A Dude in the (Almost) Front Row

On Saturday night, my wife & I found ourselves in Row 2, right between Mike & Fishman.  Directly in front of us I was surprised to find a friend of mine from my hometown who I hadn’t seen in about a year.  I ask how he’d come by front-row seats, and he told me he’d simply put in his mailorder request.  So I guess sometimes the system does work!

The lights went down (yet it was still light out) and the place was pumped…seemingly more than usual.  Maybe everyone knew what was coming, or maybe the band fed off it, because the show started with a power-packed punch that would strike fast, strike hard, no mercy sir!  Tube, Oh Kee Pah>Suzy, Funky Bitch — and that pavilion was crazy.  For Tube, people were hyped up even before the first note was played.  Did you know that Phish plays 3 min songs?  Well, they do.  This Tube was over before it started.  That felt pretty odd, let me tell you.

Suzy  Greenberg found me shouting, “go Page, go!!!” then just a few moments later “damn, Mike, damn!!!!”  Trey was fired up, too, practically leaping back to the mic for the final verse.

Funky Bitch — perhaps to honor Son Seals’ hometown just a few hours away?  Perhaps not.  They did it at Alpine last year (in response to a sign from the night before) but now this song is back in pretty heavy rotation.  Which is good, because I like listening to it!  Mike did a nice little syncopated “got nowhere-got nowhere tuh go” which elicited a big cheer.  What a show off.

I thought that despite the shortness of the songs, the Tube, OKP>Suzy, Funky Bitch was a terrific triple-shot (or quadruple-shot, I guess) of energy that got the show off & rocking to a great start.  It certainly worked a lot better than Thursday’s opener of Jim, Sloppy Punch.

Mike sang a lot Saturday night!  Funky Bitch, Fuck Your Face, SOAMule, Mike’s, Weekapaug, Quinn…maybe not an overwhelming amount in retrospect, but at the time I certainly felt like he was getting extra vocal duties.  Others said it was “ladies night” with Suzie, Bitch, Reba, Lawn Boy (which is more FOR the ladies I guess), and Sally all in one show.  Are there other songs that Phish plays about girls?

Reba had a vocal false start from Trey.  Nice recovery though.  I like to air drum along in the final bars of the composed section.  No “space” from Fishman this time.

The Reba jam itself kept chugging along — sometimes there’s a noticeable slowdown right after the drum fill, but not tonight.  Even though Mike has been a lot less prominent this leg (versus June) it’s neat to hear him start taking over when Trey begins to sustain notes.

Speaking of…there’s virtually no whammy all weekend!  It’s like it completely vanished!  Honestly, I’m not sure if I like that.  A lot of people were cheering the absence of Trey’s pitch-bending technique, and I agree that it was overused during the first leg of this summer (or he “over-relied” on it, I should say), but it’s sudden disappearance was pretty noticeable and just a little bit disconcerting.  I wrote about this in yesterday’s entry, and it pretty much started with this guy holding up a sign at the 3rd night of the Greek in Berkeley…which is a pretty dick move if you ask me…but it resulted in 99.44% less of the controversial “whale call.”  A better sign would’ve been “Fishman, more cowbell!”

The ending of Fuck Your Face had a ridiculous jazzy flourish from Trey, which Mike answered, and they turned to each other as if they were going to go on with that…but instead they just laughed and talked about what to play next.

Alaska was decided upon, and it was standard, meaning that I really enjoyed it.  Back on the Train was standard, which apparently now means that it goes on for about 10 mins.  My wife tells me that every good jazz band has at least one song that sounds like a train. Did I mention that my wife maintains that Phish is a jazz band, not a rock band?  I’ll have to get her to explain that to me…especially now that she’s seen these two balls-out rocking Alpine shows.

The Taste jam was great but….okay, I need to say something here.  They need to practice certain parts of their songs.  Good lord, how many times do I have to listen to Trey fuck up the ending of the Taste jam?  Or see them fumble their way through the “I simply haven’t looked” pause in Ghost?  15 minutes one day, guys.  Just run these passages a few times.  That’s all it’ll take.  GWAAAH!!!

There — I’m done.  Sorry about that.

Look at that nice new shirt

In case you weren’t already sure, Trey effing LOVES playing When the Circus Comes to Town, even though it is a slow song.  Lawn Boy is another slow song.  Sparkle is a song that is not slow.

After Sparkle, the opening notes of Gumbo were a downright treat. I like when Mike does that sliding palm-thing (as the lyrics section is ending) — he didn’t do the similar thing that he usually does during the “Silent Trees” portion of Walls of the Cave on Friday, so this was like redemption in some sort of odd way.  I had that thought at the show, and as soon as I did the song was over & Page was playing the piano outro.  WTF?  Thanks for the infinitesimally shortass Gumbo, guys. I was excited to hear this one, and now it’s over.

I was so pissed I didn’t even enjoy Antelope.  Okay, that’s a big fat lie.  Antelope ruled.  Fishman had this little jazzy type of thing going on his snare during the early part of the build…that’s not a good way to describe what he was playing, but it was a pattern of light hits & accents, and it made the early part of the build really groove & flow along nicely.  There was also a nice part where Mike basically sat on the “2” of the chord (so, I guess if this is in E minor, they were all playing in F major temporarily) — it resulted in a nice, almost ethereal feel.  Plus, it makes the shift back to the root (E minor, assuming my example is correct) all the more dramatic and awesome. (And yeah, I know they do this all the time…) Nice shout-out to Marco Benevento, even if it was pretty random.  (I later learned that Marco is on a short list of musicians who’ve played with each member of the band individually, but have not sat in at a Phish show)

Sloth opener — yeah, that works pretty well!  DwD->What’s The Use? — uh, yeah, that works pretty well, too!  This was not a constant rager of a DwD, like many of the recent ones have been, but when it cooled down in the middle of the jam it kept a percolating kind of energy, then it was almost like various members of the band were subdividing the beat increasingly to give the illusion of moving faster & faster…or maybe they just sped up.  At any rate, this jam is great.

What’s the Use came without warning.  Although many fans seemed to be thrilled by this “bust out,” I’m find myself asking what’s the use of this damn song?  Not my favorite, by far.  It didn’t diminish the awesomeness of the preceding jam, and I’ll admit that the segue was pretty damn smooth to say the least, but I guess since this is my 10th time seeing the song (yes, I did have to look that up) it just doesn’t do it for me.

Hey look--Mike is STILL holding the same note

Scent of a Mule doesn’t usually do it for me, either, but I enjoyed hearing it on Saturday.  Wow…first in 68 shows — I guess Mule is a bust-out now, too, huh?  Page did his typical solo, but Trey started his by shredding before moving to the standard Russian dancer/kickline part.  Trey & Mike had a laugh trying to keep up with their mini side-to-side moves as the tempo moved to breakneck speed.  When Mike held the note before “hamba-dum-do walked into her cabin shack…” I thought he was going to pass out.  Seriously–no one should be able to hold a note for that long.  His body twitched while he was doing it, and when he finished he kind of put his head down & to the side to take a moment before the song continued.  Now THAT’s rockstar right there.

Hence, Mike’s Song was next.  Continuing the vocal fun he was having that night, Mike included the warble he sometimes does on “big dude in the doorway was blocking my waaAAaaAAaay.”  What does the chorus of this song mean?  I ask myself nearly every time I hear it, and I think I laugh (or at least grin) every time I ask myself.  Just one of those silly things from the mind of a 19 year old Mike, I suppose (see also: Fuck Your Face).  Trey quickly took over this Mike’s jam and wasted no time climbing to the screaming peak.  Some of Trey’s best work in this version was actually contained in the few measures following the peak — the last bit of the jam and the bits of solos in between the standard “pre-ending” chords (and I’m saying pre-ending as in the three ascending chords that repeat to signal the end of the jam…they come right before the rhythmic pattern that actually ends the song*)

*well, NOW it ends the song.  It used to just signal that the second 1/2 of the song, where the serious jamming occurs, is about to happen.  But now the song just ends.  And I’m not the only one who’s a little bit peeved about that, by the way.

Dirt took the place of Simple/Hydrogen, and I have to admit I really liked that!  Trey’s new guitar seems (to my ears) to have a bit more of an edge to it, and I loved the way the sustained notes in this song tore up the air and bled into feedback.

Sneaking Sally was a surprise also!  I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that the Mike’s Sandwiches are back, and getting more & more creative.  The Simple>Walrus sandwich from Canandaigua was astounding, and the Dirt>Sally one was an absolute riot.  Sally included some vocal creativity before the jam even started, as well as the (now traditional, apparently?) mid-song vocal jam.  Contrary to others (or the Gorge one at least…not sure if all of them), they kept playing their instruments under the vocal jam.  This was a song for Mike to solo all over.  It was neat to see Trey comping with the wah in a non-standard, non-repetitive, not-Fall ’97 way on this song.

Weekapaug is always a monster.  No one really led this jam, which is a GREAT thing!  And again, I could hear the piano through most of the song (sad that this has to be the exception a lot of times…but hey, the piano is not the loudest instrument up on the stage).

Bug closed the set.  We were heading up to the top of the hill (if you’ve never been to Alpine, it’s frigging immense and daunting) during the set closer-not feeling really well, I’m sad to say-so my “Bug” experience was more trying to swerve & dodge the spinners on the pathway than critically listening to the song.  But did I mention that Trey’s new (magic) guitar sounds really good?

We watched The Mighty Quinn from the top of the hill, and it was very cool to see a new perspective of the lights & the 3-humped Alpine shed and all.  I’d never watched a show from the top of the hill.  That place is huge — the stage seemed really, REALLY far away.  During Quinn it struck me, “wait…didn’t they just play this on Monday in Telluride?”  Like Destiny, Walk Away, Camel Walk-shit, even FYF apparently-songs take a 10-or-more-year hiatus then pop into a regular rotation.  I guess that’s cool…but it’s a little confusing when they play it the second time!  Your brain stops and says, “Yeah!  A bustout!  No, wait…IS this a bustout?”


3 Responses to “A Dude in the (Almost) Front Row”

  1. Is this the Island Tour? « Golden Brain Listens Says:

    […] II opened with Ghost.  Meeeee likey!  As I already railed about in my previous post, they cannot seem to count through the pause anymore.  Very frustrating.  GWAAAAH!!!!  But they […]

  2. phishysarah Says:

    I was right there with you! 3rd row very end near isle between mike and fishman! I had the best night that show! Sally was a great Mike’s Paug filler. 🙂 Much LOVE

  3. Reena Lemaster Says:

    Only a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw great design .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: