Phish embarks on their 2016 summer tour tomorrow when they take the stage at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota for their first show of the year on American soil since January 2. Phans across the country will rejoice as the Vermont quartet plays a series of shows at some of their most beloved venues, including the Gorge, the Mann, SPAC, Bill Graham and Dick’s; as well as making some notable debuts at Wrigley Field and the Lockn’ Music and Arts Festival.
As if the type II jams and deep collective musical voyages aren’t enough, there’s tons of fun stuff to check out beyond when Phish is on stage. In Chicago, Galerie F will be showcasing Jim Pollock’s art – including never before seen sketches, posters and other original pieces. Similarly, Masthay Studios will open their doors in Hartford prior to the Phish show to show fans where the magic happens.
There will be a series of strong after parties including Pink Talking Phish at the Mezzanine in San Francisco, Assembly of Dust at Martyr’s in Chicago, Jazz Is Phish at the House of Blues Chicago, and an abundance of musical happenings at Nanola Malta, just 10 minutes from SPAC, including pre-show festivities with Hayley Jane and the Primates, and a Sunday brunch with Holly Bowling and appearances from Mister F, The McLovins and more. Additionally there will be a James Brown Dance Party aftershow in Philly. PhanArt will be hosting a series of art shows in Chicago and San Francisco as well, bringing together a rapidly expanding fan base of art aficionados.
One thing that’s for certain, is there are a lot of moving parts to Phish tour and it’s not all about the music the Vermont quartet makes on stage. It’s about a umbrella of a community where you’ll find so much love and excitement. It’s about exploring new places, trying new things, stepping outside of your comfort zone and reuniting with old friends that you may only see once a year while simultaneously making new connections. There are a lot of exciting things coming out of the band’s camp, including the free sampler Live Bait 12 where every single track clocks in at double digits and the recent release of the third edition of The Phish Companion benefiting the Mockingbird Foundation, available at the PhanArt show this Saturday in Chicago.
As for the band, things couldn’t look more promising before hitting the road; especially since they’ve presumably finished recording a new album with Bob Ezrin in Nashville. Armed with a fresh stable of new material, it’s safe to say we can expect some debuts and several new launching pads for deep improvisation.
2016 has been a rough year so far with the losses of musical icons such as David Bowie, Merle Haggard and Prince so it will be interesting to see if Phish takes a swing at any of their musical catalogs. In recent years Phish has come more into their element than ever before in the 3.0 era. Now that all of the members are in their early 50s, they seem to have a grasp on the intrinsic connection they all share after being friends for all of these years. They seem more comfortable, happy, appreciative and healthy than ever before and it is certainly reflected in their music. Chris Kuroda is also rumored to be working with a new light rig that’s unlike anything he’s ever used in the past. There is a multi-panel design that will be suspended above the band and there appears to be three large LED panels encapsulating the members on stage. It looks like the perfect stepping stone to some extensive and deep psychedelic visual experiences.
One thing to be expected is the unexpected. Phish hates being predictable and if everything goes off without a hitch this could be one of the best tours in the post-Hampton era. The build up certainly makes it seem that this tour will be a success right out of the gates. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty, lets get this show on the road.