, attached to 2019-08-30

Review by Bath_Tub_Bij

Bath_Tub_Bij When my best friend started getting into this band called Phish about 4 years ago, I must admit, I thought he was nuts; travelling half way around the world, sometimes twice a year, to go see the same artist perform. After spending countless hours listening to the band in his living room and hearing stories about the music, the band, all the great people he’d met and incredible experiences he’d had through this musical obsession, I decided at the 5th time of asking that I would finally make the trip with him to see a run of 3 shows at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Denver, Colorado.

There I find myself on the floor of the stadium, about 15 rows from the front surrounded by a sea of people wearing donuts. I was curious and a little worried. I knew my friend was going to ask me if I understood why he goes to so many shows and I thought I would have to smile and pretend I got it whilst secretly thinking he’s gone mad.

The band come on and it’s completely not what I expected. These 4 guys walk on a stage in front of nearly 30000 people as though they’ve just walked into a small room of friends. They start playing their music as though they’re in my living room playing just for me. They don’t even address the crowd again verbally until Trey changes the lyric to the song free to flea in reference to the local prairie dog population contracting plague in the run up to the shows. Naturally this gets a big laugh from everyone, relieved that the plague didn’t cancel the shows.

Thankfully I really didn’t have to pretend I “got” Phish because I left having been to the greatest gig I’ve experienced to date. Phish isn’t music you can fully appreciate at home. Until you’re there, in that crowd of incredibly warm and wonderful fans, immersing yourself in their increasingly long jams you can’t appreciate just how talented and in sync this band are. Each song feels like it has a hook with lyrics just so everyone in that space can acknowledge the familiarity of the situation before the band take us on a musical journey that I can only describe as having my ear lobes and brain massaged while my face melts with joy.

Sure the band make a few mistakes but these guys don’t just play a set of hits and then go home, they negotiate with each other through music in their set, so naturally there are going to be those moments. That’s part of the beauty of going to see them. It was in those moments I fully appreciated how much genius and practice it takes to be that good at improvising.

By the time the show ended last night, I felt part of the phamily. Every fan I met was so happy to welcome me into their odd but beautiful and colourful world. I never thought I’d ever want to see a band play again the following night but here I am, lying in my hotel room in downtown Denver, full to the brim with the excitement at the thought of having my face melted, musically, again. I’ll tell people if they’ve never heard of Phish want to hear them for the first time and can afford to, to get down to one of their shows. If they really must listen to them at home, to get some surround sound speakers and get hold of some live show recordings. Phish aren’t your normal recording artist rock band you can get into by hearing a hit on the radio, you have to dive in ears first into the musical madness and delight to fully understand why there are people who have seen them perform hundreds of times over their 36 year career. See you tonight for round two!


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