Phish Chaifetz Arena Tuesday, August 28
See Also: Slideshow: Phish at Chaifetz Arena
Jam band shows are like the female orgasm: there are multiple climaxes and riding each is a cathartic renewal, which for many translates into a full spiritual experience. For true fans of the jam scene, this is not about drugs (although don't be naive, there are more than enough of those around) or solely about the music scene.
This is a social community gathering for a spiritual experience that just happens to take place in concert venues around the country. These are not your typical fans; they are dedicated fanatics, some of whom border on obsession. They trade concert experiences like war stores, citing locations and years and recalling decades-old set lists with confidence. They thrive on live performance and crave music that forces them to lose their current setting in favor of a new world around them. Phish delivered this experience directly into the ears of fans at the Chaifetz last night.
Maybe Phish was really living up to its proclamation that the 2012 Summer Tour would be one of the band's greatest, or perhaps the show's aim was to fuel the souls of the band's maturing following. Whatever the motives for this solid show, Phish arrived prepared and hit each moment of the first set with flying colors.
Live treats and crowd pleasers saturate the first hour and a half of music. "Punch You in the Eye" smacks the crowd into the groove. The lights seem to dim as smoke plumes billow into the air. Thankfully, security doesn't seem to mind. Pot busts are the ultimate buzz kill at a show like this. It only reminds the far out crowd that some of their behavior is out of the status quo. But the venue will save those reminders for the late night dispersal into the city.
Slideshow: Phish at Chaifetz Arena
The first handful of songs are a rollercoaster. "Runaway Jim" spikes the energy with a jam in which Trey Anastasio zones out, rocking his body to and fro with a straddled stance. "Ocelot" is well performed, but possibly too down tempo for this early in the set. "Reba" picks up the crowd with fist pumps timed to a chanted chorus. Phish moves into an aquatic jam while the light show sends cascades of blue and green over the crowd to ideally fit the mood.
"I Didn't Know" stands strong as an a capella hit and tops off with Drummer Jon Fishman on the ever-famous vacuum beat box that sends chilling reverberations through the crowd.
One word describes the overall sound of this show: funky. Bassist Mike Gordon breaks it down the majority of the first set. Excitement really starts building with "Peaches En Regalia," but fully erupts in "Mound," which supplies the first spiritual jam many fans are craving. It is meditative, with a deep air and clean cut notes.
The string of songs beginning with "Sample in a Jar" through "The Sloth" and "Camel Walk" into "Possum" is an absolute pleasure. There isn't a dull moment and everyone is mobile. When a crowd hits the same level, a flow of movement overtakes the masses as if the sound waves are something physical. By "Sample in a Jar," the movement is visually obvious.
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