Concert review: Phish at Merriweather Post Pavilion
From the start, expectations were high.
When tickets for last night's Phish show at Merriweather Post Pavilion first went on sale, fans snapped them up in minutes -- a record for the Columbia amphitheater. And all along this tour, the band has been sounding reinvigorated and delivering impressive shows.
While last night's performance had its high points, it won't go down as one of the best gigs on the tour. It was a surprisingly mellow show overall -- almost underwhelming at times.
Hours before the concert began, thousands of diehard Phish fans swarmed Merriweather Post Pavilion to set up tents and party in the parking lots.
The sweaty weather had folks swilling extra drinks to keep cool, and come 7:30 p.m., the crowd was pretty riled up and ready for the world's biggest jam band ...
Phish hit the stage at 7:40 p.m, and launched into "Crowd Control," a song from the 2004 album Undermind. Even after 20+ years of playing together and all their fame in fortune, the four guys in the group still look like lovable dorks you might bump into at a music store.
Guitarist/singer Trey Anastasio sported a shirt, jeans and surprisingly, a jacket. In that heat, I'm surprised he didn't suffocate. Bassist Mike Gordon (whose thick mop of hair is increasingly white) wore a black cutoff shirt and dark jeans, keyboardist Page McConnell wore a green shirt and pants and drummer Jon Fishman had on one of his trademark dresses (don't ask).
Both sets lasted about an hour and 20 minutes, and the encore was about 10 minutes.
The ambling first set saw the debut of a new Fishman song called "Party Time," whose only lyrics were the words "Party Time." Right before it, they flubbed the start to another Fishman song, "Ha Ha Ha," whose only lyrics were "Ha ha ha ha." Sense a pattern?
The slow-paced "Beauty of a Broken Heart," "Let Me Lie" and "Alaska" were snoozers, but a "46 Days," "Harry Hood" and a super funky "Tweezer," made up for them."Tweezer" has what is possibly my favorite Phish line: "Look who's in the freezer / Uncle Ebeneezer"
Near the end of the first set, the audience started yelling what sounded like "Bruuuuce" or "Snoooop." Turns out, it was a request for the song "Tube," which the band dutifully played.
As always, the light show was spectacular. Phish has one of the best touring lighting rigs in live music, and from the pulsing strobes to the beams of bright colors, last night's light show was just fantastic.
If you're not familiar with Phish, their music is almost as progressive as it is improvisational. No two shows are the same, which is part of the reason why they have such a huge fan base. Some of their songs change tempos on a dime, and many have complex instrumental passages.
Trey's sharp, searing guitar work was right on point -- as was Fishman's drumming and Gordon's juicy bass. Though the band sounded great, Page's keyboards were too low in the mix, and hard to hear. His solos seemed uninspired, too.
The band looked like they were having a great time, though. A couple times over the course of the night, Trey kicked up his left leg, like a Rockette in training.
The second set, which got off to a great start, started to lose momentum toward the end. But covers of The Velvet Underground's "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" and "Good Times Bad Times" from Led Zeppelin gave it a boost.
The inevitable "Tweezer Reprise" rounded out the concert, which ended just shy of 11 p.m. Was it a great show? Not quite. But it was definitely a good one.
Kill Devil Falls
Beauty Of A Broken Heart
Ha Ha Ha
Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan
Time Turns Elastic
Let Me Lie
Oh! Sweet Nuthin'
Good Times Bad Times