"It doesn't get any easier than this" gushed Paul Murin on stage at Phix's 500th show at the Boulder Theatre. The cosmic forces bringing this band together for yet another evening of capturing the magic and thrills of Phish's music were evident throughout the jams. Keyboardist Derek Berg has relocated back to Chicago, started his own side project, and moved on to other creative endeavors. Drummer Chris and guitarist Paul have started two other bands, Higher Good and Mason's Children. Bassist Brian also, jamming in his new band Ethereal Plane. Maybe it was a fresh take on the set list. Maybe it was the premier gig to headline the historic Boulder Theatre. Or perhaps, it is just a genuine love of the music responsible for a fantastic evening of booty shaking funk.
Phix has officially called off touring after last August's Coverty shows, but has reemerged as several new side projects, showcased in the April 4th show. Bassist Brian Adams led the opening act Ethereal Plane, a bass-driven- heavy- percussion- thump- and- pound groove. This band definitely got the blood of the crowd pumping! If you check out his myspace page, you can catch the hypnotic tune, "snake charmer" recorded and remixed from this show (4/4/08).
The Higher Good was like watching an old video of The Band. Justin Jones comes out on guest saxophone, the hustle bustle of figuring out what and how to play next, the chatter, the laughter, and the anticipation was killin me! The future of this band is exciting… I couldn't help but daydream of where their jams would take me in future gigs. This is a band I would definitely catch again, as often as I could. I can tell evolution will bring the Higher Good to a higher place. The music was enticing with twangs of country, laid back grooves, and hodge podges of funk that has yet to organize. When guest saxophonist Justin came out to stage, the dueling sax and keys lent to the idea that this band is practicing their musical yoga moves. Pretty soon, they will be pulling off a headstand without breaking a sweat!
The crowd was beginning to pour in, all kinds! You can tell Phix is a band for everyone, hippies, bikers, college kids, older generation deadheads, and even the preppies flowed through the doors of the Boulder Theatre. It was, ironically, here at the Boulder Theatre, years ago on April 4th that Paul Murin had first seen Phish take the stage. That was just another cosmic coincidence that truly made the show enchanting. They opened with the favorite 'Bathtub Gin' and kept rocking the whole night through. "This is the best undermind you'll ever hear", announced Paul from stage. They kept going mid set – Paul got all the lyrics right – and then pounded right into 'Maze.'
At one point they announced that instead of a set break they would keep on playing one long set to keep us all dancing…. I believe the "set break" would have been while they let Derek enjoy the stage all to himself and piano solo for about 15 minutes. It was simply beautiful.
This reminds you of why Phix can't go on touring. There is only one Page McConnell, there can only be one Derek Berg. The exit sign glowed behind him like a moon on an alley cat, crying on a fence's edge to the entire neighborhood. I wonder if he misses the mountains of Boulder. I wonder how all this change will affect his music.
They pulled out a first time (for Phix) Sanity, my favorite, Lizards, and closed with an Antelope. These were just my highlights, of course. If you would like to hear the soundboard recording or check out the entire set list go to the band's website. They will forever have this website to update the fans on what Phix as well as the members' side projects are up to. Phix has been asked to play at the High Sierra Festival in California this summer. The Higher Good, Mason's Children, and other members of the Phix family will be at the LeeFest this summer in Idaho Springs, CO. To get more info on that, check out the myspace page.
For now, it will get tougher for the guys. It's time to get going, time to move on. The "new soul" (Phish or Phix) heads have to grow up sometime. The new soul of Phix is alive and well as we see four new projects come out of one. And as Paul Murin commented, "I wouldn't call it a side project". Great things to come from this group of musicians- just wait and see!