By Andy J. Gordon
Phish, the ultimate jam band, swam into The “Fabulous” Forum in Los Angeles for two exciting nights, doing those much-anticipated gigs as part of their 2018 Summer tour. We rolled in on Saturday, July 28, 2018, to experience the second of the Forum shows, where the band broke out a few tour debuts, some oldies but goodies and more recent fan favorites. The packed arena was loaded with Phanatics who tossed glow sticks and volleyed balloons across the venue throughout the three-plus-hour show.
Phish opened the first set with fine versions of “Julius” and “Susie Greenberg,” both usually reserved for the end of set two. A few tour debuts followed in the opening set – “Timber Ho!,” “Soul Shakedown Party” (the Bob Marley cover, with a rare lead vocal from keyboardist Page McConnell), “Tide Turns” and “Kill Devils Falls” – and every tune had the crowd energized. Lead singer and guitarist Trey Anastasio teased the Allman Brothers Band classic “Mountain Jam” during “Timber.”
Another rare non-Trey lead vocal happened in set one as bassist Mike Gordon led the band on “555” from the band’s 2014’s album Fuego. The funky instrumental “Your Pet Cat,” from Haunted House Halloween 2014, featured a recorded female voiceover and screeching cat sounds as the band members grinned and laughed while playing. Page’s funky key line highlighted “No Men In No Man’s Land” while Trey went on a psychedelic guitar journey to close the song. Drummer Jon Fishman offered an unusual but appealing beat during the set closing “Bathtub Gin” and Trey once again built up to a frenetic peak that left the audience spent and in need of the break.
The band came out strong for set two with another tour debut, the highly danceable “Gotta Jibboo,” from the 2000 album Farmhouse. The album title track from Fuego followed and it featured the best harmonizing of the night as all the band members chimed in. “Birds of a Feather” and “Meatstick” were both fairly routine, then Fishman hilariously started “Soul Planet” with the wrong beat, stopped and corrected himself saying “I got it, I got it!” to the delight of Trey as the band flew into a lengthy, spacy head-trip jam. They took a minute to huddle up before launching into “Wingsuit,” another tour debut and showcase for the powerful drumming of Fishman.
The band went way back for “Cavern,” the second set closer from their 1992 album A Picture of Nectar. Maybe that’s why Trey forgot the lyrics and asked the crowd for help during the song? Despite the funny foul up, it was an excellent closer, with a thrilling mini drum solo by Fishman. The band took their bows and left the stage briefly. They came back for a quick, up-tempo version of “Sparkle” with the crowd enthusiastically joining the band for the “laugh and laughing, fall apart” singalong segment. That segued into an energetic, rowdy version of “Character Zero” to end the night of wild jams and much-loved tunes.
The Phish Summer 2018 tour continues with shows in Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland over the next two weeks. They play three shows (August 17-19) at The Curveball in Watkins Glen, New York. The tour concludes August 31 to September 2 with three nights in Commerce City, Colorado. Be sure to catch Phish at one or more of these shows for a unique, magical and interactive live music experience.
July 28, 2018
The Forum Inglewood, CA
Set I: Julius, Suzy Greenberg > Timber Ho!, Soul Shakedown Party, Kill Devil Falls, 555, Your Pet Cat, Tide Turns, No Men In No Man’s Land > Bathtub Gin
Set II: Gotta Jibboo > Fuego > Birds of a Feather > Meatstick > Soul Planet > Wingsuit > Cavern
Encore: Sparkle > Character Zero