Youthful exuberance fueled the Dallas rock band Tripping Daisy in the 1990s and brought it back this year, with a headlining appearance at Friday’s Brazos Nights concert a result.
The second dose of young energy came from the teenagers of Tripping Daisy founder Tim DeLaughter and his wife, Julie, who, he says, ultimately persuaded him into a reunion nearly 20 years after the group disbanded.
DeLaughter’s children, from 10 to 18 years old, rediscovered Tripping Daisy as they grew older and pulled their friends into the circle of alt-rock and -pop that blew the Dallas band into national attention during its relatively short life.
In less than a decade, Tripping Daisy went from a group playing Dallas clubs to one with national exposure, thanks to its eclectic rock and pop drive and a distinctive visual style in light shows and graphics that led some to label the band neo-psychedelic.
The band dissolved in 1999, however, after guitarist Wes Berggen died from a drug overdose. DeLaughter and several of his Tripping Daisy colleagues went on to his next musical project, the Polyphonic Spree, and didn’t think of bringing back their former group.
Until his children hit their teens and started pestering him, that is.
“ ‘We never got to see Tripping Daisy. Dad, you’ve got to do this again,’ ” DeLaughter recalled. “The kids breathed some life in to this . . . and their friends were getting on to it.”
The decision wasn’t an easy one for DeLaughter, who for the past 17 years has become better known as the leader of the Polyphonic Spree. In addition to Berggen’s death, Tripping Daisy drummer Ben Curtis died from lymphoma in 2013
DeLaughter floated the idea of a reunion to friends and past members, who got excited at the thought. A reunion performance planned for Dallas’ Homegrown Festival expanded into shows in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, North Richland Hills and Waco.
“We used to have a lot of great shows in Waco back then,” DeLaughter explained. “We had some insane shows there.”
The band’s Waco shows came as it was building toward national recognition with such trippy songs as “I Got a Girl,” “Piranha” and “My Umbrella” on albums “I Am an Elastic Firecracker” and “Jesus Hits Like the Atomic Bomb.”
It also didn’t hurt to have music channel MTV pick up its music video for “I Got a Girl,” a part of which also was excerpted on MTV’s animated “Beavis and Butthead.” Then came Berggen’s death and Tripping Daisy stopped cold. DeLaughter turned his creative energy to his the Polyphonic Spree, which explored new territory in positive choral pop-rock. He’s been with the group since then as well as Good Records Recording.
Brushing off the performance rust for DeLaughter took some weeks before the Homegrown fest. Though he uses his guitar in writing music for Polyphonic Spree, he hadn’t performed on it in years.
“It was tough at the time. It wasn’t a bicycle moment — you know, where you learn to ride the bicycle and then pick it back up later,” he said.
Not so rusty were the memories of departed bandmates.”It was kinda cathartic at the beginning, a little bit of sadness,” DeLaughter said. “When we lost Wes, it gutted all of us. And when we started playing ‘On the Ground,’ tears started to roll down my face. I really didn’t see that coming . . .”
Whatever nervousness DeLaughter had about taking the stage as Tripping Daisy again melted before the some 6,000 people at the Homegrown Festival. “It was off the hook. . . . I was like freaking out. It was the best vibe ever. People were so stoked,” he recalled. “We were experiencing that energy over again. . . . The feeling came back from back then. Some of the best songs of my life were in that band.”
DeLaughter hopes that exhilaration continues with Tripping Daisy’s shows this week in Houston, Waco, Austin and San Antonio. Joining DeLaughter as Tripping Daisy at Friday’s Brazos Nights concert are Mark Pirro on bass, Philip Karnats and Nick Earl on guitar, Bryan Wakeland on drums and Brandon Curtis on keyboards.
Opening for Tripping Daisy will be Fort Worth’s Quaker City Night Hawks, a foursome with a growing reputation for its fusion of Texas boogie-woogie and Southern rock. “They’re freaking awesome. Really, really great,” DeLaughter said.
Tripping Daisy is working on a revamped light show and will bring merchandise that revisits and updates the band’s graphic vibe. DeLaughter thinks the reunion band has a seasoned, mature musicality that the original band never had time to develop. “The popularity of the band was so quick that we weren’t prepared musically. . .. We were compelled to keep pushing the envelope.”
The band intends to record its final show July 7 at NYTX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills, but DeLaughter said it’s not clear if there’s more in store for Tripping Daisy beyond that. Waco fans should enjoy the moment and the music for what it is. “They’ll see six dudes giving it their all.”