Still reeling from Camden’s throwdown as we make our way down to Asheville, the excitement for the rest of this Summer is now bubbling more vigorously than ever. With six summer shows under their belt, Phish looks to dial up the intensity and improvisation as we enter one of the most anticipated weeks of tour. From the mountains of Asheville, to the sleeper in Knoxville (tickets are now going for $12 on TicketsNow!), and from the monstrosity of Bonnaroo to the intimacy of The Fabulous Fox Theatre- this week holds countless promising moments. The venues will be diverse, including both the grandest and smallest stages of the summer, and it’s all kicking off with an indoor GA show tonight in Asheville. Having re-acclimated to the live setting, the band looks to springboard off their colossal night in Camden and continue their fireworks down south.
The band members are having a blast on stage night after night; flashing huge smiles, joking with each other and the crowd, and clearly sharing our enthusiasm for what is unfolding this summer. Trey, Page and Fish look like kids in a candy store up there, and while Mike is always more reserved, his bass has been expressing his thoughts in between subtle smiles. This positive energy and enthusiasm has permeated their music into the audience where the crowds have been spectacular. Everyone at the shows is having a blast and it seems that most people are coming for the right reasons- in celebration of Phish. Once again, we are living IT, and it feels so good to be home again.
One of the most encouraging trends on this leg has been the copious amount of new songs, virtually all with improvisational potential. Not to mention that when these pieces are compiled onto Phish’s forthcoming album, they may just comprise the most impressive studio effort of the band’s career. Each piece focusing on a different piece of Phish’s sonic repertoire, the new material spans the Phish spectrum from ballads to psychedelia to straight-ahead rock and roll. It will be interesting to watch the development of these new songs and see when they are placed as centerpiece jam vehicles in the show. Personally, I look forward to the time when Phish builds big second set versions of “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan,” the playful “Ocelot,” and “Twenty Years Later,” just to name a few. And that time could be sooner rather than later. Phish’s songwriting hasn’t been this strong since 1997 when they debuted a slew of new material that summer. And with the way things are going, I think we will continue to hear further debuts as we shift into the southern run.
With the band improving by the night, it has been like watching time-lapse photography of Phish’s re-development. Harnessing the precision and energy that put them on the map, and channeling it into a renewed improvisational spirit, the odysseys that made Phish famous are again knocking on our door again; and we’ve never had a more welcome visitor.