Rubinstein said his older brother introduced him to Phish’s music, and he has been hooked ever since. Discussing what appeals to him about Phish concerts, he spoke highly of the band and their fans.
It’s “a community of great people that really truly care about each other and the environment and the world as a whole,” Rubinstein said.
Andrew Feigelman, 26, a New York City resident who makes trips to Merrick to visit his father, said Friday was his 34th Phish show. Like Rubinstein, he arrived at Jones Beach hours early to soak up the atmosphere.
“You look forward to it all year, so you want to lengthen the experience,” Feigelman said. “You want to get here, relax … you have other friends here in other spots. You meet up, chat. You take in the experience of camaraderie.”
He predicted that Phish would compensate for the rain and cold with a high-energy show. “Sometimes they bring a little more heat when the weather’s not so good for the fans that are braving it out,” Feigelman said.
He was right. The band charged out of the gate with their rocker “Chalkdust Torture” and kept things up-tempo through much of their first set, which took place during a worsening rainstorm. They also paid homage to the elements with setlist choices like “Water in the Sky” and “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.” McConnell cracked wise several times, asking the crowd if they were enjoying the nice weather. Phish’s devil-my-care attitude about the tempest they were playing in was so infectious that the crowd started roaring enthusiastically at each squall that blew through.
Even after 27 prior shows, I drew fresh inspiration from the special bond that exists between these four musicians and their audience. In a world where concerts grow ever more gimmicky, and popular music grows ever more brash, yet devoid of substance, Phish proved that distinctive songwriting, musical talent and bold experimentation could hold roughly 15,000 people at rapt attention through what felt like a monsoon.
At some point, realizing that I was soaked and my parka hood was muffling the music, I surrendered to the flow and tossed it off.