Phish at Chaifetz Arena, 8/28/12: Review, Photos and Setlist

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JON GITCHOFF
  • Jon Gitchoff

Phish Chaifetz Arena Tuesday, August 28

See Also: Slideshow: Phish at Chaifetz Arena

Jam band shows are like the female orgasm: there are multiple climaxes and riding each is a cathartic renewal, which for many translates into a full spiritual experience. For true fans of the jam scene, this is not about drugs (although don't be naive, there are more than enough of those around) or solely about the music scene.

This is a social community gathering for a spiritual experience that just happens to take place in concert venues around the country. These are not your typical fans; they are dedicated fanatics, some of whom border on obsession. They trade concert experiences like war stores, citing locations and years and recalling decades-old set lists with confidence. They thrive on live performance and crave music that forces them to lose their current setting in favor of a new world around them. Phish delivered this experience directly into the ears of fans at the Chaifetz last night.

Maybe Phish was really living up to its proclamation that the 2012 Summer Tour would be one of the band's greatest, or perhaps the show's aim was to fuel the souls of the band's maturing following. Whatever the motives for this solid show, Phish arrived prepared and hit each moment of the first set with flying colors.

JON GITCHOFF
  • Jon Gitchoff

Live treats and crowd pleasers saturate the first hour and a half of music. "Punch You in the Eye" smacks the crowd into the groove. The lights seem to dim as smoke plumes billow into the air. Thankfully, security doesn't seem to mind. Pot busts are the ultimate buzz kill at a show like this. It only reminds the far out crowd that some of their behavior is out of the status quo. But the venue will save those reminders for the late night dispersal into the city.

Slideshow: Phish at Chaifetz Arena

The first handful of songs are a rollercoaster. "Runaway Jim" spikes the energy with a jam in which Trey Anastasio zones out, rocking his body to and fro with a straddled stance. "Ocelot" is well performed, but possibly too down tempo for this early in the set. "Reba" picks up the crowd with fist pumps timed to a chanted chorus. Phish moves into an aquatic jam while the light show sends cascades of blue and green over the crowd to ideally fit the mood.

"I Didn't Know" stands strong as an a capella hit and tops off with Drummer Jon Fishman on the ever-famous vacuum beat box that sends chilling reverberations through the crowd.

One word describes the overall sound of this show: funky. Bassist Mike Gordon breaks it down the majority of the first set. Excitement really starts building with "Peaches En Regalia," but fully erupts in "Mound," which supplies the first spiritual jam many fans are craving. It is meditative, with a deep air and clean cut notes.

The string of songs beginning with "Sample in a Jar" through "The Sloth" and "Camel Walk" into "Possum" is an absolute pleasure. There isn't a dull moment and everyone is mobile. When a crowd hits the same level, a flow of movement overtakes the masses as if the sound waves are something physical. By "Sample in a Jar," the movement is visually obvious.

JON GITCHOFF
  • Jon Gitchoff

"Possum" is a dead-on hit. Anastasio shreds up the fret board and then uses slides in a way that has the same effect as a bass drop, causing a deep gasp of air from anyone listening. He then re-climbs the note ladder and rolls back into the lyrics to shrieks from the crowd.

By the time the first set closes with the Bob Dylan cover "Quinn the Eskimo," the crowd is sucked towards the stage. Personally, I find myself five seats away from where I started, squeezed down the aisle with the rest of the people in my row.

Set break chatter comprises a lot of, "what did you think?" Everyone here is a critic seeking a specific something to tickle their fancy. Fans locate friends who have been scattered throughout the venue. There is heavy crowd movement at a show like this. People seem to flow continuously, ending up wherever the music takes them. Six different people exchange the seat next to me in the first set alone.

JON GITCHOFF
  • Jon Gitchoff

The crowd is still feeding off the immensity of the first set as the second kicks of with "Chalk Dust Torture," featuring gorgeous movements to the seductive and colorful piece. I am obsessed with the dancers around me. There is a style of dance singular to jam band crowds. It varies greatly between dancers, but is characterized by body-bopping and loosely flailing limbs. It is entertaining to say the least, but radiates self confidence and a lack of concern with social perception.

Slideshow: Phish at Chaifetz Arena

"Frankie Says" creates yet another wave of crowd movement. It swivels like a switchback trail from one corner of the floor to the next. "Undermind" dives into a deep semi-metal jam that melts the crowd with a a couple taps of an echo pedal and heavy stroke of the guitar strings. "Walk Away" re-establishes the cohesive unity of the crowd, who varies with intoxication levels. A simple song, the James Gang cover elevates to a new level with Phish's intricate additions.

"Limb by Limb" proves that Phish is on fire tonight, and so is the crowd. Phish heads next into true psychedelica land. Quick, light, machine gun-esque bass strokes mix with floating piano riffs. Although it's a longer jam, there are lulls or obtrusive minor chord dips.

Pastel lights rapidly spin over the crowd as the band transitions into the theme from 2001:A Space Odyssey in a way that sends listeners down the rabbit hole with falling piano and deep bass that vibrates the chest. The song is a full funk jam and classic Phish boogie tune. Lights on the stage darken and turn to multi-colored dotted stars over the crowd. The show turns attention from the stage and directly to the full-out dance party currently taking place throughout Chaifetz.

"You Enjoy Myself" runs listeners through a figurative field of flowers. Lights hit in sync with the crowd's jubilation and a smile cracks across the face of Anastasio. As though by plan, the crowd tosses every glo-stick into the air at the chorus.

JON GITCHOFF
  • Jon Gitchoff

And still there is a trick up the sleeve of this band. Anastasio and Gordon begin jumping on mini trampolines while playing. Keyboardist Page McConnell carries an organ melody. The crowd is absolutely loving the showmanship.

Anastasio, a true entertainer, continues off trampoline by dancing with the same heartfelt passion as his fans while Gordon finishes off the set. Once again, the band exemplifies its fun-loving attitude. Set two wraps up with an a capella beat-boxing session closed with droning chants and angelic harmony.

Slideshow: Phish at Chaifetz Arena

With such a completely entertaining and high energy show, Phish must be worn out. The one-song encore is slightly disappointing, but attempts to cool down the crowd before sending them on their way with a gospel-like cover of the Rolling Stones' "Shine a Light."

If the stark white lights reminiscent of a God-like opening of the clouds that accompanied "You Enjoy Myself" weren't enough to get the picture across, then "Shine a Light" reinforced the spiritual nature of the show by closing it out with a good old fashioned gospel rock hymn.

JON GITCHOFF
  • Jon Gitchoff

Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: I pulled out my worn-in Berkinstocks from the bottom of my shoe collection for this show. They've seen more concerts than most of my friends have.

Random Detail: A robot man, adorned in a full tinfoil suit and tin foil covered box head, collected glo-sticks off the floor during set break.

Overheard: "I don't need drugs if the music is taking me somewhere."

Setlist: Set 1 1. Punch You in the Eye 2. Runaway Jim 3. Ocelot 4. Reba 5. I Didn't Know 6. The Curtain 7. Peaches En Reglia (Frank Zappa Cover) 8. Mound 9. Sample in a Jar 10. The Sloth 11. Camel Walk 12. Possum 13. Quinn the Eskimo (Bob Dylan Cover)

Set 2 1. Chalk Dust Torture > 2. Frankie Says > 3. Undermind > 4. Sand > 5. Walk Away (James Gang Cover) 6. Limb by LImb 7. Julius 8. 2001: A Space Odyssey 9. You Enjoy Myself

Encore Shine a Light (Rolling Stones' Cover)

Slideshow: Phish at Chaifetz Arena

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