Think Floyd USA captures essence of Pink Floyd

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Pink Floyd tribute Think Floyd USA hit the Egyptian Theatre stage Friday.

Parker Otto

DeKALB — Pink Floyd tribute band Think Floyd USA hit downtown 8 p.m. Friday at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St., with an amazing concert featuring a mesmerizing laser light show, a set of two complete albums and an array of additional songs from Pink Floyd’s vast career.

The first half of the performance consisted of the entirety of the 1977 album “Animals,” as well as the songs “Echoes,” “Have a Cigar,” “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” and “Learning to Fly.” Playing “Animals” was a great decision because it shows both the tender side of the band with “Pigs on the Wing” parts one and two bookending this section of the concert. “Dogs,” “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” and “Sheep” also displayed harsh and meaningful compositions. The album’s themes of conformity, division of classes and hopes of overcoming oppression were beautifully showcased and proved to be the highlight of the evening.

“Echoes” was essential to Think Floyd’s performance because of its sheer magnitude. The 23-minute track contained both brilliant and challenging guitar solos as well as precise work on the keyboards that brought this legendary song to life. The amount of energy required to play “Echoes” is beyond comprehension, and Think Floyd certainly succeeded in mustering that energy. When the vocals were uttered, it gave a sense of wonder and uncertainty.

Easily the most memorable part of the first act was “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2,” in which the members of Think Floyd asked the audience to sing the main chorus with them. Hearing the theater scream, “We don’t need no education; we don’t need no thought control,” was pure delight and brought out the rocker in everyone.

The second half of the show contained the legendary “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” “Hey You,” “Fat Old Sun” and “Comfortably Numb.” It doesn’t take a musical genius to figure out “The Dark Side of the Moon” is one of the best albums ever made, but it does take a talented group of musicians to bring the album to life.

From “Time” to “Money,” every track was done justice, and the performance felt like the original Pink Floyd reincarnated. While some fans may have preferred the band play “Wish You Were Here,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” was the better choice. Both songs honor Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett, but “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” is more technically diverse with fantastic keyboards and unforgettable lyrics.

The laser light show that occurred simultaneously with the concert was the stuff of dreams and created the illusion that the audience was back in the 1970s seeing Pink Floyd in concert. There was never a dull moment in the show and the lights added to that. Sometimes they would focus on one member like Jon Buschner when he played “Pigs on the Wing” parts one and two. Other times they would create abstract imagery in order to hypnotize the audience. Whatever they did, the lights added to the experience and made an environment that was both subdued and bombastic at the same time.

The nine musicians of Think Floyd brought an energy to the concert that made the experience unlike anything seen since the original Pink Floyd toured. Brian Calhoun stepped into the shoes of Roger Waters on bass guitar and never disappointed. The bass riffs he delivered shook the floor such as the iconic opening for “Money”.

Both Jon Buschner and Eric Davies also had to live up to the reputation of the legendary musicians, filling in as David Gilmour and exceeded all expectations. The look of every guitarist on stage shows how much they give themselves to their craft, and Calhoun, Buschner and Davies are devout disciples of their stringed instruments because of the way their heads shake to their music. It’s almost like a symbiotic relationship between man and instrument.

James “Shamus” Bryers acted as the band’s handyman by playing a variety of instruments including the electronic wind instrument and synthesizers, but it was playing the saxophone that he truly shined, especially during his solo in “Money.” Kyle Strong and Keith Daproza gave their all on keyboards and drums. While they may not be in the foreground like the guitarists, their work wasn’t overlooked as Keith Daproza kept the beat and gave amazing power as part of the rhythm section. Kyle Strong delivered unbelievable music on keyboards especially with the songs “The Great Gig in the Sky” and “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”

Without a doubt, the most talented member of the group is Cheryl JenDaPro who, along with Allison Wol and Nicky Von, serve as Think Floyd’s background singers and add flair to the show. Cheryl JenDaPro’s crowning achievement was her vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky.” The amount of vocal prowess and control it takes to emulate Clare Torry’s iconic vocals is more than anyone can imagine, but despite those odds, Cheryl JenDaPro gave a hypnotizing performance and had a stage presence like no other.

The three aspects of Pink Floyd that made them so beloved were their music, ideas and stage shows. Think Floyd USA has not only delivered those virtues but has also made this music their own.