Is this the Island Tour?

Is this heaven?

…No, Shoeless Joe Wookie, it’s just Wisconsin…

With Tube & Tweezer openers, I guess it was pretty easy to mistake this for the Island Tour.  But when I realized that there was no 35-minute Roses are Free on Friday night, I figured we must be in 2010.  Phish 3.0 — the land of random repeated bustouts.

Oh yeah, I remember now that I always used to start these reviews with the setlist (because it was actually kind of difficult to find one back then…)

Set I:
Tweezer
AC/DC Bag
On Your Way Down
The Divided Sky
Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan
Water in the Sky
The Moma Dance
Farmhouse
David Bowie

Set II:
Ghost
Theme From the Bottom
Big Black Furry Creature from Mars
You Enjoy Myself
Piper
Also Sprach Zarathustra
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Character Zero

Encore:
Oh! Sweet Nuthin’
Cavern
Joy
Tweezer Reprise

The Tweezer opener was much better than Saturday’s Tube opener and featured a few musical ideas that actually developed in the jam section.  People were freaking out at the show starting this way (lots of folks clutching their skulls with both hands).  The theme that grew & matured throughout this version was brought to a complete fruition in a true “tutti” fashion (i.e., not just Trey playing a melody with a back-up band…although Trey’s playing was quite good, as were Page’s, Mike’s and Fishman’s).  And the old-school wind down was tons of fun.  Big grins from Big Red & Co. on this tune, too.

Bag was a nice way to get the show on the road, and it felt like we were really going somewhere tonight.  Trey actually teased the On Your Way Down lick a few moments before they played it — the Little Feat drummer had just passed that week, and this was a fitting tribute.  Although instead of featuring drums, it showcased excellent vocal work from Page (and Mike’s backup) and an incredibly firey solo from Trey.  Page’s vocals really struck me on this…as much as I like hearing Phish do The Rover, he’s much more well suited for this song & style than for Led Zeppelin’s.

Divided Sky was an actual experience — as silly/crazy/lame as this may sound, I actually got a little emotional during the part where Trey’s tone switches from the peaceful, idyllic sound to the more biting/driving sound during the long sustain (where Fishman kicks into high gear).  It happened to me during the first night of Hampton last year, too.  I know that there’s a sentiment out there that says this song is overplayed, or too much “the same” all the time, or whatever, but I couldn’t disagree more with those folks.   I have a strange emotional connection to this song, I guess.  It was probably the first Phish song I loved.  Love is weird like that.  Oddly, my wife later commented that this song was her favorite of the night, too.  My baby loves love.

Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan is a Pretty Cool Song but the Title is Awfully Long and it’s Hard to Write Down if You’re like me and Still Keep a Setlist when you go to Shows.  And “STFTFP” just doesn’t roll off the tongue like “YEM” or “DWD” nor does it even look cool like “MMGAMOIO” or “BBFCFM.”  That said, this was a standard, killer STFTFP.

I like the (still kind of new) Water in the Sky!  Moma Dance was siiiiick, brah.  I was waiting to hear it.  Fishman had a little false vocal start…he wanted to go into the verse immediately (even before all the cool rhythmic stuff).  And Mike — holy crap, MIKE! was all over this Muthaflippin Moma.

So Trey did a false vocal stumble on Reba on Saturday, then Fish did one in Moma.  Trey drinks coffee, so now Fishman drinks coffee, too.  Trey (true to any recovering adict) drank from a coffee mug after nearly every song, and I noticed Fishman walk out with a coffee mug & put it under his hi-hat.  He didn’t drink nearly as frequently as trey, but there’s some classic Bart/Milhouse behavior going on in this band here.

Well, in case you hadn't noticed by now, I didn't take any pictures at the show. So this is what you get.

Farmhouse was pretty nice.  And nice & pretty.  This song has cowbell — who knew?  The chorus came back in at the end, which was the first time I’d noticed it, but my friend tells me that this happens off & on.

Bowie brought the heat.  Check it out for sure.  (Is that a “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” tease there at the beginning of the jam?)  There’s this guy who wrote a post about the way Trey doesn’t shred anymore, and he mentioned that the Bowie’s are all alike now.  I submit this one as evidence to the contrary.

Set II opened with Ghost.  Meeeee likey!  This was a fantastic Ghost — they were really locked in throughout the jam, and the peak was one of the best things that happened among all four nights.  Sadly, as I already railed about in my previous post, they cannot seem to count through the pause anymore.  Very frustrating.  GWAAAAH!!!!  But they laughed about it, and in general laughing on stage is a very good thing.  At one point in this jam there’s a nice long sustain from Trey that falls off…man, this new guitar sounds great.  The “Ocedoc.”  He kind of uses this as a signal that the jam’s about to take off — not to wild, but a really nice build & development.  There was a moment there where they could’ve ventured into 12.6.97 territory, and they definitely had at least one big “YEAH!” type of moment, but it never reached that next plateau of transcendental bliss.  Fishman…firing on all cylinders throughout this whole jam.  Solid, locked in, great rhythmic punches & outstanding work on all of his fills.

I’m not sure if this should be marked as a ->Theme From the Bottom or not.  The jam had reached its completion, and there was this kind of ambient sustain…everyone was waiting for what would come next.  In my mind, -> is reserved for those times when you’re surprised by another song starting.  As excited as I was to hear Theme (another song I was waiting to hear), I was not surprised by a new song starting.  So, actually, yeah–I’m sure.  It’s not a ->.  Trey attacked the beginning of the jam.  He & Page had a nice interplay throughout the majority of the jam, with Mike adding nice melodic lines below.  Again, there are moments in here that could’ve been cut & pasted from a Light jam.  I guess we’ll probably end up referring to this style as Type 3.0 Jamming or something.  At least, those of us who are uber-anal and like to categorize things will.

Okay, Big Black Furry Creatures from Mars.  That was kind of odd.  Funny story about that though…A few seats over from us, there was a guy who we’d seen give himself a pretty sizable “puddle” before the start of the show.  My wife didn’t know the song when it started, and at the very beginning, when it’s just Trey playing (and it’s not too loud yet) I said “oh man, I feel sorry for that guy” meaning the puddle guy.  She asked “Why?” just as the song blew up.  “That’s why.”  Laughs all around when we attempted to dance to the alternating ragefest/hoedown that is this song.  BBFCFM makes this set so much better than just Ghost, Theme, YEM (which still would be awesome!)

You Enjoy Myself felt odd in the middle of the set.  I think its placement made the set feel long in general (not long in a bad way, just deceivingly so).  I thought Piper would be the end.  When Also Sprach started I said to my friend, “do they ever end sets with this?”  Then I thought for sure that WMGGW would be the closer.  Nope, bonus Character Zero.  This set just kept on giving.  But back to the YEM.  Trey took a solo (which is not always guaranteed), really digging in toward the end and giving us some fantastic facial expressions.  He kind of flew off the end of his solo, as in physically jumping up and bopping around.  The bopping around continued during the “bass & drums” segment, with Trey dancing around the stage.  A little guitar scratching leading into the vocal jam kept the high energy vibe going, and the vocal jam itself was pretty enjoyable (which is not always guaranteed).  Reminded me of the “donuts, I love donuts” vocal jam from 12.6.96 Vegas.

I'd also really rather not stare at this all day...

The chords to Piper started while the vocal jam was still in full force.  Contrary to other “aborted jams” that were prevalent on Leg I, this one sounded really good to my ears.  Maybe I put vocal jams in a different category than instrumental jams, perhaps because vocal jams are not as cool as ones with instruments.  Instruments are definitely prettier–I’d rather look at Trey’s guitar all day than Trey’s mouth.

When Piper started, I thought it would end the set.  It took off at a firey clip, and got even faster right away.  There’s not too much to this song anymore before it launches into the jam…and this fact has been discussed to death.  In fact, before the show on Sunday we were sitting in the lot listening to the Piper from the Island Tour and talking about how much this song has changed since its inception.  Still, this Piper was better than most I’ve heard.  Rather than just keep shredding at breakneck speed, the jam simmered down (after a few minutes of being a  good-old full-on ragefest) and Trey teased “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” during this passage.  The lights, the rumbling bass, and the Close Encounters tease all conspired to give that familiar feeling of impending liftoff that you get at shows sometimes, and after sustaining this feeling for quite some time, Trey said something to Mike, who passed it to Fishman…who did nothing for another several moments.  The spaceshipy feeling grew bigger & louder, then Fishman finally dropped the beat for Also Sprach.

When Also Sprach started, I thought it would end the set.  Call it what you want: 2001, Also Sprach, Thus Spake Zarathustra [sic], Dance Party USA, or Chris Kuroda’s Sandbox…this song is great.  It wasn’t very long, though.

When While My Guitar Gently Weeps started, I thought it would end the set.  It felt reaaaaaaaly slow, and Page tried adding some upper harmonies at times where he doesn’t usually sing, and…uh…it wasn’t always pretty.  But the solo (i.e. the majority of the song) was actually very pretty.

When Character Zero started, I knew it would end the set.  The highlight of the jam was another incredibly long sustain from Trey.  Did I mention how good his new guitar sounds?

The encore was more than I ever could’ve asked for.  Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ was beautifully played, and Page even got all of the lyrics right.   Cavern started on its heels, which was kind of a shock (not that I mean it was surprising, it just changed the mood/tone of things in a suddenly and in a big way).  Fishman had at least one “yeah!” in the “Give the Director…” part.  Not wanting the night to end, obviously, Trey started up Joy.  I was pretty impressed that Trey’s voice was holding up as well as it was.  This show was going LONG!  (or so it felt…Set II+E was only 92 min).  Tweezer Reprise really made for one helluva rollercoaster of an encore…when I called “Sleeping Monkey>Tweeprize” earlier I now figured at least I got half of the encore right (er…sort of).  I think that at one point during this song, Mike’s notes tore open a fissure in the Earth and up boiled the liquid hot magma.  But I can’t believe that they only played one Reprise.  What a ripoff.

All kidding aside, Sunday was a great way to spend my 150th show.  I really enjoyed every single song — and I don’t typically say that after a show!  I can usually find at least one tune to be critical about, but not this show.  I loved it all.  Except Character Zero.

And as one final thought, what’s up with wearing black shirts every single night?  Must be for consistency when they release the “Summer Tour 2010!” DVD.  Maybe I’ll have my 3D TV by then…

Set I:
Tweezer
AC/DC Bag
On Your Way Down
The Divided Sky
Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan
Water in the Sky
The Moma Dance
Farmhouse
David Bowie

Set II:

Ghost >

Theme From the Bottom >

Big Black Furry Creature from Mars

You Enjoy Myself >
Piper >

Also Sprach Zarathustra >

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Character Zero

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Is this the Island Tour?”

  1. bankmeister Says:

    I’m always impressed by folks who see/have seen as many shows as the writer of this post, but I also think such high-attendance rates can skew, maybe even jade, expectations and reactions. Appreciate the post, but I had zero complaints about either night at Alpine. In fact, Saturday night was a top-three caliber performance for me. That said, those were our only two shows of the summer. FWIW, previous shows were: Festival 8, Toyota Park in August ’09.

    • Brain Says:

      No complaints here — I had a great time. The Character Zero and “only one Tweezer Reprise” comments are purely tongue-in-cheek. This was mostly written for my friends, who know me & my sense of “humor” rather than a critical review. But I do thank you for reading, and for commenting!

      8/15 was not only my 150th show, but was one of the best times I’ve ever had, and it certainly was a top-tier performance from the band as well! Ghost>Theme and the encore alone were enough to satisfy blow away even the most jaded fan. Phish 3.0 is rocking, and they are poised to enter another peak era! Watch out, October!!

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: