At this point in their career, Phish shows can be points of controversy for their fans, with some endorsing and others screaming about the demerits of a particular set. However, the one thing that Phish fans should know at this point in the Vermont jam band's 30-plus-year career is that the quartet will play whatever they want, when they want and with little concern for the reactions their choices draw.
This considered, the band's Friday night gig at the recently renovated Forum ended up being a rare happy medium–a concert that pleased both fans of Phish's uptempo rockers and spaced-out jams.
After the loose, sloppy performance Phish gave at the Hollywood Bowl last
month year, it would be easy for Southland fans to wonder if the band has seen better days. But Friday night's show demonstrated that when the band is on point, there are few other musical groups that can deliver as eclectic a variety of songs without watering down any.
Instead of the customary 25-to-30-minute jam sessions the band is known for, Phish managed to parse out a set that pleased the varying age groups represented in the crowd, playing spacey songs, funky grooves, catchy (by Phish standards) tunes and also a number of crowd pleasers. From upbeat numbers like "Down with Disease and "Bouncin' Round the Room" to groove-centric jams like "David Bowie" and "Harry Hood," the band's set included a proper balance of what their wildly diverse fan base could appreciate.
Last year, Phish released Fuego, their twelfth studio effort and their first in five years. Even though Phish has built up enough capital within their community where they could tour strictly on legacy tracks, the set was sprinkled with some of these newer songs and few ran to the beer lines when they were played.
With shows in Las Vegas lined up for Halloween that will include a slew of rarities and covers, it wasn't too much of a surprise that the band stuck to their own material. Yet, each song in true Phish fashion, sounded delightfully fresh, though nowhere near what the band was capable of at their late-'90s peak
With a tightly knit quartet such as Phish, each night comes down to the lead guitarist, in this case, Trey Anastasio. Like many great guitar players, Anastasio has such a strong influence on his band that his axemanship can make an average set great (and a great set memorable). The rest of the band are hardly slouches, either, but it is Anastasio who has the ability to propel the band into a classic set.
Thankfully, Anastasio seemed to be enjoying himself Friday night and that energy translated to his bandmates, who played flawlessly. Not only did the energy make for a set where each member had a moment to shine, but showed that Phish is far from ready to be an aging nostalgia band.
Sample In A Jar
Kill Devil Falls
Backwards Down The Number Line
Down With Disease >
Bouncing Around The Room