As the Tour De Phish entered its second stage, its riders, of the rail variety or otherwise were faced with some stormy conditions. The weather was severe enough that the venue doors were opened late as a safety precaution. As far as the recapper’s experience goes, I was faced with technical difficulties associated with a poor wifi connection in my Lake Tahoe vacation rental. The webcast was therefore unwatchable and the following will be based entirely on listening to the show when I awoke this morning to find out that my wife and I had managed to chase off her parents, leaving us to celebrate our Independence. What follows is a live blogged relistening as I chug coffee in advance of some fireworks.
The “Farmhouse” opener is a warm welcome with a semi-awkward embrace and a soothing backrub to get some blood flowing and some feeling back into the soggy appendages. This slow warm-up was the perfect prelude to the funktastic “Wolfman’s Brother” which followed. It found a killer groove and is edgy and raw. I would imagine I would have been dancing as hard to this one as I did in Bangor a year ago. Walking into the “Maze” I was expecting the energy to remain elevated but this version is quite a mess. The interplay between Page and Trey for the bulk of the song reminds me of the conversation my wife and I had with her parents last night...everybody has something to say...but nobody was doing any listening. Just poor communication. Jarring, wonky, not really a good time.
Things did not improve with the traverse along “Yarmouth Road” unfortunately. The whole band sounds really tired...which is not a good thing four songs into the first set. “Strange Design”...simply describes the setlist so far. The energy is already low...so please pour this molasses on my head as I chug some sizzurp. I’m not saying it wasn’t played well. It’s just doing nothing to keep me awake. Perhaps even lulling me to sleep, perchance to “Devotion to a Dream.” The first of four Fuego tracks to be performed this evening finally breathes some life back into the set. “Ocelot” then slouches back down into another shady glen for another completely unnecessary mellow breather. It’s like being on a hike at altitude, getting oxygen deprived and lungless from very minimal exertion. Where is the fire? Please get me some “Chalkdust” to end this torture. Energetic but discordant. I feel alive but uncomfortable. Heart rate elevated sufficiently. Now lets do something with this renewed vitality. Yeah! We can climb this “Mound” and find out what both we and it are made of. Quite an interesting version, a chaotic jumble of angular blocks of deep thought that shouldn’t quite fit together in one place but somehow do in a very pleasing manner. A fitting counterpoint to the soothing deep brain massage offered by the “Roggae” which follows. Glossy and smooth with a patiently building groove that is only slightly marred by some minor flubbery on Trey’s part. I would have dropped this into the “Strange Design” slot above. Relaxed but glowing and alive. Back on track...just in time to end the set. I love “Possum” and would be happy hearing it at every show. This specimen features some sweet piano work and a little bit of machine gun fire. You got me again...I’ll stick around for the second set...just in case things get more interesting.
“Bathtub Gin” to open the second set? Alright, things just got more interesting. The first pour is a slooooow gin fizz. A rhapsody in Sapphire. Shaken and stirred. Cool and refreshing. Well balanced and smooth. An aromatic blend of rich exotic spices with a hypnotic finish that fades to a stunning “Limb by Limb.” Definitely a must hear version of the song. The jam goes way out beyond the trail markers to find a pulsing mass of thick phosphorescent goo which stands a menacing guard at the gates to the land of the “Winterqueen.” The second Fuego tune of the night is perfectly placed, well played, and does nothing to mar the magnificence of what preceded it. It is a moment to breathe deep and admire all which surrounds in the circus of light...as we step to “The Line.”
Considering the subject matter of the song and the nature of Trey’s time spent in the Saratoga area...hearing this third Fuego track of the night during the SPAC run is not a surprise. A great reminder that we can overcome our failures. Even those as recent as a largely lifeless and disjointed first set. Especially when you are going to drop a late game “Tweezer” after an already solid third quarter. The “Tweezer” jam is average great. Which is to say it treads no new ground...but there is still nothing I would rather listen to than this song. Play it every show, every set, I’m loving it every time. It always touches me in my “no-no square” whenever it appears. The late-game butt fumble for this show is the rather perfunctory “Prince Caspian” paired with a typically cracked out “Sparkle” which followed. The fumble is recovered by a high energy “Antelope” and returned the length of the field for a potentially game winning touchdown to close the set. The success of the PAT conversion during the encore would make the difference between a win, loss, or tie for this contest. Obviously we should be getting a “Tweezer Reprise” but with what would it be paired? I had been calling for a “Showprise” conclusion all day but instead we got the fourth Fuego song of the night an awkward thank you from Page and “Sing Monica” as our prize. It was a solid performance of the song they wrote about a girl they don’t know. I know I don’t have to tell you that “Tweeprise” was FUCKING AWESOME. So the encore was scored as a solid kick right between the uprights earning a single point and a tie for the game. As the saying goes...it’s like kissing your sister.
Expecting drier conditions and some fireworks tonight. I’ll be raging Lights on the Lake with an estimated crowd of a million that will undoubtedly be dispersed by national guard troops before the evening concludes. Be safe. Murica!
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March 27, 1993
25 years ago
Set 2: Buried Alive > Halley's Comet > It's Ice > Bouncing Around the Room, Chalk Dust Torture, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin' Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Poor Heart > Golgi Apparatus
 Beginning featured Trey on acoustic guitar.
 Fish on trombone.
 All Fall Down signal in intro.
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