Phish’s Friday night show at The Forum in Los Angeles, CA saw their return for the 4th time in the 3.0 era. Californians will complain that they don’t get to witness enough Phish (does anyone?), but this weekend set the gearshift for the first-ever two-night stand at the legendary arena. After a couple at Bill Graham’s, The Forum provided yet another indoor playground for Chris Kuroda to light up the walls with industry-defying visuals.

Opening with “Chalk Dust Torture,” Trey Anastasio hit the ground running and got the sexy LA crowd fist pumping and head banging from the moment the show began. “Everything’s Right” followed and allowed Page McConnell to slam down on his grand piano while Mike Gordon plucked the bass during a 13+ minute jam that teeter-tottered in the realm of Type 2 very early on. Trey hopped back and forth on his new effect pedals like Tom Hanks in the movie Big and found something to let his guitar scream about for the first of many highlights of the evening. Before “Everything’s Right” got too otherworldly, Jon Fishman brought his bandmates back down to Earth for a standard and slightly flubbed “Rift.”

Chalk Dust Torture

In the fourth spot, “Wolfman’s Brother” gave Page the space to bust out some serious funk while Trey karate-chopped a fuzzy, echoing effect to the tight groove. Wolfman’s moderate dance party inspirations allowed each member of the band to hold up a corner of the sonic magic carpet and take the West Coast crowd for a ride before pumping the breaks for Mike Gordon’s newer tune, “How Many People Are You.” For a song that normally relies on the strong vocal delivery, Gordon missed the mark on some of the lyrics, but the minor brain-farts were soon forgotten after Trey nailed every note of “Horn” with pinpoint accuracy.

While it is rare to see rain in LA and impossible from the 18,000-indoor arena, “Water in the Sky” got a rise out the crowd and gave their feet a rest before the set-ending “Sand,” highlighted by Trey’s tonal takeover. Page rocked an amazing octopus short-sleeve button-down on stage Friday night and his playing reflected the qualities of the soft-bodied, eight-armed mollusk of the sea. Burying yet another excellent on-paper first-set in the Summer 2018 graveyard, the stellar “Sand” gave fans something to talk about during set break.

Page continued his rampage in Set 2 during “Blaze On” as Trey called out “Blaze on Leo!” while Gordon surfed a smooth groove to surround Trey’s heavy wah wah effects. Another song containing lyrics about sand and water, the entire quartet floated into the second act with a cohesive and calming approach to the Type 2 atmosphere. The blaze would be extinguished by a dream-like ambience until Gordon fired back with the iconic riff that introduces “Down With Disease.” The high energy “DWD” jam ignited the crowd as the band continued on their path of destruction. Trey held a note that felt like forever before tenaciously digging back into his guitar which captivated the ravenous crowd. Collective patience created progress as they fused together to create the Phish of our wishes.

Blaze On

Fishman sped up the tempo after a “DWD” that left the fans wanting more to dive into “Simple.” The skyscraper-loving citizens from the City of Angels raised their hands to the roof as Trey found yet another pocket of tranquility via the electric guitar and rode the wave to the delight of many. Once again, the potentially epic jam was lullabied to sleep by Trey as he signaled to Fishman via a siren-sounding effect, summoning the 90’s funk launch pad, “Ghost.”
Trey was given some bonus time to experiment with his pedals, oozing out a thick bluesy resin to the delight of the ghost hunters in the audience. Gordon (voted as the band member most likely to blow your mind with his nightly ensembles) added a pulsating bass to follow Trey’s notes around stage like a bodyguard. Page once again showed off his hidden tentacles as the fiery “Ghost” reached its glory around the 11-minute mark.

The nearly 50-minute “Blazed, Diseased, Simple Ghost” mega-mix finally ended in the form of “Bouncin’ Around the Room,” giving the crowd a moment to catch their breath and collect their faces. While each song in the first half of the set had the opportunity to pack an even heavier punch, the overall message is clear; the force is strong after just seven shows this season. Continuing the “Phish’s Greatest Hits” Set Two, “Mike’s Song” stirred the audience once again. Trey and Page put in the extra effort during the raunchy original, but appeared to be running out of time. Jon motioned for them to lighten up quickly with “Slave to the Traffic Light” which hasn’t followed that set-ending order since the one and only time during July 2013’s Tahoe performance.

One of the more comical songs in Phish’s authentically whacky repertoire, “Sleeping Monkey” began the encore with full audience participation. Trey turning the mic to face the vocal audience and proclaiming what the fans were thinking, “Yes! Yes!” He pretended to wipe tears from his eyes when looking up at the rafters and seemed as giddy as a school girl, or school boy, or fully-revived monkey. Gordon slapped the bass a little bit harder as Trey grinned a little brighter when they closed the encore with the expectedly energetic “Weekapaug” to beg the question; how are they planning to top that on Saturday night’s follow-up gig?

Setlist: Phish | The Forum | Inglewood, CA | 7/27/18

SET 1: Chalk Dust Torture, Everything’s Right, Rift, Wolfman’s Brother, How Many People Are You, Horn, Water in the Sky > Twenty Years Later > Sand

SET 2: Blaze On > Down with Disease > Simple > Ghost > Bouncing Around the Room > Mike’s Song > Slave to the Traffic Light

ENCORE: Sleeping Monkey > Weekapaug Groove