Part of Oct 2011 by

Tribute Bands Have the Strictest Dress Codes

My first (and last, until recently) experience with a tribute performer was at a mighty fine establishment called Nick’s Nicabob in my old hole Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The “elder shrub” would have been in office in those years and going to see an Elvis impersonator seemed like a perfectly logical bit of fun. When mashed between haystacks of cheese fries and troughs of PBR, it totally was. But ultimately it scarred me. So now decades later it’s confession-time and I need you to prime up that misty man hug buddy. For the last 25 years I have viewed all tribute bands just as four or five guys dressed as bad Elvis’ playing Nick’s Nicabob in America’s Dairyland. (I’m sure I am guilty of some sort of “ism” for that comment.) So what has changed my mind? These guys:

Last week I attended the completely sold-out Aussie Pink Floyd show at the Paramount Theater in Denver and it was nothing short of awe-inspiring. It was Pink Floyd in every way imaginable, except the players’ names and the humor thrown-in admitting that they aren’t Pink Floyd but just a tribute band. I spoke with Colin Wilson from Aussie Floyd about what they do; and after 23 years in the game of Floyd tribute, they still spend their time searching for elusive and musically ancient pieces of equipment used by Floyd, performance nuances, and anything known by the original band that can help reach that 100% mark. Which actually I think they have hit and their live show is sonically incredible with a 3D show that was IMAX worthy. If you think this is just hyperbole, check-out the reviews from their latest European tour and the US tour currently happening. If nothing else these guys have become the definitive resource for all things Pink Floyd. I doubt anyone knows more Floyd-y stuff than this band.

So, some thoughts that are in the vein of blaspheme before I pitch you another band. I heard a quote once that I think was from one of the dudes in the Eagles that basically went like this, “By the time you play your songs live 25 times you are basically just a cover band of yourself.” There are a lot of people who say that tribute bands are just in it for the money, but the legalities of an income generating tribute band have got to be reality-show worthy. So I think it’s about the music. It’s about the music without the cult of personality, which probably train-wrecked the icon band in the first place. I know you’re waiting for the blasphemous part. Here it is. Going to see a show performed by a world-class tribute band is no different than going to the symphony because last time I checked Mozart has serious pulse issues. Any current performance is an imitation of his work. Whether it is crappy or stellar, it’s up to the individual performers—and, the patrons who keep buying the tickets.

Another objection to tribute bands is that they can’t write new music. But if by some weird alignment of the planets Led Zeppelin were to write a new song now, it would suck worse than anything these guys would write. By the way, a music (snob) buddy of mine called me after this show and said, “I just saw Led Zeppelin. They were Led Zeppelin. It was amazing.

If you would like to check out some very solid Denver local tribute bands; go see:

Wish We Were Floyd:

The Spirit of Rush:



Trackbacks for this post

  1. Tribute Bands Have the Strictest Dress Codes |