[For this recap we'd like to welcome Kristen Goess from @2chix1fightbell –PZ]
Last time I had been to Chula Vista was fall 2000 for Phish’s last west coast fall tour. The year before that is still my favorite “Boogie On” to date. Returning to this venue brought back a lot of memories, mostly good, some bad like a terrible sunburn I got after falling asleep in the middle of a dirt field when I was 20. Driving back to that venue was exciting. The venue itself was a full house and a bit more crowded than I had thought. I wound up with a ticket just to the right of soundboard.
“Devotion to a Dream” opener was on point, strong opener, the crowd was pumped and getting down. “AC/DC Bag” is always a high energy crowd pleaser, and the up-tempo continued with a fast “My Sweet One,” which always makes me smile. “Moma Dance” was a nice surprise placement for those wanting to get the set going in a little more jammy direction. I always am wondering if anyone around me remembers the actual moma "dance" – tap tap? This song always makes me reminiscent of one of my favorite “Moma's” ever from Vegas in 2000, and every time I hear this song I always have hope it will peak again... thank god for hope. “Moma” was still solid and loved the placement, I am just selfish and always want more.
“Halley's” was next. Please read "The Death of Halley's," from this summer's Surrender to the Flow article to get my drift. “Funky Bitch” followed the aborted “Halley's”... still high energy, fast, kept the crowd moving. Not my personal favorite in the realm of the Phish catalogue but Page was getting loose right off the get-go, Fish keeping the fast-tempo beat and Trey and Mike following. “Wolfman's” had kind of a weird beginning but people seemed pretty stoked at the possibility for this first set pick. “Wolfman’s” lacked a little enthusiasm and was a mellower start to this classic. Trey wanted to start a vocal jam, Gordon followed but quickly aborted vocals to jam instrumentally, instead. A slow build by Trey on some of those deep KOA licks and Mike joins in with some sick bass undertones. Fish starts to pick up the pace, and the rest of band follows with Trey still laying down those deep tones that I personally crave out of that axe. Trey leads his shreds through the “Wolfman’s” jam while the rest follow, ending on a high note and longest jam of the set clocking in at 12:12 (make a wish :-)).
“Destiny Unbound” was my personal highlight of my first set due to the small jam that was pretty tasty and stepped away from the normal groove of the song's nature. It took me 99 shows to first hear this song live back in 2010. A little flub by Mike when they get back into the lyrics, but most people there didn't even know what song it was so that was easily overlooked.
"Timber” is another song that isn’t played very often but has great jam potential in a first set. The beginning was a little sloppy and a few missed lyrics but didn't seem to bother the crowd.
Photo by @stim_buck
“Tela” is another song I saw once forever ago and then not again until the Tahoe “Tweezer” show, so it's always a welcomed song for me. Still a rarity these days, but I heard someone say they could have done without it tonight; that's one of the things that makes this band so special, because their songs affect everyone so differently. “Wingsuit” has seen so much growth since it's debut nearly a year ago in Atlantic City. I think the crowd's energy can make or break this song. I was into this version – I am a “Wingsuit” lover – though I may not have picked it to end the set. Mike used his drill at the end and closed it out.
“Free” opened the second set, and while always welcomed, it still doesn't ever take me to those places of past where the middle would get so dark and nasty that people would almost fall over from the dance party. Gordon was throwing down the bombs like he wants it to keep going, but then so rushed back into the original meat of the song. A good way to open the second set, just always leaves me wanting more. The “Golden Age” jam gets juicy, blissful and then gets funky for the Page and Trey combo with light licks from the Koa and Gordo adding in his bass line on top of a Fishman who also quiets down as well. Then those strong KOA tones come out that I crave. The jam starts building energy again, Trey uses his echoplex, CK5 lights are going off and the whole band getting experimental before they slow down again, Page picks it up then they settle into “Jibboo”...I love “Jibboo” and for awhile the band forgot about it, only being played twice this summer and the first time this fall. Sweet guitar licks, fast paced, high energy and kept the crowd's energy upbeat. The ever-present “whale call” came in and exited quickly into a Trey-lead jam that you definitely didn't want to end.
“Carini” is now a staple when it comes to second set jams. It came in with a fury and the crowd was definitely feeling it. Fishman was throwing down the tempo and the rest of the band followed. Gordon stayed in the background wanting to drop some serious bombs but staying subtle yet strong. Near the end of the jam, I totally thought “Caspian” was on it's way and actually shocked when “Piper” re-appeared after the Santa Barbara performance. In the new era of the non-slow-build “Piper,” this one actually explores the song and cohesively builds after the initial entry. Trey's fast notes with a little distortion thrown in fit perfectly along with Fish. Page and Gordon were also on the same level and together start building out a jam that is different, a bit dark and exciting. Fish slows it down for a second before Page stands up and starts laying down the funk on the keys along with Trey who keeps the fast pace going and... lift off. Fishman again changes direction and band follows leading to more exploration and was one of my favorite parts of the night. But my personal account on twitter is @30minutepipers for a reason. Like I mentioned before regarding the “Halley's” – there's always hope, and I can't live in the past and the future never comes, all we have is the now, the present, and I sometimes have to remind myself of this especially with some of my favorite songs.
Photo © Phish From the Road
Then the “Caspian” that I heard at the end of “Carini” came, so I was happy to hear this and can always tell Trey is happy to play this song. It gets slow and pretty in the middle before picking back up into what drops into another unexpected “Tweezer.” I was sure “Tweeer” was being saved for Bill Graham after the one in Santa Barbara. After a sast and furious entry, Trey and Page played nicely off one another, nothing super exploratory, just cohesive playing by all members of the band. They slow it all down a bit all on the same tempo in which the band is seemingly calling for "Woos" from the crowd. They continue the jam and begin to get a bit darker with some sweet deep bass lines from Mike, Trey holding back and seeing where they could take it. Page begins to step up as well and then the crowd goes nuts as they begin playing the opening notes to “Rock and Roll.” At a short five and a half minutes, it was still high energy but not jammed out before ending the set with “You Enjoy Myself.” Of course everyone wants to hear this song. It hasn't been in heavy rotation like in years past, so anytime you hear the opening notes you have to be stoked. Nothing strays out of the norm of the song, no extra oomph, maybe a fight bell, but it's still “YEM.”
They encored with ”Suzy” > “Tweeprise.” Usually a fluffer of the band, I would have broken away from the “Suzy” especially with the “Tweezer,” “Piper,” “Suzy” and “Tweeprise” all being played in the same show night one of Santa Barbara, but what it ultimately comes down to is the fact that this band is doing what makes them happy. Every show is a blessing because for so long I never thought I'd ever hear them play again, and now they have been playing for as long as they've been broken up. So yes, while we can't pick our own setlists and some shows are better than others, we are actually the most blessed group of people to see a band that comes out and loves what they do and provide some sort of spiritual mediation for a lot of us.
Have fun in San Fran! Southern California has been a blast and I look forward to returning to Vegas on Halloween for the first time since 2004...10 years! Should be quite the comeback.
Photo © Phish From the Road
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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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