By Michael Swanger firstname.lastname@example.org
Pink Floyd Experience keeps Floyd fans comfortably numb
It must be a daunting task attempting to impersonate or resemble rock gods, even if it seems like some acts are easier to follow.
Pink Floyd, however, is not one of them.
The influential British group was at the forefront of the 1960s psychedelic movement thanks to the vision of its mentally ill co-founder Syd Barrett. The band morphed into one of the most progressive rock bands during the 1970s under the direction of David Gilmour and Roger Waters, disbanded in 1985 upon Waters’ departure, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Over the years, Pink Floyd became famous for its high-tech live shows and sold more than 200 million albums, most notably “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Animals” and “The Wall,” which spawned FM rock radio staples like “Money,” “Comfortably Numb” and “Another Brick in the Wall.”
Like many others, Tom Quinn became a Pink Floyd fan in 1973, the year “Dark Side of the Moon” was released. A senior in high school, Quinn had just purchased his first guitar and was starting a rock band when he became mesmerized by Gilmour’s guitar playing.
“Some people are Roger Waters fans, others are David Gilmour fans. I’m a David Gilmour fan,” said Quinn, founder of the Pink Floyd Experience (PFX) from San Diego. “That album turned me on to Pink Floyd. But more importantly, Gilmour became the lens through which I perceived not only Pink Floyd’s music, but all music. He became my mentor in tone, phrasing and solos. When I was in the studio I would ask myself, ‘What would David Gilmour do?’ For years I conducted myself that way, long before I dreamed of putting together a Floyd tribute band.”
Quinn founded the PFX in 1994, and one year later took it to the stage. In 1999 and 2003, the band won several San Diego Music Awards. But in recent years, after signing a contract in 2003 with Annerin Productions, Quinn said the band “took off,” as did its lavish stage production, complete with 200,000 watts of lights, full quadraphonic sounds, elaborate video production and a solidified lineup of six musicians dedicated to preserving the experience of a Pink Floyd concert.
“No stone is left unturned in trying to present the best and most cutting-edge visual presentation we possibly can,” Quinn said. “It’s a complex show because the video and lights and music all have to be coordinated. None of these disciplines stand alone.”
Though some fans might question the validity of a tribute band, consider this: Last week the PFX played the Fillmore in San Francisco and the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, it is expected to pack Floyd fans into Hoyt Sherman Theater in Des Moines.
“There were many years we weren’t making any money and were reaching into our own pockets to be able to play this music we and other Floyd fans love,” said Quinn, 54. “It wasn’t until we signed with Annerin that things turned around for us.”
Though the PFX has no communication with the surviving members of Pink Floyd, they continue to attract their fans, both young and old.
“We expected the old hippies with receding hairlines to come to the shows. Those guys own more vinyl than they do CDs and were apparent from the beginning,” Quinn said. “But what is really surprising is the 16- and 20-year-olds coming to the shows wearing their Metallica and Nine Inch Nails T-shirts and being amazed by what they saw.”
Transcending generations of Floyd fans, Quinn added, is proof that the PFX is filling a niche left void by their heroes.
“Roger and David are not only no longer working together, they’re in their 60s and basically semi-retired,” he said. “Now that Syd and Rick (Wright) have died, there’s no chance of a reunion. So we’re filling a void for Floyd lovers who hunger for that Floyd concert experience. And we take it very seriously.” CV
Caption: The Pink Floyd Experience performs Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. at Hoyt Sherman Theater. Tickets are $30 and $35 through the box office and Ticketmaster.