The Polyphonic Spree rearranges song for MTV
Not all of the band's fans are thrilled about the appearance.
BOSTON -- The Polyphonic Spree is increasingly a big deal.
With more than 20 members all wearing white or pastel robes, the symphonic pop band always has been visually arresting, and its shows are high-energy musical celebrations that engage band and audience alike.
Founded in Dallas a few years ago by former Tripping Daisy singer Tim DeLaughter, the band started attracting attention after performing a morning set for bleary-eyed -- and very impressed -- critics before the keynote speech at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, in 2002.
Now, despite not having a video nominated -- or even in rotation -- the Polyphonic Spree has been invited to perform Sunday at the MTV Video Music Awards. There's just one catch: MTV honchos offered the Spree 2 minutes, 45 seconds of airtime. Most of the band's songs clock in at about 8 minutes. Because of the MTV exposure, the robed group crafted a new arrangement for "Hold Me Now," from its latest album, "Together We're Heavy." Fans in Boston got a sneak preview of the new version following a performance Aug. 18 at the Paradise.
Strapped for cash
After finishing a fantastic hour-long set, DeLaughter invited the crowd to stay while the group rehearsed the new arrangement. The Spree ran through the song a handful of times while DeLaughter solicited feedback from the audience and parried jabs at MTV's credibility.
One person urged the band to skip the appearance. DeLaughter said the potential payoff was too big.
"I'm all about this," he said. "I need some money to keep this thing going."
One can imagine. The logistics of hauling 22 musicians, plus crew and gear, around the country must be daunting. Factor in incidental expenses, such as the orange parking ticket under the wiper of one of the band's three vans out front in Boston, and you can't blame them for wanting a little folding cash. Such concerns didn't sway everyone, though.
"MTV sucks!" yelled another audience member.
"Yeah, well, they have their good days and their bad days," replied DeLaughter, the very picture of diplomacy.
One hopes it's a good day Sunday for the VMAs.