, attached to 2016-08-28

Review by JMart

JMart I want to give props to whoever wrote the official .net review of the first night. There was some commentary about how Phish has approached festival sets that I found to be spot on. It has to be difficult for a band as huge as Phish to play a festival. There's not as much room for subtlety. You wanna keep the energy going for the nonPhan, but don't wan to alienate the heads, of whom there were clearly many.

I contemplated this a lot when I saw LCD soundsystem at a festival recently. They clearly have a shitload of hardcore fans who wouldn't mind hearing the deep cuts, but I was like, "fuck that man. This is a festival. I wanna hear the hits!"

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then all of this can be neatly summed up by a picture of Trey holding up his guitar over his head (a la 2003) while a large chunk of the kids in the front row look totally bored. I guess they can either take it as a bummer to play in front of a crowd that isn't their own or they can take it as a challenge to not have the absolute adoration and forgiveness that comes with playing in front of a bunch of phish heads every night.

So...they kinda did both. Part of me wants to say there were some pretty obvious concessions to the festival mindset. Sample, Axilla, Halley's, AC/DC, and Possum are all well known songs and have rousing choruses that can be sung loudly by the crowd. An oddly placed FYF is the sole bone thrown to the hardcores out there, and that's just as well.

The theme continued in the second set, which reads like a full on wet dream Phish hit parade. The problem with this is that, while they played a lot of well known songs, Phish forgot to do the thing that MADE those songs well known and beloved, which is, you know, play them well. What's the point of playing monster jammers like Carini and Tweezer, both of which started with a really angry, grotty Trey tone that I absolutely love, if you're going to just rip cord the shit out of them? Add to this that there were an awful lot of times when Trey (and sometimes Fish) sounded totally lost (e.g. Halley's) and disinterested (Moma, AC/DC, Hood) and I would say that you've got all the makings of a pretty crappy Phish show.

HOWEVER, that's not really what happened. There were actually a couple of really good moments in this show. Trey sounded like he actually gave a fuck for a change on 46 Days and the ending of Possum was unique and cool. Light is definitely the highlight of the show and worth listening to at your desk today. It stays rollicking and bouncy and maintained a sense of focus and energy the whole way through. Your ears will definitely take notice.

All of this hub bub about the pros and cons of Phish playing festival sets could be rendered mute if they just managed to play well. I think everyone can agree that summer 2015 (and Magnaball) was a banner year for inspired, creative playing on all fronts. Since then, the highlights have become harder and harder to find. Here's hoping they come out raging at Dicks.


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