Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman — the musicians that for the past 35 years have performed as Phish — took the stage in Bangor on Tuesday night for the first of two shows at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.
Tuesday marked Phish’s 45th show in Maine over the decades and its first in Bangor since 2013, when it first played the waterfront. The iconic jam band drew a nearly sold-out crowd to the city to enjoy a concert that, despite a drizzle and cooler temperatures, was received joyfully by those in attendance.
The band started off its first set Tuesday with two songs from their early 2000s albums: a funky version of “46 Days,” off Phish’s 2002 album “Round Room,” and then “Back on the Train,” off 2000’s “Farmhouse.”
Anastasio then introduced a local politician to the stage — Fishman, who in 2017 was elected to the select board for the town of Lincolnville. Drummer Fishman has lived with his family in the Knox County town for more than a decade, where he owns the Lincolnville General Store.
Fishman took lead vocals for one of the shortest songs in Phish’s lengthy repertoire: “Ass Handed,” which the band has for the past year teased as the title song from Fishman’s proposed Broadway musical. The musical — extremely unlikely to ever see the light of day — remains a source of general amusement for band and fans alike.
“Vote Fishman in 2020!” shouted Anastasio, from the stage.
The first set was rounded out by several staples of Phish live shows, including “Bathtub Gin,” “Weekapaug Groove” and “Julius.”
Set No. 2 began as the sun went down and the drizzle began to turn into a slightly heavier rain, starting with “Down With Disease,” among the most popular Phish songs, which was extended into a mesmerizing rhythmic jam before segueing into “Play By Play,” a song that made its live debut for the band in October 2018.
Phish fans tend to disregard things like rain, wind, long lines or other inconveniences once the music starts. No matter what the weather is like before Anastasio, McConnell, Gordon and Fishman pick up their instruments, when the first beat is hit, the attitude changes almost immediately. Though there are lots of popular bands and artists that can draw similarly massive crowds to concerts, few have maintained such a devoted, relentlessly positive following for as many years as Phish.
A second Bangor concert from Phish is set for Wednesday evening, June 26.