Words by Christopher Snyder, Photos by Ron Adelberg
“Where do you listen to Phish?” That was a question that was presented to me by a police officer outside of Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sunday night after the show. I was in total shock because I thought everyone on this planet knew about “The PHISH.” I stood there and tried not to “nerd out” and gave the officer a brief rundown of the band and how it’s more than just “another band” for fans but a tight knit community.
The sun was shining bright on Merriweather Pavilion early Sunday evening nestled in Columbia, Maryland. From the front row to the back row of the lawn, thousands of die hard fans waited anxiously to hear what the Vermonters were going to open with. A little after 7:30 PM the wait was over: “Carini.” You could see a wave of excitement across the faces as far as the eye could see, and threw the crowd into a frenzy, as Anastasio dove into the gritty opening guitar licks.
At this point you knew that on this warm early summer afternoon, we were in for a real barn burner from the legendary jam/rock foursome. With thirty six years of material under their belt, the group dug deep into their catalog, with an electric version of “Rift” drifting into one of Jon Fishman’s most popular penned tunes, “Gumbo.” Whether it was your first experience at a Phish or your hundredth, mid-way throughout the first set “the feels” were setting. This is a moment where the band and audience becomes one. A pure thing of beauty. Let’s talk about “Run Like An Antelope”: Since it’s debut way back in April 1985 in Burlington it has become a staple in the setlists. Absolute craziness ensued as drummer, Jon Fishman, graced his hi-hat cymbal with his opening notes with Trey (Anastasio) building up what put Merriweather Post Pavilion into a complete frenzy.
As fans waited in line for beers and bathrooms, there was buzz of what the band had in store for the second half of the evening. As the lights went down, the foursome dove straight into “Crosseyed & Painless.” This had room for Page McConnell to tickle the ivories side stage while Fishman led on vocals. This was a great nod to Talking Heads. You could see the glow of phones throughout the audience checking Phish.net (where you can find everything you need to know about Phish) to see how many times the song was played and what proceeded. Man! Phish fans are a passionate bunch. You knew the Vermont based group was going to leave it all on the stage tonight and this rang true with beautiful loose rendition of “Twist” that floated into the Richard Strauss penned 1896 classic “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”
In true Phish fashion, after a loud roar of applause the band reconvened for an epic 4 song encore with thousands of fans chanting “Wilson.”
With over three decades of music under their belt Phish still has plenty steam left in them when it comes to their lives performances.
MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILION
Soundcheck: The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Halfway Home, Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Winterqueen, It’s Ice, Yarmouth Road (this soundcheck is possibly incomplete)
SET 1: Carini > My Soul > Rift, Gumbo, It’s Ice > Winterqueen, Yarmouth Road, Shade, Halfway Home > The Wedge > Run Like an Antelope
SET 2: Crosseyed and Painless > Everything’s Right > Ruby Waves > Twist > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Blaze On
ENCORE: Maze, Waste > Sanity > Wilson
 Phish debut.