Pink Talking Fish to play Belly Up Aspen over Food & Wine weekend

by Andrew Travers
Pink Talking Fish - a tribute band covering Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish - wil headline Belly Up on Sunday, June 17.
Courtesy photo


What: Pink Talking Fish

Where: Belly Up Aspen

When: Sunday, June 17, 9 p.m.

How much: $15


What do Talking Heads, Phish and Pink Floyd have in common? Not a ton at first glance. The trio of beloved bands don’t share a common geography, genre or era.

But the innovative hybrid tribute band Pink Talking Fish has found a way to make the three bands’ songs fit together in a big, bold, jam-friendly live shows.

The band headlines Belly Up on the Sunday night of Food & Wine weekend.

“They’re very different and they’re from different eras,” drummer Zack Burwick told me in a recent phone interview. “You look at the three of them and it’s like Pink Floyd is cool ice, Talking Heads is the fire and Phish is something in between. It’s a lot of fun connecting all three and seeing where it takes us.”

They find those connections in places where most of us wouldn’t have seen them. For instance, dropping Pink Floyd’s pulsing “On the Run” into the middle of Phish’s dreamy “You Enjoy Myself.” Or making long segue runs that crossfade from Talking Heads’ “Making Flippy Floppy” into Phish’s “Piper” into Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell.”

It’s a feat to behold.

The band also finds room for improvisation in their blended-up takes on these three very different bands.

“It’s a challenge but there’s a lot of creative freedom in it, surprisingly,” Burwick says.

They’ve dabbled in some of the standard cover band theatrics, like full-album tributes and deep dives. But the typical Pink Talking Fish show is an adventurous romp through music from all three bands — often blended together into single compositions. Like a jam rock version of a good DJ mash-up, they find compatibilities between songs where the average listener wouldn’t have heard any.

“Half the fun of this band is that we’re fans of the music just like the people who come and see us,” Burwick says. “If we feel like doing something special on a whim we can do that. But in general it’s just getting to mix up the catalogs of the three bands and getting to switch it up every night.”

The combination of superfandom and supreme talent has helped the band bring something completely new to the tribute act scene and the increasingly crowded realm of jam band cover acts.

“It’s fun to think about how these different decades and different genres of music can connect in a seamless manner,” says Burwick. ”It’s not just cut-and-pasted.”

The Food & Wine weekend show in Aspen is one of five stops on a Colorado tour that also includes stops in Durango, Steamboat, Boulder and Bellvue. The unique tribute band has, unsurprisingly, grown a fan base in the jam-friendly venues of the high country. Burwick, in fact, played his first show with the band in Frisco a few years ago. When their drummer went down, Pink Talking Fish founder and bassist Eric Gould called Burwick in to take his spot in Frisco. He stuck around for two Denver shows and then Gould asked him to join the band. Colorado has become a second home for the New York-based band, according to Burwick: “It’s like a distant home away from home.”