The past eight years have been rough on me, you, and pretty much everyone else – certainly not excluding our rock buddies Phish. But even the most skeptical fan couldn’t help but feel very optimistic on the evidence of last night's solidly satisfying show at Jones Beach. Man, those cats can wail. And while the space-time continuum has yet to be shattered by a life-changing "Harpua," set one's "Timber Ho," and basically all of set two (especially an jagged, emotionally complex "Hood"), went a long way toward restoring my faith in both the group and its constantly evolving community of fellow travelers.
I sometimes joke that there are really only two Phish eras: the Clinton years and the Bush years. But now it feels as though we'll have to start paying attention to the smart yet cautious, sober yet sophisticated Obama-administration Phish. They're not here to help us party down so much as to demonstrate a little deft damage control, or common-sense harm reduction, with the help a fat rhythm section and a charismatic front man with big plans and both feet firmly on the ground.
The new Phish vibe is embodied in the seven-minute teaser for Maybe So, Maybe Not, a documentary-in-progress by Noah Wilderman that uses participatory technology (you can submit your own photos and stories for possible inclusion) to capture the contemporary Phish scene. The articulate talking heads include HeadCount's Andy Bernstein, the Mockingbird Foundation's Ellis Godard, and artist Jim Pollock. My favorite quote comes from blogger Paul McGuire, who more or less echoed my feelings about last night when he says, "You know, I've lost a lot of money in the stock market....But I don’t care, because Phish is back."