There was a planetary alignment of sorts that took place last Thursday night at the Kahilu’s Mike Luce Studio. About a year ago, Kona guitarist Dan Brauer and drummer Joe Lorusso conceptualized covering Pink Floyd’s iconic LP Dark Side of the Moon in a live concert setting. With a little planning, the musicians, the venue, and two sold-out shows lined up perfectly. You might think the success was preordained from the heavens above.
The Dark Side’s History
The Dark Side of the Moon was the 1973 masterpiece recorded by the English psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd. One reviewer aptly described the LP as a “Thematic, sonically adventurous social critique with brain-frying cover art… As long as there are potheads, water beds and freshman philosophy majors, it will continue to sell thousands of copies every month.” According to Nielsen Music, Dark Side typically sells around 200 copies on a normal day.
Like Sgt. Pepper’s,the album is filled with surreal sound effects, stereo panning, and other studio techniques that qualify it to be filed under the “Headphones Only” section of your record collection. Additionally, Pink Floyd embellished the project further by adding three female vocalists and a saxophonist. Not an easy task to recreate in concert, but Brauer pulled it off effortlessly – twice.
All That Is Now
Brauer calls his Pink Floyd tribute band All That Is Now. It’s part of a lyric found in “Eclipse,” the last song on The Dark Side of the Moon. The 11-piece ensemble features Robby Malovic (bass), Joe Lorusso (drums), Jocelyn Michelle (Hammond organ), Scott Van Spronsen (piano, synths), Scotty Nelson (piano), Lauren Broido (slide guitar), Alicia Maher (vocalist), Stephanie Lou Tatum (vocalist), Cayenne Clarke (vocalist), Duncan Bamsey (sax), and Dan Brauer (guitar/vocals). Most are from the Big Island, with the exception of Lorusso who Brauer flew in from New York.
There were numerous exceptional solos throughout the evening, and especially during the second show where the crowd was very animated. Hands down, the all-female Dark Side Choir, featuring Alicia Maher, Stephanie Lou Tatum, and Cayenne Clarke, did an amazing job with their three-part harmonies. Stephanie Lou Tatum got a standing ovation for her wordless vocal section during “The Great Gig in the Sky.”
Almost hidden behind the choir was guitarist Lauren Broido. She, too, got cheers and an ovation for her thrilling slide work and a blazing solo during “Any Colour You Like.” Sax man Duncan Bamsey was outstanding on “Us and Them” and “Money.” At one point, it sounded as if he was playing through a wah-wah pedal similar to the sound Chris Wood got on Traffic’s “Glad.”
Mike Luce Studio
Kudos to Kahilu’s Artistic Director Chuck Gessert for not only giving Brauer the green light for these shows, but for configuring the nightclub-sized Mike Luce Studio into a mini concert auditorium – albeit compact. “It’s like sitting in an airplane seat,” admitted Gessert to the 100+ Floyd fans in attendance. Gessert managed to accommodate 30 of those seats on a riser that spilled over to the Kahilu’s main stage, while the band played against the east wall of the room. There was even a projectionist, who hid behind a curtain, and played trippy time-lapse videos, bizarre clips of Trump making odd faces, and drone footage of recent lava flows. Some found room to dance in a tiny open section near the snack bar.
These two rock shows were a bit of an experiment for the Theatre. Originally the room was used exclusively for after-school aerialist practice because of its ultra-high ceilings. In 2016, some of the first shows here included Hawaii music favorites Sonny Lim and Lito Archangel. Currently the main attraction is a monthly open-mic show called Bring It.
The success of these two Thursday night rock shows bodes well for future music events. Obviously, there’s a classic rock crowd here on the island who is willing to drive great distances to see a band perform an album that just turned 45 years-old.
All That is Now will reprise their Dark Side of the Moon show at Hilo’s Palace Theatre on New Year’s Eve.
Speak to Me | Breathe (In The Air) | On The Run | Time | The Great Gig in the Sky | Money | Us and Them | Any Colour You Like | Brain Damage | Eclipse
Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and originally from San Francisco. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos/video: Steve Roby
*Sources: NY Times and UltimateClassicRock.com.
Read my interview with Dan Brauer about this show here: https://bigislandmusic.net/live-pink-floyd-tribute-concert-coming-to-the-kahilu-november-29/