In general, one wonders why anyone went to the trouble and expense of 3-D cinematography when there is nothing inherently interesting or flashy about watching Phish perform its music. That’s not a knock on the band; a Phish concert is an event. But it’s one created through interaction between band and audience. In this movie, only one half of that equation is fairly represented, and the 3-D doesn’t pull you in nearly enough to replicate the live concert experience.
In the only bit of stage banter included in the film, guitarist Trey Anastasio attempts to make a joke about the prospect of forcing the festival crowd to remain seated during the acoustic set. Funny that the filmmakers chose to spotlight that comment. At a recent advance screening, a couple of free spirits left their chairs to twirl in the aisles, but the rest of the packed house stayed planted in their seats. Even when the veteran rock band’s music is at its liveliest, it’s hard to break the chains of cinema protocol and the straight-on viewing demands of 3-D.
At Festival 8, groups of Phish fans no doubt congregated near the floating jelly-bean light sculpture and engaged in discussions about what it could possibly mean and how it worked. Now that would have been worth dropping in on, especially if the band’s raging “Suzy Greenberg’’ were barreling toward one of those moments of debate, and the 3-D perspective made you feel a part of it.
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