But its a little different when the band in question is Lawn Boy, a tribute to jam band heroes Phish, known for songs that blend genres with abandon and extend on and on with improvisational flair. No two shows, its said, are ever the same.
The Portland band, named for Phishs second studio album, will play its first Olympia show tonight, and like Phish itself, the key for Lawn Boy is in the improvisation.
Thats what we like about the band when they take those chances, said Rob Sipsky, the bands guitarist. Youre listening to something, and its like, That doesnt sound like the song they started with, but its still good music.
Lawn Boy aims to do the same thing.
You could play Grateful Dead songs but approach them from a Phish standpoint, and people would probably say that you were playing Phish songs they hadnt heard before, Sipsky said. Its the way they interact with each other.
We want the songs to be strong and well-played, clean with a lot of energy, and we also want to keep their intent intact which is that anything can happen.
Its very different from some of our friends who have a Journey tribute band, he added. They are phenomenal, but theres not a lot of room for improvisation.
Lawn Boy is about sounding Phishy much more than looking that way, he said, and thats right in the spirit of things.
Consider what Phish would do for a Halloween show, he said. They dont dress up for Halloween; they show up as if its any other night on tour. They do musical costume they cover an entire album that they consider to be a classic piece of music.
Examples include Pink Floyds The Dark Side of the Moon and the Beatles The White Album.
Though the guys in the band dont attempt to look like members of Phish except drummer Nick Werth does wear a muumuu the show will look familiar to phans.
The light show and the way the band sets up on stage is very recognizable, he said. The band is lined up across the stage instead of the drummer, for example, being relegated to the back. There also are bits of choreography in certain songs.
While the light show is on a smaller scale than the ones Phish is known for, he said, we do have something incredibly impressive for what is within our means.
The band was formed six months ago and is still evolving. (One thing changing is the name. Lawn Boy is easily confused with The Lawn Boys, a New York-based tribute group. No new name has been chosen.) But the quartet rounded out by bassist Brett McConnell and keyboard player Chris Phillips has already attracted critical attention.
Mike Gordons proficient bass work is a tough act to follow, but Brett McConnell (no relation to Page) ought to make his role model and phans everywhere mighty proud, Mark Stock wrote in Willamette Week.