By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Plus, we've already written plenty about the Polyphonic Spree: We devoted two entire columns to their first gig (July 15, 2000, back when there was only, like, 10 or 11 members of the band vs. the 25 or so in the current lineup). A few months later, we followed that up with a lengthy feature. Those are just three of the 50-plus times the group has appeared in the Dallas Observer. When the band's publicist dropped us a line to gauge our interest in an interview, we politely declined, deciding to wait until the second album hits stores. Which, as it turns out, is just around the corner: Hollywood plans to release the follow-up to The Beginning Stages... early next year.
There just wasn't anything left to say about a 3-year-old album--though Dallas Morning News pop-music critic Thor Christensen, bless him, found enough to warrant an above-the-fold front-page feature a few weeks ago. (Then again, Mr. Christensen also found a way to shoehorn the band onto his year-end top-10 list in 2002, including a B-side from an import-only single. Shameless.) Even when a group has a bigger roster than the Texas Rangers, well, you tend to run out of material.
But somewhere in the middle of Bravo's weekend marathon of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (hey, we can learn to be metrosexual, too), we changed our minds. The show itself had nothing to do with the decision--though it had plenty to do with our wife's remembering that we never cook for her. It was the commercial breaks.
Seems that Apple and Volkswagen have enlisted the Polyphonic Spree to provide the soundtrack (The Beginning Stages' "Light & Day/Reach for the Sun") for their new "buy a 2003 Beetle/get a free iPod promotion." (And how much does that suck for those who bought a Beetle, say, three weeks ago?) It's a good match of product(s) and pitchman; people who crave Beetles and iPods are the kind of folks who would likely enjoy the sunshine symphonies of the Polyphonic Spree.
It's incredibly astute on the part of the Polyphonic Spree. Though they've gotten plenty of critical fellatio, that does not always translate to record sales. (See: pretty much everyone music critics like.) Radio doesn't seem to be the right fit for them, since part of the point is actually witnessing the sheer number of people onstage and the first-hit-of-ecstasy spectacle they create. MTV is the right idea, but the Apple/VW commercial is the more cost-effective approach. To begin with, we've seen the commercial, oh, maybe 100 times since we first came across it Saturday afternoon. And it does the same thing a three-minute clip would do in about 30 seconds; you even get a shot of what song it is and who's performing it, via the iPod's faceplate.
The best part: They didn't even have to pay for it.
We've given Spoonfed Tribe plenty of guff during our time here, but for some reason, the boys in the band have never taken a swing at us. In fact, they're much nicer than they should be. They still send us records, still tell us where they're going to play on the weekend. So we'll cut them some slack this week and let you know that they'll be at Lollapalooza when it comes to the Smirnoff Music Centre on August 8. Not on any of the various stages, mind you. Just walking through the crowd with drums and horns and such. There's a joke there, but we're gonna save it...