Written with my friend and seasoned Phish fan Pat James
Tuesday night’s Phish performance at the Mann Music Center was not only highly anticipated by the throngs of Delaware Valley Phaithful, but also viewed with cautious optimism, as an ominous forecast threatened to pour heavy rains and storms on the thousands of lawn and terrace attendees. Those present at the Mann shows a couple years ago will recall a similar event, where all those on the lawn were directed back to their vehicles until the storm had passed over. Perhaps coincidentally, the Mann Center remained out of the storm’s path, and the good times only rolled on from there. Sensing the anxiety from the unpleasant forecast, Phish provided its fans with an absolute treat in the first set, with many familiar favorites mixed in with covers, rarities and brand spanking new material.
A tight and energetic “Wilson” opened up the first set (with a brief “Character Zero” tease in the warm-up moments). Trey Anastasio seemed loose from the onset, with some nimble guitar fills during the Gamehendge classic. Next up was Son Seals cover “Funky Bitch,” which continued the great energy from the first song. This Mike Gordon-sung tune had the band in sync early and in my opinion portended well for the rest of the evening (a personal favorite). “No Men In No Man’s Land” is a funkified fan-favorite and provided the framework for the foursome’s first jam of the night. Keyboardist Page McConnell explored both his keyboard and organ set-up and Anastasio led a melodic and thoughtfully composed guitar solo. At the conclusion of this song, Trey addressed the Mann crowd and commented on how much the band enjoys playing under the impressive wood canopy (sure beats the E-Centre — and no I’m not giving credence to whatever bank has the current naming rights to the Camden amphitheater). Continue reading →
Phish at the Mann has become something of a summer tradition — the Burlington rockers played the gorgeous outdoor venue in both 2014 and 2015, and they’re set to continue the trend in 2016, having just announced two back-to-back dates on June 28th and 29th. Continue reading →
On the heels of their two night run at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin, Phish roll into Philly tonight and tomorrow night for two sold out shows at the Mann. WXPN’s Phish phanatic Brian Seltzer hosted and produced a two hour Phish special to get you warmed up for tonight and tomorrow night’s shows. Continue reading →
There is nothing more summery than a jam band. Even if you aren’t a religious follower (aka Phish fan) you can still go to a show and appreciate the freeing sensation a jam band’s music gives you. With the Phish shows just wrapping and Cheers Elephant, Umphrey’s McGee and Disco Biscuits performances in the future, we are excited to introduce you to a new jam band, Somewhere South.
Hailing from Philly, Somewhere South creates dynamic music that combines elements like horns, bass guitar, dual male and females vocals, as well as lyrics in both English and Spanish. Their self-titled EP, includes folk, funk, and even a little bit of country twang. Each track is different from the next, but maintains a melodic consistency that makes the young band’s work sound extremely mature. The first track “Alright” is one of their slower tracks, but sets the precedent for the rest of the EP. It’s instantly calming in nature, and meshes well with breezy, summer weather and attitudes. The song is all about simplicity and trying to live in the moment, as they sing “Keep it simple, keep it true, keep it simple, keep it you.”
The band has been playing all around Philly, and will play next at Ardmore Music Hall on August 2nd, which will no doubt be an incredible fun experience. Listen to their Somewhere South below.
Now another video has surfaced, this time from the Phish camp itself. Below, watch – in all its uber super quality – the entire 16 minute and 57 second version of “Chalk Dust Torture,” performed on Wednesday night.
Phish took Philly by storm (literally) this past Tuesday and Wednesday night at The Mann Center. Over the course of the two nights the band played some covers and some rarities. Below, watch them perform the Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless,” and “McGrupp & The Watchful Hosemasters” from the Wednesday night show. “McGrupp” has quite the storied past. You can the history of the song here. Read our review and check out our photos from the show here
I had heard talk about the insanity of Phish shows since I first began attending concerts. Phish had always been described to me as the best jam band experience since the Grateful Dead, and when I found out that it was going to rain on the first of two sold out Mann Center shows, I knew I was in for a truly unique and memorable first jam band experience.
Parking for the show opened at 9 AM, and by the time I arrived at the Mann, there were tailgaters as far as the eye could see, from the entrance to the picnic areas half a mile away. The night for me began as normal: file in with all the other photographers, socialize for a bit, head to the photo pit. The combination and temperature of the under-cover part of The Mann were unbearable to me, but it didn’t phase the Phish phans for one second, as they passed around and shared water entirely liberally with their fellow concert-goers. One by one as time went on, gargantuan beach balls blew up and made their way all the way down from the lawn to the pit and then back up again. After the beach balls came balloons, glow sticks, and light up balls flying all across the audience.
After about twenty minutes, a booming voice erupted over the monitors, warning terrace and lawn ticket holders that a storm involving hail, powerful gusts of wind, and frequent lightning strikes was converging on The Mann, and the voice advised the ticket holders return to their cars until further notice. However, given that they were at a Phish concert, the phans erupted in cheers at the news of bad weather, entirely ignored the voice over the monitors, and quickly returned to their jovial glow stick throwing state. About ten minutes later, the voice came on again, warning that the storm would arrive in fifteen minutes and it would take approximately that long for phans to get to their cars. Once more, no one seemed to budge. Fifteen minutes later, myself and the other photographers felt mist descending on the pit. Seconds after, we heard screams, and we turned around to find the lawn almost vacant as nearly every phan scattered to find the closest available source of cover, aside from the few ingenious souls who brought bathing suits, ponchos and towels to the gig. After about five minutes of waiting out the storm, the unthinkable happened: The Mann’s main power suddenly shut off, and fourteen thousand people who were previously very happy suddenly were not. We waited for about ten minutes with no update from Phish’s Twitter or Facebook, backup power came back on and cheers erupted from the phans under cover. After more beach ball tossing, the lawn crowd was finally cleared to return and the show got underway around 9:10 PM. After an experience like this, I realized how special the Phish experience was, especially to the phans. At any other outdoor show, fans might have been deterred by the idea of rain or worse. But the Phish phans prevailed through every single obstacle, as nothing was going to drive them away from another night with their jam band heroes.
The actual Phish experience was a similar vein of incredible; from the very first downbeat of the upbeat “Axilla”, every phan was moving and grooving, from the pit to the lawn. The members of Phish themselves weren’t entirely memorable in regard to their stage presence, but that isn’t why people go to Phish shows. Phish’s true strength lies in improvisation and hours upon hours of incessant feel-good grooves. People largely don’t attend Phish shows to idolize band members or sing along to hit choruses; they come to jam, to dance, to be with other phans, and to simply enjoy life. In this regard, Phish undoubtedly delivered, bringing over three hours of pure danceable jams to a loving audience which lapped every jam up. As I explored the crowd after my fifteen minutes in the pit, I found crowds of people mobbing the orchestra aisles dancing as if nothing in the world mattered. I climbed the stairs to the lawn and found many people dancing on the hills by themselves who claimed to have been dancing the entire night, some even before the show started. The crowd, even at the furthest point from the stage, cheered at the end of every guitar and organ solo, and the rowdiness in the pit escalated consistently from the beginning to the end of each set. Jams like the 25:58 long “Fuego” (title track of their new album) and “Walls Of The Cave” were enjoyed unanimously, and highlights for me included “555” and “Tweezer”.
I expected to have an incredible (but traditional) concert experience from seeing Phish live. Instead, I got a peek into one of the most spectacular feats of jam music I have witnessed, and into the lives of some of the most dedicated, loving fans of any band I’ve ever seen. Below the gallery, check out the set list.
Phish return to Philly tomorrow and Wednesday night for two sold-out shows at The Mann Center. We polled one of the most obsessive Phish fans we know and asked him what five songs he was hoping the band would play. Here they are: