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July 12, 2007

PAGE McCONNELL, very "Phish-y" @ The Fillmore, San Francisco 7.10.07

Chances are, if you're a Phish fan, you will really enjoy Page McConnell's solo tour as it has a very "Phish-y" feel to it. There are even some not-at-all subliminal messages to the audience about Page's musical roots ...


Two years ago, the only thing I knew about "Phish" was that there's a delicious Ben & Jerry's ice cream named "Phish Food," which can be found right next to the "Cherry Garcia." (Gotta love Ben and Jerry!)

   In the past two years (since I met my wonderful jam-band-loving boyfriend, Gary) I've seen former Phish members Mike Gordon performing with Steve Kimock (at the 10,000 Lakes Music Festival, AKA "10KLF" in Minnesota last year); I've seen Trey Anastasio perform several times -- by himself (at 10KLF and Vegoose), and with Grateful Dead bass player, Phil Lesh at Vegoose. I never had the pleasure of seeing Phish performing live, and I've only heard snippets of some of the songs from Page McConnell's new CD -- his solo debut entitled "Page McConnell." But I thought I would enjoy Page's show. And I did.

     There I was at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco as a "stringer" for Billboard Magazine, tickets & photo pass waiting for me at Will Call, at one of the best (not to mention most historic) venues ... anywhere. I raved about the Fillmore in my last review and I won't go all over how incredible it is again ... but just promise me one thing ... if you ever get to San Francisco, make a point to take in a show at the Fillmore. Any show. Regardless of the music being played there, there's a very special vibe in that place -- just being there is an experience not to be missed. PROMISE? (Note: Shows are all "general admission" at the Fillmore -- there is very limited seating downstairs, and in a small balcony area upstairs so you'll likely need to stand. If you're old like me :-) you might want to get there early to try to get a seat. Shows start at 9:00 PM and most always, in my experience anyway, feature an opening act, so that can be a long time to stand. If you need a break, head to the restaurant upstairs, where the food is surprisingly good. Before the headline act starts and even during the opening act they have other musicians performing in the upstairs restaurant -- so you have a choice!)

     You know what else I love about the Fillmore? (Oh no! Here she goes again!)  As a Mom of young kids who I'm trying to introduce to all kinds of great music ... the Fillmore SOMEHOW managed to get one of those elusive types of liquor licenses which allows them to admit ALL AGES. (It seems they have a very simple "procedure" in place to ensure minors don't drink alcohol -- I don't know why other venues can't do this. Your hand is stamped upon entry if you are 21 and wish to buy an alcoholic drink, and they have a one-drink-per-person rule -- in other words, you can't go to the bar to buy drinks for all your friends. Only one drink per hand stamp is sold.) Unlike the big stadium venues with their BIG acts and BIG ticket prices, the Fillmore's ticket prices are usually in the range of $25, so you can actually afford to bring the kids to a show if you want. In "Grateful Dead" style, I've seen kids at the Fillmore of all ages enjoying the music with their parents -- last night there was a little girl on her Dad's shoulders right up front bobbing up and down as Dad danced to the great jam-band-style music. This is a VERY good thing, and I hope to get my kids to the Fillmore for a show soon.

     Back to the show! Since being selected as a Mobilbeat "blogger" and receiving my 2 megapixel LG camera phone, I have been VERY impressed with the quality of the photos I've been able to take with a "cell phone camera." I have, however, discovered one thing that the LG camera phone doesn't do especially well ... they don't do "motion" well. As with the older generations of digital cameras, the shutter speed seems to be quite slow. In another reviewer's experience, I read that he couldn't get a clear photo of the band he was reviewing because the band members moved around so much ... in my case, the band members were staying pretty still, but the floor of the Fillmore in San Francisco was HOPPING. No, it wasn't a San Francisco earthquake ... it was the crowd, who could not stand still during Page McConnell's set. Great fun ... unless you're trying to take a picture! The photos I took from right up front are just a bluurrrrrrrrrrrrrr ...


but the photos from a little farther back in the crowd actually turned out a little better (but definitely not as good as other photos I've taken with the LG phone).



     When Page McConnell and his band walked on stage, you could feel the excitement in the predominantly Phish-head crowd -- a huge cheer went up, and a huge delighted (and almost surprised) smile spread across Page's face.  As I don't know a lot of Phish music, I had to rely on Gary to tell me that the majority of Page's music has a very "Phish-y" feel to it.

     I have to say that in my opinion, the first song they did was their BEST.  WOW!   A high-energy instrumental in the jam band style -- it was one of those songs and performances (like REALLY exceptional sex) that has the ability to just take you to another place ... you could feel the audience's level of excitement growing -- not a soul there could keep from dancing, and the hairs on my arms were standing on end!  (THAT'S good music!)

     Page isn't called "The Chairman of the Boards" for nothing -- he is an amazingly talented keyboard player. His vocals were very nice -- they did a Beatles cover which I thought was an excellent choice for Page's voice.  (Note:  Gary said he realized while watching the show that Page had a huge vocal impact on the music of Phish.)

     The remainder of their songs -- some ballads with sort of Phish-like, off-the-wall lyrics, didn't "take me to another place" (although the guy in front of me with the "Antelope Crossing" t-shirt seemed to be having a ball!)  :-)  Page and his band did some songs that were what I would call "spacey" using lots of feedback, etc. Those songs didn't do it for me either (but keep in mind that I love the music of the Grateful Dead, but didn't care for their "spacey" songs at all either.) Not having followed Phish, while I thoroughly enjoyed the music, I didn't have that EXTRA positive, happy connection taking place that the majority of the audience was having, including boyfriend Gary -- he enjoyed Page's performance more than he expected he would -- he LOVED the ENTIRE Phish-y experience.  If I had a CD of their Fillmore show, I would wear out the track listening to that first song ...


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You are SO right. Any show at the Fillmore is time well spent. I'd really like to know what that FIRST SONG IS!!! Sounds like we missed out!


i love the equipment case picture! looks great...

di :-)


Well I have to say I don't know much about this band, but you definately gave me a good picture to work with. Great Pics!

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