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The lights in the audi­torium dimmed as smoke began wafting forward from the sides of the backlit stage. The over­large (but appar­ently harmless) bearded basement-dweller to my left began to stir in antic­i­pation of the common spec­tacle: Echoes of Pink Floyd was about to perform.

I sat, shrouded in smog, in Jackson’s Michigan Theatre. Echoes of Pink Floyd, a cover band native to Michigan, was here for an annual per­for­mance: for five years now, they had paid tribute to their muse. The event, billed as “HITS CLASSICS AND RARITIES WITH LASERSHOW,” sum­moned forth the anti­quated char­acters of Pink Floyd’s heyday, as well as the younger, con­sciously backward-looking gen­er­ation of Pink Floyd’s devoted and eccentric fan base.

The seating atten­dants, hulking and middle-aged, held canned beers and dimly sur­veyed the gath­ering crowd. The scents of but­tered popcorn and stale hops became one with the smoke, rising heav­enward in a benign sac­rifice to the high gods of psy­che­delia. The interior of the theater — opti­misti­cally char­ac­terized by the pro­pri­etors as Spanish by inspi­ration — was in the process of ren­o­vation, belied by large patches of exposed plaster.

The setlist, taken pri­marily from “Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) and “The Wall” (1979), was exe­cuted with loving devotion. The lead gui­tarist was both incredibly tal­ented and remarkably small: A button-down tucked into khakis, a beard, and wailing guitar solos con­sti­tuted his stage presence. Tall and dark-haired, the band’s frontman had an odd habit of thrusting his chin up and forward, as if to assure his audience of earnest lyrical enthu­siasm. The sax­o­phonist, with the heroic self-pos­session known only to musi­cians of his species, wore plastic sun­glasses for the duration of the per­for­mance.

A fine specimen of the Pink Floyd tribe, tattoos clashing beau­ti­fully with an old cotton shirt, was seated directly to my fore. His forearms were all sharp angles and dark ink; spread across his broad back and upper arms, however, were cartoon figures in primary colors, long faded in the wash. He had been enthu­si­as­ti­cally ges­turing throughout the entire set, encour­aging the hefty backup singers when he felt it nec­essary and ceasing only to observe the lasers with an occa­sional awestruck pause and a rev­erent “Oh, shit.”

In his joy he was not alone. With the opening of “Mother,” I heard a small gasp and faint snif­fling. One of my com­panions, junior Catherine Coffey, was wiping her eyes. “It’s just such a tender song,” she sniffed. Shortly there­after, “Com­fortably Numb” began playing. Sitting next to me, sophomore Amelia Stieren leaned over con­fi­den­tially. “This song is about drugs.” A giggle.

As the three-hour set wore on, I began to notice how people responded to Pink Floyd’s music. The per­for­mance was not merely a spec­tacle, but an expe­rience — one that brought with it a wealth of past expe­rience and per­sonal meaning. An older man, quiet and still through the greater part of the tracklist, smiled and nodded at the beginning of “Wish You Were Here.” From behind us, the band’s prompting loosened cries of “HOW CAN YOU HAVE ANY PUDDING IF YOU DON’T EAT YER MEAT?”

Great bands possess some­thing more than talent, more than style. Though Echoes of Pink Floyd is an admirably com­petent cover band, the virtue of their per­for­mance lay simply in the fact that they loved Pink Floyd every bit as much as their audience.

Wish you were there.

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From Tupelo, Mississippi, she is studying politics at Hillsdale. She is the Collegian's Opinions editor. Albers has also worked as an editorial assistant and blogger for The American Conservative. She hopes, in years to come, to write wherever she may eke out a living doing so and take up residence wherever she won’t meet an untimely end. email: salbers@hillsdale.edu | twitter: @goingblondzo