Phish-Merriweather Post Pavilion-2018:(Its All About Perspective)
When thinking about what to write here for this Phish run, I find it can be difficult trying to cover different angles and new perspectives. Seriously, you all know the set list, you know what people have said and most of you, can just listen, or were at the show anyway. What I will try to do is just give my opinion and then perhaps delve into why I have formed that opinion and give a basic overview of the show.
Phish returned to the newly renovated Merriweather Post Pavilion this past weekend for two nights. It was good to get back into Merriweather and see what the venue looked like after the collapse. I can say it is a completely different venue. Not only can you see the lighting rig but the entire stage, as well. This is a huge transformation from the previous roof which, has now been risen at least 15 feet from where it once was, making this lawn much more enjoyable. I arrived at the venue Saturday, without a ticket but thanks to my buddy, Jason, who hooked me up, I had one within 5 minutes. I was able to catch some of the sound check outside waiting in line where the foursome noodled through, "My Soul" and experimented with some Indian Raga sounding melody; Trey sounding like he was playing a sitar at times.
After adjusting to the stage setup and finding my friends, the band opened with "Blaze On" and after that, the lull seems to begin...until a welcomed, "46 days." Really, this set is entirely forgettable and the crowd even seemed to whence every time they went into another lackadaisical version of their songs like: "Breath And Burning," "Sugar Shack" and "Joy." Even, "Stash" was lacking the energy and vibrancy, I have previously heard. I had high hopes for the second set with "Sand" sounding eerily like The Doors, "Riders On The Storm." This was a great rendition but it had no gusto and certainly nothing more was notable. "Ghost" and "Mercury" would be the highlights the second set, period. There isn't much else to say about this show besides ending on a strong note with a funky and fun, "Martian Monster," a short, "Golgi Apparatus" and a fast-paced, "Rocky Top." This show was definitely not the worst I've seen but certainly not the best. In the end it's all about perspective.
Night 2: "Well, F**k My Face!"
I was lucky enough to find a great spot on the lawn with my buddy, Alex, from 215music.net and we wore out our feet dancing on the slanted lawn all night. "Llama" would began the second night on the damp Merriweather lawn. The crowd was in an uproar, all expecting a stellar show after last night. Even, Trey, acknowledging the slowness of the previous nights show saying, "Speeding things up a little bit for you." Mikes bass playing shines during “Meat.” “Big Black Furry Creature From Mars” was exactly what I needed and is such a quirky and hard song for this band.
The rendition of “Alaska” was the best I've ever heard live and was followed by a much needed and expected, “Tweezer” both Fishman and Page utterly focused on the music. The band letting some of that liveliness out during “Bathtub Gin” and Trey was ripping out some real heavy riffs during “Chalkdust Torture.” “Chalkdust” would go into jam territory extensively, until the end of the first set. I'd say things were off to a great start, especially after the previous nights energy level. I was impressed with, Chris Kuroda, making that light rig dance; lowering it so close to the stage, it looked as though it was swallowing the band and then it would open up like a blossoming flower.
The early, "Tweezer Reprise" had me excited that Phish could do some sort of Tweezerfest: Part II and they would round into “Tweezer Reprise” again, at the end of the set (jamming it during piper, as well) but certainly no repeat of that magical night in 2014. “Twist” and “No Man In No Mans Land” both would see extensive jamming and time warping improvisation. “Piper” would continue that effervescent trend and although, there weren't many powerful moments until, “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” that got me truly excited, it was a laidback psychedelic vibe for the remainder of the evening. “Harry Hood” would see the crowd giving it their all, singing along. The encore lacked any intensity until the final reprise. All in all, a solid Phish show and possibly one of the best of the tour, so far, but I'm sure that will all change come next weekend.
Phish is an American legacy; a phenomena that only happens once a generation. As they evolve and grow older, their music becomes much more refined and methodical. When I listen back to recordings from the 90s, they are raw and full of a spirit that had something to prove. Now they have proved it and are refining it down to the minutest structures they can. Reaching perfection is impossible but endeavoring to do so, is a life's accomplishment. All of these musicians are masterful within their crafts. They are as five ships sailing in unison but each captaining their own vessel of captivating music. The American dream lives on. Don't worry if the show you see is the best or the worst, just go see live music and especially, Phish. You will find something that is truly one of a kind. Have fun at Curveball and don't get washed away!
P.S. Whatever you do, take care of your shoes.
WARNING: The views and opinions expressed on this site may not be in conjecture with your own. Be Advised
Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.