeLaughter, bassist Mark Pirro and former Spree drummer Bryan Wakeland, this move came as a second act, a reverse-direction follow-up of sorts to the band's tragically ended, and still highly lauded, efforts in Tripping Daisy.
Follow the Spree on Twitter and you'll see: The band — rightly so — is pretty proud of how far it's come.
The same was true this past Saturday night, too, as the band took part in yet another three-act bill in Deep Ellum — this one curated by the Spree itself, with the band performing last. Spirits were high as DeLaughter and his merry band of misfits took to the stage out on Club Dada's back patio in a setting befitting of joviality: The supermoon hung overhead in the clear night sky, lighting up what the many various brought-in light fixtures somehow couldn't; and an installation of multi-colored streamers from The Color Condition wrapped along the space's entire wall space, as if this band so built upon spectacle needed any assistance.
It didn't, but these added elements weren't overkill, either. The whole thing, as so many Spree affairs do, just felt celebratory — but, somehow, even more so than usual.
It was a remarkable display from the jump. And not long after cutting through the extra-long sheet that traditionally hides the band from the stage as it sets up to perform, DeLaughter too acknowledged the sentiment the packed house palpably felt. Perched from atop the monitors at the edge of the stage, he peered over his reverent audience and pointed toward Dada's main, inside performance space.
“This is where Tripping Daisy played its first open mic,” he noted to applause, before shouting out some old friends who'd helped him in his earliest music days.
But, aside from the obvious dalliances into older, still-great albums The Beginning Stages of…, Together We're Heavy and The Fragile Army, this night wouldn't prove a backwards-looking affair. If anything, it was the opposite — a showcase meant to prove the band's maintained relevancy, thanks in no small part to Yes, It's True's cuts boasting an added buoyancy after a full year's saturation.
Not even the sound systems' repeated cutting out could levy the glee; rather, DeLaughter and his band masterfully seized these substantial drops in amplification and turned them into singalongs.
The entire night was strong, actually. Opening things off, Fort Worth rock favorites Quaker City Night Hawks rocked the audience into submission and, in the second position, fast-rising Dallas rapper-singer Sam Lao turned her obvious outlier role in this lineup into a positive with a confident display that so charmed this crowd that fans lined up to take pictures with her after the set.
Still, few acts local or otherwise can compete with the Spree, a band whose live show remains as vibrant, uplifting and fulfilling today as perhaps it ever has. This is a group that, almost a decade and a half in, stands as one of Dallas' all-time greats. Saturday night's performance, which came in a setting more intimate than fans of this band can honestly demand, further confirmed that fact — all the while pointing, perhaps, to a surprising, continued growth.
But, see, that's the thing about treasures. If they're worth a damn at all, their values only increase with time.