Tribute bands tend to fall into one of two extremes. They are either really impressive and give you an experience reminiscent of the band they’re covering or they fall flat and just play a bunch of songs by the band to which they’re supposed to be paying tribute. Pink Talking Fish is neither of those. Playing the music of three of music’s powerhouses – Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish – is no easy task. Doing so in a manner that both pays a strong tribute to the original musicians while also creating a completely new experience is an even more daunting. Yet Pink Talking Fish does just this, with ease.
Playing to their name, Pink Talking Fish opened their first of two long sets at The Spot Underground in Providence, RI with Pink Floyd’s “Nobody Home.” They followed this up with an epic segue sandwich starting off with the Talking Heads’ “Slippery People” smoothly moving into Phish’s “Sand.” This flowed nicely into “Another Brick in the Wall” and then back to “Sand” and topping it off with a return to “Slippery People.” This pumped up the crowd who was locked and loaded for the next three hours of nearly non-stop music. The first set continued for about another hour with a nearly equal mix of music from the three bands, with highlights being “Burning Down the House,” “Carini,” and the awesome “Crosseyed and Painless” played during the pause in the middle of “Divided Sky” which closed out the set.
After a short set-break, they came back with fire. Opening the second set with “2001” followed by “Life During Wartime” – not one soul in the room was standing still. Displaying their love for these bands and knowledge of the music, Pink Talking Fish covered a song that Phish has only played once – at their recent Halloween show in Las Vegas. “The Dogs” was easily a crowd favorite of the show, surprising everyone in the house when it started up with the sounds of howling dogs. This was followed up with a dual performance of “Cities,” a Talking Heads song covered often by Phish. Initially playing it in the slow funk style of Phish, they ended it with the first verse played in the uptempo style of the Talking Heads. The set ended right at the curfew of 2:30 AM with a simply superb “Mike’s Groove,” with “Psycho Killer” in the middle, that segued into the perfect cap to a great night found in “Eclipse.” But that wasn’t the end of the show. They came back with a double encore of “Memories Can’t Wait” and “First Tube” to bring the night to a serendipitous ending.
Pink Talking Fish took what could have been a standard tribute band show and turned it into a very unique experience. They don’t simply cover the songs of these three legendary bands. They make a show out of it. They kept the audience on their toes both with the set list and with the teases of other songs throughout the improvisation. Everyone was glowing as they exited the venue.