Wednesday 10/29/2014 by pzerbo

SF2 RECAP: THE WORLD SERIES OF PHISH

A few thoughts from last night, with the help of LMo.

Tuesday’s Phish gig at the intimate confines of the Bill Graham was another winner that flowed with a perfect harmony. The band's energy and song choices felt synchronized with audience reception and desires, satiating a relaxed and considerate mid-week crowd that was kind and attentive to listening. So, a riddle: how do you make a JadedVet™ dance? Simple! Play a first set that flows like a second set! Extra bonus trivia: did you know that Tuesday’s show was the 25th anniversary of David Steinberg’s first Phish show? Think about that… a quarter century of Phish fandom. Pre-show also included a packed City Hall plaza watching the Giants and Royals battle it out for the Word Series on the big (BIG) screen. Good times!

Water in the Sky” gave way to the second ever Phish version of “Plasma,” which seemed to catch folks off-guard from a standing start. Charlie Dirksen would like to personally thank Page for performing “Halfway to the Moon” tonight – it’s a really great song. “Poor Heart” and “Gumbo” kept the “Sanity” in check before letting loose on a blistering “Antelope.”

LMo: I like it when a set list tells a story, where the story is something of my own imagination. I love how Phish songs lend themselves with ambiguous and odd lyrics to subjective interpretations. Last night was such an experience, and so the connection goes... into mikes song... the mike’s song started up the party with a deep dark dirty red light kind of a ride. ck5 all in with the dark red as the groove drops. to me this mike’s sounds heavy and hot, a good one. after a deep hard hitting shift in the phases of mikes song the wingsuit comes along to take us on a gliding smooth flight. i love how the song lyrics in wingsuit reflect the sound of gliding in flight. the pace of wingsuit also dovetails the i am hydrogen calm in mike’s groove. i love these calm delicate moments. this version of wingsuit took a beauteous flight. i enjoy floating and swaying along with the shifts and changes, like wearing a wingsuit.

After the rejuvenating experience of wingsuit flight water in the sky... we get a very intense set one highlight moment in the plasma. gumbo is another highlight a very good gumbo, a mood that shifts hot and heavy... a little dirty, in a clean way. i will be dancing to this one alone late at night at times when no one is looking. the shift from gumbo into sanity was so on, without missing a beat. and there are hints of gumbo teased within sanity. As they bring out sanity it was just so fun in the room on that dance floor. such an amusing and honest dance that sanity brings out of me as i feel it - the comic relief moment of our collective day to day frustrations expressed and released. such fun. sanity was a collective release last night. the punctuation of lyrics at the ending is really really sweet. they sing it with love and understanding, not one of us is perfect. this is why i love the phish from vermont.

sanity into an antelope that truly rocked us back to a high speed chase to the end of set one. i recall feeling such fun with this version of antelope as it happened. i shifted around to face my friends a lot and watch them in the running running running in place and time. yes. i love antelope always but last night’s version is set apart as my favorite live experience of this song.


Photo © Phish From the Road

Wouldn’t it have been funny if, after playing a first set that felt like a second set, that they played a second set like a first set? Well, OK, maybe not so much, but that possibility was contemplated briefly as they opened the second frame with “Kill Devil Falls.” Not to worry though as this “KDF” was not roped into any preconceived box but rather got weird and served as a surprisingly well in the kickoff slot to the money set. “Mountains in the Mist” doesn’t evoke the same tick response as those of us who saw a lot of shows at the end of 1.0, which is great because when played sparingly it is a great addition to the ballad rotation. The post-summer of “Fuego” didn’t quite give us a super-charged “Fwaygo” but if you are holding a OVER 12mi ticket, you are a nevertheless a winner. When “Julius” kicked off the set was declared dead and over my one Mr. Dirksen, which just shows that the JadedVet™ isn’t always the smartest guy in the room. At this point in the set things are going great, if perhaps a slight downgrade on the third quarter from Monday night.

LMo: set two was superlative as a whole. kill devil falls starts us off on a really really high note. really jammed and set up some good energy in the room. i noted the excellence of it. and this is why we have the calm moments, the calm of mountains in the mist was needed after that version of kill devil falls. i loved last nights version of fuego as it happened. the now familiar anthem also reflects the rhythm of collective release. i enjoyed he stomp timing of this one. just stomping and feeling the pace of it marching in place.

my collective group thought we were getting a tweezer as they dropped julius. i enjoyed julius mid set this time, as i am familiar with julius mostly a set closer or an encore. mid set this set two just felt right because i was so happy to know there were more songs to follow and more dancing. julius to a hot twist, very hot.

now to note a do not miss - the hood. this is a good good good hood. a most interesting extended version. most superlative. you can feel very good with this hood. the encore: loving cup was truly what it was - a beautiful buzz. there was a lot of love in the room this tuesday night at the bill graham auditorium. i for one really felt it, such love. and that is my overall impression of this night and concert, that of love. this show is one from the heart. if you are looking for a download coming from fall tour to take you there with deep jams and smooth transitions this is the one.


Photo © Phish From the Road

When “Twist” landed, one might have been forgiven to think Mr. Dirksen might have been right, given that “Twist” has morphed from a jam vehicle always pregnant with possibilities to one that if often an out-of-ideas crutch. Not so, Doubting Thomases! The cream of the 2014 “Twist” crop, this version set the stage for a show that shifted the improvisational jewels to the back end. In addition to the “Smoke on the Water” tease from Trey, the “Twist” would be tonight’s home for the homage to Friday night’s performance of Pink Floyd’s Meddle with the hints of “Echoes” that have been a lingering foreshadow ever since Santa Barbara.

An unusual and fun late set “Runaway Jim” then set the stage for the improvisational highlight of the evening, a 19-minute masterpiece of “Harry Hood.” Brimming with confidence, cracking with vital energy, weaving through no less than a half dozen stylistic themes and teases, and concluding with a subtlety and grace appropriate for a band demonstrating peak powers, just days after fall tour obituaries were being written. This is why I see this band, this “Hood.” So much love in the room, really great stuff. “Loving Cup” took it home in fine fashion. Tonight we wrap things up and head on to the land of bright lights. Custy up, rope and ride, bet it all on 17!

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Comments

, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS very strange review but in an equally strange way I liked it. Made me feel I was there.
, comment by funkbeard
funkbeard That was a weird review. Somebody spun upstairs?
, comment by Jestinphish
Jestinphish Ummm... What? Was this a bipolar review? Anywho, just got done listening to the first set. Man I love this band. They are playing so well right now. Also, I really love most of the tunes off the new album. They just seem to really fit where the band is at at this point in time.
, comment by Doctor_Smarty
Doctor_Smarty things are gonna get stranger...let's get on with the show
, comment by magicbookwerm
magicbookwerm I read this review as I was listening... From my particularly strange point of view, I actually thought it was spot on. Except, I'll regress if I'm wrong, but I'd be surprised if they do Meddle on Friday night. Otherwise, I thought the reviewer was at least close to my element while listening and reading.

Either way, it was a hell of a fun read, and I'd love to be a part of more just like it.

Phish... peak? Hard to say, but they've been called worse. Piss in Toaster's ears for a few more years if you please.
, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray I was in the same boat as Dirksen when Twist started up. That show ended up being a powerhouse, but it took me totally by surprise.

By the time Hood ended, I had looked back at the set and marveled at how many high points it had. Sneaky good.

This review, however, had the cronology of a Tarantino script.
, comment by JMart
JMart Oh man.
Every time you doubt Phish, like when you really, really stare at yourself in the mirror and think "what am I doing?" It seems like when that thought enters my head is when they always turn around and crush it.
It was a magical night in the city. Listen to the MOMA when the crowd just erupts when news of the game 7 victory comes through. Of all the sets, night two set 1 was the best. Night one second set was a close second. All in all, what a huge day...amidst some pretty negative reports from Santa Barbara. The Giants end the regular season on a slide. Phish plays the definitive first set of the tour. Giants eat it. Phish comes back and plays a thoroughly entertaining set, if not as wicked and downright emotional as some of their previous sets. Bravo, Phish! Bravo!
Halloween is going to be...let's just say in a very practical way I'm glad I'm not going. I lost my Sanity in SF.
, comment by Justsayit
Justsayit Second night of BGCC was ecstatic. Soup to nuts this show had all the pieces I like. For comparison, look at the second and third quarters from the night before and night after, ya know...or not.

First set of BGCC saw a second set opener placement of Crowd Control. Not really something that grabs you by the short and curlies I think, but it leaves room to go up. Any song that has been played in this and the last tour has been played extremely well. This one is no exception. It is not a technical song, but still, I'd rather see Phish nail a simple opener than flub their way through it. A Mike's> Hydrogen> Groove follows, winning. Have not relistened this version yet, but it was ON. Kuroda worked the room nicely as an accent, but the sound and timing of all members were synced up. And they should be as this is one of the older segues in the phish cannon. I felt like this Mike's worked through it's phases distinctly. It clocked in around 8 minutes, but not for lack of feeling or emphasis. Find me a fan who does not appreciate what a first set Mike's groove sets up and I will find you someone who actually rhyme the word orange. I was with friends who were seeing their first shows and are not likely to see others, they just have a lot going on and Phish is not in their wheelhouse. Watching them through Mike's Groove was fun. It had their attention, got them noodling, and boy did they look good in the sequinned capes.

Wingsuit, bring it, I like all the new tunes. Well, maybe not all of them, but I am on board with the new album and the lives the songs are taking on stage. (More on this later) I liked Wingsuit the first time I heard it. The feeling has not changed. THe vocals get a little shaky at times as it is just outside of the range that the boys have, but the song has legs/wings and space for creation. As a fan of the Meters, I see the value in leaving those spaces open in songs, to be filled in or not at later times. At this point in the show, momentum wise, I think the crowd was 50/50 on whether they were stoked or not. I was stoked. Water In the Sky was a odd call, I could understand people feeling like this turned the set down a notch for them. It is a fun tune, I think can work well situationally depending on show settings, or maybe location, and sometimes I think it falls strangely in the setlist, like some other songs out there too. Either way, well played, kept us moving and did not lose me. Plasma to the end of the set sealed the deal for me, this was a solid first set when taken as a whole. Maybe it did not rage from beginning to end, sort of like night 1, but nonetheless, a killer first set. Plasma has been a favorite of mine for a while and I am so happy Phish has adopted it. This version has nothing over the top, but still it holds its weight as a tune and has a great guitar hook. Halfway to the Moon is another great song that gives Page space to shine, and I think he does that quite well lately. Gumbo is a standout. It is worth inspection for your own take. Everybody took a turn throwing in the mix, and the segue into Sanity was real fun. Sanity, complete with a partial lyric space move from Trey held its own for uniqueness and in the moment playfulness from the band. Antelope closer. Go have fun and compare the SB2 antelope with this one. They are both great. This song does very well with how the band is playing lately. IT'S GREAT, ENJOY. So there it is, first set, definitively. First quarter standouts being the Mike's Groove, second quarter Plasma to the end for me, maybe Gumbo to Antelope for others. Solid. Note the lack of utter fails from the band, note the typical first set jams in Mike's Groove, compared to the second set style of the Gumbo> Antelope. Energy wise, from start to finish the band took us on a solidly upward trend. Demonstrating yet again that they is always more room to go up.

The second set was phenomenal. Again, phenomenal. Someone feel free to counter me, its all good. I will share my reasons and biases. I was shocked when an old friend said that night one was better in their opinion than night 2. (The opening of the second set in night 1 through to the liftoff of the jam out of Ghost was, in my opinion, better than sleep aids.) SO, night 2 set 2. Some firsts for me. Feel pretty certain that around 9:15 into this KDF this version separates itself from the pack. I like this song, and I like seeing it get opened up. This was a solid second set opener, complete with some great moments of "alright, go for it" from the band. Mountains in the Mist. I love it. Seen it before in various moods. I think this one served well as a counterpoint to the KDF and also as a setup for Fuego. MITM also gave the stage to the side of Phish that definitely exists, the band that wants to play music with sounds you are not sure you are hearing. What I mean is, Jerry Garcia came up in bluegrass and as a banjo player. He played distinct notes. Trey is a student of jazz. He definitely plays notes at volumes that leave you straining to listen and wondering if everyone else heard what you did.
In that vein, MITM gave room for some softer noodling, mellow jamming within the framework of the song, but without dragging. Fuego, first time I had heard it live. I like it. I have to say that it has elements of the New Kids on The Block, and I say that without any hate. As I was grooving to the song, I could not stop from laughing at myself that I was dancing to a distinctly "hangin tough" rock ballad. And a rock ballad it is. They made a nice point counterpoint IMO by pairing it with Julius. I have only seen this as a set opener and it is a old favorite. THis one gets right to it, not the longest or with huge departures in framework, but high energy and a mood lifter. I think the Julius is what took the second set to its next gear.

Twist> Jim> Hood made a solid fourth quarter statement. Each of theses songs goes outside their norms, Twist has a nice transition to Jim with some great out of form jamming on the way. It never went full hose in my opinion, but it does get top marks for being outside the box and exploratory. Jim worked its way through a tight 10 minutes with nice buildup to a great finish. As many of us do, I appreciate how playing around the the outside of the key of the song in the jam makes the finish feel like you have arrived somewhere.

Hood, I thought it was fantastic. I have seen similar remarks. I have heard counterpoints that brought up Hoods from 94, 95, 96. I feel the same about Ghost when people say a 3.0 Ghost was good. I feel the song just does not have the legs it used to. Regardless, IMO this Hood sets itself apart from the rest and next to some of the best. Does anyone else have moments in shows where they hear something and think "well that was different, never heard that before" and then use it as a qualifier of why it made the version better or worse? I do, guilty on that one. This one had me grade it better based on a few parts of the opening and the jam. The jam deserves a review of its own, I think that is what made this the exclamation point. Several distinct places, around the 8th minute for example until about 9:15 was unique, before shifting gears and hearing Trey throw in some new licks and have Page jump in with him. I definitely caught Party Time teases? I thought the 9th minute through the 11th or so stayed in a party time theme which was great. I guess leaving it open to interpretation preserves some of the magic. At any rate, we did not return to the Hood jam structure til somewhere after that. And it was well done. Could not have been happier for what that jam can do to a room. When Trey and Page trade leads in the jam, subtely, I love it. The Have Mercy teases were nicely placed by Trey, I always feel like teases are a way of saying "yeah, we got this". I am not a great musician, the ability to play another song in the middle of another is still a level away from me, once I change I can't go back, but when the boys do this I always smile.

Loving Cup was a nice encore for a great night. Ever since "8" I have felt like I would never really enjoy Loving Cup as much as that night, it's sort of proven true, but I was sucked in on this one from the momentum of the run. All in all, BGCC 1,2, and 3 had its moments. Night 2 was the best from start to finish for me, regarding the music, jams, song choices and setlist layouts. I was happy to have seen the SF run as well as the SB 1 & 2. Having my run of shows coincide with the start and finish of the World Series was a nice touch that will always help me remember both events with a smile. Not sure any of SF ever reached the SB2 standard, I still think that night was one of the best of 3.0 and 1.0, but that is another ball of wax. Bout 4 hours til Halloween kicks off, hope those in attendance have fun! I say, there will be no cover, just three sets of great phish. But if they do, it will be awesome, and I will enjoy listening! That is my opinion. Cheers, Happy Halloween.
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