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Friday, April 09, 2004


The Pink Floyd Australlian Show

In 1993 I was immersed in a world with borders not stretching beyond 100.3 on an FM dial. Portland's Z-100 was my only source for music and my budding CD collection reflected it. At the time I owned about 10 CDs and at least two of them were penned by Janet Jackson. Mr. Big and Bryan Adams also held prime spots on my Coca Cola CD shelf.

Then a kid named Dustin Marx made an off hand comment in algebra class about something called Dark Side of the Moon. He didn't offer any details but advised that I go looking for it in my parent's CD library. Later that night, with materials for Project REACH laid out on a dining room table, I obliged.

What the fuck was this? It was out-of-context culture shock; the music equivalent of being suddenly thrown off a sterile pink yacht into the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. Soundscapes littered with ticking clocks, elephants and British people babbling about death? For someone living on a diet of Waking Up the Neighbors it was silver bullet fired at my pop-clogged heart.

Dark Side led to Wish You Were Here and The Wall. The gateway drug that was Pink Floyd led down a winding road to the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and the Doors. In a few short months, I went from jumping up and down on my bed to "What's Going On?" to shooting up Jefferson Airplane. My new favorite word was "deep."

Others I knew had older siblings around to gently steer them from the trappings of early '90s pop slop. One kid was drinking Public Enemy at the tender age of 11. If someone had intervened earlier, I wouldn't have had to later "kill" that copy of that Celine Dion's Beauty and the Beast monstrosity in my parent's microwave.

So at 14 my greatest heart's desire was to see Pink Floyd live. This was a band that not only played music on stage but Styrofoam walls, played eerie cartoons and set adrift gigantic, inflatable pigs. Years later, I'm still waiting.


Since a reunion tour isn't likely at this point, I broke down and went to see The Pink Floyd Australian Show at the Keller last Friday. This is probably the closest I'll ever get to the band that was my ticket to the Candyland of "good" music.

What sort of crowd shows up for something like this? It should be obvious. Pot-gut, long-haul fans sipping Widmere and greasy teenagers in Atom Heart cow paraphernalia. Someone in front of me was wearing a shirt for a ZZ Top cover band. A kid to my right looked like Judd Nelson but was mysteriously dressed like Ducky from Pretty in Pink. A hefty biker chick to his left was chugging overpriced wine from a plastic cup. Prior to the lights dimming, smoke machines were going full blast, filling the auditorium with large, odorless cloud.

Musically, the band was spot on. "David Gilmour" had the same vocal stylings as his real-life counterpart. His cohort, however, sounded more like one of the Doobie Brothers than Roger Waters. The multimillion dollar light display behind them explained but didn't justify the $30 ticket price.

I guess this was a sort of "remake" of the Pulse tour. A ring of lights displayed videos as the band tore through every song on Dark Side. During "On the Run," a CGI kangaroo rode through a hallway before exploding; a hat tip to the original tour. CNN footage of George Bush and John Ashcroft during "Brain Damage" drew prerequisite heckling from the crowd.

So far, so good. Exploding kangaroos. A pretty light display. After a break, and an unpleasant encounter between two inebriated kids and a hulk-sized security guard, the band began "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." Halfway through, the biker chick placed her hands beneath her mouth and made for the bathroom. With her exit, the show took a turn for the worse. A cut off of the band's forgettable Division Bell and lackluster Final Cut followed.

After twenty minutes of endless wanking and solos, the band rewarded our patience with two cuts off The Wall. As they played "Another Brick pt 2," the light display began stacking brick behind the band. A 15-minute "Comfortably Numb" spectacle served as the encore, complete with a three ton mirror ball. One fan, the spitting image of Adam Sandler, broke out a Cigirello-sized joint.

Yes, this was all pure, self-indulgent cheese for all involved. For Floyd fans born 20 years too late though it made perfect sense, as did singing "Wish You Were Here" with 5,000 others.

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