The local PBS affiliate ran their quarterly pledge drive, but instead of Irish clog dancers, it was the Floyd, man! They had Pink Floyd! The stage was a wondrous menagerie of geometric symbols, dramatic lighting and crackling lasers. They were playing “The Great Gig in the Sky” from “The Dark Side of the Moon.” Every single note was played exactly as it is on the vinyl. The camera moved from a wide shot into close-ups of the four members, from Waters to Wright to Mason to Gilmore.
Except it wasn’t them.
It was Australian Pink Floyd. A “tribute” band. A tribute band is a “cover band” on steroids. Cover bands are made up of middle-aged guys who played a little guitar in high school and now like to drink beer and re-create the music of their youth. And then, every cover band started to specialize, play the music of one band.
Mostly, it’s the Beatles. Everybody knows the tunes and the words, including their peers in the audience. So, they became a Beatles Tribute band and only sang Beatles songs. As their popularity grew, they made it a show complete with wigs and wardrobes. They gave their band Beatlesque names: “Rubber Sole”,“The Fab Four”, etc.
All of these Tribute bands use the same two advertising points. Number one is, “They sound just like the real Beatles!”
But, they don’t.
They may play Rickenbacker guitars and Ludwig drums, use Vox speakers and Marshall amps, but they sound like they’re doing an impression of somebody doing an impersonation of somebody else doing an imitation of The Beatles.
Number two is,“They look just like the real Beatles!”
But, they don’t. Wearing a wig might hide your bald head. It’s not gonna make people think you’re John Lennon.
This isn’t nostalgia. It’s being stuck in middle age, grasping for the heady feelings of youth. It’s like me typing out “The Catcher in the Rye”, then putting it in the bookstores as “A Novel by “St. Louis J.D. Salinger”, and you preferring it. It’s like dumping Julia Roberts for a Julia Roberts female impersonator. I’m forced to rely on similes, because I am stumped as to what it actually is.
We now have “Fan Halen”, “BC/DC”, “Mini Kiss”, “Iron Maidens” and, “No Way Sis” (say it fast). Those are actual tribute bands. What next? Larry Manilow?.
Here’s a free tip to the “tribute-heads”: You can listen to every single original Beatles and Pink Floyd song for free on the internet. It’s like…
Well, no similes necessary.
Craig is a professional stand-up comedian and award winning comedy writer. In a glaring example of nepotism, he is both the uncle and Godfather of Matthew