Dead Floyd at Aggie Theatre, Fort Collins CO, with The Sunken Signals 4/2/2022
Dead Floyd is a band that brings you inside a kaleidoscope of innovation, sound, lights, and the unpredictability of two of the greatest rock bands in history. They have successfully combined The Grateful Dead’s and Pink Floyd’s music into one show that never repeats itself. They have never played the same set twice, and, with the body of work provided to them by their predecessors, this will continue indefinitely. Dead Floyd displays as much diversity and adventurous spirit as the songs they cover.
They are masters of surprise and musicianship and are never ones to shy away from taking this timeless classic music to a whole other level by adding their unique musical interpretation to the material. They are gifted at their respective crafts and are constantly painting new images, ideas, and questions on an open canvas with no borders or restrictions. Many people feel they are musical curators of the legacy of the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd. They carefully and respectfully deliver the music to the people with joy and fire in their hearts.
Both The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd have done their time as bands and have left us with an amazing catalog of music. Many younger people never got a chance to experience The Grateful Dead or Pink Floyd live. Thank you, Dead Floyd, for providing the opportunity for a newer generation to feel those vibes.
Dead Floyd played Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, Colorado, on April 2, with The Sunken Signals opening.
Backstage Flash had the opportunity to ask Stu Crair, the drummer of Dead Floyd, a few questions and here’s what he had to say:
Backstage Flash – How many years has Dead Floyd been together?
Stu – It will be 13 years as a band this summer. What a long strange trip it has surely been!
BSF – Has it been the same lineup for the past 13 years?
Stu – Up until now, yes, it was always the same core four guys. However, for this upcoming run we have our first lineup change with Todd Smallie (JJ Grey & Mofro, Derek Trucks Band) on bass, Laniece Schleicher (Mama Lenny & the Remedy) on vocals, and Andrew Vogt (Just Jazz) on sax. Josh (bass) moved to Florida to explore new opportunities and gave us his blessing to explore some lineup changes. We reached out to old local friends in Lenny and Andrew and then connected with Todd. The new sound is so full and layered, and rehearsals have been incredible so far. Every one of them is such a beast on their instruments, and it’s been fun to rework some of these songs in new ways.
BSF – How has this Colorado run of shows been and is the Aggie show extra special since it’s a hometown gig?
Stu – Hometown shows are always special. The crowd energy is electric, and we tend to play our best because of it. With this new lineup for this run we have some extra special tunes that we haven’t busted out in a long time plus new arrangements. This will be the fourth show of this run, so we should be really cooking together by then.
BSF – With two years of downtime in the entertainment industry, is the band bringing any new technical aspects to the show as far as lighting, gear etc.?
Stu – We are bringing in a stellar light show for this run. Jake Gibson, Lighting Director, is one of the best in the business, and we are so lucky to have worked with him for the past 13 years also. I hope people realize how hard he works behind the scenes every night. With two years of downtime for the most part, we have all been adding new gear which opens up all kinds of new sounds for the music. These tunes just sound bigger than ever, which is really fun and exciting, especially when playing in some big rooms.
BSF – With such a long hiatus from playing gigs, how are things now and has the band evolved in any way?
Stu – Since the pandemic we have only played a couple shows, so each time we can get together it makes it extra special these days, but yet we keep finding new ways to grow and evolve as a band. I think changing things and evolving is always important for any band but especially with Dead Floyd or it risks getting a little stale.
BSF – Any tour dates outside of Colorado coming up in the near future?
Stu – This is it for the year as of right now. A lot of family stuff happening in early-mid summer so we will be laying low until after that. But what is exciting for the future is that we started working with Royal Artist Group for booking management right before the pandemic shut everything down. They work with some great acts like Snarky Puppy, Ghost Note, and more. Now, later this year and beyond, we can start to really dig in with them more closely as things keep opening back up (hopefully).
The powerful prog rock quartet The Sunken Signals opened the show and got the crowd in the right vibe for the evening. The pandemic-born foursome are a tour de force of sound, combining progressive rock, funk, electronica, jazz, and hip hop. They really cover the musical palette with exploratory arrangements and technical tones. The band thrives on adventure within the music, and they take the audience along on the wild ride of divine instrumentation. They played a forty-five minute set of instrumental music that had technical arrangements and explosive energy. The rhythm section of Matt Keller on drums and Nick Simms on bass is solid as a rock. Dale Kern on guitar is a master of tone and technique; he plays complex arrangements with a rock foundation. Sid Jackson on keyboards has a firm grip on the groove and plays very creative solos. Many people were seeing the band for the first time as they are fairly new to the scene. They were super impressive and very well received by the audience. Keep your eye and ears open for much more from this extremely progressive and diverse band.
Dead Floyd was next on tap, the vibe in the packed house was electric, and the crowd went nuts when the band stepped on stage. Fort Collins came out strong as the band has not played a hometown show since before the pandemic. The crowd could not have been more ready, and the band could feel it immediately as they opened the show with “Young Lust” by Pink Floyd followed by “Sugaree.”
Charlie Humphrey‘s voice and guitar-playing filled the room with beautiful tone and clarity. The band was on fire as they launched into “Deal,” “Shine On Your Crazy Diamond,” and “China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider”. Everyone in the band had smile on their face, and the hometown crowd was a relentless energy stream bouncing around the room.
The recent addition of Todd Smallie on bass, Andrew Vogt on saxophone, and Laniece Schleicher on vocals has brought new life and excitement to the band. These three are all well established musicians with tons of musical miles and experience behind them. You can tell they are excited and are having a great time playing the timeless music of The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd. The three original members — Charlie Humphreys, Stu Crair, and Matthew Goldberg — are embracing the jump from a four-piece to a six-piece band. Adding another vocalist, horn, and Todd on bass is giving this band so much room to explore the music and improvise on the fly even more than before. The band has a fuller, richer sound, and the music is gaining new life with every note played.
I have not seen a more fired up crowd at a rock concert in quite some time. There was a lot of pent-up energy in the room when the band came out for set two. “Jack Straw” was the opening number, followed by “Breathe,” “On The Run,” and “Pigs.” Everyone was feeling this incredible gathering of vibes, and being together in the same room listening to one of their favorite bands was a welcome and wonderful experience in light of what we have all experienced for the last two years.
The music moves the band and the kids; they dance to shake their bones, and, boy, could you feel that this was special gig. “Scarlet Begonias,” Dancing In The Streets,” and many more crowd favorites filled the explosive second set. The complete set lists are included in the photo gallery. Thankfully this show was on a Saturday, and in true Grateful Dead form Dead Floyd closed out this four-night run in Colorado with “One More Saturday Night.”
Thank you… for a real good time!