Pink Talking Fish 1.17.14

Quixote's True Blue
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

It was Saturday night, and my crew headed out to Quixote's for the first time in a while. The familiar decor was a trigger, flooding my mind with swirling tidbits of hazy psychedelic memories. I'd spent many nights inside the walls of the last two Quixote's locations in various states of disrepair. Heading back into the back room, I was pleased to see a decent turnout for Pink Talking Fish.

I've seen PTF four times, including Friday night in Boulder's Fox Theater. This weekend was the first time I had seen the newest lineup. The overall concept was the same... a Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Phish cover band who mixes the material together in fun configurations. What was different was the lineup.

Friday they only played one set which was largely weaved between the album Dark Side of the Moon. With two sets each night and a two night stay at Quixote's, the band was freed up to explore some other material. First set read like a dream, beginning with "I Zimbra" and transitioning into "Punch You In the Eye" and then "Another Brick in the Wall." But that wasn't where the ceaseless music ended... Straight into "Tube> Psycho Killer> Tube" before taking a breath. The somewhat rare Floyd tune "Fearless" from the album Meddle was a pleasant surprise that added some depth to the set. When it segued into "Bathtub Gin," I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. The Talking Heads staple "What a Day that Was" stood alone before the set ending "Pigs (3 Different Ones)> Quinn the Eskimo." I felt the "Quinn" was pushing it with the Pink Talking Fish theme, but I guessed the not-so-rare Phish covers had qualified it.

Second set started into the Dark Side material, and I wondered if the show would be similar to the night before. Beside the opening "Speak to Me> Breathe," they left the DSotM material behind to touch on other works. "Possum" had some energy to it. When they dropped into "Slippery People" I was excited, but more so when they turned it into "Young Lust." I was not nearly as excited when "Lust" gave way to "Wilson." They did manage to slip "Houses in Motion" with a "Moma Dance" tease in the middle of "Wilson," which may have made it more interesting, but for the vocals. I didn't feel like anyone really did David Byrne's vocals justice. I have seen a number of bands cover the Heads, and this just didn't seem to have any effort placed on the vocal fidelity. The resolution back into "Slippery People" was smooth, but once again left me wanting stronger vocals. "Time" was on point, and "Tweezer" featured Pika's Melissa McGinley on violin for what I thought was the best part of the show. Violin added an unexpected flavor to the typical rocker. Moving from the "Tweezer" into "This Must Be the Place" the crowd was appreciative. Closing the second set with a beastly "Dogs> One of these Days> Tweeprise" punctuated the night with authority. In an unexpected move, keyboard extraordinaire Richard James started the encore alone... Floyd's "Nobody Home." The performance was jarring, beautiful, and desperately lonely. The band re-joined to play "Loving Cup" and left a tired mass heading for 13th Avenue.

As exciting as the show was, I'd be remiss if I didn't touch on the differences the lineup made. The first time I saw PTF was actually their first shows, and with the exception of Eric Gould on bass, the lineup was completely different. PTF and Particle guitarist, Ben Combe, played with an electricity, an authenticity, and a passion that really placed PTF far ahead of your average cover band. Now the electricity resides in the key playing of Richard James. While Zach and Eric were seamlessly moving between songs, the keyboards and vocals of James were focal. Dave Brunyak on guitar added the convivial vibration. With such behemoths as inspiration, Pink Talking Fish could have easily fallen short, yet has consistently delivered in every venue, lineup, or show I've seen. They've redefined the possibilities of a cover band.

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