Pink Talking Fish and The Orange Constant
March 4, 2016, Smith’s Olde Bar, Atlanta, GA
written by John Mikeska
photo by Jordan August Photography
(taken at Ram’s Head in Baltimore, MD)
At the iconic Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, Pink Talking Fish took the stage for a sold-out crowd, but not before Athens’ own The Orange Constant played the opening slot. These guys are out and about the Southeast in support of their latest album Time To Go. Their individualized approach manages to cover the sonic spectrum by staying focused and song-driven. The dynamic of the band and its varied influences come together in a well-versed format; indicative of tried and true musicianship. Hailing from Statesboro and currently operating out of Athens, TOC is on the rise. We’ve compiled some material for inquiring minds:
After a raucous showing at Aura, Pink Talking Fish didn’t waste any time getting their Atlanta show started as they dropped the dance party into gear with a “Girlfriend is Better” opener. After a greazy “Sloth,” keysman Richard James put his sultry vocals on display for Pink Floyd’s straight ahead rocker “Money”. Within the improvised section of this blues-rock classic, exploratory syncopation between lead/rhythm sections featured impressive melodic sensibilities from guitarist, Dave Brunyak. His ability to navigate creatively within the chordal framework allows the jam to breathe without sacrificing depth.
“Wild Wild Life” opened up quickly and rode the waves of James’ trademark vibrato-synth all the way to the stratosphere; courtesy of drummer Zack Burwick’s rocket-engine propulsion. A lip-curling “Have a Cigar” dug deep before yielding a delightfully naïve melody, “This Must Be The Place.”
Building to the climax of the first set, an expansive “Tweezer” gave way to a focused, icy groove before moving > One Of These Days > Kung > One Of These Days and a rousing “Life During Wartime” to round out the first set.
The 2nd set opener “Punch You In The Eye” (choreographed dance sequence included) set up a sexy rendition of “Young Lust” that ventured back to the tonic key of PYITE for a cool moment of setlist creation – a hallmark of PTF’s continuos progression as a band.
After a by-the-book version of “Crosseyed and Painless”, easily one of my favorite journeys of the evening came in the form of a blissful “Piper”. Knee deep into the jam, the band turned on a dime into a bluesy key-change, a travelin’ groove, and heavy clavinet insanity from Richard James that grabbed the room by the collar before settling into the major-key bliss that rode into “Any Colour You Like > Wilson > Pigs (3 Different Ones) > What A Day That Was”.
The high energy portion of the set descended beautifully into a “Squirming Coil” fitting for the PTF archives. During the piano solo, Richard James swooned and serenaded through a soulful “Georgia On My Mind” that bowed every heartstring in the audience.
Encore: Love – Building On Fire > Suzy Greenberg > Eclipse > Tweezer Reprise
Pink. Talking. Fish. What can I really say? As a group, they defy what I thought possible for a band with a catalogue based on other artist’s material. The fact is, that’s where the comparison ends. It’s merely based on their material. From there, the tale that PTF tells takes on a narrative that is utterly unique and inspiring in-and-of-itself.
There are those who would have you believe that a glass ceiling exists above so-called “cover bands” that prevents them from ever reaching the sanctified realm reserved for the holier-than-thou bands that only cover some songs. And that might be true for 99% of cover bands out there, but there are exceptions to every rule. The simple fact is, the very nature of the music lends itself to the tribute/fusion dynamic. Even the staunchest Phanner could ride the rail with ambitions to challenge PTF’s ability to navigate through the composed material and come out satisfied.
A word to the wise, if you do this, they’ll only make you look silly. Brunyak’s been runnin’ chord charts in the green room and bandleader, Eric Gould, takes the helm before every show for a set-list read-through that expresses the drive and clarity of vision that defines this band.
Many thanks to the band for a great winter tour, we’ll be sure to catch up with them further on up the road!