, attached to 2016-07-22

Review by Azazello

Azazello Let me begin with a preface.

I became a fan in 1994 when I was 12. I very quickly dove way in and began trading bootlegs with people on the very young internet and obsessed over everything I could get my hands on. By the time I was 15, I had about 50 tapes or so and had listened to thousands of hours of Phish.

Every year I would beg my parents to let me go. New Year's '94 - nope. '95 - no dice. Clifford Ball? Are you kidding me? My first show was at the end of '97 and it was awesome. I loved it. During high school ('96-'00) I ended up seeing the band 12 times. But even during these years, I longed for the band I grew up loving. The one from '90-'94. I felt like I had just missed the golden age.

By the end of 2000, the music and atmosphere were completely different, and I kind of fell off the Phish wagon, catching just two shows in 2010.

Flash forward 6 years, and I'm again super into Phish. Just listening to everything (again, from '88 through '97 or so) for hours on end. I saw that Phish was coming to town and I had to go. I also wanted to bring my girlfriend. It was her first Phish show. She never really listened to them but had arrived at the unsubstantiated conclusion that she wouldn't like them. She's Mexican and she was like, that's weird white boy music. I figured if one thing can get her to appreciate them, it's seeing a live show.

We get there, and I have to say that this was by far the worst show I've ever seen, not just of Phish, but of any professional band ever. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but even so, the band was everywhere musically. They rarely, if ever, locked into a groove. I say this as a musician with 25 years of musical training. My heart sank with each subsequent botched lyric, missed chorus, and out of sync jam. I wanted to lean over and reassure her, "this is one of the greatest living guitarists, not just by my assessment as a fan, but by 'the musical establishment' at large" so at least she could be psyched about that, putting the experience into a historical context. But I didn't say anything. I could imagine her response, something like, "wow, a lot of them must have died."

She didn't give any indication that she didn't like it, but hell, *I* didn't like it, how could I expect her to? It was the most uninspired playing I'd ever witnessed. I found myself wondering how this could possibly happen. How could incredibly talented and even virtuosic professional musicians who have played together for so long play so badly? Drugs? Sickness? Absolute and total boredom? It seemed like a logical impossibility. There was no energy, no interaction with the audience, no vitality or inspiration to any of the playing. My girlfriend later told me that she felt like the entire performance was phoned in. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I couldn't have agreed more. She even said to me afterwards that she had never, not once, gone to a concert of any kind of live music where she didn't like it, where the experience of seeing the music performed live didn't make the music itself that much better. Except for this show. Dagger in the heart (but I couldn't blame her...).

This was a total bummer for me. Going to see Phish used to be like going to church. Last night was like going to an execution with an audience filled with bros who would talk and yell drunken profanity the entire time and high five each other. Oh, and I bought one of those limited edition prints because I thought it would be something really nice to have to commemorate the first show that my gf and I attended together. As I was relaxing after the encore some asshat stole it from the seat next to me. Real cool. So that was $60/ticket (wtf - I used to pay $30 to see them at Great Woods) + $34 "service charge" + $25 parking + $50 for the poster = $229. An incredibly expensive evening of music. And now my girl is turned off from Phish.

TL/DR: Music was sloppy, stale, and uninspired. Tickets were too expensive. The crowd (at least in my vicinity) was lame (and again, in my vicinity, thieves).


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