The members of Phish kicked off the second leg of their Summer Tour last night at the famed Red Rocks amphitheater in Morrison, CO; playing their first show at the legendary venue in 13 years. While the show won’t be remembered as one of the best they ever played it certainly showed flashes of brilliance and set a good base for the beginning of a four night stand.
Thursday’s concert featured a number of songs that mentioned the surroundings in which the band was performing. Opening with Divided Sky – a staple of the band’s previous performances at the venue – the quartet also threw down The Wedge, Loving Cup and Possum, all with lyrics about mountains. From the moment they took the stage it was clear the band had been practicing. Sure, there was a flub here and there, but for the most part they tore through some of the more complex material.
The highlight of the first set came in the form of the exploratory jam in Stash. Bassist Mike Gordon kept pushing and prodding the improv into new, exciting territory with guitarist Trey Anastasio following Mike and inserting some smart ideas of his own into the jam. If there’s one song to check out from last night’s show, it’s Stash.
READ ON for more from Scotty on night one of Red Rocks…
An evening at the Mercury Lounge often proves a real treat. The structure of their shows almost always includes four bands with a time slot of roughly an hour per act. In essence, the evening feels exactly like your run-of-the-mill showcase night a la Arlene’s Grocery. You know, the neighborhood venue trying to reel in a few patrons without giving away drink specials by offering up the stage to wet-behind-the-ears bands playing in front of their poor friends who were given no option but to drop by dressed all biz casual.
Well, the difference with the Mercury Lounge approach is that they put on a showcase night, but comprised of generally really talented on-the-cusp bands with plenty of buzz, generally with some level of overlap in fan tendencies with the other acts on the bill. Hence, it makes for a great way for bands to win over new fans, while fans happily catch the band they came to see, but often leave holding the CD of one they never even heard of. Should one or two of the bands not hit the spot, well there’s always the bar just outside the performance room. You can pop out and pop back in for the next band an hour later. Plus, the price is right.
This past Thursday, the Merc played host to a relatively new band on my radar that is quickly becoming a favorite, Leroy Justice. Having heard from a couple friends in different places and seeing repeat rave reviews from a couple of great writers whose tastes I share, Dave Schultz at Earvolution and Dennis Cook at Jambase, I picked up their new album. The album, called the Loho Sessions just happens to be produced by a guy you might recognize; he goes by the name of Siket. The Loho Sessions has breakout written all over it and it’s a contender for the best this year. The “sounds-like exercise” always reaches for the Black Crowes and Drive-By Truckers, but that makes them sound far too categorical.
READ ON to see what Ryan thought of LJ and Cornmeal…
We’d like to welcome our longtime friend and HT commenter Andy Kahn to the site with an editorial he wrote about the overwhelming acceptance of Phish by the mainstream media over the last few months. You can read more from Andy over at Loudlooppress. Welcome to the team, Andy…
From the mid ’90s until their breakup in 2004, Phish was often mocked by the mainstream press for a variety of reasons, namely their lack of radio and commercial success, relatively weak album sales, their obsessively devoted fan base of neo-hippies who follow them around to show after show (on drugs, always on drugs). With the band’s return at Hampton this past March the common perception of the group is not so common anymore, with Phish now getting treated like any other major act in the industry.
Phish has finally stepped out of the shadow of the Grateful Dead and are getting the respect they deserve. Every article written about them does not need to include a reference to their Dead-like fanbase or similar jamcentric style. Instead, music journos from a wide spectrum of publications are acknowledging the quartet as a band that broke the mold and created their own business model that never relied on album sales and mainstream commercial success but rather focused on the live performance and free sharing of their music amongst its fans.
Showing how far ahead of the curve they were, drummer Jon Fishman – in an interview with Rolling Stone in February 2003 stated, “I could fucking care less if everybody downloads our album off the Internet. We’re not in a position to be screwed by that at all. We have the one thing the Internet can’t touch – live music. If you can actually go out and play your fucking instruments, you won’t be replaced by the Internet. If you’re a good live act and you put on a good show, people will buy a ticket to see your show.”
READ ON for more from Andy on Phish and the mainstream…
The first 7 Worlds Collide album, a collection of amazing musical talents from across the globe in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières, was a unique live performance experience, fusing the