Phish at Dick’s
by Adam Perry for Westword 9/2/2019
Rolling Stone once called Phish “the most important band of the ’90s,” and whether or not you like its music, it’s hard not to respect what the geeky Vermont quintet accomplished during that ambitious decade, from playing beautiful, quirky fugues and often-brilliant group improvisations at sold-out hockey arenas, to covering the likes of the White Album, Quadrophenia and Remain in Light, to putting on festivals for crowds of 70,000.
Now all of Phish’s members, who met in college, are in their mid-fifties, and the group still hits musical heights on stage every night. But the ’90s era of Phish making its eccentric, classical-influenced compositions like “Divided Sky” and “You Enjoy Myself” into gorgeous arena rock and writing interesting tunes like “Guyute” and “Maze” is ancient history. For a long time now, with albums such as Joy, Fuego and Big Boat, Phish has delved into what its fans playfully call “dad rock.”
But those same fans still show up en masse to see the group, as they did over the weekend for Phish’s annual Labor Day weekend run of shows at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. “Phish Dick’s,” which the annual run is affectionately called by Phish heads, has been going on for nearly a decade, and the band most likely chooses Dick’s over Red Rocks, 1ST BANK Center and Fiddler’s Green because its cult-like fans can camp outside the 27,000-capacity venue.
Even though camping was canceled this year because of plague-infested prairie dogs, inside it was a smiley Colorado love-fest for Phish. The band is still incredibly ambitious at times, in impressive and lovable ways — from playing thirteen straight shows at Madison Square Garden a few years ago without repeating a song to writing a whole album for a fictitious Scandinavian prog-rock outfit. On Friday night at Dick’s, fans gamely waded through dad rock for intermittent peaks of marvelous guitar solos from Trey Anastasio and the group’s famously volcanic jams.
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