The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, July 30, 2019 1:00 am

Bands paying tribute

Trend on the rise as fans recall old times, classics stop touring

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

Kevin Quandt fell in love with Pink Floyd's music when he saw Rogers Waters perform 13 years ago.

“He performed 'Dark Side of the Moon'; the way he performed it and how accurate he was, I was moved,” Quandt says.

It was then he decided he needed to do some kind of tribute to the band and Pink Droyd was born.

The Fort Wayne musician is not alone. While tribute bands are nothing new, it appears they are gaining in popularity, especially in the last 10 years.

A large part of that, according to music industry experts, is because while most tribute bands love the original band, a tribute band also represents dependable income in a difficult industry. And as classic acts stop touring, tribute bands can offer people the next-best thing to seeing their favorite acts live.

I remember my first concert was Quiet Riot. That was followed by Duran Duran, who I only got to see once live because as they got bigger, the band no longer came to the venue size that was closest to my hometown. 

And while we are lucky that we still get many large acts that perform at Memorial Coliseum, Embassy Theatre and now Clyde Theatre, the truth is that many music fans must still travel quite a distance to venues in Indianapolis and Detroit to be able to see many popular acts. And of course, there's the ticket price. Some of these tours sport a healthy admission fee.

The average price for a concert ticket has slowly been on the rise since 2011, according to Statista, an online statistics and market research company. In 2011, the average price was $78. In 2017, it rose to $85.

But the concert industry in North America appears to remain healthy despite the decline of actual music sales, according to Statista. 

And surprisingly, many of the most successful music tours in 2018 included older bands, such as Journey/Def Leppard, Eagles, The Rolling Stones and Roger Waters.

Quandt, 42, says it takes a lot for a tribute band to make a name for itself. “It's a labor of love,” he says.

For Pink Droyd, the band worked at getting as many shows as they could in Fort Wayne and then started filling the schedule with dates outside the city, which required adding more people and equipment.

But over the last 12 years, the band has created a well-established show that is drawing all ages, Quandt says. “We still have younger and younger audiences come out to the shows. That sounds like something an old person would say, but the appreciation that the audiences have ... they want to see the band grow,” he says.

Pink Droyd will perform Sept. 21 at Sweetwater Sound to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pink Floyd's album “The Wall.” 

With so many tribute bands, it becomes a crowded market, Quandt says. It's also a Catch-22, he says. While seeing a tribute band offers a more cost-effective show, fans don't get that original experience because they're not seeing the actual act.

Quandt admits that Pink Droyd is not unique in what it does. There are a number of Pink Floyd tribute bands, including the national touring tribute band, Brit Floyd, which played at Foellinger Theatre on July 21.

Foellinger Theatre has been a venue for a number of tribute bands. There have been several this summer and several more to come, including Rumours – A Fleetwood Mac Experience on Aug. 3 and Billy the Kid – The Definitive Billy Joel Tribute on Aug. 10.

Mitch Sheppard, deputy director of community outreach for Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, says Foellinger books a number of tribute bands, which are different from cover bands in the way they dedicate themselves to not only re-creating the music of another band, but going as far as mimicking costumes and hairstyles of the original band.

Sheppard says while original music is wonderful, sometimes people just like to enjoy what's familiar to them. In addition, it's a much more affordable night and “a neat way to revisit your youth,” she says.

She says many people who attend the tribute band concerts will show up wearing original band concert T-shirts. “You can spot the superfans in the crowd,” Sheppard says.

Lindsey Corwin, marketing director for Clyde Theatre, says a lot of the success of tribute bands has to do with the generation. A lot of the tribute bands are contributing to that fan's generation of music.

Tribute bands don't only play music of bands no longer touring, they also keep alive the music of bands that are no longer together or have had members pass away.

Quandt says there have been a number of major artists that the music world has lost in recent years. “When one of them passes, you'll notice a large uptick of those (tribute) bands.”

An example is the Tom Petty tribute band Southern Accents, which will perform at the Clyde on Aug. 9. The group not only plays the late performer's music, but they go as far as making sure their dress matches Petty's look.

“Tribute bands get a bad rap, but once people come and experience it, it's a really good time,” Corwin says. “The artists in the bands are extremely talented musicians; they just choose to pay homage to the best legends in the music industry.”

If it's any indication of what's happening at the Clyde, people seem to be buying into the tribute band trend. Corwin says people ask for the venue to bring back tribute bands that have performed there previously.

And as long as the fans want them, “We're going to ride the wave,” Corwin says.

Now, if I can just get someone to book a Duran Duran tribute band.


Terri Richardson writes about area residents and happenings that affect their lives in this column that publishes every other week. Email her at or call 461-8304.

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