Local band puts Floyd fans in the Pink
Bringing the ‘dark side of the moon’ to the Meyer Theatre is the band, Project Pink
By Chris Rugowski
Taking the stage at the Meyer Theatre for the first time in two years, Project Pink brings their tribute to Pink Floyd, complete with lasers and smoke machines true to the 1970’s group known for its sound experimentation as well as laser light shows.
Project Pink will play hits from Pink Floyd’s 1973 album Dark Side of The Moon Friday, March 18 and then bring the 1979 album The Wall to life in its entirety on Saturday, March 19, including building up and destroying the actual wall.
The group, unlike Pink Floyd, has had the same members for the last 12 years with the exception of keyboardist Jeff Arnold being replaced by Grant Colburn. Drummer Luke Heckel said it’s still all about recreating the Floyd experience for the audience.
“Part of it is for the nostalgia,” Drummer Luke Heckel said of Project Pink. “We do a lot of work to sound as authentic as possible, and to really take people who might’ve seen Pink Floyd play live, or maybe really connect to the records and bring them back to that place.”
Singer and guitarist Chris Dame re-enforces the feeling of bringing people back to a place focused on Floyd’s music.
“You don’t have to look like them (Pink Floyd). We’re not pretending to be them,” said Dame. “We’re not putting on wigs looking like a KISS tribute. Most of the people don’t even know what Floyd looked like. That’s one of the attractions of doing a Floyd show, it’s so much based on the music, and not trying to look like any individual.”
Dame said Project Pink is a tribute band that goes to every length to make sure the experience is one the audience will never forget, and one he hopes they will want to experience year after year. He said they try play like the (Pink Floyd) albums and don’t cut corners. They want people to close their eyes and experience the album as they did when they first heard it.
As for audience members who have never seen Pink Floyd live, or listened to them, Guitarist and Singer Jason Jelinek said, “I like the gamut of the audience, men, women, age groups from 10 years old to 80 years old. Everybody’s got a memory about it, or somebody’s bringing their kids to make a memory – it’s an emotional thing for a lot of people.”
A good reminder, Jelinek said, is that music, even if it was released over 50 years ago can still be relevant and help people create new memories.
The history of the project
The members of Project Pink rehearsed for two years to prepare for the first show, which consisted of songs from the album, Dark Side of The Moon and other selected greatest hits from Pink Floyd. They said they jammed religiously for a few months, took some time off, got back at it, and then, when they finally decided to book a show they were practicing two to three times a week.
“The biggest accomplishments are when you have a 15 minute song like ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, Luke [Heckel] would time it, and if we came in at 14 minutes we played too fast,” Dame said.
“But honestly the thing that was weird about it was even though we were playing 15 minute songs it came together pretty easily,” Heckel said.
“Well I guess now we can do The Wall,” said Dame.
With Dark Side of The Moon under their belts, it took them another two years to rehearse The Wall show. They said they were doing the single show while working on The Wall and, at the same time they had to work out logistics for building the wall itself to use on stage, which also has details specific to the original Pink Floyd show.
Bringing this story full circle, the members of Project Pink met at what they called a local melting pot of musicians – Henri’s music in Green Bay. As Dame puts it, “Henri’s gave a lot of musicians a shot.”
Besides being invested in all of the time they put in, the members of Project Pink also invested a lot of their own money into this endeavor.
Armed with a 20-foot projection screen, an armada of lights, and world-class sound equipment to emulate Floyd’s sound, they said they have quadraphonics in place too, which means the sound is coming at the audience from four different directions in the theatre space. When the audience hears the airplane flying in the song ‘Goodbye Blue Sky’ it’s panning through all the speakers.
One particular challenge, the band said, was also finding a solution to the need for the circular screen (which was used in the original show.) Nobody made a circular screen at the time. Through deliberate planning and connections it said it was able to get the screen. Dame said he felt that element was important to incorporate into the show and that they offered that caliber of performance from day one.
For their first show, now 12 years ago, they said that they just hoped they would have an audience.
“We hope people show up, otherwise we’re going to lose our butts.” Pink Floyd draws a crowd, with their first show garnering an audience of 700 people. The next year the show sold out, and every year since it’s been a sold out show.
It’s become an annual thing, around the same time every year as Heckel said, “It’s not optional anymore. People talk about it like it’s ‘Project Pink’ weekend.’
Both shows are about two hours in length and will have intermissions.
Tickets are available through Ticketstar, $40 for individual performances, $70 for both Friday and Saturday shows.
Chris Rugowski is a photojournalist from Green Bay, Wisconsin. He mainly focuses on event photography, with an emphasis on bands and music. When he’s not doing live event photography, he focuses on landscapes and macro as well as writing narrative pieces to accompany photos. His work can be found here.