Phish 10.14.16

North Charleston Coliseum
North Charleston, SC

Words By Dany Connor
Photos By Bain Stewart Media

A good city creates its own vibe that permeates through everything there. Charleston is not short on “vibes” in any sense. Five years to the day since their last visit, Phish came back with a vengeance. Being a tour opener the people were just excited to get to see the boys indoors again. The party in the lot set the tone with a perfect fall evening, complete with a glowing (almost) full moon. With a brand new album, Big Boat, that fans are still working through, Phish came out smoking.

Emerging to a thunderous welcome from the crowd, the band immediately addressed the hurricane that made its way through the city just the week before. The Anastasio penned "Petrichor" reminded us that “the rain came down” over and over. This song is exciting because it takes the band back to their classical/prog rock roots. It was a huge statement, if only by the length of the song. Up next was a rare first set "Ghost." This really got everybody going. The band hit a great cohesive jam where they were all feeding off each other and no one was really standing out, leaving Trey to wrap it up with some hot solo work from his Langudoc guitar. After two songs in thirty minutes the boys let off the gas with a standard "Heavy Things." Always a fun song, Trey and Page kill the solos, and it’s a great time to hit the bathroom real quick.

Keeping with the songs from the new album, "Home" was my personal favorite. Page takes the lead vocals on this up tempo number, but the song features some impressive Beatle-esque harmonies. The back end contained some back breaking solos from Trey and Page, with Trey's guitar tone feeling like it could rip a hole in the sky. A blistering "Poor Heart" provided some bluegrass flavor to the evening, making way for a fat "Bathtub Gin."

Chris Kuroda, the light designer, did a great job mixing the brand new LED light board with the old school prism- style lighting system, keeping with the theme of old and new. The boys hit a big peak in this one and sent the crowd into a frenzy. You could feel them getting settled in. The crowd was loose and was ready for a smooth "555." Following the Gordon original was the always entertaining "Horn." Closing out the first set was yet another new song "More," which has a political vibe, especially considering the current election. We are reminded of this with the lyrics, “In a world gone mad, there must be something more to this.” This song seems like it will become a sing-a-long in time once the fans have become more familiar with the new material.

If you are familiar with Phish 3.0 you know the second set is party time, and following such a great first set the excitement was palpable. Phish did not disappoint, giving us another new song, "No Men in No Man's Land," delivering some serious southern heat. The song provides some real space for the band to explore, with a peak that feels like it’s been building since last summer. A Phish classic, "Down with Disease," knocked whatever dust was left off the rafters. With the second set off to a blazing start they took off again with a few "No Men's" teases that would continue through the night. This found its way into a dark minor key jam that felt very 70’s rock. Trey and Fishman really stood out on this song with Fishman playing harder than a cement mixer.

Sliding seamlessly like no other can, we found ourselves in the Talking Heads cover "Cities." It got real funky and anytime Trey sang “find yourself a city to live in” it was apparent there were more than a few locals with some civic pride. With Page playing some tight clav work, Trey found his way behind the drum kit to play on Fishmans’ marimba-lumina. Dance party engage. "Roggae" provided somewhat of a slowdown for the fans to catch their breath, ending with a standout peak on big reds guitar. "Twenty Years Later" took us down the rabbit hole with Trey filling the coliseum with fire breathing licks.

After a few slower selections, the boys picked it back up with "Light." Hitting another big jam it found an ending with some more “No Men's” teases infused with some island-Charleston flavor. The joint exploded out of the light jam into a solid, "Free." With the boys seamlessly sliding into the funky tune "Boogie on Reggae Woman," a guaranteed dance party every time, the place was really moving.

With the roof still on fire the band kept the foot on the gas with a great "Harry Hood." Keeping with the hurricane theme, the crowd went crazy every time they sang, “Where Do You Go When the Lights Go Out?" This ended a blistering second set. A rare three song encore followed, starting with a questionable "Winterqueen." The band more than made up for it with a longer than usual "Tube" and finished with a floor splitting "Rocky Top." With night one in the books, the boys seem very excited about the new material. This should be one heck of a fall tour, and was one heck of a tour opener!

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