Looking back now, it seems almost predestined to have happened this way. I discovered The Polyphonic Spree somewhat serendipitously while looking @ “Baroque Pop” bands, a sub-genre of music I’ve recently discovered I very much enjoy, on the Internet. An article about an upcoming visit to Milwaukee in a local free paper caught my eye regarding them again, and when I decided to attend, the scene had been set.
I didn’t expect to have a spiritual experience, but there I was, 90 minutes into the show, getting goosebumps. The band, all 23 of them, created a powerhouse of songs that led one to the next with little or no time between songs for all 60 minutes of their amazing hour-long set. When the lead singer, Tim DeLaughter, announced that it was time to go, I knew it wasn’t enough and even one or two more encore songs wouldn’t fill me for the evening. Luckily, they didn’t have to.
After a wait that started to make we wonder what was up, the Spree descended a side stairway, changed from their blue army fatigue gear, which included a heart patch over their own hearts, into white choir robes and snaked through the crowd, giving high fives and shaking hands as the found their way back to the stage for what amounted to a second set rather than simply and encore.
Maybe it was the robes that took me to the spiritual then, or maybe it was the message of love and hope and truth that pervaded each song, but I was transcended to another place as I chanted, “Love, love, love,” along with the hundreds of other concert-goers. The Nirvana song “Lithium” got us all jumping around and singing as if there were no tomorrow, or as if we could sing forever. It was truly a “wall of sound,” with, get this: a lead singer, flute/piccolo/slide whistle, keyboard, synthesizer, trombone, two trumpets, two violins, cello, harp (really), bass guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drum set, percussionist, and 7-woman vocal chorus. I’ve listened to some of their stuff online, and it no where matches the audio experience of seeing them live, not to mention the spiritual and emotional experiences that I had.
So what does this say about spirituality to me? Well, I definitely felt connected to a higher power in this “non-Christian” music. Christianity hasn’t a corner on the “faith, hope, and love,” market, and as this review of a NY concert states, “Maybe those of us alienated by religion’s abuse in the name of war and exclusion need militant cries of love and community.”
No matter one’s faith or spirituality this evening, we all came together and believed as one that the would might be a better place if we all just loved. And isn’t that what religion is all about?