Friday, February 17, 2012

Live Review: Polyphonic Spree 2/10/2012 at Center Stage

Wild, frantic, and unpredictable. Just a few words that you could use to describe the live experience of symphonic pop group The Polyphonic Spree. The Texas native band put on an outstanding two hour set last Friday night at the Center Stage music venue, pulling out almost all of their most beloved songs, as well as demonstrating some incredible stage theatrics.

The night was kicked off by opening act New Fumes, a solo psychedelic rock project created by Daniel Huffman. With nothing more than a MacBook, a guitar and some foot pedal effects, Huffman managed to lure the audience into a trance like state with his tunes. The main appeal to New Fumes was the corresponding visuals, as Huffman set up a projector that played some of the most unique and bizarre animation footage I've seen out of an artist since Tobacco. Huffman is a creative solo act that is definitely worth checking out.

Soon after, Polyphonic Spree would finally take the stage, Tim DeLaughter and company marching triumphantly through the crowd while the inspirational track "Gonna Fly Now" from the movie Rocky blasted in the background. Immediately, the twenty-one person collective was met with roaring applause from the crowd, as they begin to play their first show in Atlanta since 2008. Opening with big time tracks such as "Two Thousand Places" and "A Long Day Continues", Polyphonic Spree wasted no time in getting right into showing off their bombastic stage presence.

Highlighted by a six woman choir, trombonists, violinists, and just about any other musical instrument you can think of, The Polyphonic Spree brought forth one of the most enthusiastic live groups out there today. Throughout the show, DeLaughter would participate in such antics as spraying the crowd with confetti, wearing a hat he received from a member of the audience, and leading the rest of his band into several extended jam sessions.

As if this energy wasn't enough, Polyphonic Spree started playing unexpected covers of British sensation The Who, including epic renditions of "See Me Feel Me" and "Pinball Wizard". After an intense hour or so long set, DeLaughter jokingly noted that it was time for the band to take off, playfully setting up for more to come. But no one expected an hour long encore, and that's exactly what the Atlanta crowd got!

Polyphonic Spree banged out even more big numbers, such as the big hit "Light & Day", as well as latest single "What Would You Do?". As the show begin to close, DeLaughter would leave the stage and head into the crowd, approaching everyone on the Center Stage floor for a singalong session. The Polyphonic Spree's demeanor throughout the night was an ecstatic one, giving the crowd everything they paid for and more. Check out some highlights from the show in the clip below.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Interview: Tim DeLaughter of Polyphonic Spree

Earlier this afternoon, I talked to Polyphonic Spree frontman Tim DeLaughter about a variety of topics, including their tour that is stopping by Atlanta at Center Stage tomorrow night.

Kevin: It's been four years since The Polyphonic Spree last toured North America. Heading into 2012, what are you most looking forward to during this stint of tour dates?

Tim: We are looking forward to a sold out show in Atlanta. We are counting on Gail Fountain, a super fan, to help us accomplish that.

Throughout your career, you have written music for television programs, movies, advertisements, and a variety of other mediums. Do you have any plans to make music across different media platforms in the future? Or are you more focused on developing Polyphonic Spree as a band?

At some point we will collaborate on another interactive app with Moonbot like we did with one of our recent singles "Bullseye" on Good Records Recordings. I will be working on The Polyphonic Spree, Preteen Zenith, and a long in the works solo album. The Polyphonic Spree will also be doing a Holiday album this year as well as a national tour of the 10th anniversary of our annual Holiday Extravaganza.

It has often been said that the live experience of Spree is one of the most surrealistic shows out there. Do you have any current day musicians that give a source of inspiration for the live performance of The Polyphonic Spree?

We inspire each other more than anything, really.

After this first batch of dates across the States, does the "You + Me" tour have any international shows in mind?

We plan to tour the UK at the end of August/September and do a New Year's Eve show in London.

In the past, The Polyphonic Spree has been featured on major music festival DVDs, such as Coachella and SXSW. Will the "You + Me" tour be documented as well?

Our percussionist Patrick Cone on this run is a filmmaker and editor. He cut the trailer for this current phase of the "You+Me" tour. He is grabbing footage while we are out so you never know. We have been documenting The Polyphonic Spree since the beginning so at some point the full story will be told.

Over the years, there have been many different members of The Polyphonic Spree. One of the most successful alumni, Annie Clark, has gone onto accomplish great things in her own right with St. Vincent. Do you still keep in contact with Annie or any other past members of the band? Would you ever consider letting them play alongside The Polyphonic Spree again down the road?

We plan to have every member that has ever graced the stage with The Polyphonic Spree join us for our 15h anniversary on July 15, 2015. It will be a memorable evening to put it mildly.

In the age of social media, many musicians have figured out how to better interact with their fans. You guys are no strangers to this, offering an innovative idea in the form of letting your fans create a music video for the latest single "What Would You Do?". What do you think of some of the videos that people have submitted thus far? Are you pleased with the response so far?

We have loved the entries so far. We are really like Pepe and Peaches the Cat so far. It is cool to see how fan's interpret the music and lyrics.

On February 10th, The Polyphonic Spree's "You + Me" tour stops by Atlanta to play a show at Center Stage. Do you have any memories of Atlanta that you could share?

We did an instore/outstore at Criminal Records. It was definitely HOTLANTA that day. We played the parking lot. We had 2-3 people pass out. I would like to think it was the music but...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Night at The Earl with Twin Sister...

Taken from:

Written by: Kevin Crawford
Photography by: Nikki Hagemeyer

Twin Sister and opening touring band Ava Luna played a packed house at The Earl last Wednesday night. Judging by the crowd’s reception of both bands, it was another great night for the East Atlanta venue scene.

Ava Luna got things started, a large group of seven, combining everything from James Blake-esque vocals all the way to playful electronic noise. Relying heavily on synthesizers and a soulful three woman choir, Ava Luna captivated the attention of the audience with big R&B numbers such as “Clips” and “Past the Barbary”. The group seems to be not only a throwback to the old school crooners, but also invigorates a new unique sound in the electro genre as well. Ava Luna leaves the crowd begging for more.

At around the 11:05 P.M. mark, the members of Twin Sister finally rush the stage, and start things off with some of their big time hits, including notable single “Bad Street” off their debut LP In Heaven. The Atlanta crowd is mesmerized by the killer guitar work of Eric Cardona, pulling the crowd into a dream-like frenzy with songs such as “Lady Daydream” and “Daniel”.

What sets Twin Sister apart as a live act is their ability to constantly adapt, changing how each of their songs sounds, shedding new light on their catalog every time they perform. For instance, on the big dance number “All Around and Away We Go”, vocalist Estella and bass player Gabe play off one another’s talents in perfect unison, as keyboardist Dev Gupta and drummer Bryan Ujueta provide the incredible background melodies.

The atmospheric touches are the little things that Twin Sister utilizes all too well, making them one of the most distinct up and coming bands in the indie scene to date. One moment they are playing off the crowd’s energy and building up a jam session, then the next they are making ambient soundscapes putting everyone in a calm trance. After a stunning performance, they came back to the stage for one more track entitled “Milk & Honey”, leaving the members of the Atlanta audience with something to remember for a long time to come.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Interview with Andrea Estella of Twin Sister

Just a few days before their stop at The Earl in East Atlanta, I was able to get in touch for an interview over the phone with rising indie dream pop band Twin Sister's lead singer, Andrea Estella. She talked about everything from her family roots in Puerto Rico, to looking forward to checking out some whale sharks at the famous Atlanta Aquarium.

Kevin: 2011 was a big year for Twin Sister. New album In Heaven was released, tour dates all across North America and Europe. Do you have any personal memories or highlights of the year that stick out?

Andrea: I feel like I’ve had so many things happen that it’s difficult to pick out one moment. Someone actually asked me this last night. The day we were approached by Domino was definitely pretty memorable.

Kevin: Care to elaborate on how you guys and Domino got together exactly?

Andrea: I guess the best way to phrase it is…unusual? Haha. They ended up sending us a message over our MySpace page, which is pretty archaic by now. And then they started coming out to our shows, and we just really hit it off and they decided to sign us.

Kevin: As I mentioned earlier, last fall, your debut full length album In Heaven was released. As a band, do you guys feel this record changed the musical direction, or did it expand on ideas from earlier releases?

Andrea: I think it expanded on ideas because we learned a whole lot about ourselves from making this first album. It didn’t really change the musical direction, but I guess we just tried to execute things a little better. On In Heaven we figured out how to handle things differently, make it sound the way we wanted. What we did with In Heaven is we kind of wrote the songs for the album, and now that were playing them live, we’ve changed how some of the songs sound. So now we’ve started pitching new songs on the road before we record them, let them develop better.

Kevin: How much influence does the record label Domino have over the creative process when recording your material?

Andrea: They don’t really mess with that. They just sort of let you do whatever you want. They give you their opinion when it’s all done. Whether they like a certain song, they think one song should be a single, stuff like that. But they pretty much let you do what you wanna do.

Kevin: Do you or other members ever find yourself getting sick of playing the same songs live, or does it all still feel very new and current?

Andrea: Right now for this tour, it really feels good to play these songs live. One time we were practicing just before we went out on stage, just kind of cramming a bunch of new songs in on the set, so it really felt fresh. And then we also played a few songs from In Heaven that we’ve never played before, and there’s an added experience, like turning drum machines into a live drumset.

Kevin: Recently, you guys made a music video for the track “Kimmi in a Rice Field”. Can you tell us what kind of image you and the rest of the members of Twin Sister were shooting for?

Andrea: Well originally the lyrics to that were meant to be a story. And then I turned the story into lyrics, shortened them a little bit, and had them fit for the song better. And then Bryan our drummer took that story and made a few changes to it himself. It transformed into a ghost world, and we made it into a short horror film. We were really pleased with how that turned out.

Kevin: Are there any specific cities or parts of the world Twin Sister would want to tour? Any that you have yet to see?

Andrea: I really love going to San Francisco, and we will be going there very soon. As far as places we haven’t seen yet, I really want to go to Japan. I wanna see any part of Japan. Parts of China would be nice. Iceland would be cool, Italy would be cool, Australia. We’ve seen a lot of the States, as well as Europe. I actually have family in Puerto Rico, and I wonder if we have any Puerto Rican listeners, cause you never hear about indie bands being like “Let’s go to Puerto Rico and play a couple gigs,” haha. It would be so cool! I noticed when I went there, I hadn’t been there in a long time, and there were a lot of shirtless skateboarders with a tan! But on a serious note, I do have a lot of family members that listen to us down there.

Kevin: Where did Twin Sister originally form?

Andrea: We were all from Long Island, we’ve known each other since high school. We formed when we were just teenagers. Played a couple shows back home, at sports bars in front of jockey guys that don’t really care about the band.

Kevin: Do you guys have a preference of what type of venue to play? Are you more of a small, intimate kind of band, or do you enjoy more big festival shows?

Andrea: I think we prefer the more intimate kind of places. I think I like a good green room too, with my own bathroom haha. The crowds are much more spirited and seem to care a lot more at those kind of venues than say the ones at festivals. At festivals, you can sort of look down and see the crowd doing other things like checking Twitter and stuff! I actually enjoy more cramped shows where it’s like a house party.

Kevin: Do you have any current day influences that give you a sense of inspiration?

Andrea: I really like Ariel Pink and the new band that he’s in now. Hercules & Love Affair I think is really cool. Bear in Heaven, I look up to them. And Lost Boy, I love Lost Boy!

Kevin: Would you ever consider doing any collaborations with any artists?

Andrea: I’d like to play with anybody really. I just did my first big collab, a track with Wild Nothing recently, should be coming out soon. I think in the future, I’m not sure yet, I feel like it would have to come to me.

Kevin: Are there any studio recordings from Twin Sister that we should be looking forward to?

Andrea: Actually after this tour, we are taking a break, and are going to work on a bunch of new songs. I think we are going to do shows here and there, which is also a good way to try out new songs. Like I said, we wanna try playing them before full blown recording. We also like to make demos, so I’m sure a lot of those will be made.

Kevin: Do you have any plans of things to do while you guys are in Atlanta?

Andrea: The highlight of my trip this tour for me is driving out super early and going to the Atlanta Aquarium. I am so excited to see whale sharks!

Check out Twin Sister’s music video for the song “Kimmi in a Rice Field” off their latest album In Heaven here: