Despite all of the history and splendor of the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, where Phish played in 2011 and 2013, it seems the band has found a new home in The Forum. If last year’s Forum show wasn’t convincing enough, last night’s performance was true evidence that the group’s relocation decision was an important one. While the Hollywood Bowl often attracts half-hearted LA fans looking for amusement on a summer evening, The Forum provides the isolation and containment to foster some undeniable Phish phan energy.
Simply stated, the place was electric.
The electricity started when Page McConnell played the opening narration from “Martian Monster”, the final track from the band’s 2014 Halloween set. The unexpected opener provided some seriously funky energy that steamrolled right into “Down With Disease”. This was an exceptional “Disease”, with Trey Anastasio really leading the charge on guitar.
After slowing down the pace with “Waiting All Night”, the group delivered a rocking version of “Heavy Things” before transitioning into all-out rock mode with “Axilla”. They dropped into a groove on the Fuego track “555”, with a short-but-sweet spacey jam. Next up was “Limb by Limb”, complete with its many vocal parts and a “Follow The Yellow Brick Road” tease in the jam section. The catchy tune lived up to its expectations, as the band was truly firing with hit after hit.
Next up was the island jam, “Ya Mar”, which featured some of the first Phish shenanigans of the night. During the infamous “Play It Leo!” solo in the song, Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon laid on their backs doing synchronized bicycle kicks to the music. They never stopped playing the whole time!
However, the fun and games came to an end once the opening notes of “Fuego” rang throughout the Forum. The title track from the band’s 2014 release was executed to perfection, leaving fans in absolute awe of the band’s fiery talent. The song is almost anthemic, and is easily one of the best and most energy-inducing track from the newest batch of tunes. Finally, an equally-as-powerful “Walls of the Cave” closed out the first half of the show.
After a brief respite, Phish got things cooking with an extended version of their new song, “No Men In No Man’s Land”. The new Anastasio/Marshall original has some funky juice to it, keeping things locked and loaded for what would be an exceptional second set. The song selection was a bit on the predictable side, but no one in The Forum would complain when Anastasio hit the opening riff of “Carini”. The rocker blew the roof off the joint.
That song segued so seamlessly into “Tweezer”, a funky jam that never really opened up as far as it could have. During the jam, Gordon and Anastasio faced each other and brought the band into a scorching rendition of “My Friend, My Friend”. The rigorous composition was played well, blending tempos and time signatures into an all-out jamboree.
They slowed things down at this point, moving into “Roggae” for a calmer moment in the second half before jumping into “Backwards Down The Number Line”. The commonly-played tune may get some groans at the outset, but when Anastasio hits those notes in the guitar solo, all is redeemed. This was a great and masterful version of an awesome song.
The group brought the second set to a close with “Slave To The Traffic Light”, stretching the song out a bit for one final moment. Looking back, it seemed that Phish never really extended any second set tunes, opting instead to leave themselves extra time for what would be an extra-special encore: “You Enjoy Myself”.
When you’re expecting something paired with a “Tweezer Reprise”, a “YEM” in the final song slot becomes an absolute thrill. And what a version this was! The band really, well, enjoyed themselves, weaving through the song’s various sections before settling into a serious cow-funk groove. Anastasio seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself, even wrapping his guitar around Gordon and playing it in the middle of the jam.
After that, Anastasio put his guitar down and hopped over to the drum kit, joining Jon Fishman for a drum solo. Left by himself, Mike Gordon crossed the stage and dabbled on the keys with Page McConnell. The two vs. two Phish jam session (Trey and Fish on drums, Gordo and Page on keys) was short lived, as the band dropped into their vocal jam section. This was perhaps the highlight of lighting director Chris Kuroda’s work at the Forum, with blazing bursting lights coming at every turn. Eventually the band bid the fans goodnight, putting an end to a fantastic performance at the Forum.
Until next year, Phish!
Setlist: Phish at The Forum, Inglewood, CA – 7/25/15
Set 1: Martian Monster, Down with Disease, Waiting All Night, Heavy Things, Axilla, 555, Limb By Limb, Ya Mar, Fuego > Walls of the Cave
Set 2: No Men In No Man’s Land > Carini > Tweezer > My Friend, My Friend > Roggae, Backwards Down the Number Line > Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: You Enjoy Myself
 No “Myfe” ending.
Notes: Trey teased We’re Off to See the Wizard during Limb By Limb. Page teased the Theme from I Dream of Jeannie during Ya Mar. My Friend did not contain the “Myfe” ending. During YEM, Trey held his guitar in front of Mike and played it around Mike’s back.
[Setlist via Phish.net/Photo via Phish From The Road]