Show Reviews

    Pink Talking Fish Stops Making Sense


    Pink Talking Fish Stops Making Sense
    The Capitol Theatre Port Chester NY
    February 3rd, 2017
    by Ryan O’Malley
    photo by Scott Harris

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    Full show Audio:

    Since coming onto the scene a few years ago, Pink Talking Fish can be considered a band that utilizes a theme for every show. For nearly all its shows, that theme – as the name suggests – is a hybrid of songs by Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, and Phish. The formula has proven to be well-received by its fans as the band has progressed from sold-out shows in bars and clubs, to selling out theaters and receiving top-level billing at bigger jam band festivals throughout the Northeast.

    Mixed in with its regular shows, the band has offered some unique themes such as a David Bowie theme and has delved into the Pink Floyd album ‘Animals,’ which saw the outfit perform the album in its entirety while mixing in appropriate cuts like “Llama” by Phish amongst others. This past Friday, the quartet took on arguably its greatest themed event when it unleashed a full performance of Talking Heads’ live opus Stop Making Sense, at the legendary Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York complete with a list of top-notch guest sit-ins.

    Check out Ryan’s gallery of photos here.

    Before the album recreation, special guests Reed Mathis and Electric Beethoven opened the night with an hour-long performance of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony. The four-piece lineup – Mathis on bass, Clay Welch on guitar, Todd Stoops on keys and Jay Lane on drums – is something that needs to be seen live in order to appreciate the musicianship they bring to the classical compositions. Classical music is considered one of the toughest genres of music to learn, but the way Stoops keyboards and Lane’s tight drumming give the music a funky feel and breathes new life into the nearly 400-year-old compositions. At the end of the performance, the outfit was greeted with thunderous applause from the crowd who were praising the unique journey the band provided.

    After a short break, Pink Talking Fish took the stage and busted out the rarely-played Phish fan favorite “Harpua,” which instantly had the energetic crowd dancing. Kicking off the Stop Making Sense part of the show, the quartet broke into the familiar opening of “Psycho Killer” featuring keyboardist Richard James handling the vocals. After a quick run through Pink Floyd’s “In the Flesh,” Turkuaz’s Sammi Garett came out to add some harmony to the Heads’ “Heaven” which featured PTF guitarist Dave Brunyak on lead vocals. By this point, Adrian Tramontano of Kung Fu was featured on percussion, and stuck around for the duration of the three-hour performance.

    Jonathan Braun, a multi-instrumentalist best known as the lead singer of acclaimed Talking Heads tribute act Start Making Sense, emerged in an oversized suit to handle lead vocals on the next two Stop Making Sense cuts, “Found a Job” and “Slippery People” before briefly leaving the stage while Garett was joined by her Turkuaz bandmate Shira Elias and Jen Durkin of Deep Banana Blackout for a spacey take on Floyd’s “The Great Gig in the Sky.” They remained on stage for a lively “Burning Down the House” before the the Turkuaz horn section and the legendary Leo Nocentelli were introduced with a warm welcome. As a founding member of New Orleans funk gods The Meters, Nocentelli’s guitar work has influenced decades of guitarists who came after him. In a fitting tribute to the New Orleans culture, PTF with Nocentelli and the horn section delivered a funky cover of “Gumbo” by Phish that meshed into one of The Meters’ biggest hits, “Fire on the Bayou,” which Nocentelli turned into a crowd singalong, before going back into “Gumbo.”

    The full ensemble of musicians emerged for an energetic “Life During Wartime” which showcased Braun’s spot-on impression of Talking Heads frontman David Byrne including the famed “running in place” part of the concert film, and Braun running circles around the entire stage during the ending jam. The ensemble stuck around for the chorus of Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” which showcased some fiery guitar dueling between Brunyak and Nocentelli before Nocentelli left during the beginning of the trippy “Making Flippy Floppy.”

    Later in the set, Braun handled lead vocals on Floyd’s “Have a Cigar,” which provided a unique experience of hearing him sing songs other than Talking Heads material. After a tight “What a Day it Was,” most of Electric Beethoven joined PTF for one of the best jams of the night, a funky rendition of Phish’s take on the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey, which saw Lane on percussion and Mathis providing a double low-end bass assault with PTF’s Eric Gould.

    From the video channel of Pete Russo

    Following a groove-laden “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Medley),” the horn section came back for a spirited “Once in a Lifetime” which again saw Braun perfectly recreate Byrne’s theatrics from the original movie.  A keyboard-heavy run through the Phish interpretation of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” gave way to one of the most entertaining portions of the night, a fun version of “Genius of Love.” For the PTF performance, the band was joined by Garett and Elias who took on the vocals of Tina Weymouth on the Tom Tom Club favorite. As part of the version on Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club drummer Chris Frantz added improvisational raps paying homage to James Brown amongst other banter. PTF drummer Zack Burwick did a flawless job in recreating Frantz’s parts while providing the tight groove for the band to follow.

    Braun returned for an upbeat “Girlfriend is Better” before most of the cast reprised “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II.” With the addition of Nocentelli and the horn section, the full cast ran through a tight “Take Me to the River” before ending the main set with a reprise of “Harpua.” The last song of Stop Making Sense and a song that ended many Talking Heads shows, the thumping “Crosseyed and Painless,” featured a rousing percussion showcase between Burwick and Tramontano before the Turkuaz horn section was featured leading into the final verse and chanting of “still waiting.”

    Nearly three hours after they took the stage, Pink Talking Fish and all their special guests took to the stage for a final bow with all thirteen people smiling ear to ear. They were not so much smiling as being thankful the performance was over, but they were smiling, showing that all the hard work, preparations, and rehearsals paid off. They were smiles that showed that they absolutely crushed a recreation of one of the best live performances of all time, and created what may be one of their best live performances of all time.

    From the video channel of JCSP TV

    February 3rd, 2017
    The Capitol Theatre Port Chester NY
    PTF Stops Making Sense: A Full Rendition of The Talking Heads opus Stop Making Sense with Phish & Pink Floyd songs intertwined

    Harpua >
    Psycho Killer >
    In The Flesh >
    Heaven {
    Thank You For Sending Me An Angel$ >
    Found A Job*
    Slippery People*^
    Great Gig In The Sky^% >
    Burning Down The House^%=
    Gumbo+= >
    Fire On The Bayou+= >
    Life During Wartime+++
    Another Brick In The Wall+++
    Making Flippy Floppy*^=$$ >
    Carini >
    Have A Cigar* >
    What A Day That Was*^=
    2001=++ >
    This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)*^
    Once In A Lifetime*^= >
    Genius Of Love^
    Girlfriend Is Better*^%= >
    Another Brick In The Wall Reprise*^%= >
    Take Me To The River+++ >

    E: Crosseyed and Painless+++

    { w/ Sammi Garett on vocals
    *w/ John Braun of Start Making Sense on vocals
    ^ w/ Sammi Garett & Shira Elias of Turkuaz on vocals
    %w/ Jen Durkin of Deep Banana Blackout on vocals
    = w/ The Turkuaz Horns
    + w/ Leo Nocentelli of The Meters on guitar
    ++w/ Reed Mathis, Jay Lane & Clay Welch of Electric Beethoven
    $w/ Runaway Jim tease
    $$w/ Rift tease
    +++w/ Full Ensemble
    Note: Adrian Tramontano of Kung Fu played percussion for the entire show except for Harpua, Psycho Killer, In The Flesh & Heaven

    Check out Ryan’s gallery of photos here.

    To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at

    Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.