In 1988, Phish had been at it for five years and were largely a local phenomenon, playing bars and clubs in Vermont and, only a handful of times, elsewhere around the Northeast. So, looking back, it's quite a statement that the jam band made the trek all the way out to Colorado that year. Playing seven shows in ten days, the group began a long relationship with the state that holds firm 22 years later.
Sunday night at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, the foursome showed up in a major way for its first performance of a three-show run. Rifling through a funky set that included bass-heavy grooves like "It's Ice," "NICU" and "The Moma Dance," Phish kicked off its fall tour in improv-laden style. The general admission crowd was mobile and overjoyed; the band was equally fired up.
If Sunday won over the dedicated following's ears, then Saturday night took Colorado's heart. The four members played -- in various incarnations -- in a jam band all-star game: a benefit for the victims of the Fourmile Canyon fire. When guitarist Trey Anastasio took the stage with bassist Mike Gordon, he said, "The four of us have always felt like Colorado is a second home."
I first saw Phish in 1996 at Red Rocks. I was in eighth grade. Those shows became infamous for the "riots" and a subsequent ban--which was lifted for a string of incident-free and powerful shows last summer--but I will always remember them for introducing me to a band that I still love 14 years later. I might care a bit too much about Phish, but it's good to know that Phish cares about Colorado in just the right way.