Saturday 07/26/2014 by jugglerswithfire

CHARLOTTE RECAP: WINTER "QUEEN" CITY

Hey kids, hope you enjoyed the time off since Sunday in Chicago. Last night led us back to the “Queen City” of the south. Phish has played in Charlotte fifteen times, with the recently renamed PNC Music Pavilion host to five previous Phish gigs. This shed boasts a solid track record, yielding surprise bust-outs such as “Colonel Forbin's” > “Mockingbird" and “Icculus” from 6/7/11, the glorious “Harry Hood” from 7/25/03, and the nearly 30-minute “2001” on 7/7/99. The last time Phish played here Trey made a comment that “there’s just something about playing this venue." So although as a fan I try to keep expectations in check, there are certain venues where you expect great things, and Charlotte is one of them.


Photo by Mike Gordon – © Phish

Late in July in the south, the heat and humidity yield swamp-ass just by stepping outside. Today proved different as the temperature was in the mid 80’s with tolerable relative humidity, and cloud cover to keep the sun from frying you.

As in 2011 when Phish played Charlotte, the band again opened with “Mike’s Song." The energy in the room was high as all four band members looked and sounded like they were ready to take care of business. “Mike’s Song” still did not contain the second jam, but was well executed and led into a solid “Back on the Train." The sandwich ended there as a super solid version of “Weekapaug” followed.


Setlist pictograms by Joseeen (available at Etsy)

One of my favorite songs from Fuego followed, “Wingsuit." The lyrics to this song ring true to my soul, “it’s only you, be you cause you’re the only one." Although tonight’s wasn’t as powerful as some of the previous versions in it’s short history it was certainly played with soul. A standard great version of “Possum” spurred the crowd to begin dancing in rhythm. As the opening notes of “Tube” began I involuntarily looked at the time to see how long this version would go. The funk was deep as all four members were locked in and everyone in the audience was shaking their asses. Although this “Tube” only clocks in at 5:17, it’s quite stupendous, and if you are a “Tube” fan that has been wanting for a little more, I recommend a listen.

As the beginning notes of “My Friend, My Friend” started, I looked around the venue and smiled as this first set was feeling more like a second set. When the hysterical cackles of “My Friend, My Friend” came, I wondered what would follow. Another Fuego tune was next, “Winterqueen,” a song that has evolved rapidly and produces a melodic interplay between all four members. I will admit I was not a fan of this song when it debuted in Atlantic City but it was really a highlight of the set.


Photo © PhishPhish From the Road

Making it’s 2014 debut after a 42-show absence, Page’s beautiful ballad “Beauty of a Broken Heart” followed. As Fishman began to play the opening notes of “David Bowie," my heart raced with excitement. What a great first set to see. “Bowie” has been particularly strong in the 3.0 era, and this version included a “Beauty of a Broken Heart” tease by Trey. While this version may not stand out in a ranking exercise, it was still a great “Bowie." Everyone in the venue was enjoying watching Chris Kuroda’s favorite song to light up as the band raged the song that most of the audience thought was the strong set closer. Happy birthday, Chris! Phish was not done with us yet, as the first “Golgi Apparatus” of 2014 started. Unfortunately, it was evident that it was the first one in 2014, but still was a lot of fun and you could feel synergy with the band the audience.

Setbreak, whew. That set definitely had major flow, energy and engaged playing by all four members. Being a girl at a Phish show is sometimes the best thing ever, like when you go at setbreak to use the restroom and get a drink all within eight minutes. Efficiency, it rules, giving more time to see friends scattered about the venue.


Image by Mike Hamad of Setlist Schematics

The second set began with “555." Would my dream of seeing this go type II happen? Not tonight, but it is still such an enjoyable song to see live, it just needs more room to fulfill its potential. The opening notes of my most seen song (60 times, 31%), “Chalk Dust Torture” followed. There have been some exquisite versions of “CDT” recently – Mann2 and the Randall’s monster – and this version shines with Page leading the jam, complete with a spice of “woo” and was left unfinished as they kept it rolling.

True to their word – and in my opinion quite the gift – every city gets their own “Fuego!” This “Fuego” didn’t have the punch that other versions have seen this tour. “Fuego” has incredible potential to become a piece you listen to and completely forget what song you’re hearing. “Fuego” -> ”Twist” was a beautiful segue and I heard the “Twist” coming a mile away. “Twist” was jammed short but honey sweet and certainly one could hope it would have lasted longer.

The “Twist”-> “Circus” may not have been what you were looking for but the segue is seamless. I personally love this song and associate the lyrics with the whole Phish experience. When the notes of “Piper” began, there was quite a bit of excitement in the crowd. This “Piper” was over way too quickly – bring back the slow build, please! – with Trey initiating another segue into “Rift" despite Fish’s best efforts to roll with the “Piper” jam.


Photo © PhishPhish From the Road

Another new album number followed, “Waiting All Night,” which is catchy as hell, “just Sail On, Sail On." When the opening notes of “Reba” began, I had chills. Although a little rough in some of the composed parts, it was a beautiful “Reba." After the “Reba” I hoped we would get a “Hood” or “Slave," instead, we got “Character Zero’d." While not a favorite, you have to give it its due as a raging song. The encore was another 2014 debut, the cover “Loving Cup” which is well, always a beautiful buzz.

In summary, a good show with great segues and succinct improvisation, an excellent first set and a good second set which had high crowd energy despite interesting song choices in the flow.

Have a great time in Merriweather, guys! Remember always dance if you can, be kind to each other, and help someone if you can. And smile, dammit, you’re at a Phish show!


Setlist pictograms by Joseeen (available at Etsy)

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Comments

, comment by JahNuhDead
JahNuhDead Circus Comes is a hell of a lot better than a 2nd set Velvet Sea.
, comment by Ravinus
Ravinus I'm stoked for my annual merriweather attendance. So glad the boys got loving cup out of the way.
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 Nice job and good advice at the end. Merriweather tonight!!
, comment by frankstallone
frankstallone
, comment by mterry
mterry @frankstallone said:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmBy76UU2bs
fvck yes.
, comment by jonnylips
jonnylips Great review, couldn't have said it any better. Charlotte is always a blast.. so much crowd energy all throughout.
, comment by ScoopyGreenberg
ScoopyGreenberg Attended last nights show. Been waiting for their return to CLT for 2 years and was super stoked for last nights Friday night Fest!! Something was just off about the show though. The 1st set started off with an uppercut to the chin...Mikes groove thru Tube was fire and a rockin start to the night. I'm not a big Winterqueen fan but I'm starting to really get into the live jam that song has been producing...definitely a keeper tonight. Bowie and Golgi rocked before the break. I think the crowd energy, which was at a feverish pitch all night, was what drove the peaks of this entire show.

Love 555 but not in this spot combined with the fact that it didn't go anywhere. CDT jam was too spacey for me and even though it clocked in at 16 min, it didn't have much direction. I know everyone gets a Fuego this tour but I'm glad I got mine. Love that song and hope it stays in the rotation for years to come. Twist didn't do much for me either but that segue into Circus was basically flawless. If you need to know where the crowd energy was at all night, just listen to when he goes into Circus. I haven't heard a reaction to when the circus comes to town like that before. Normally it's a piss break but tonight's was very well received. Piper was rushed and disjointed at the end. Rift was surprising well received by the crowd and it's mid second set placement. The energy was crazy during that and that's worth another listen even though it wasn't the best executed Rift I've heard. I'm not a fan of waiting all night and I don't agree with it's late second set placement.. Reba was a very nice treat to catch late second set and I think this was an above average version and Zero, although a little overplayed this tour, brought the house down to close the set. I really feel that there was a built-up energy with this crowd all night for the first show of the Southern run, but it just never got to be fully released so people didn't have a choice but to release it at the end of the set.

loving cup was a fun way it close but nothing exceptional. Overall I'll give it a 3/5. Lots of peaks and valleys but I don't think this show will be mentioned at summers end. See ya'll next weekend!!
, comment by ckess22
ckess22 @frankstallone said:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmBy76UU2bs
Dudes gotta be this guys brother...

, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray Chalkdust was very engaging and Fuego -> Twist -> Circus was awesome.

And aside from Beauty Of A Broken Heart and MFMF, set I could have been set II in a lot of the 3.0 era.

Great show. Would have been very very happy had I attended this one.
, comment by Fluffyfluffyhead
Fluffyfluffyhead The pee fish? lol
, comment by Mikev
Mikev "You never know" tease outta chalkdust. I think that's when it was. Super weird selection of songs but the flow was awesome. That show rocked. I had a blast
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS Thanks for the nice review. Understated and appropro in all the right places.

I love shows that open with Mike's Groove.
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