For today's recap we welcome guest blogger Dianna Hank.
Being a native New Yorker, the announcement of SPAC shows is always a little bittersweet for me. Sure, it’s easy enough to get to and the crowd will be full of people I know; but it will also be full of a lot of people I don’t want to know who only come up to the shows to party at Lee’s for three days and annoy the rest of us who actually show up to listen to music. Imagine? That being said, after a soggy yet incredibly fun dance party on the lawn the first night with only minor disturbances, this year I was lucky enough to be able to take in the second and third shows of the run from the pavilion. While I am a SPAC lawn defender – the sound and view are great as long as you get a good spot up front and don’t have to deal with obnoxious drunk kids – seeing a show from four rows back in the pavilion is a whole other ballgame. Because of the structure of the pavilion, the sound up there seems to engulf you and vibrate through your entire body. It’s loud but not in a painful way. It’s clear, crisp, and precise and “it feels good.”
Going into night three of the run, I was pretty excited about what was still left for Phish to play. The prior two nights had delivered a number of seriously impressive jams that I can’t wait to go back and listen to over and over again and I assumed and hoped that night three would be no different. My only hopes for the evening were a raging “David Bowie," a blissful “Slave to the Traffic Light” and a funky “Wombat” to complete the track list of Fuego songs that had already been played this tour. Lucky for me, I got not only these three things but so much more!
The show kicked off with one of my favorite show openers, “Crowd Control.” While on the softer, poppier side of Phish, it also gets the show started off in a positive, joyful way and usually brings about something short yet sweet from Trey. Next up was “My Friend, My Friend," bringing the crowd energy up significantly and showing us that they meant business. “Scent of a Mule” continued the energy build, getting everyone doing their best do-si-dos. Page provides a fiery intro to a marimba lumina solo by Fish which makes this version one to definitely check out. While the marimba solo sounded a bit like Phish’s attempt at EDM, I was just happy to see it being used. A few composed sections of songs (such as Mule’s ending) were a bit flubbed by Trey, but the energy and creativity which he brought to the table for the jams made those flubs seem insignificant.
A standard yet clean “Undermind” showed that the boys were still having fun, with Trey introducing Fishman as “Moses Heaps” for the first time since 1988 Short yet efficient, “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” brought some heat before we got back to silly Phish with “I Didn’t Know.” Trey introduces Fish as “Moses DeWitt” for the first time since 1991 and Trey’s face during the vacuum solo further proved just how much fun they were all having on stage. “Foam”’s first appearance since last summer was a pleasant surprise followed by the drop into “Wombat” which evoked a huge cheer from the crowd. A massive funk dance party erupted as the final song off of Fuego finally made a 2014 appearance and the only complaint I have was that I wished it was twice as long. “Divided Sky” was standard and beautiful, with a huge glowstick war erupting throughout the venue during the overly extended pause. As someone who has been disappointed by its placement many times in the past, I was actually pretty ok with this slot for “Wading in the Velvet Sea.” It gave the crowd a little chance to breathe after a high energy “Divided Sky” and before the raging, set-closing “David Bowie."
The real meat of this show came in the second set. As soon as the band got back on stage after setbreak, they got to work, quickly bursting into “Carini” and evoking a massive roar from the crowd. After the last balcony-shaking performance of this song, hopes were high that this one would pack as much punch as the Letterman version did. As a “Carini” convert who prefers blissful, beautiful Phish to dark, scary Phish most of the time, this Carini did exactly what most recent “Carinis” have been doing – brought the fire in the beginning of the song before lifting off and floating away into the serene abyss. While seemingly cut a little short by the > “Waves," it was a welcome transition and this segment of music set the tone for the rest of the set. Similarly ethereal, this “Waves” fit perfectly after the euphoric “Carini” jam.
Next up, “Wingsuit” continued this airy theme while delivering a powerful punch in the second half of the tune. After two satisfying jams with “Carini” and “Waves,” this “Wingsuit” was a bit more well received than the Mansfield version, promising to be a bit more jammed out considering its place in the second set. A beautiful “Piper” continued this dreamlike setlist, followed by a well executed “Fluffhead.” “Heavy Things” threw me for a bit of a loop, coming late in the second set. While this tune can contain a short but sweet little jam from Trey, it seemed to me that it was only in response to the onslaught of glowsticks that rained down on the crowd during the “Fluffhead” peak. Back to business after “Heavy Things," the band dropped into “Slave to the Traffic Light” which I assumed would be the set closer. A personal favorite song of mine, this “Slave” provides all the heart-warming, soul-opening, major chord bliss that most if not all other Slaves do. I’ve never met a Slave I didn’t like.
After a glorious peak, Phish did what they do best and surprised us with yet another tune, the crowd favorite “You Enjoy Myself.” Few things feel better than realizing that not only is the set not over yet, but that it won’t be over for another 20 minutes or so. This “YEM” was the perfect set closer to a dare I say epic set of music from Phish. If it wasn’t apparent through their playing, Trey’s dance moves during Mike’s solo proved just how much fun these guys were having on stage. This is one of those second sets I think I will be listening to straight through over and over again for a while.
“Suzy Greenberg” closed out the show and while not particularly a special encore, it felt appropriately celebratory after a weekend of great music. With the first four shows of the tour in the books and highlights from each already evident, I can’t wait to see what else is in store for this summer.
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Mike Gordon: February 19, 2018
18 minutes ago
Belly Up Tavern
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