Review & Photos: Pink Talking Fish Bring ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ To Cambridge
Images by: Scott Harris
Pink Talking Fish :: 10.30-31.2015 :: Middle East :: Cambridge, MA
Read Andrew’s review after the gallery
Pink Talking Fish’s sold out, two-night run at The Middle East nightclub in Cambridge sent a message to the world that their fans have already known: They are the definitive tribute band on the jam scene today. Over two nights, PTF played the entirety of Pink Floyd’s Animals and Phish’s fabled Gamehendge saga, both of which were interwoven with the music of both bands, in addition to tunes by the Talking Heads.
There are plenty of tribute acts that have nailed the sound of any given band: Dark Star Orchestra, The Machine and Get The Led Out all come to mind. However, PTF has made it their mission to masterfully recreate the art of three very different bands whose productivity spans six decades, all while weaving them together like it was the creators’ intent all along.
Friday’s first set was reserved for Animals but still incorporated Talking Heads’ “Wild Wild Life” and even started out with Phish’s “Runaway Jim.” Animals was brought to a close with a “Pigs On The Wing Part 2” that was Oreo’d by “Birds of a Feather” and this was perhaps the first time over the weekend where PTF showed where they break from their tribute-act brethren.
Trey Anastasio and David Gilmour have two of the most distinct guitar tones in the history of the instrument and either guitarist can be recognized within a single note being played. Yet their sounds couldn’t be more different. Gilmour built one of the strongest discographies in rock music by executing solos on Pink Floyd records that were so precise, many fans go so far as to call them perfect. By taking a less-is- more approach to lead work, Gilmour’s solos have long been known for using every note with maximum efficiency, helped along by a carefully crafted tone that perfectly fuses reverb, delay, echo and just the right hint of fuzz. Anastasio, on the other hand, shreds his way up and down the neck of his customized Languedoc guitars, wielding a partially muted tone that marries elements of harmonic twang with a seabed of phase. Bringing these sounds together is where guitarist Dave Brunyak demonstrated his excellence.
While the music of Talking Heads is a clear influence on PTF, their weekend at the Middle East was much more of a compare-and-contrast between the music of Pink Floyd and Phish and Brunyak’s ability to masterfully weave his tone back and forth from Anastasio to Gilmour was simply astonishing.
Brunyak clearly felt more comfortable working within the confines of Anastasio’s style. While playing Gilmour licks, his eyes were trained on the fretboard as he paid close attention to the way each and every note was bent, ringed and sustained. Whereas when playing Phish riffs, he felt much more comfortable both playing and performing, hanging his head back and letting loose as he unleashed his inner Big Red.
The second set of the first night started off with a performance of “When The Tigers Broke Free,” a tune Pink Floyd never put on a studio product because the literal story of the death of vocalist/bassist Roger Waters’ father in WWII was seen by his bandmates as too autobiographical. PTF’s performance of tunes like “Tigers” showcase another strong argument in support of tribute acts: giving fans what the band they love never could. Floyd never performed “Tigers” live and for as much esteem as it holds in the lore of Phish, they’ve performed the Gamehendge suite in full less than a half dozen times, the last being over 20 years ago. For fans hoping to hear the story of Colonel Forbin’s confrontation with Wilson, the evil ruler of Gamehendge, you’re likely only going to get your fill from a group like Pink Talking Fish.
By the time PTF encored with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on Halloween, the only song outside their three-band repertoire, an audience member could be forgiven for not remembering where the music of Phish started and Pink Floyd ended. This quartet of players’ players have stumbled upon a formula that will always attract an existing audience, yet have established themselves as so much more than a tribute band. The ability PTF demonstrated over their two nights to cross-pollinate existing, iconic recordings and entirely original improvisation is what made Halloween such a gas. Sure, you were likely to know the song coming next, but did you really know what was around the corner? The only people who could answer “yes” were the guys on stage.
10/30 Audio (taped by Andy Murray via Archive.org)
Set One: Runaway Jim> Pigs On The Wing Part 1> Runaway Jim> Animals> Runaway Jim, Dogs> The Dogs> Dogs, Wild Wild Life, Guyute> Pigs (3 Different Ones)> Guyute, Sheep> Psycho Killer> Sheep> Birds Of A Feather, Pigs On The Wing Part 2
Set Two: When The Tigers Broke Free> Llama, Burning Down The House> Your Pet Cat> Burning Down The House, Dogs Of War*, Camel Walk, Swamp> Wolfmans Brother> Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict> Making Flippy Floppy**> BBFCFM> Seamus> BBFCFM, This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), Run Like An Antelope***
- *w/ Dana Colley on sax
- **w/ Rift tease
- ***w/ “Brains” theme throughout song; “Being you to have any BRAINS, man”
Notes: 1st set was a performance of the Pink Floyd album Animals w/ Talking Heads & Phish songs intertwined
Band dressed as different animals for costumes:
- Dave Brunyak – Wolfman
- Richard James – Bloody Sheep
- Eric Gould – Flying Pig
- Zack Burwick – Evil Fish in a Net
Set: Wilson Prelude* (w/ Is There Anybody Out There? and Houses In Motion)> The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday**> In The Flesh> The Lizards> Crosseyed And Painless> The Lizards, Have A Cigar> Tela> Esther Interlude> Slippery People> Wilson> Young Lust**> AC/DC Bag> Wilson> Slippery People, Colonel Forbins Ascent> Houses In Motion%> Famous Mockingbird, One Of These Days> Kung%%> One Of These Days> McGrupp Interlude> The Sloth, Life During Wartime> Possum%%
Encore: Thriller%%%, Punch You In The Eye> Shine On You Crazy Diamond$> Once In A Lifetime$
- *w/ Is There Anybody Out There and Houses In Motion vocals
- **w/ “Stand Still Laddy” vocal
- ***w/ Wilson tease and “Brains” banter
- %w/ Costume Contest and “Brains” banter
- %%w/ “Brains” banter
- %%%w/ Shwikus and Holly Bowling
- $w/ Kito Bovenschulte on egg shaker
Notes: Show was a complete performance of the Phish Rock Opera “Gamehendge” with Pink Floyd and Talking Heads songs intertwined in the middle. Band dressed up in Lizards masks