Monday, November 2, 2009

Phish Acoustic Set - Festival 8

Empire Polo Fields;
Indio California

Sunday morning was unseasonably warm with temperatures forecast to reach the nineties. Considering Festival 8 is Phish’ eighth weekend music festival, the band members felt the need to reinvent the experience with new and interesting surprises for attendees to sink their teeth into.

This was the bands first time playing a three-day fest: Three consecutive days of music where the band showcased a whopping eight sets of songs consisting of new tunes from their Joy album, old jam favorites from a library of dozens of CDs in addition to having performed their Halloween Musical Costume the night before, a Halloween prank which the band had done only four times previous (1994,1995,1996,1998). This year had them dress up as The Rolling Stones for Phish’ rendition of Exile On Main Street, an album that all four band mates can certainly relate to twenty-something years into the band's legacy. Divorce, drug use, depression, arrests, burn-out and an almost constant tour schedule have left their marks. The guys continued to tour individually during the four year hiatus Phish took from 2004-2008, a break-up ironically announced during their seventh festival in Coventry, VT which was widely known as a problematic weekend on all fronts.

The Saturday night Halloween set was still fresh on the minds of 40,000 fans that were shaking out the cob-webs and waiting in line for a free coffee and doughnut (complements of the band) or continuing with cocktails from the Bloody Mary Bar. Fans were able to mill about the concert area and check out art pieces from international artists and vendors, re-mix live Phish tunes in the House of Live Phish or participate in the finals for the Scent of a Mule national horseshoe competition. A film crew meandered the polo field with a wild looking camera that was being used to film a Phish 3-D concert film, due out next year. All of this while another Phish first was planned for Sunday afternoon: The band’s first ever full acoustic set (Bridge School Benefit on 10.18.1998 was an acoustic short-set).

Page, Jon, Trey and Mike took the sunlit stage about a half hour past their scheduled start time. They were wearing sunglasses (sans Trey who wore his regular specs) with Fishman wearing a big trucker’s hat. Trey and Mike donned acoustic guitar and bass with the Chairman of the Boards {Page} stationed behind a grand piano and Fishman on a three-piece kick drum. Uncommon to the typical Phish stage were the stools. Trey asked the crowd to be seated, saying that we were in for a mellow afternoon as they started into Water in the Sky. Mike Gordon got involved after a few Trey songs with Invisible, a song from his acoustic collaboration with Leo Kottke. Page contributed with Strange Designs and Party of One a bit later. Trey suddenly stood for a rip into Wilson , a surprise for many fans because of the songs deep bass track which Mike plucked out perfectly. Towards the second refrain Trey broke it up to announce, “You know, I have a funny story,” where he continued to tell about a stage hand that had asked him to have the crowd sit down right before the set began, but he apologized, “I’m too ADHD to stay seated this long and I never tell people what to do...” Mike stood up with his band mate and wacked a final groove spurring Trey's, "Blat, boo, a whap-pa-ba-ba-BA; OH Wilson, Can you still have any fun now Wilson...?" a perfect acoustic rendition.

While some fans started to leave the field, others chanted for more. The boys enthusiastically treated the crowd to a three-song encore consisting of a beautifully performed Driver followed by Talk and Secret Smile. As Anastasio had predicted the afternoon was rife with mellow tunes...a welcome treat sandwiched between Saturday and Sunday nights ‘off-the-hook’ and rowdy performances. You can find all of Phish' weekend performances online. Download them in MP3 form and enjoy this incredible weekend of music for years to come. Don't forget to thank the tapers who spend their shows making sure that the performance(s) live on indefinitely.

That's it from SoCoolAZ.Com and our Jam Band concert coverage. Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to leave a comment below ;)

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