Review: ‘Phish’

Though this Vermont-based quartet is often compared to the Grateful Dead, the main similarity between the two groups is the road-trippin' legion of fans that they share.

Though this Vermont-based quartet is often compared to the Grateful Dead, the main similarity between the two groups is the road-trippin’ legion of fans that they share.

Phish’s music is much more accomplished–similar in spirit to a good jazz-fusion outfit–while their onstage demeanor is comical, even silly.

The band’s fans, known as Phisheads, are latter-day flower children and pacifists, immensely loyal and supportive of a band that remains unknown to most.

The material on Phish’s new Elektra album, “A Picture of Nectar,” was obviously familiar to many in the audience, who sang along with the sometimes Zappa-bizarre lyrics.

The power and talent at work here were most apparent during the many instrumental pieces that were scattered throughout the 90-minute set.

Some were Dead-like, featuring free-flowing improv jamming, but most were more powerful, approaching Yes, Santana and Jeff Beck in the muscle department.

Comic relief was mostly the responsibility of drummer Jon Fishman, a fine percussionist who not only sang Neil Diamond’s classic “Cracklin’ Rosie” with a completely straight face but also showed his sound-effect-producing talent on a vacuum cleaner hose. Encore ended with a medley of barbershop quartet songs.

Phish

Variety Arts Center; 988 capacity; $14 top

Production

Promoted by Avalon. Reviewed April 15.

Cast

Band: Mike Gordon, Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman.
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