After last year's decidedly fun Hollywood Bowl show, which was capped off with a nigh-legendary “Harry Hood,” I was chomping at the bit to get to another show. I was actually excited to hear that Phish's LA area show this year would be in the Forum (home of the Lakers and Kings for many years), because as cool and beautiful a venue as the Hollywood Bowl is, I've always been told by my longer-tenured Phish friends (i.e. all of them) that indoors Phish is a much different experience. So were they correct? We shall see...
Photo by @stim_buck
Soundcheck: Dog Log -> Manteca, Ginseng Sullivan, Happy Birthday To You, My Soul
Notes: Bathtub Gin contained Low Rider and Long Tall Glasses teases. Disease was unfinished. The soundcheck's Dog Log was performed in a blues style. Happy Birthday was performed for one of the band members' kids.
What a roller-coaster ride Fall 2014 has been so far! As many of you noted in your comments to my Eugene precap, the tour opener was (NOT) all about my high expectations and I completely assumed the role of Sisyphus pushing that particular boulder to the top of my stack of preconceived notions for the always portentous first night. Unlike the band on such evenings, I was not a bag of nerves, I was at home at the Matt Knight Arena in the warm embrace of friends old and new. As expected, and much like that exhilarating rush of the first plummet over the edge of the log flume, the Eugene show was fantastic, made a big splash, and got the seat of my pants wet. No, they didn’t play everything I had forecasted, and I didn’t in truth expect them to do that. I expected a great show and that is exactly what we got. Couldn’t be happier with the song selection and still can’t get “Plasma” out of my head.
Photo by @ebyron
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant on Paradise Road in Las Vegas will be raising funds to benefit The Mockingbird Foundation, the non-profit whose volunteers help run this site, from October 30 through November 2, about two miles from the MGM Grand where Phish is playing three shows on 10/31, 11/1 and 11/2. Gordon Biersch has brewed a special beer dubbed the "Dubbel Sample in a Jar," which is a "complex, malty ale with hints of spice and licorice, and a balancing hoppiness on the finish," that will be served in a mason jar with the Gordon Biersch and Mockingbird Foundation logos on it.
Before we get into the play-by-play of Tuesday night’s show, a quick editorial comment. You can say what you want about factors that would drive attendance at these shows down: a smaller fan base on the West Coast, a Tuesday night gig, and the difficulties of getting through Los Angeles traffic for a 6pm start. Phish should be able to fill a 4,500 seat venue, regardless. Instead, under-face tickets were said to be plentiful, and as of this writing you can score great seats for tonight’s “sold-out performance” on Ticketmaster. Of course I’m not breaking any news here, but the culture of ticket speculation is obviously out of hand and keeping away fans who would otherwise attend if the process were more straightforward. But enough of that. On with the Phish.
What a beautiful venue! From my seat on the couch (well, recliner) 2,500 miles away, the Santa Barbara Bowl looked warm and intimate, and I would have loved to have been there to score some of those last minute seats. On top of a smoldering orange sunset and the beckoning wonder of the Pacific Ocean, the band continues to play with a joyful synergy that makes the current era one of my favorites in Phish history. For those of you fortunate enough to have been there last night, my meager words will doubtless be but a distorted reflection of the experience. But I’m going to write them anyway.
Part 1: A Brief History of Being a Phish Fan in Seattle
In the early 90s, I was living in southern New Mexico attending graduate school. The conservative town was a bad fit for me, so I was looking for an escape. The chilly mist of the Pacific Northwest seemed to be about as far of an escape from the fiery Mesilla Valley desert, so cars were loaded, apartments were found, and jobs were located. If there was one thing I was worried about, it was not the lack of Phish. The year before I moved, Phish played two northwest runs. 1995 had one in October. We were able to give thanks in 1996 with a Tofurkey Eve Key Arena show. No, we weren’t receiving the dozens of shows that a New Yorker gets, but it wasn’t bad at all for being tucked away in the northwest corner of the country.
I’ve quite deservedly earned the reputation of someone who complains a lot about the lack of Phish shows in Oregon. Going beyond my typical “Phish last played Oregon in 1999” whine, allow me to provide you some perspective as to why exactly this fact is so particularly unfathomable whilst pre-capping the band’s triumphant return to the Beaver State and their first annual visit to the Matthew Knight Arena. You read that right… this is a PRECAP of the Eugene show.
Because there are a limited number of us in the Pacific Northwest, there is no official webcast that will allow one of my east coast colleagues to do a couch tour recap, and there is a high likelihood that I will be unable to go to the show tonight, rage Eugene afterwards, drive to Seattle for the next show at the Key Arena, AND write a recap… I am going to provide a forecast for tonight’s gig based on a historical analysis of what came before. We can discuss your displeasure for this approach and/or how chillingly accurate (I am not crazy) my prognostication was in the comments below. But first… let’s get back to that whole perspective on the lack of Phish in the Pacific Northwest thing I mentioned above.
Matthew Knight Arena
With a great burden weighing on our hearts, we would like to share that our community lost two beautiful people when Larry and Denise Bressler were slain in their Pasadena, CA, home yesterday. While the circumstances are gruesome and not entirely known, we do know that Larry and Denise had taken in a family member who had fallen on hard times and was trying to right his course. This kind of generosity and kindness surprised no one who knew them, but it cost them an unthinkable price.
With the announcement of Phish's return to Miami for this year's NYE run -- which will mark the fourth time they have celebrated the New Year in the Sunshine State (third time in Miami) -- we thought we'd ask you about your favorite Florida Phish show. While there are some obvious front runners (one brought to mind by the recent leak of a certain video . . . ), there are other contenders that shouldn't be hastily overlooked. So share with us your thoughts. Participate. Rank.