50,000 Poi Dog Fans Can't Be Wrong

Poi leader Frank Orrall rocks Chicago. Photo by Matt Carmichael.

A wave rolled over the tens of thousands of people gathered in

Chicago's Grant Park Thursday (July 25). It was a force branded as POI NRG and

as Poi Dog Pondering slid into the title track of their latest album

Pomegranate, it was in full effect. Though their shows tend to get even

the most languid fans bouncing up and down to songs such as "Complicated" and

"Lackluster," tonight's show seems somehow more powerful.

Maybe it has

something to do with the symphony orchestra backing the band.

Now, at

eleven members, Poi Dog Pondering is already a large band. But Poi's leader,

Frank Orrall, always feels that there is room for more on stage. In the past,

Poi shows, especially those in their now-native Chicago, have featured string

quartets, oboists, a woman playing something called the "long-stringed

instrument" (use your imagination) and a harp. However, it seems even that

isn't enough. Nor is it enough that many of the Poi Doggers play multiple

instruments themselves. Paul Mertens, Dave "Max" Crawford, and Susan Voelz who

did all the arrangements for the symphony during the past two months play at

least 13 instruments between them. In fact, even the Grant Park Symphony

Orchestra wasn't quite enough as Poi called upon some of their favorite

in-concert elements: the urban youth dance troupe House-o-Matic and Austin

film-maker Luke Savisky who, according to Orrall, realized a long-standing

dream of projecting his film loops on the Petrillo band shell at Grant


The band played two sets. The first set was a straight run-through of

Pomegranate backed by the orchestra. Many of the songs had


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