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By: Emily Clingman
What do pigs, sheep and dogs, dudes in a band, and the Mishiwaka have in common—a one-time-only performance of Pink Floyd’s, Animals, by FOCO’s favorite cover band, Dead Floyd. Fans can expect to hear the album played under the stars in its entirety with DF’s signature twist, that will likely include some Grateful Dead tunes intermixed throughout the show.
The band is particularly excited about performing Animals because it will showcase how developed it has become since its inception three years ago. Considering that Dead Floyd was only supposed to play one show for fun, the band’s members find humor in how far they’ve come.
“This was all just a big mistake,” laughed drummer, Stu Crair. “The last thing I wanted to do was be in a cover band.”
The concept was so popular—curious fans lined up around the block to see the show at The Vault (R.I.P)—that DF played another show at the Aggie three months later. The rest is history.
At least they’re enjoying the ride
When we started this whole gig, we came together for a love of our two all-time favorite bands,” Said guitarist, Josh Miller, “The last thing we would want is for it to become stale and to not enjoy it. So to keep the romance alive, you cant milk it too hard.”
Crair continued, “We try not to play too much but were very lucky that when we do, we play really nice venues like the Aggie, The Fox, Cervantes, or Mishiwaka.”
DF has never played outside of Colorado, despite its popularity. Requests come in from all over the country, especially San Francisco.
“Apparently we’re really big in Alaska, too,” said Miller, who also added that even Japan, New Zealand and Australia want DF performances.
When asked why they don’t venture away from home—“We’re not really represented by management and don’t have a booking agent,” said Miller. “Plus, we’re just regular guys. We have day jobs. We do this for fun.”
DF’s members spread their talent around to other local projects as well. Crair and guitarist, Charlie Humphreys, are part of The Grippe, Crair also plays with Muskateer Gripweed and jazz on Sundays at The Crown Pub. Keyboardist, Matt Goldberg, plays with Hot Gazpacho. Miller and Humphreys do acoustic shows together.
“It’s all incestual,” laughed Crair.
Playing in the band
Just how does a Dead Floyd show work anyway?
“We usually get a set list together that has different theme variations on relative grooves, melodies, titles and word play,” Miller explained. “There are a lot of ways to makes songs flow together. Sometimes it’s nice to make an abrupt change too, form really sweet and soft to something intense and dark. There’s a lot of material to showcase from a lot of different periods from both these bands, everywhere from the 60’s to the 90’s.”
From more than 240-recorded Floyd/Dead songs to choose from, DF has covered a lot of musical ground, playing an estimated 50 shows in the past three years.
“Playing them occasionally give you a new appreciation for the songs,” Goldberg said. “When we play them ourselves, we keep it fresh.”
“I still love playing this music when I’m cleaning my house” added Miller. “I don’t want to be like, ‘Aw man, Comfortably Numb again, we played that last night!’”
Though a cover band, DF still maintains some originality.
“We play those tunes, but we don’t necessarily copy them to a tee,” said Humphreys. “I might tease with a few lines from something the crowd will recognize and then I’ll take it and do my own thing with it.”
“We are a very different from The Dead or Floyd’” he continued. “We are a four-piece band like Floyd, but when they played live they brought a lot more musicians on stage like the Dead had. We have our own sound.”
Band members joked that they actually have more of a Phish influence in the way that they jam out as a four-piece band—venturing off into mystical fits of improv that only happen onstage.
“We make it a point not to stop playing, “Goldberg said. “And that leads to awesomeness that only happens at that show.
What DF notices is that fans enjoy that that the band members really know their music.
“We know the little things that made Jerry Garcia or David Gilmour recognizable—their vocal inflections, guitar riffs…we don’t copy it, but we get the nuances unlike some other cover bands,” said Humphreys.
The band appreciates the diversity of its fans as well.
“The Dead fans are a lot more forgiving,” Humphreys continued. “They let us do whatever we want, but the Floyd fans wear their Dark Side Of The Moon tour t-shirts. They stand there for the first twenty minutes with their arms crossed and then once Josh sings a line perfectly, then they’re all into it.”
Shine on you crazy diamonds
Even though there’s no other band like Dead Floyd—in the whole world, it has no huge future plans other than rocking the Front Range.
“We have just as much fun as the people who come to the shows,” said Humphreys. “When it’s not fun anymore, we’ll be done.”
Dead Floyd will be playing at the Mishawaka, July 21, with opener, Mama Lenny and The Remedy. Proceeds from the show will benefit animal victims of this summer’s High Park Fire.