[This post is courtesy of Jeremy Levine (@Franklin) - ed.]
Summer 2016 was a confusing time for Phish fans. After Thrilling Chilling, Miami NYE (feat. “Disease”), all of Summer 2015, Magnaball, MSG NYE (feat. “Tweezer” and “Hourglass”), the band seemed to be on a rollercoaster that only went up. But the next summer tour didn’t get off to the same strong start as we saw the previous year in Bend, and catching up to 2015’s heights seemed essentially impossible after the East Coast run wrapped up in Syracuse. 2016 certainly had its gems and generated a lot of great music, but it seemed like we had crested the peak.
And then, after a strong-but-not-legendary Dick’s run (feat. “Simple”… and I guess “Crosseyed and Painless”), the Big Boat arrived. Phish’s studio albums have never been the most exciting part of their output, but some fans saw this new record as validation of the hypothesis that 2016 Phish was a neutered Phish, dropping far below expectations.
But then we had Fall Tour 2016, a mind-boggling New Year’s Run, and an unstoppably good summer tour (feat. Baker’s Dozen). With Big Boat’s one-year anniversary this Saturday, I think it’s time to take a look at the album that showed up in the middle of this pivot — how its compositions stand up now that the hype cycle is behind us, and how its songs have weaved their way into the live format.
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