With the Christmas season beginning its relentless assault around Halloween, it can be easy to forget that the holiday, and especially its songs, can be both fun and, as SNL's cold open showed, cathartic when times are rough. Even for non-Christians. That truth was very much evident on Saturday night at Webster Hall, where The Polyphonic Spree brought their Holiday Extravaganza to NYC for the first time. That it unfolded smack in the heart of Santacon's dark depravity made it even better.
For the show the Spree performed two sets: a Christmas spectacular and a regular rock set. But of course this wasn't a solemn Christmas affair. Not a bit of that. Featuring Christmas songs old and new (A Nightmare Before Christmas's "Town Meeting Song" was sung) the set included confetti, balloons, Santa, a snowman, and more rocking the yuletide spirit. And of course there was the large band all dressed up in festive versions of their usual chorus dresses. The only band member in pants was lead singer Tim DeLaughter (his dress came out in the second set) who exuded a wonderful demented Christmas Willy Wonka vibe—especially when he invited the children in the audience up on stage. It was all very silly, and by the time "Feliz Navidad" it was hard not to bounce around, high on the holidays, and forget the latest horrible news:
And then, after a brief but entertaining magic show, the band returned in their more traditional
cult dresses smocks and led the audience through a rollicking tour of their staples, including their always surprisingly excellent cover of "Lithium." And when it was all over, there wasn't a grinch in the house.