[Thank you Gene for recapping last night's show! -Ed.]
It’s been eight and a half years since Phish last played in Seattle — nowhere near the 23.5 year gap that its neighbor to the south and my adopted hometown of Portland can claim — but a long time nonetheless. And a lot has happened since October 2014.
Renewal, evolution, and hope make the Climate Pledge Arena a fitting cradle for the birth of Phish’s spring tour. The last time they played this room, it was a sad monument to a departed basketball team ("The Line" fit in all too well in that setlist). When Seattle got its most recent sports upgrade, they chose to build on what was already there rather than start from scratch — to renovate, renew, and look to the future with one foot in the past, under a landmark roof first built for the 1962 World’s Fair.
The result is nothing short of stunning. The “new” Climate Pledge Arena shares the basic shape of its predecessor, but the similarities end there. Amenities galore, massive sound-treatment improvements, 100% renewable energy, and zero single-use plastic. This is the venue of the future. And that respect for the past, as we build and evolve for the future? That’s a great metaphor for the tour opener Phish threw down in Seattle last night.
"Blaze On" opened, built gradually, and evolved seamlessly into "Plasma." The shuffling march of "Plasma’s" drum line set a rhythmic theme for the night that would persist throughout, as Fishman kept a setlist full of relatively complex drum patterns and patient, slow-build jams woven together masterfully. The map is not the terrain. The setlist is not the show.
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