Bad economic conditions have turned this summer into one of the worst touring seasons in years. But jam forefathers Phish can still draw a crowd.
The Vermont fusionists didn’t disappoint the near-capacity audience, though their first show of a two-night stand won’t make the highlight reel either.
An amiable rendition of “Runaway Jim” kicked off the proceedings on a sweltering night. From there Phish navigated through a discography as variegated as pop music itself. The quartet of guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, keyboardist Page McConnell and drummer Jon Fishman connected on the slinky groove of “Roggae” and the carnivalistic “Cars Trucks Buses.”
Anastasio’s line from “NICU” (“Those days in my life were a haze”) elicited one of the first strong reactions of the night, perhaps as much for the oppressive humidity as other certain chemical enhancements.
Much of the set list reached into the earliest days of Phish. Only the tropical breeze of “Sugar Shack” and the rabbit hole odyssey “Time Turns Elastic” represented the group’s most recent work.
As kaleidoscopic as the first set was, the connection between band and audience wasn’t complete until the fusion funk of “Wolfman’s Brother” reached ever-charging heights. The hippie prog of “Time Turns Elastic,” while a great recording, felt more like an intermission until the group constructed spire upon spire of electric boogie on the end.
That energy continued into the second half with a mind-melting jam of The Who’s “Drowned” that dissolved into a low-rent Pink Floyd.