Friday 08/02/2013 by Doctor_Smarty

TAHOE RECAP: SPONTANEOUS WOOOO!

The first leg of our journey to see Phish in Lake Tahoe was grueling. After two amazing shows at the Gorge Amphitheater had left my wife and I in a state of complete disarray, we loaded up the truck and began the long descent from the Columbia Plateau to the Klamath Lake Basin. The drive seemed interminably long, owing mostly to the fatigue of three solid days of raging hard against the dying of the keg, but also due to some severe wildfire smoke inhalation. At times the road ahead was lost in a hazy mirage. My whole face seemed chapped from the dry heat of the high desert. After nine hours of hard labor, we pulled up to the Running Y Ranch and settled into our lodging for the night. We were so tired, we couldn’t even be bothered to pull the lid off the hot tub we had at our disposal. The ascent from Klamath Falls to the liquid sapphire in the center of the Sierra Nevada uplift was, in stark contrast, the driving equivalent of a cool mountain breeze blowing up the leg of my cargo shorts. Incredible what a good sleep can do for your performance. If I had any sense I would pay attention to that lesson and take a nap before I wrote this recap. Since I took two, and drove home to Portland, I apologize that you may not read this before the Bill Graham shows begin. Hell, I was only signed up for writing the recap for night two in Tahoe...but since my esteemed colleague Phillip Zerbo was busy training for his epic second place finish at the Phamily Poker Classic and couldn’t stop shuffling his deck long enough to put fingers to keyboard, I had to combine both shows into one ball of earwax. So let’s get to burning it.

Day one began with another stunner of a soundcheck which included “My Soul,” an odd “Dog Log,” “Buffalo Bill,” and a “Power of Soul” jam. Listening from my room at the Green Lantern it seemed apparent that whatever Phish was going to throw down in Tahoe this time around would be something special. By the time we found our spot to the right of the soundboard I was extremely excited for what was to follow. “Wolfman’s Brother” eased out of the gate with a languid flow that slowly built into a nasty call and response funk-fest that is riddled with machine gun bullets and just oozing ‘97 juice all over the place. A great start to the show to be sure. “Gotta Jibboo” keeps the happy dance vibe going strong with some stellar gin-infused ornamentation of its primary theme by the entire band. “Cavern” was standard paint by numbers fare, but nevertheless maintained the high energy from which the “Birds of a Feather” took flight. The Tahoe “Birds” is as colorful as the Western Tanager and as abundant as the Dark-Eyed Junco. One of the better versions this bird-watcher can remember in recent times. After expressing their pleasure toward being back in the beautiful casino parking lot it takes a while to come to terms with the “Funky Bitch” that follows. Once on the scene, she struts and preens, jiggles and careens, and works that healthy rump...as always, ”Funky Bitch” got back. The “Cities” that follows is of limited area and is in actuality a pretty small town...but it does have a rather delicate and ornate bridge with an evocative exit ramp into an atypically narrow and frenetic “Rift.” “Bathtub Gin” is initially a thick syrupy mash that eventually bubbles and froths chaotically through multiple time changes and is thereby distilled into a potent aqua vitae that is quite intoxicating. “Tube” was annoyingly brief and gives way to a set closing “Walk Away” that veers into its typically delicious “Tweezer Reprise” jam space...little did we know what this would portend.

Golden Age” opens the second set with a happy groove that settles into an alien splash dance of soaring cetaceans awash in a twinkling sea of stars. The chugging boot stomp blooze of “46 Days” follows and is fairly incendiary before splashing into “Boogie on Reggae Woman” with a truly raunchy funk transition that slipped clumsily out of the band’s hands before they could close the deal smoothly. “Boogie” is just that...a modest dollop of electrified chocolate pudding dance sauce with an equally abrupt drop into “Ghost.” “Ghost” shuffles out of the attic with less than no urgency until the Chairman starts rattling the boards. The jam segment is initially a twisted blend of knocking on and walking through doors. As the pace quickens the entity takes flight and begins tearing in circles around the ceiling before bursting through the roof and soaring skyward for a brief flight then floating slowly down to Earth to meet “Carini.” “Carini” seems initially wary and lacking its tendency to be menacing and gruff and features an ensuing jam that is uncharacteristically clean and bright throughout its course towards “Piper.” The red red worm bursts out of the granitic gruss-pile surrounding Lake Tahoe with great energy and manages to sustain it throughout its ascent of each of the peaks it crossed as it squirmed its coil westward towards the sea. “Wading in the Velvet Sea” provided seventh inning stretch duties in typical tear-jerking fashion. “Mike’s Song” is compact but powerful and just begs to be taken out for an extended jog but instead trips over a curb and into “Slave to the Traffic Light.” “Slave” seemed to be a little more somber and subdued than usual yet still brings the second set to a soaring conclusion, thereby setting the stage for the first "Weekapaug Groove" encore in over 23 years (5/23/90). "Weekapaug" dances around several ‘70s funk classics, evokes strains of Rabbie Burns’ ode to friends near and far, then shreds them all in a high speed blender, the resulting contents of which are then unceremoniously dumped into the lap of “Character Zero.” The first night of Tahoe thus closes in epic head-banging foot-stomping hard-rocking fashion. All in all a pretty solid show, the musical equivalent of a flat-topped basalt mesa. No really tall jagged peaks, but still takes a lot of energy to get up on top and take a look around at the beauty that surrounds.

Tahoe night two begins quite unassumingly considering what was to follow. For the 32nd time in my personal Phish career, the show opens with “Chalk Dust Torture.” I have seen it way more than “Possum”...and I always love it...as it seems does everyone else. This version is nothing special, bordering on sloppy, but gets everybody moving. The “Camel Walk” which follows struggles to keep the groove alive as it is unable to strut its stuff and stumbled wearily around the oasis to a tragic death. “Sparkle” takes the high-energy third song spot that “Cavern” filled the night before and deftly re-vivifies the desiccating corpse of the dead dromedary. With pep back in our step its time to get “Back on the Train.” This locomotive is full steam ahead, setting a blistering pace as it rides high speed superconductor rails toward the frosty Alpine terminal station of “It’s Ice.” I often groan audibly when Phish begins to play “It’s Ice,” but I managed to stifle such a response this time and was rewarded with an ICE COLD “Golden Age” groove that was far too brief. “Brian and Robert” brought the temperature down several more degrees and seemed to my ears to be slightly reworked melodically. The lyrics of “Yarmouth Road” may tell an interesting story, but the journey along the street you have to go down to hear it is way too long and musically uninteresting...the tune just doesn’t “Say Something” to me...if you know what I mean. Having already heard “Chalkdust” once in this set, I bailed during “Kill Devil Falls” to go refill my water bottle. Even while re-listening to the show to write this recap, I got up, went to the fridge for a drink, went to the bathroom and still got back to my seat in time to catch the largely uninteresting average great jam this version contained. Next time will be different...right? “Kill Devil Falls” gives way to the olfactory hues of “Lawn Boy.” This version features a subdued bass solo from Gordo and a completely over the top chairman of the crooners finale but was otherwise a typical flower sniffing walk around the backyard with a glass of cabernet in one hand and a cigar in the other. “Ocelot” slowly builds pace from this place of tranquility and gets further and further afield ultimately ending up out into the wild space of the surrounding forests before abruptly tumbling down a hill to the set-ending “Stash.” The “Stash” of course represents the opening of the portal to what would follow in the soon to be legendary second set. Without this “Stash” the first set may actually be considered pretty bland but it actually got somewhere in the end and set the stage for the second frame.

During setbreak my wife asked me what they would open the second set with. “Tweezer” was my reply. What I should have said was “the best fucking ‘Tweezer’ you will hear in person ever.” As the door to the ice chest is pried open to expose Uncle Ebeneezer’s frozen head you can immediately tell this one is going to be different. I’m sure by now you’ve read Jeremy Welsh’s breakdown of the jam and inspected Michael Hamad’s charting of the Tahoeeezer, but if not, please do so. Those guys know what they are talking about. For me this “Tweezer” was the ultimate summation of my entire Phish career. Everybody who goes to see Phish multiple times is chasing something. Me...I was chasing the epic ‘94 and ‘95 Tweezers. I now no longer have a white whale to hunt. The funny thing was, due to how grueling this four show run was for us, we had already decided to retire. Throughout this mind-blowing Tweezer jam I was cackling to myself in realization that somehow the band knew I had quit and they were giving me the golden handshake. It builds from gentle groove into a heavy rock bulldozer that could have moved mountains before recoiling into a venomous space serpent repeatedly lashing out at asteroids it flies between as it orbits Jupiter. It is one of those jams where you hear everything and nothing all at once. It is the raw essence of the universe pouring through the four members of the band acting as one...yes people...the HOSE was turned wide-fucking open and love comes again and again and again. I heard “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” and “Revival” all wrapped up into one. Then came the spontaneous woos. The jam takes a slight Eastern European turn before stepping on the gas and reigniting the stop-start spontaneous woo in full rage mode. “Can’t you see?” Can’t you see what this band is doing to me? Ripcord pulled back into Tweezer. Following the eighth longest jam in Phish history (not counting soundchecks and tower jams and things of that nature of course), the rest of the second set is of course nothing but gravy. That gravy consisted of “Tela” riding in on the cool breeze from beyond the mountains, the original gangster spontaneous woo jam of “Twist,” as always infused with the essence of “Oye Como Va,” the best “Architect” ever as it clearly draws some of the majesty of the preceding “Tweezer” jam, my wife successfully harpooning her own white whale (“Bouncing Around the Room”) after nine attempts, and a very spirited “Run Like an Antelope” (been you to have any woooo?). An always rocking “Julius” set the stage for a spontaneous woo-infused “Tweeprise” and the second Tahoe run was successfully rage stomped to a close.

The Tahoe Tweezer left me with the feeling that IT could happen at any moment. Enjoy Bill Graham, Hollywood Bowl, Dick’s, Fall on the East Coast, and of course NYE at MSG...we’ll be at home on the couch....taking IT easy. Perhaps we’ll see you next year. Woooo!

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Comments

, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM And...just like that...we have a new name for a jamband.
, comment by kernalforbin1983
kernalforbin1983 DUDE great writing, seriously the way you described everything was fantastic and made me feel like i was there. WHOOOO!
, comment by TheEmu
TheEmu @kernalforbin1983 said:
DUDE great writing, seriously the way you described everything was fantastic and made me feel like i was there. WHOOOO!
@Doctor_Smarty is made of pure, concentrated awesome.
, comment by UPFUL187
UPFUL187 Great review.
Quitter!!
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS An old Dead-Head friend of mine who to this day cannot understand why I "betrayed" him and fell in love with Phish, is always quick to point out that the 'problem with Phish is their jams just don't go anywhere.'

Yeah. Maybe so.
Maybe not.
, comment by tedp19
tedp19 great descriptive review. and whether you like architect or not (I do), you have to admit this was a very inspired effort. especially trey.
, comment by ckess22
ckess22 Metaphor alert
Glad you got your whale, ahab.
, comment by beargonefishin
beargonefishin It's good tweezer for them now. I was at Portland 98 for tweezer Cali love, the beast of 12-7-97, the best Hampton shows in 97, this tweezer is ok, but lacks what those had by a mile. Phish jams don't go anywhere much anymore. I had 20+ min jams on every 2001. Now you kids get 4 min total song. Fucking sad to those if us who were there 20 years ago thru first break up. I understand you new kids (post 2004) are glad they are still playing. I just can't see it that way having seen 150+ shows from 95-2000. It's sloppy half ass practiced now. Why last two nye and first 6-8 shows of tour suck. Remember spac train wreck this tour? 6 possums in 12 shows?
, comment by dipped
dipped @bear....As someone who has been seeing them for closer to 30 years, I couldn't disagree more.
, comment by beargonefishin
beargonefishin Sorry you can't tell jam from noodling dipped. I suggest listening to more dead and WSP w jimmy and comparing !
, comment by beargonefishin
beargonefishin Don't have believe me though. Go read reviews from this site on last two years NYE or count the 6 possums and backwards during first 12.5 shows this tour. They always play same shit and sloppy til they been on road long enough to add and practice more. Stats are stats. They don't lie.
, comment by dipped
dipped I accept your apology. My Dead history is vast. As is my distaste for stats when it comes to valuing music. As is my sympathy for those who place exclusive value on the glory days.
, comment by MDosque
MDosque @beargonefishin said:
Don't have believe me though. Go read reviews from this site on last two years NYE or count the 6 possums and backwards during first 12.5 shows this tour. They always play same shit and sloppy til they been on road long enough to add and practice more. Stats are stats. They don't lie.
Wow - that's kind of true though - since they don't play together that much at all, numerous shows are needed until they are "warmed up" even though the shows in the meantime are still stellar concerts. I think they hit their stride at MPP2, got a little derailed in Chicago by mother nature, but truly were in full gallop at Gorge and Tahoe. But Bear, seriously, you are out of line. I listened to the Tweezer and I'm not into "show cred" but I have a little from the 90's, not a ton, but I've seen a few greats also, and musically, they are right up there when they are firing. I will cede the point that because they don't play together all the time anymore, there is a little more slop, but you are off course with the harsh criticism. Oh yeah, WSP is gey as shit, sorry dude, I don't dig wanna be southern rockers playing to dip spitting frat guys from Alabama, and of course the Dead are the mountaintop, so what's the point in comparing. Just because you saw some shows in 97-98 (I did too, who cares?) doesn't mean that what they are doing now can't be great. It is.

Dosque
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @beargonefishin said:
It's good tweezer for them now. I was at Portland 98 for tweezer Cali love, the beast of 12-7-97, the best Hampton shows in 97, this tweezer is ok, but lacks what those had by a mile. Phish jams don't go anywhere much anymore. I had 20+ min jams on every 2001. Now you kids get 4 min total song. Fucking sad to those if us who were there 20 years ago thru first break up. I understand you new kids (post 2004) are glad they are still playing. I just can't see it that way having seen 150+ shows from 95-2000. It's sloppy half ass practiced now. Why last two nye and first 6-8 shows of tour suck. Remember spac train wreck this tour? 6 possums in 12 shows?
You're embarrassing yourself.

No, really.
, comment by awesomepossum
awesomepossum Dr. Smarty.
Set 2 of night 1 on Tahoe to me clearly demonstrated the yin to the yang, starting with the heavenly warmth of Golden Age and ending up in the depths of dirty Carini. Loved it!
Night 2 of Tahoe: I find Yarmouth to be underrated musically. This is what I predict to be Mike's next good tune, once you get a taste for it. How can one not like reggae?
Tweezer? Duh! 37 mins of goosebumps, it was the best I've ever seen! Did you see how happy Trey was? Perfect example of the audience joining the band (not to mention CK5), all of us meshing as one with the fabric of the universe.
Love your review.
Can't wait til Dicks.
, comment by GitDown
GitDown Glad I wasn't the only one to hear The Marshall Tucker Band in the middle of that jam.
, comment by awesomepossum
awesomepossum @beargonefishin -regarding your comments:

beargonefishin 8/03/13 11:59 am
Sorry you can't tell jam from noodling dipped. I suggest listening to more dead and WSP w jimmy and comparing !
beargonefishin 8/03/13 12:03 pm
Don't have believe me though. Go read reviews from this site on last two years NYE or count the 6 possums and backwards during first 12.5 shows this tour. They always play same shit and sloppy til they been on road long enough to add and practice more. Stats are stats. They don't lie.

....Having seen my first Phish show in 1992, I'm not a new kid on this block. And I remember clearly just how much Panic kids (and many Deadheads) HATED Phish throughout the 90's, only to see those SAME kids on Phish tour now.

You are a rarity if you were seeing both bands simultaneously back in the late 1990's. You're even more rare if, as a panic kid, you actually liked the song Tweezer back then.
It makes me question whether you're a real fan of either band.

Nowadays Phish is not sloppy, as you say, but tighter than I've heard them in many years. Their songs go deep, and they tease all their other songs throughout their jams. They do animal calls. They bounce and blend off each other. They fucking rock. I have to ask you Bear, "can you still have fun?" 37 minutes of fun, at least?

BGF, the repeat I'm sick of hearing is that of Spreadheads like yourself ripping on Phish.
With a handle like yours I would suggest that you stay home and download all those great Panic shows of late (ha) and leave the floor space open for the real phans.
, comment by dogspot
dogspot Great review. As a veteran since the early 90s, and having been in attendance for some "best ever" performances (5/7/94 Tweezerfest...11/22/94 Funky Bitch...8/17/97 Bathtub Gin), I wholeheartedly agree that this glorious rendition of Tweezer is an all-time classic. The jam has character that distinguishes it from any other, an important element that is consistent amongst all the highly touted versions of Phish songs.
, comment by Syltheone
Syltheone I have been reading this blog for quite a while, as I find it to be a refreshing take on these shows.
I dislike adding to conversations about music as music is such a personal thing and I don't want to offend anyone with what I like or dislike.

That being said, bear, You don't know shit.
, comment by CosmicJamz
CosmicJamz A Tweezer masterpiece. As a Tweezer seeker, I cannot wait to hear what happens after Uncle Ebeneezer. I always have a great time, whether the song drops a danceable funky groove, a psychedelic monstrosity, or a Trey-led shredfest. This Tahoe Tweezer had it all! I've had the opportunity to catch awesome Tweezers in my experience: 12/31/98 > Cities; Lemonwheel funkdom; Island tour funkfest; etc. but this Tahoe one is IT as far as a smorgasbord of fun.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM Another amazing 3.0 jam threatens the insecurities of those living in the past. This isn't a 12 minute gin we're talking about here and no one is using the phrase 'musical density.' If you can't give credit to a legitimate jam regardless of eras, then you're truly a slave to the history. Sometimes I wonder why certain people still bother--you're clearly doing it wrong.
, comment by Doctor_Smarty
Doctor_Smarty Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts everybody...truth be told...I can't quit now...I'm only 8 shows from triple digits.

Plus...on the strength of the Tweezer alone...not to mention the rest of the killer shows I saw this summer...I can't quit

Favre'd
, comment by mudshark77
mudshark77 Marty,

The only thing you should quit is rooting for those cheating patriots. Tebow'd
, comment by InsectEffect
InsectEffect
@Doctor_Smarty Thx for this -- with the epicness of Tweezer, this actually ended up working well as a 2-in-1 Tahoe recap!

, comment by OR_CrayPhish
OR_CrayPhish A bit late but would love to hear any comments. I just posted this on the Phishish Poll Thursdays and thought it would be good here as well..........

Just an interesting side note I’d like to throw out there about the Tahoeweezer call and response (haven’t seen any other similar comments yet and may not?). I was incredibly fortunate to make this show coming off an amazing grinding Gorge adventure thanks to some close phriends that had extras and were jamming down to tahoe. I booked a flight from Portland and joined them.

A decent size group of us were located on the floor center stage about 100-150ft back during the show. When the call and response began we all quickly jumped on the band wagon. We however we’re all yelling “Tah” – “Hoe”. Not Woo-Woo. Suddenly everyone around us began the same and I thought it was going to take off. We all looked at each other and everyone around us emphasizing “tah” “hoe” and it spread like wildfire but fizzled just as quickly it seemed as the entire arena began to chime in. If you listen carefully to the first few responses I think it’s clear that we all really didn’t know what to yell, at least initially. By the second response set it’s more defined and unanimous. We also begrudgingly jettisoned on our efforts and joined the “woo” crowd.

So does anyone else have any interpretations to what they heard or can remember lol. I’m sure folks were yelling all kinds of different stuff. It was awesome no matter but I believe it would’ve been more fun if our little chant had taken over. Maybe the following shows/songs with “Woo’s” could have been unique to their particular venues as well.

Another interesting similar and relevant side note I’d like to mention. This was so thrilling for me and my buddy who I went with primarily due to the fact that although we did not know each other at the time we were both at the 1996 Red Rocks Hood call and response show (although planned). To get to be a part of two virgin call and responses is one of the highlights of my life. It would be awesome if maybe phish.netters initiated another fun crowd response in the future. I.E. Golden Age “Clap your hands if you think you’re in the right place” and we the fans institute a stash like clap etc???? Just an idea.
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