Words and pictures by Thomas Hauner.
Ben Harper once said, “I refuse to age disgracefully in rock ‘n’ roll.” It’s an apt mantra that aging rockers should adhere to for the sake of their music, but mostly themselves. Mike Gordon, former bassist of reunion-rumored Phish, and touring in support of his latest release The Green Sparrow, did bring his musical aestheticism with grace and humility to a packed Highline Ballroom last Wednesday night. But his aging fans should give it equal credence because no matter how yuppified a Phish-head can become, their nostalgic nights out are all too predictable.
Just as Gordon’s bluegrass ballads followed a tried and true formula -- so much so that the only variable was the number of players that joined him as he progressed through that portion of the program -- so too did his faithful: Weathered Birkenstocks, homemade purses and bags, and apoplectic dance.
They did have some reason to gyrate, though. “Dig Further Down” and “Traveled Too Far”, both from the new album, weren’t too bass heavy, but exuded that light funk Phish could easily toy with. Arguably the best song of the night was “Takin’ it to the Streets” with keyboardist Tom Cleary thankfully singing lead. (Gordon’s voice has always been intrinsically goofy and awkward. He sings with exuberance but it just sounds like his sinus is the vocalist.) A close second was the C+C Music Factory cover, “Things that make you go Hmmm”, showing some alacrity on Gordon’s part. That guitarist Scott Murawski played Trey Anastasio’s signature guitar (which is only made by Phish’ audio engineer/guitar-tech/luthier Paul Languedoc) emphasized the show as a diluted recapitulation of Phish’s best, and worst, characteristics.