I love Phish. I love Phish music, I love being around Phish friends, and most of all, I love going to Phish shows. But Vermont’s fearsome foursome hasn’t played a show since New Year’s Eve in New York City and won’t hit the road for their 2014 Summer Tour until July. So what’s a phanner to do when the real deal isn’t touring, and he needs his fix? Pardon Me Doug to the rescue!
Maine’s own Pardon Me Doug, New England’s preeminent Phish cover band, has the routine down. The band has an enormous repertoire of Phish tunes to select from, and they seem to delight in performing each and every one of them for their audience. It was evident that they’ve put a lot of thought into imitating the original, as the band’s equipment and even the way they arrange themselves on stage mimics their forefathers.
The band came on early, but it didn’t take long for Port City Music Hall to fill up with an eclectic crowd of music lovers. Those who showed up on time were treated to a fun and silly rendition of “Harpua,” a song Phish plays so rarely that even some of their most dedicated followers will never get a chance to hear it live. Other standouts from the opening set included “Theme From the Bottom” and a “Twist” > ”Undermind” segment that contained some exploratory, spacey jamming. When Pardon Me Doug is firing on all cylinders, it’s amazing how Phish-y they sound.
By the start of the second set, the room was nearly full. The band began with their take on “Birds of a Feather”, which included some full-band teases of Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker”. “Birds” led in to the Hendrix tune “Izabella” and the jam out of this was the clear highlight of the night. Improvisational music simply can’t be faked, and although the band was playing in Phish’s style, the four musicians locked in during “Izabella” to create a dynamic, driving funk jam that would have even impressed the audience at a Phish show. The crowd was treated to a trio of rarities in “Tela”, “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent”, and “ Esther”, as well as a smooth segue from “Sand” to “Psycho Killer” provided a perfect sing-a-long opportunity. The second frame came to a close with a surprisingly clean reading of “The Divided Sky”. As is the Phish tradition, Pardon Me Doug stepped off stage for a few moments before returning to end the show with a few crowd favorites, capping off the evening with a raucous cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band”.
Although they don’t quite match the legendary musicianship of Trey, Mike, Page, or Fish, no one should expect them to – they’re not Phish. They are, however, quite good at emulating their idols and, as such, are a treat to go see when the real deal isn’t available. Seeing a cover band of an act that still tours may strike some music lovers as being rather odd, but Pardon Me Doug proved that we can still have fun, even when Phish isn’t on the road.
I: NICU>2001, Uncle Pen, Golden Age, Harpua, Theme From The Bottom, Ya Mar, I Been Around, Twist>Undermind, Pebbles and Marbles
II: Birds of a Feather>Izabella, Tela, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent>Ha Ha Ha, Esther, Sand>Psycho Killer, The Mango Song, The Divided Sky
E: Free, Tube, We’re An American Band
You can find out more about the band by visiting their facebook page.
6/20 Club 737 (Bath, ME)
6/28 Harmony Hall (N. Yarmouth, ME)
7/11 Empire (Portland, ME)
7/13 Coveside (S. Bristol, ME)
7/19 Booze Cruise (Casablanca, Portland, ME)
8/1 Booze Cruise (Harbor Princess, Boothbay Harbor, ME)
8/22 Empire (Portland, ME)
9/19 Empire (Portland, ME)
9/27 Newport Grand Hotel/Casino (Newport, RI)
11/28 Port City Music Hall (Portland, ME)