Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” is considered one of the greatest rock albums ever made, and it’s album art alone is an iconic piece of pop culture. The album begins and ends with a thumping beat; it is a sonically psychedelic experience with lyrics that tackle concepts such as the meaning of time and the human experience. The album has continued to resonate with generations born long after its 1973 release, making it a quintessential listen for rock fans of all ages.
“The Dark Side of the Moon” was actually my first introduction to Pink Floyd’s music in high school, when a friend and bandmate showed me the album and explained his great conspiracy that it could sync up perfectly with Stanley Kubrick’s film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” At the time I had no clue what he was talking about, but I knew that I loved how immersive the album was, and that it had amazing bass lines and guitars that soared and screamed all over the place. Tt was an unforgettable first listen.
Since this album was near and dear to me, I was excited to trek out to Winston-Salem to the Kaleidium North’s Planetarium to a laser show centred around the album.
Upon arrival, the distinct odor of marijuana filled my section of the parking lot as teenagers and 20-somethings hung out inside of their cars waiting for the show to start. On the other side of the parking lot, near the entrance of the Kaleidium, older visitors crowded a Barbeque and Sweetwater Brewery, reminiscing on the first time they heard the album.
Once inside, the Kaleidium staff guided everyone into the planetarium. It was illuminated with a blood red glow, making the rounded-roof seem more like a sunset on Mars than the inside of a science center for children. For the most part, the crowd was rather reserved with the exception of a few excited parties that hurled expletives across the room to their friends. They additionally yelled at the staff to, “Hurry up and play some Floyd, man!”
After a while, the Program Director came down to the front of the crowd to announce that the show would last about 50 minutes and that if “you begin to experience dizziness or nausea, to just close your eyes.”
Suddenly, the red glow went away and the room became momentarily pitch black and silent. The air was filled with the thumping of a heartbeat as the words, “The Dark Side of the Moon,” gleamed brightly in a rainbow of colors on the roof of the planetarium, garnering lots of excitement amongst the crowd.
The album’s songs were played in sequential order, and had their own laser animations to accompany them. Crowd favorites included “Breathe,” “Time” and “Money,” which allowed for an impromptu sing-along, meanwhile songs including “The Great Gig in the Sky” and “Brain Damage,” were less popular among the younger crowd.
There was also chatter amongst younger and older individuals once the star map was projected behind the laser, giving the illusion that were orbiting planets and stars. This sudden transition prompted conversation between audience members seated behind me about how they were ‘tripping out,’ with one saying, “Dude, this is all I’ve lived for right here!”
The rambunctious crowd made it a little difficult to fully immerse myself in the what the show had to offer. Aside from the yelling from all sides of the room, the person who was seated behind me continuously talked or kicked the back of my chair, which was rather limiting in my ability to enjoy the show to its fullest. I also found the laser animations to be lackluster in comparison to the dynamic musicality of “The Dark Side of the Moon” and the cultural zeitgeist that it has amassed over the past 44 years.
Although some of the concepts for the animation were very unique and fit into the psychedelic themes of the album, most of them seemed like amatuer doodles with images constantly repeating; which made them lose some of their ‘wow’ factor. The laser show was also improperly formated, so only one spot of the planetarium was used, rather than the entire dome.
If you would like to experience a Pink Floyd laser show yourself, the next two will be happening at the Greensboro Science Center located at 4301 Lawndale Drive. The shows will include a showing of “The Wall” on July 28, and “The Dark Side of the Moon” yet again on Sept. 29.