THINK FLOYD USA CAPTURTES ESSENCE OF PINK FLOYD
By: Parker Otto
DeKalb Northern Star
DeKALB — Pink Floyd tribute band Think Floyd USA hit downtown 8 p.m. Friday at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St., with an amazing concert featuring a mesmerizing laser light show, a set of two complete albums and an array of additional songs from Pink Floyd’s vast career.
The first half of the performance consisted of the entirety of the 1977 album “Animals,” as well as the songs “Echoes,” “Have a Cigar,” “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” and “Learning to Fly.” Playing “Animals” was a great decision because it shows both the tender side of the band with “Pigs on the Wing” parts one and two bookending this section of the concert. “Dogs,” “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” and “Sheep” also displayed harsh and meaningful compositions. The album’s themes of conformity, division of classes and hopes of overcoming oppression were beautifully showcased and proved to be the highlight of the evening.
“Echoes” was essential to Think Floyd’s performance because of its sheer magnitude. The 23-minute track contained both brilliant and challenging guitar solos as well as precise work on the keyboards that brought this legendary song to life. The amount of energy required to play “Echoes” is beyond comprehension, and Think Floyd certainly succeeded in mustering that energy. When the vocals were uttered, it gave a sense of wonder and uncertainty.
Easily the most memorable part of the first act was “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2,” in which the members of Think Floyd asked the audience to sing the main chorus with them. Hearing the theater scream, “We don’t need no education; we don’t need no thought control,” was pure delight and brought out the rocker in everyone.
The second half of the show contained the legendary “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” “Hey You,” “Fat Old Sun” and “Comfortably Numb.” It doesn’t take a musical genius to figure out “The Dark Side of the Moon” is one of the best albums ever made, but it does take a talented group of musicians to bring the album to life.
From “Time” to “Money,” every track was done justice, and the performance felt like the original Pink Floyd reincarnated. While some fans may have preferred the band play “Wish You Were Here,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” was the better choice. Both songs honor Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett, but “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” is more technically diverse with fantastic keyboards and unforgettable lyrics.
The laser light show that occurred simultaneously with the concert was the stuff of dreams and created the illusion that the audience was back in the 1970s seeing Pink Floyd in concert. There was never a dull moment in the show and the lights added to that. Sometimes they would focus on one member like Jon Buschner when he played “Pigs on the Wing” parts one and two. Other times they would create abstract imagery in order to hypnotize the audience. Whatever they did, the lights added to the experience and made an environment that was both subdued and bombastic at the same time.
The nine musicians of Think Floyd brought an energy to the concert that made the experience unlike anything seen since the original Pink Floyd toured. Brian Calhoun stepped into the shoes of Roger Waters on bass guitar and never disappointed. The bass riffs he delivered shook the floor such as the iconic opening for “Money”.
Both Jon Buschner and Eric Davies also had to live up to the reputation of the legendary musicians, filling in as David Gilmour and exceeded all expectations. The look of every guitarist on stage shows how much they give themselves to their craft, and Calhoun, Buschner and Davies are devout disciples of their stringed instruments because of the way their heads shake to their music. It’s almost like a symbiotic relationship between man and instrument.
James “Shamus” Bryers acted as the band’s handyman by playing a variety of instruments including the electronic wind instrument and synthesizers, but it was playing the saxophone that he truly shined, especially during his solo in “Money.” Kyle Stong and Keith DaProza gave their all on keyboards and drums. While they may not be in the foreground like the guitarists, their work wasn’t overlooked as Keith Daproza kept the beat and gave amazing power as part of the rhythm section. Kyle Strong delivered unbelievable music on keyboards especially with the songs “The Great Gig in the Sky” and “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”
Without a doubt, the most talented member of the group is Cheryl JenDaPro who, along with Allison Wol and Nicky Von, serve as Think Floyd’s background singers and add flair to the show. Cheryl JenDaPro’s crowning achievement was her vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky.” The amount of vocal prowess and control it takes to emulate Clare Torry’s iconic vocals is more than anyone can imagine, but despite those odds, Cheryl JenDaPro gave a hypnotizing performance and had a stage presence like no other.
The three aspects of Pink Floyd that made them so beloved were their music, ideas and stage shows. Think Floyd USA has not only delivered those virtues but has also made this music their own.
PINK FLOYD TRIBUTE, THINK FLOYD USA COMING
TO THE CAVALIER THEATER IN DOWNTOWN LaCROSSE
By: Randy Erickson
La Crosse Tribune Arts and Entertainment
This year — Aug. 5 to be exact — marks 50 years since the first album release for a British band that had its foundations in a group called Sigma 6, which morphed into the Screaming Abdabs and then Tea Set before they ended up booking a show in 1965 with another band called Tea Set and came up with a new name: the Pink Floyd Sound.
By the time the band released its debut album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” in the summer of 1967, the band was known simply as Pink Floyd. From the beginning, the band pushed rock music into new artistic territory and maintained an enigmatic aura that was so important to the band that when it released its 1973 landmark album, “Dark Side of the Moon,” the band hired someone just to say “no” to interview requests for the band.
Think Floyd USA, a nine-piece, Chicago-based band that puts on concerts celebrating the music of Pink Floyd, is not bent on being enigmatic, however, and keyboard player/band manager Kyle Stong recently talked by phone in advance of the band’s show Saturday at La Crosse’s Cavalier Theater.
Stong, a California native, could be considered something of an expert on Pink Floyd performances. He’s seen the band 14 times, with the first time coming in 1972 in Los Angeles, when Pink Floyd was working out “Dark Side of the Moon.” Stong said the band performed an early version of the album at that concert, which was even more noteworthy for the breakthough in the sound system the band used. “I think the thing that stood out was it was the first concert that was in quadrophonic sound,” he said.
In addition to working as a studio musician and touring as a fill-in keyboard player with numerous bands, Stong also got involved on the production side of rock concerts when he lived in California. In that capacity, he crossed paths with people involved in setting up Pink Floyd’s elaborate shows, who regaled him with stories about preparing for those legendary concerts.
Think Floyd USA, which boasts two lead guitar players and a trio of female backup singers, doesn’t strive for that level of spectacle in concert, but it’s well known for stellar sound (mixed by a guy who traveled the world running the board for acts including Sting and Metallica) and for its light show.
“We have a great light show, but we entertain as musicians first,” Stong said. “That makes the lighting the icing.”
In 1999, about 10 years after Stong moved to Chicago, he saw an ad in the paper for a band seeking a keyboard player who liked Pink Floyd. Stong responded to the ad and soon found himself performing with a band called Igneous Biscuit, which would do two sets, one a mix of classic rock covers by bands like Aerosmith and Black Sabbath, the other set focusing solely on Pink Floyd songs, which was a big smash.
About 14 years ago, Stong said, “we kind of made the decision — ‘We really do the Floyd well, people are liking the Floyd, why don’t we just do that?’”
That decision has paid off well for the band, which holds the distinction of being the only “cover” band to headline a mainstage on a Saturday night at Milwaukee’s Summerfest music festival.
In this 50th anniversary year, Think Floyd USA is doing songs from throughout Pink Floyd’s catalog, from “Piper” to “The Division Bell,” but don’t look for note-perfect renditions of the studio versions of songs.
“I like to call us Pink Floyd with an attitude, a rock and roll attitude,” Stong said. “Everything you expect to hear in a Pink Floyd song, you’re going to hear, but we take some liberties. We rock the hell out of them.”
“Dark Side of the Moon” is Stong’s favorite album to listen to — “It’s the ultimate headphones album, as far as I’m concerned” — but he said his favorite album to perform live is “Animals.” “It’s got a certain groove to it that’s fun to play on the keyboards,” he said.
Stong’s favorite Pink Floyd song also is the first Pink Floyd song he ever heard: “Echoes.” The 1971 song is considered the band’s ultimate stereophonic experiment (originally called “Nothing, Parts 1-24” and then “Return of the Son of Nothing” before taking on its final name).
“It’s probably my favorite song to perform live as well. We really do a kick-ass version of that song,” Stong said. “I’m biased, but I think we do it better than the original. It’s very melodic, it’s got the rock and roll jam in the middle and then it’s got the wails.”
Think Floyd USA only does about 18 shows a year, which leaves band members time for other side projects. The female singers, for example, have a group called the She Gees that performs songs by the Bee Gees, while Stong plays in an all-original alternative rock/country band called Jungle of Cities.