Pink Talking Fish’s boat cruise around the Boston Harbor was the perfect opportunity to rage on the dance floor while enjoying a gorgeous Sunday evening on the sunny seas. The Pink Floyd/Talking Heads/Phish Tribute Act dished out a set that offered something for everyone, and if you didn’t enjoy yourself you should see your primary care physician as soon as possible. Something is definitely wrong with you.
The pulse of the group beats from the heart of bassist Eric Gould, known to many as the former member and co-founder of Particle. While Particle had their moments, at this point, PTF have carved out a unique niche in the ever-expanding industry of musical tribute acts.
In the past, they’ve done sets featuring the performance of a full album and one of their trademarks is weaving the songs of the three different acts they perform into each other. However, on their Harbor Cruise they kept things more by the book and allowed one song to flow into the other. Early highlights were Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime,” and Pink Floyd’s “Fearless.”
Something that will seriously impress the fans of any of these acts is the ability of guitarist Dave Brunyak to alternate between the tones of Phish’s Trey Anastasio and Floyd’s David Gilmour. Anastasio’s warm, phasy tone couldn’t be farther from the distant, near-perfect echo that’s made Gilmour one of the All-Time Greats. He sounds most at home playing Phish material on his semi-hollow body Gibson, an instrument more akin to Anastasio’s custom Languedoc than Gilmour’s Fender Stratocaster.
These guys grew up going to Phish shows and that’s the material that they get their sound closest to. During tunes like “Quinn The Eskimo,” and “Bug,” if you’d closed your eyes, you could convince yourself you were at a Phish show. That said, they strayed farthest from the source material on the Talking Heads tunes. PTF did a great job playing the Talking Heads tunes and “Psycho Killer” was a highlight, but of the three bands they cover, David Byrne’s New Wave Quartet is the group they have the hardest time sounding like.
“Psycho Killer” flowed easily into Floyd’s “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” off of Animals and keyboardist Richard James nailed the pseudo keyboard/vocal solo that put the Talk Box effect on the map. They ended the set with “Eclipse,” the climactic closing track off Dark Side of The Moon, and while it may have been an obvious choice, it sure was a crowd pleaser. Sometimes the obvious choice is the right choice because it’s clearly the best way to go. This was one of those times.
Once the boat docked and everyone departed, Pink Talking Fish’s audience had a chance to take a minute to sit back, reflect on the weather, music and the poor decision not to bring sunscreen. When the sun is out and you’re on the deck of a boat, a mediocre performance would have been good enough, but there’s nothing mediocre about these cats. From the instrumental precision to the song selection and the sheer dedication to the music of Phish, Floyd and Talking Heads, what Pink Talking Fish does is extraordinary.
They may not be the best Phish tribute act in the world, or Talking Heads for that matter. As for Pink Floyd Tribute Acts, both The Machine and The Australian Pink Floyd Show have that market cornered. However, nobody is nailing all three of these catalogues and that’s territory that takes the kind of courage to pave that most tribute bands are seriously lacking. Their name is enough to get anyone to buy a ticket, but it’s their execution that makes Pink Talking Fish an act worth seeing over and over again.