Reflections on a first-time Phish show
On June 24 I succumbed to three years of pressure from numerous close friends to see the beloved and legendary jam outfit Phish at Blossom Music Center. In all honesty, I never held any resentment toward the band, music or fans. Yet for whatever reason, even after being raised on the Grateful Dead and a fan of festivals and modern jam groups like Lotus, The Disco Biscuits, Umphrey’s McGee and so on, I simply never got into it.
In contrast, my pals exhibit all the habits of hardcore Phish phans: Taking a week or two off work to follow the band from state to state, nerding out to the analyzation and song-by-song critique of the newest live bootlegs and setlists, collecting, trading and framing of the newest concert prints, reading Phish encyclopedias, scouring online forums, live DVDs and so on. You’ve got to admire passion.
I’ve always felt and wished to go to a Phish show, however. After all, Phish is a live group and one of those bands “you have to see live to get.” Knowing that, combined with the general friendly demeanor and community driven spirit of the fans, I new the adventure would be fun.
Well, I came, I saw and I had one of the funest times I can remember in a long time.
Hours in the parking lot pre-show with a great crew of people slipped by quickly. Shakedown Street, a strip of pop-up venders making a living while following the band, is one of the greatest people-watching locations around, and I marveled at the busyness of folks bartering, trading and selling food, tickets old Phish tapes and more. It’d be easy to feel like an outsider in this sort of atmosphere, yet not one person came across as rude or negative, rather everyone seemed to revel in sharing experiences and hold respect and appreciation for his fellow man.
Then came showtime: two sets and an encore loaded with rock and roll, funk, serious musicianship and technicality, whimsical free-spirit improvisation and a time-warping spaced-out jam or two. Meanwhile, beach balls and glowsticks (and burning plant matter) fill the sky while each concertgoer allows the next plenty of room to groove in his own special way. It was three hours of face melting without a dull moment. I easily would have enjoyed a double dose.
Not knowing more than a handful of Phish tunes, I went in with little expectations and exited feeling completely fulfilled. I doubt I’ll be following Phish anytime in the foreseable future, but you can bet I’ll be there next time they roll through town.
Setlist and some shaky video can be found below.
Set 1: Sample in a Jar, Tube, Axilla, Bathtub Gin, Roses Are Free > Limb By Limb, Free > NICU > Possum > The Wedge, Corinna, Meatstick
Set 2: Golden Age > Ghost > Sweet Virginia, Rift > Tweezer > Walk Away > The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Piper > Waste > Run Like an Antelope
Encore: Loving Cup > Tweezer Reprise