Sunday 08/04/2013 by pzerbo

BGCA2 RECAP

OK, Phish fans.... we’re almost at the finish line for this leg of summer tour 2013! It has been a wild ride, and we still have the home stretch over the next two nights. Let’s cut to the action from Saturday at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. This recapper ran into a late-night perfect storm of adult socializing that resulted in an inspection of the sunrise, so today we’re going to necessarily be a bit brief.

Grind” starts off the gig, giving us our first taste of a cappella for the tour. The first “Weigh” since 6/28/12 Deer Creek (45 shows) also offers enough “stop-start” to allow the crowd to exercise some of the hopefully subsiding “woo” energy. In a silly oddball song like “Weigh” this crowd effort doesn’t seem intrusive – as opposed, say, to during the previous evening’s “Reba” – though hopefully we’re all getting this out of our system. The new-to-2013 start rolls on with the always spirited “Alumni Blues” > “Letter to Jimmy Page” > “Alumni Blues,” only the sixth such performance since 1994.

Lengthwise” was a treat for this fan – my first in nearly twenty-two years of attending Phish gigs. Not quite my long-sought “Icculus” :-) but list-keeping Phish geeks love crossing things off lists, so there it is. Then a fluid segue into its most common pairing over the last twenty years, “Maze.” Stretching almost ten minutes, this fiery “Maze” combined with the packed confines of BGCA kept the heat on full blast. Concise and enjoyable versions of “Sample,” “NICU” and “Mound” settle in to a stable mid-set section before expanding the 2013 repertoire again with “Jesus Just Left Chicago” (first since 7/3/12 Jones Beach, 41 shows).

Driver” was next, and was a very special tribute to a fan who had passed away last September, Ryan Hoherd. His brother, Pete, had led an online campaign to have “Driver” played at BGCA. As Pete noted, “Ry, a veteran of over 30 shows dating back to 1999, a dancing maniac, an amazing brother, husband, father, and an unbelievably positive spirit always felt deeply connected to Driver – a song which, he felt (and I agree), represented his zest and love for life: always moving forward even if not totally in control and perhaps at times thinking he should be better dressed.” RIP, Ry.

This long (16 song!) set rolls on with “Timber” > “Axilla,” “Bug” and the always mock-hated but mostly loved (common’, admit it) “Possum.” A rocking “First Tube” closes the book on back-to-back first sets at the BGCA that one can actually write home about. Entertaining, diverse, deep-dipping the repertoire, a little something for everyone.

Rock and Roll” opens and drives down the field for the touchdown in its traditional third-quarter kickoff slot. Clearly the improvisational highlight of this gig, this sixteen-minute version drives hard off the theme, then with Mike offering a decisive curve-meatball, we’re into the zone where we’re all float for the next ten minutes, settling down into a lovely segment where Fish dropped out for all but soft cymbals, painting a luscious dreamscape before cranking the up the tempo into a head-banging yet-melodic dance-a-thon. Great stuff... though this would represent the last time the band would really let out the jamming engines for the balance of the gig. The subsequent “Steam” was excellent, “Backwards Down the Number Line” gives the fans a chance to catch their breath, followed by the first pure Mike’s Groove (“Mike’s Song” > “I Am Hydrogen” > “Weekapaug Groove”) since 7/3/12 Jones Beach (41 shows). Both “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug” jams stayed well within their respective “box” but the much-loved “Hydrogen” was well worth the mostly straight-forward reading. The second “Joy” of the tour offers a reflective moment. This song is often cited as damaging the flow of a second set, but if you have a problem with Trey wanting to perform this song, your heart could likely use a little tune-up.

The rest of the set is classic Phish, with excellent-if-standard renditions of fan-favorites “Fluffhead,” “2001” and “Slave to the Traffic Light” rounding out the set. An encore of “Waste” and “Suzy Greenberg” sends the fans home happy.

Gotta run to the gig, but since I haven’t had a chance to write since Tahoe, I wanted to offer just a few quick postscript thoughts on the 7/31/13 gig. This was a really fun day for me, as I had the opportunity to play on behalf of The Mockingbird Foundation at our third annual Phamily Poker Classic charity poker tournament. I ended up finishing second and netting some additional cash ($1,369!) to put toward our efforts to support music education programs for kids. So my day was flying before the first notes – I was, well, jacked up! Then... the Tahoe “Tweezer.” First a little on set and setting, one that I had not experienced at a Phish show in many years: fifty feet in front of Mike, with personal space to extend arms in any direction, with three-deep amazing friends in a 360 around me, a cool breeze... and then, BOOM!

The “Tweezer” was so good, all you could really do was laugh (or cry, or jump up and down like a giddy schoolboy, or hug your friend, and that dude you never saw before in your life, or ‘woo!”) If that 36-minute improvisational masterpiece doesn’t move you, seriously, get a new hobby. I’ve been seeing improvisational live music as my primary form of recreation for over thirty years and have had the humble honor to witness tons of epic moments in the careers of Phish and many other bands; I don’t generally get into the “best ever” debates because, while fun, they kinda give me a headache. But the spontaneous eruption of joy and positive collective energy that took place between everyone in that parking lot was, well, special. Phish has thrown down plenty of single jams every bit the equal of the Tahoe “Tweezer.” But that musical / spiritual / emotional experience was as satisfying and uplifting as any I have ever experienced seeing Phish. That’s all.

Last year, the far-and-away best show of the San Francisco run was the third night. Are we in for a repeat? Stay tuned! Let’s do this!

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Comments

, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown I am bummed to miss tonight but so glad to have caught the past four. Can't wait for the Bowl tomorrow.

Great R&R last night. It was great not only for the playing and the energy but also for the fact that the sound was finally dialed in (after sucking profoundly -- at least in 318 -- for almost the entire second set). Thank god!
, comment by Doctor_Smarty
Doctor_Smarty ITYM first set sucked
, comment by plICCULUS
plICCULUS ^^ Agreed, Doctor....thought it was below average mostly bc I felt like Trey couldn't pull it together he was a mess the first set.
Now don't trip out on me, I still thought the show was a good show on the whole...just that first set was a little rough, mostly on Trey's part, IMHO...
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Are we really blaming the crowd for the Woos?

Phish can decide to not cut the volume any time they want..

, comment by Fleezer
Fleezer Well said on the Tweezer
, comment by Fleezer
Fleezer Certainly seems as though Trey is asking for the Woos in the spots they keep popping up in. Can't really blame the crowd for reciprocating, as much as I'd like it to stop. I'm sure it was an amazing experience to be a part of but that moment can't be recreated..
, comment by unoclay
unoclay " The first “Weigh” since 6/28/12 Deer Creek (45 shows) also offers enough “stop-start” to allow the crowd to exercise some of the hopefully subsiding “woo” energy. "

This kind of comment makes me sad. Hoping for the (instant) end of an band-audience gag (no matter how simplistic or corny or nonsensical) betrays the fundamental spirit of phish.

I heard some fans making comments of this nature at the shows, and did my best to rebut it. Rejecting the "woos" (really, a minor part of the show, no matter how much they might happen) smacks of headier-than-thou jaded vet elitism....at least to this occasionally-jaded-but-not-in-this-case vet.
, comment by Toob1997
Toob1997 You can woooooo if you want to. Leave your friends behind...
, comment by Searchin4_TheAncientsWisdom
Searchin4_TheAncientsWisdom Spot on unoclay - I guess some don't get the smiles given to the band via the audience and vice versa?...or have I been watching something else for the last 20 years?

Nice ode to Safety Dance Toob1997 ;-)
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @Plicculus said:
^^ Agreed, Doctor....thought it was below average mostly bc I felt like Trey couldn't pull it together he was a mess the first set.
Now don't trip out on me, I still thought the show was a good show on the whole...just that first set was a little rough, mostly on Trey's part, IMHO...
Folks we can't have it both ways....we can't bitch about tight song rotation as they nail songs we supposedly are sick of hearing so much, THEN complain how all over the map they are when they stumble and trip through rare pieces of music they don't play much. Most bands would never attempt to play a song that they weren't completely comfortable with in front of 10,000 people (and via Webcast, no less). Only Phish will do that. I mean, Jerry didn't even do that. I'm just saying....

Let's keep things in context.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Slave was north of standard, no ?

Seemed much more active
, comment by kyediggs
kyediggs I agree with facts. Cant have it both ways. Bitch and complain about repeats (btw have they repeated one single song during a run) Only phish phans bitch about repeats. Go on tour with the stones who have a HUGE catalog and their show is almost the same every night but I digress. Ive been a fan since 94 and regarding the woo's I remember people bitching about the claps in stash, WILSON, the hand wave in mound, the meatstick dance, hell people even complained when they heard phish was covering the talking heads in 96. If all you do is complain find a new hobby. Trust me I see the irony that this post is bitch while bitching about bitching but what happens when it all ends. Oh and Im soooo tired of Trey taking all the blame for things that go wrong. Yes he is the leader but give him a break he is one of the best artists ever
, comment by plICCULUS
plICCULUS Just to clear this up:

I wasn't bitching or complaining about anything- I was just making an observation - of which I thought to be true after watching the webcast and listening to the show again.

Also, I believe that Trey is one of the best guitarists to ever live...and you're right, we cant have it both ways, true fans know this...thats why we keep showing up!!!

See you on tour this fall
, comment by PennPhan
PennPhan @Factsareuseless

I saw Genesis on their "Disposable Income"* reunion tour around 10 years ago in two different cities. Each concert was a note-for-note duplication of the other show. Even the banter was the same; all that changed was the city name.

Do we really want something like that, or do we want the elastic organism that's a Phish show/tour? It's a kind of an obvious answer here....
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @PennPhan said:
@Factsareuseless

I saw Genesis on their "Disposable Income"* reunion tour around 10 years ago in two different cities. Each concert was a note-for-note duplication of the other show. Even the banter was the same; all that changed was the city name.

Do we really want something like that, or do we want the elastic organism that's a Phish show/tour? It's a kind of an obvious answer here....
I obviously agree, but then, that's not what I was saying. There was much complaint (myself included to a degree) about the band's tight song rotation earlier in the tour. It was subsequently theorized by myself and others that they were not yet comfortable at that point playing some of the rare stuff.

Well, they seem to have "responded" to all of us, if I could presumptuously state that, by playing a very wide rotation in recent weeks. So.....the inevitable happened to a degree, in that there were some sloppy breakouts from time to time. All I said was you can't have it both ways. You can't have perfect, tight playing AND a band that takes risks. The two concepts are generally at odds with each other. Amazingly, Phish pulls it off more often than not.
, comment by gonzo77
gonzo77 Great review. Very happy for the community to come together and for Phish to give us all a little tribute to Ryan. Nothing left to do but smile, smile smile.
, comment by phunky58
phunky58 Rock n Roll was excellent. A must hear without a doubt. Top 5 jams o tour. Steam came next and had the makings of being the "IT" version. The boys began to verge off the standard path and hit upon a great groove. At this point I thought this is it they are going to take steam where I always thought it could and should go. But unfortunately like a good amount of promising jams this tour it was abandoned. I was bummed bigtime. Don't get me wrong it was still a real good version but it was about to blossom into the best version ever played. Ill say it again Rock n Roll is a must listen. They stepped up their game after they hit the west coast for sure.
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