In the Flesh: A Brief Field Guide to Pink Floyd Tribute Bands
At this point Pink Floyd fandom has been bred into generations of classic-rock listeners and recreational-drug users, so demand for the band’s music isn’t exactly in short supply. In fact, Dark Side of the Moon is among the ten top-selling vinyl LPs of 2015; it was released in 1973. And it’s not like the surviving members are going to play a gig together anytime soon, so people do what they have to do. Enter the Ph.Ds of your everyday cover bands, the Pink Floyd tribute acts. Due to the extreme musicality and, shall we say, certain mind-expanding properties of the music originally performed by Mssrs. Barrett/Waters/Gilmour/Mason/Wright, it’s not enough for these imitation Floyds to plug their guitars into some amps; they really need to put on a show.
What follows is hardly a comprehensive list of every Floyd act that has ever rung the Division Bell, but should hopefully offer some insight into just how active this scene really is. If a city Houston’s size can support two Floyd tributes, you can only imagine the endless river of musicians elsewhere aspiring to master the intricacies of “Breathe,” “Comfortably Numb” and all those other classics.
THE AUSTRALIAN PINK FLOYD SHOW
This band’s Web site, aussiefloyd.com, is much cooler than their somewhat awkward full name. Founded in 1988, the Aussies have been to Houston several times and claim to have sold more than 4 million tickets worldwide. The production values are top-notch, befitting a group that is currently touring Canadian festivals and hockey arenas. Were hired to play David Gilmour’s 50th birthday party, and will perform with Led Zeppelin 2 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on August 29.
Pink Floyd played its first gigs in 1965, and their fellow Brits in Brit Floyd are definitely playing up the half-century angle on their “Space and Time” tour, which stops at Bayou Music Center tonight. Founded about four years ago by longtime Aussie Floyd member Damian Darlington, Brit Floyd features four (count ‘em) backing vocalists, and rightfully lists their sound engineer and video/animation director as band members.
IN THE FLESH
Subtitled “Echoes of Pink Floyd,” Chicago’s In the Flesh dates back to the ‘90s but appears to have recently been reassembled by leader Paul Willaert, promising the group “not only recreates the Floyd classics, but presents them in an electric, theatrical celebration of their greatest music.” If you’re wondering why they don’t just call themselves “Echoes of Pink Floyd,” it’s probably because a band based out of Sao Paulo, Brazil is already doing it.
Another long-running tribute act, NYC-based The Machine aims to out-Floyd Floyd by, according to their Web site, “[exploring] collective improvisation paralleling and even rivaling that of an early 1970s Pink Floyd mentality.” The group has also been written up in Rolling Stone and Spin, praised by The Wall co-producer Bob Ezrin, and has performed with several symphony orchestras. They’re also astute at keeping fans up to date via Facebook, and are really excited about David Gilmour’s upcoming solo U.S. tour. You might have guessed that already.
PIGS ON THE WALL
Currently nominated for an HPMA Reader’s Choice award, Pigs on the Wall have been breathing in the local cover-band circuit for more than a year now, but seem to have especially have clicked with the Last Concert Cafe crowd too. There must be a graphic designer in the group, because they’ve already come up with eye-catching gig posters such as the ones you see at the top of this article and directly above. Sample “The Turning Away” on YouTube, or catch the Pigs live back at Last Concert on August 1.
PINKY AND THE FLOYD
Billing themselves as “the Northwest’s hottest Pink Floyd tribute band,” earlier this month the Montana-based Pinky and the Floyd picked up the award for “Best Bozeman Band” from local entertainment publication BoZone; in April, they performed Floyd’s entire 1994 album The Division Bell at Willson Auditorium, home of the Bozeman Symphony. Fans will drive up to four hours to see them live, and it’s not hard to see why. In concert, one of Pinky’s press clippings says the band comes across like “a wall of sound with the bricks intact.”
File this one under “names we had to look up to see if they were real.” Sure enough, here’s Stink Floyd, which somewhat disappointingly seems to be a sex-crazed DIY electronica outfit that has little to do with Pink Floyd at all. On the plus side, whoever this is does draw some enthusiastic Soundcloud comments from usernames like “Sherm-head.” Surely other band names out there have corresponding Urban Dictionary entries, but it’s hard to imagine one more unpleasant.
US AND THEM
Us and Them aren’t quite as active on social media — or in real life, it looks like — as the other Houston Floydians on this list, but they have been around a lot longer. According to their site, the four-piece formed in 2000 and have played good-size rooms around the region like Dallas’ Club Clearview, Baton Rouge’s Varsity Theater and New Orleans’ Southport Hall. Their most recent Houston gig was back in April at Warehouse Live’s Ballroom.
Brit Floyd performs at 8 p.m. tonight at Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas.