Having passed on Avatar and hearing mostly meh things about Alice in Wonderland, the last time I saw a 3D Movie in the theaters Dennis Quaid was chasing a giant shark and Darryl Strawberry was a lanky rookie. So I was a little unsure of what to expect from the Phish 3D preview on April 20 in Brooklyn. Since the music has been reviewed ad nauseum (and for the record – I am in the “the Exile set was amazing, the acoustic set was cool and the rest was pretty average” camp when it comes to the music played that weekend), here is a quick rundown of the things that I liked most about the movie and a couple of things I would have done differently.
- I like how far 3D glasses have come. Gone are the cardboard versions with one blue lens and one red lens that dig in painfully behind your ears. In its place is a version that more resembles a cheap pair of sunglasses bought at a drugstore. But after two hours, I will admit they gave me a headache.
- I liked the way that 90% of the footage in the film is concert footage. A few shots of the festival and the crowd are fine but overall, show me the band and the action on the stage. For the most part, this film does just that. The footage of the band, the horns and the backup singers jammed into the practice room is fantastic. I could have watched that all night.
- I liked the way the 3D allowed you to get a real feel for the spacing on the stage. When Page leans over his keyboard during the funktastic Undermind (which by the way is by far my favorite 2009 addition to the setlist rotation) and peers over at the other side of the stage, you get a real feel for how close he is to Trey and how far
he is from Fishman. When the band is pulled in close for the acoustic set, you can feel it. When Fishman and Gordon are locked in and looking at each other, you feel like you are right there next to them.
READ ON for more of what Luke liked and didn’t like about Phish 3D…
- I liked the way the balloons and glowsticks seemed to pop off the screen in true old-school 3D style. When people think “3D” they often think about things flying off the screen at them. This film doesn’t have a ton of that effect but it definitely feels like you can reach out and touch the glowsticks and ballooon clusters as they wiz by. And the lights, at times, also seemed to be shooting out from the screen. I would have liked to have seen the 2001 > Light included if only for the lights in 3D.
- I liked seeing the throwdown that was Suzy Greenberg. You don’t get the sense of the “party” that was going on during that song just by listening to the audio. The interaction between Trey and Sharon Jones and Saundra Williams is especially fun to watch.
- I liked seeing Trey having so much fun on stage. The “healthy and happy” thing has been run into the ground, dug up and buried again but the fact that he is both those things shines through in this movie. Page is also full of smiles and there are plenty of shots of the always awesome “Creepy Page Face.”
- I liked that they handed me a pretty cool movie poster on the way out.
- I didn’t love the song selection from the Exile set. While I know Loving Cup is obviously right in their wheelhouse as a part of the regular rotation and Shine a Light is sort of the calling card of that album, I was disappointed not to see any of the Ventilator Blues > I Just Want to See His Face, Let it Loose segment included. To me, that is the heart of Phish’s performance of that set and should have been represented. Soul Survivor is a good song and comes off well but wouldn’t have been on my list. Happy, on the other hand, was a great choice and another example of just how much fun they were having that night.
- As far as the Phish songs, I was surprised to see a somewhat brutal Train Song included but very pleased to see the acoustic Curtain (With) and the Wilson with the sitdown/standup banter. I would have liked to seen the inclusion of the Party Time Festival opener instead of a pretty average Stealing Time.
- I didn’t like the loudness of the crowd noise between songs. Not sure if it was just the theater we were in but in between every song the crowd noise from the film seemed to be louder than the music.
- I would have liked to see some footage from the soundcheck included. Phish fans love us some soundchecks – especially at festivals – and it would have been nice to see something that hadn’t been seen by more than a chosen few included in the flick. Even just a minute or two would have been great.
Overall, I was very impressed with the movie. The 3D adds a great deal but isn’t so in-your-face obnoxious that it prevents you from appreciating the simple things. The music, while not up there among the best Phish has ever played, is certainly enjoyable. And for those of us who weren’t able to make it to Indio it was a nice snippet into the experience of the weekend. At times you could almost feel the sun beating down on the crowd. All while sitting in a movie theater in Brooklyn. Pretty damn cool.