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A Look Back: The Floyd plays Artown (photos)


It was way past my normal bedtime Saturday night (July 16) when The Floyd came back out for their encore performance of “Pigs, and Money,” after which they took a bow together before saying good night and leaving the stage. 

Their first ever outdoor show was a huge success. The 18th straight sell-out show was in the books, and this one was to a record crowd. What’s next?

The concept of this show had stirred around in show producers Dean Rossi’s and Dave Madsen’s heads for several years before they finally pulled the trigger last February. After close to six months of planning, it was show time.

When the gates opened Saturday evening the line of ticket holders stretched down the street and around the corner. It would be hard to believe that when the sun came up on Thursday morning, two days earlier, the site for this show was still an empty parking lot. 

The logistics for what would happen over the coming days took months to orchestrate. The Floyd’s long time stage manager, Frank Brock, had his hands full.

The Floyd prepared for months in advance, and set up for three days leading up to its first outdoor show as part of Artown on July 16, 2022 in Reno, Nev.

Two days until showtime

The mobile stage was towed on Thursday morning, looking like nothing more than a cargo trailer. When opened up the stage measured 48 feet by 24 feet. It was followed shortly thereafter by a generator to power the lights and sound, a 20-foot scissor lift, the lighting equipment, and the first load of the Myer Surround Sound System. 

By the end of the day the stage had been set up with all structural supports in place, most of the stage lighting was in place as were the suspended speakers for the sound system.

One day until showtime

Friday morning the balance of the sound system arrived, and so did the portable restrooms. The stage setup continued with the backline risers being built, followed by keyboard and drum set ups and sound checks for both. 

The art panels for the silent auction (which raised about $3,700 for charity) were installed. Snapping chalk lines for chair setups and a meeting of the box office team ended the day. 

Day of show

The day started at 9 a.m. with vendor tents and audience chair setups. In the late morning the stage setup continued with Vince, Lisa, Jeff and Curt arriving to set up their gear. From 2-4 p.m. there was a full band sound check to get everything dialed in, followed by DJ Mark Sexton setting up his gear. 

And don’t forget the food trucks setting up just outside the fence line. Ya gotta eat!

Finally, at 7 p.m. the gates were opened and the crowd began to shuffle in. 

This was a homecoming for the Reno-based band. It had been two years since they last played in the area, and with this being their first outdoor show there was an exciting buzz in the air. 

The anticipation was palpable. You couldn’t turn your head without seeing somebody you knew. It was like a giant house party.

The show started with “In The Flesh,” “Dogs 1,” and “Another Brick In The Wall.” Suffice it to say, they nailed it all night long. 

The new sound system, provided and operated by Derek McCreavy pumped out incredibly high quality sound that more than met the needs of the space. The quadraphonic surround sound, a rare feature in outdoor shows, added another dimension to the experience.

Dean Rossi’s new drum kit is just about the most beautiful set I’ve ever seen. With his colorful roto toms behind him, which he plays a great intro to “Time” on, it makes for an impressive circle of percussive sound.

Jeff Laasko played multiple saxophones during The Floyd’s show, along with guitar, keyboards and accordion. Image: Nick McCabe / This Is Reno

Jeff Laakso is a treasure trove of musicianship playing not only multiple saxophones, but also guitar, keyboards, and even some Floyd on accordion. Add to that his vocals and acting skills, and you have a valuable player.

Rob Lawrence is the keyboard wizard and atmospheric center of the band. Recreating the subtle sounds of Pink Floyd is a daunting task. The keyboard parts you hear up front are the easier part. It’s the background stuff and effects that can sometimes go by unnoticed. But, if they weren’t there, you would notice right away. 

Rob gets all the bird chirps, wave crashes, wind gusts and assorted sounds in there.

Curt Mitchell does a fantastic job on slide guitar, guitars and vocals. He’s managed to recreate the iconic sounds of Pink Floyd and add his own “Mitchell” flavors to the solos. He’s a great personality to have up front too.

Lisa McCuiston has many roles in The Floyd, but without a doubt her moment in the spotlight is singing the Clare Torry solo in “The Great Gig In The Sky.” 

“There are no lyrics to rhyme or memorize. It is pure emotion,”she says. 

Recreating this is not a matter of getting the right settings on your equipment. This has to come from within. When I have seen Pink Floyd play this song, the solo is broken up between three vocalists, but Lisa does it all by herself. What a pro! “The Great Gig In The Sky” is always a high point in The Floyd’s show.

Vince Gates is front and center. He does most of the singing and plays both guitars and bass guitar. Over the years he has mastered the Gilmore guitar stylings, which requires subtle understanding of how it’s done. He gets to play the tasty acoustic guitar solo at the beginning of “Wish You Were Here.” It’s supposed to represent a youngster playing along with what’s on the radio.

“This band is from Reno? They’re amazing! Why have I never heard of them?”– Anonymous Show Attendee 

 Pink Floyd set the bar high with not only their musicianship, but their lighting designs. Ed Collins, The Floyd’s lighting engineer, has met the challenge for years. This updated lighting system, with 93 moving lights, keeps the show a visual delight and makes it hard to even blink for fear you might miss something.

As I stood in the back of the venue taking in the full scope of the show it was hard to believe that these guys, The Floyd, are a local band. Their sound, their stage, their skills, their show is all worthy of national recognition.

The Floyd performed two sets lasting about three hours. That’s a lot of music, but that’s not the half of it. With setup taking three days and tear down taking two days, that’s a five day on-site presence to bring this show to Reno and a happy hometown crowd.

The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say.”– Pink Floyd

It was breathtaking.

The Floyd is:

Vincent Gates – Guitars, Bass Guitar, Vocals
Rob Lawrence – Keyboards, Vocals
Dean Rossi – Drums, Percussion
Lisa McCuiston – Guitars, Bass Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
Curt Mitchell – Guitars, Vocals
Jeff Laakso – Saxophones, Keyboards, Accordion, Percussion, Vocals

Set List:

In The Flesh / Dogs 1 / Another Brick In The Wall, Pt 1 / Happiest Days Of Our Lives / Another Brick In The Wall, Pt 2 / Another Brick In The Wall, Pt 3 / Goodbye Cruel World / Breathe / On The Run / Time-Breather Reprise / The Great Gig In The Sky / Mother / Hey You / Have A Cigar


Shine On You Crazy Diamond / Empty Spaces / Young Lust / Echoes / Us and Them / Any Cooler You Like / Brain Damage / Eclipse / Run Like Hell / Comfortably Numb


Pigs / Money

Nick McCabe
Nick McCabe
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been shooting concerts in the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing interviews on occasion. His musical education and playing experience goes back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for enjoyment. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.




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