The epic return of Phish to the city of Portland began weeks before the foursome stood before a crowd of 8,000 strong. Phish had not played Portland since the late- 1990s and tickets sold out within seconds of being officially on sale. A huge clamoring for the originally $50 tickets drove prices up exponentially. And people paid.
Fast forward to the evening of 11/29 and the atmosphere in Portland buzzed. People could be seen trying to find tickets everywhere. Luckily, my friend Alex and I had secured tickets on eBay earlier for only $75; the question was whether we’d have a good view since they were back corner seats, section GG.
It took far too long to get inside the Civic Center. After barely moving for quite some time, the push for the final ramp was a glorious feeling. Opening up more doors would have helped facilitate the process, especially for the exit procedure later. I couldn’t help but think that there had to be some safety concerns with the handling of entering and exiting; something the event coordinators should really take into consideration for the next event.
We took our seats once we finally made it in and were promptly amazed by the great view we had of the surging crowd, as well as a close proximity to the stage. Then, Phish came on.
The rest of the night was so intense that losing my voice became my end of the night goal; I hoped that when people asked me how the show was, I would be speechless.
Phish wasted no time in getting their audience moving, starting with “Possum.” They wrapped up the entire audience so much in their flowing jams that dancing was absolutely impossible to resist. The music and movement became synonymous; winding arpeggios raised the energy in the packed house to an absolutely outrageous level.
Highlights of the first set included the back to back songs “Weigh” and “When the Circus Comes,” as well as “Meat” (featuring bassist Mike Gordon as “The Artist Presently Known as Prince”). Overall, the first set was straight up fun, while the second set was non- stop energy packed shredding by all members. Highlights of the second set included an extended jam for Portland, and a groovy, triumphant rendition of “2001.” The encore included an acapella version of “Freebird” (yes, even the guitar solo) and finished with “Waste,” a perfect farewell for now to Portland. My personal favorite moment of the show was the ridiculously epic ending to “Mike’s Song” in the first set, with Tre’s guitar threatening to burst the very ceiling of the Civic Center as the band drove the adrenaline in the room to a frenzy.
Phish is by far one of the best live acts one can see right now and hopefully they will continue to tour for a long time to come. Their live legacy and music has been revitalized and carries on now, well past their heralded 90’s heyday. The sheer fun I had on the night of 11/29 was enough to make me wish 11/30 would never come.
Phish, please “come waste your time” with Maine again soon.