Saturday 06/25/2016 by Icculus

WRIGLEY1 RECAP: THE BAND IN SANTO'S LAND

IT is summer tour again, thankfully, and Phish is once again riding the bus and running the bases. For the first time, Phish played last night at Wrigley Field, the second-oldest ballpark in the majors, wherePage's the beloved Cubs have been playing for 100 years. And also for the first time, Phish performed on a day when global stock markets plummeted, causing countless millions--including those we love--to lose trillions of dollars in retirement and other investments. But enough about Britain's calamitous, sublimely asinine vote to leave the EU. After all, without searing pain and tremendous suffering, there can be no transcendent JOY, and we are blessed to be able to hear Phish's music once again.

Photo by Scott Marks

You may have heard about the historic Waterwheel benefit for The Mockingbird Foundation, held pre-doors, to celebrate the release of The Phish Companion. It was the first time the band's own charitable foundation directly benefited Mockingbird (the all-volunteer nonprofit that raises funds for music education and manages this site), and I simply had to be there. I was thus unable to get a sense of the lot scene (if any) outside Wrigley. But I have it on reliable authority that there was no lot scene. The Cubs might as well have been playing, albeit to tens of thousands of Phish fans.

In other news, music we love was performed last night. And since as we all know, music criticism is highly subjective, but music itself has objective elements that we can at least pretend to communicate intelligently about, forgive me for once again (since spewing my two cents about 8/12/2011 Outside Lands) offering you THREE POINTS OF VIEW on last night's show, at least one of which you are guaranteed to relate to, in part.

And please do not think of this exercise as three show recaps for the price of reading one. You must think of it as me exploiting my 27 years of enjoying Phish purely to please, and satisfy, myself.

FOR THE NOOB:

Catching any show early in a tour is a special event to be sure, but being able to see Phish at a legendary venue, while drinking cold beer and devouring ballpark dogs? Priceless. The vibe was exactly as you might expect under such circumstances: whether or not we would see a no hitter or a grand slam, we knew the potential was there from the start for an unforgettable, even life-changing, experience.

It was a beautiful night for a concert. Perfect. The summer humidity Chicago is notorious for was nonexistent. Warm sunshine, cool breezes, and friends seeing each other for the first time in years, or months, or since Mexico. Smiles and hugs.

First set was easygoing, peaking mid-set with “Sand” and concluding well with a solid “Blaze On.” The concert’s opening vibe was perhaps best captured, though, by the reggae-inspired “Yarmouth Road,” featuring Mike, bees, and honeycombs, that followed “Rift” and preceded “Sand.” An original ballad, “Miss You,” then debuted after “Sand.” It is strikingly similar to “Show of Life,” yet slower and simpler. “Blaze On” concluded the set well, its uplifting jam reminding everyone of our good fortune to be seeing Phish again.

Second set opened with a “Down with Disease” that, while it coasted for some time, gradually bore witness to engaging, at times fierce, interplay among the band members. Chairman Page attacked the boards as Trey, Mike and Fish passionately tore it up. Although “DWD’s” ending seemed to occur a bit abruptly, “Fuego” was a welcome choice to move forward into the set. And it was very well played, particularly by Trey, who trilled quite a bit to finish it off powerfully.

Photo by Scott Marks

Kuroda’s new checkerboard LED lights and light screens are impressive and dazzling. They seem to give him a more dynamic palette, making his accompaniment of the music with a symphony of colors all the more magical. His unparalleled ability to lift the experience of a Phish concert to the highest tier is wondrous to behold.

Twist,” one of the show’s musical highlights to be sure, featured gloriously rousing improvisation, that literally kicked into a higher gear when Fish began to play the drum line to “Weekapaug Groove,” and continued to play it for several measures. A pulsating, dark “Twenty Years Later” came next, followed by a genuine, even profound, “Waste.” “2001” got everyone dancing, before “BDTNL” and “Loving Cup” rocked-out the solid set.

When the band walked straight to the center-stage mics for the encore, my first thought was “Star Spangled Banner,” which of course they’d opened with at Fenway Park (the oldest major league ballpark) seven years ago. Instead, as you’ve no doubt heard or read, Phish honored David Bowie in a very creative, very moving, and very funny way, singing an acapella version of “Space Oddity.” A difficult arrangement, they must have rehearsed it quite a bit. It was quite a surprise, and an unforgettable reminder of why we try to see every Phish show we can. As if that weren’t enough, “Antelope” closed the show, filling the heart of many a fan with joy.

Photo by Scott Marks

FOR THE VET:

The first set was not simply a worm burner, but one that was so effortlessly grabbed by the first baseman that your heart sinks into your cup. While by no means a turd of epic proportion, the set was nevertheless replete with banal suppositories, having little if any redeeming value.

There is absolutely no reason to ever listen to last night’s first set in the first place, and certainly never again. This is because you have listened to Phish before, probably quite a lot. And thus you’ve heard more inspired versions of every single song performed in the set (possibly dozens of them), except of course the new song. And the new song, “Miss You”? You will want to miss it. As disappointing as the first set was, at least we weren’t at Soldier Field.

The second set’s highlights, on the other hand, help this gig at least begin to approach “average-great” territory. “Twist” is absolutely worth your time to check out, and as already noted above, “DWD” and “Fuego” were good. While there are plenty of finer versions out there of everything played in the set (littering their respective jam charts), it was nevertheless an enjoyably inoffensive set. Sure, “Twenty Years Later” was like a bunt that hits your leg for an out, and the “BDTNL” and “Loving Cup” set closers may give you the sort of feeling you get when you just miss a train, but there’s another one purportedly 3 minutes away. But still. Fish killed it last night in his magnificent Bernie frock, that will look great one day hanging in the Phish Museum (or Rock and Roll Hall of fame? Or the future Hon. Bernard Sanders Library in Burlington?). And Page, Mike and Trey generally played well, and it’s very early in the tour! They could play a show for the ages tonight! Or tomorrow! Or next week!

Photo by Scott Marks

FOR THE JADED VET:

You walk onto the stage before tens of thousands of adoring fans, under a blue sky, on a delightful evening, your first gig at an historic venue where your beloved keyboardist’s an MLB team has been playing for 100 years. And you choose to open with “Sample in a Jar.”

Anyway it’s way past my bedtime, and I want to go to bed. Show’s a 3/10 easy. The first set was only a little more fun than waiting in line for doors while needing desperately to piss, but there's no port-a-john in sight, and the nearest discrete place to whip it out is on your knees behind an occupied police car.

Yes, “Twist” was very good, but you’ve heard better versions. And yeah you should check out the acapella “Space Oddity” debut, of course. It’s hilarious for sure, though not as amusing as watching a drunk dude fetch his iPhone out of a urinal trough. You saw it on the set list and you know you want to hear it. So knock yourself out. It’s hyperlinked above. I’m not doing your work for you.

Two cents.

If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Phish.net. Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.


Comments

, comment by aeklund
aeklund That was awesome. I vote for the jaded vet version myself.
, comment by ScratchMoore
ScratchMoore I'm so glad I'm a noob and could enjoy last night's show on #couchtour

I feel bad for the vets (jaded and otherwise) who apparently should have been standing with their arms folded, absent-mindedly yawning and checking their watch.

How awful that must be. Pity.
, comment by 2grandmaz
2grandmaz In the Adirondacks with limited/no cell reception. Itching to listen to these first shows. These reads are getting me through. 3/10
, comment by yodadoe
yodadoe Meh... I've read better Charlie Dirksen reviews. 4/10 :)
, comment by sguy26
sguy26 Page's favorite team is the Mets.
, comment by Mr_Draned
Mr_Draned Well written piece!
, comment by GVOldTimer
GVOldTimer I'm confused....Page is a Mets fan....otherwise fun review.
, comment by baby_snakes_345
baby_snakes_345 Paige sure is rocking the mad scientist hair do nowadays. In terms of the show, it was average Phish. Nothing too amazing. Maybe tonight's the night
, comment by ckess22
ckess22 Page IS a Cubs fan first. as a side note, I hear he HATES sandwiches and loves tacos.
, comment by MikeHamad
MikeHamad I love this review, especially the three-tiered perspective. Great job.
, comment by mikh2wg
mikh2wg @ScratchMoore said:
I'm so glad I'm a noob and could enjoy last night's show on #couchtour

I feel bad for the vets (jaded and otherwise) who apparently should have been standing with their arms folded, absent-mindedly yawning and checking their watch.

How awful that must be. Pity.
Noobs have more fun but Jaded Vets look fashionably disaffected on the internet.
, comment by Skyballs
Skyballs Last night was my 69th show. I feel that the "noob" review came closest to capturing my feelings regarding the show.
, comment by ScratchMoore
ScratchMoore @mikh2wg said:
@ScratchMoore said:
I'm so glad I'm a noob and could enjoy last night's show on #couchtour

I feel bad for the vets (jaded and otherwise) who apparently should have been standing with their arms folded, absent-mindedly yawning and checking their watch.

How awful that must be. Pity.
Noobs have more fun but Jaded Vets look fashionably disaffected on the internet.
I'll be on the lookout for them at Klipsch on Sunday. I'd hate for them to see me enjoying Bouncing Around The Room and scoff too hard.
, comment by pjhomen
pjhomen @Skyballs said:
Last night was my 69th show. I feel that the "noob" review came closest to capturing my feelings regarding the show.
ha, 69
, comment by elephant
elephant you're funny. thanks for the laugh. enjoy the ride.
, comment by jasong_iheardtheoceansing
jasong_iheardtheoceansing Who is Santo?
, comment by jmccloskey108
jmccloskey108 I was front section right behind home plate, and it seemed like it was maybe a dead spot sound-wise. Either that or I'm getting old, probably both. Still, anyone else think the audio was a little quiet?
, comment by spac_melt
spac_melt @jasong_iheardtheoceansing said:
Who is Santo?

Ron Santo. Famous Cub.
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten @ScratchMoore said:
I'm so glad I'm a noob and could enjoy last night's show on #couchtour

I feel bad for the vets (jaded and otherwise) who apparently should have been standing with their arms folded, absent-mindedly yawning and checking their watch.

How awful that must be. Pity.
I think you are either missing the point or getting the point and not getting that you are getting the point.
, comment by ScratchMoore
ScratchMoore @TwiceBitten said:
@ScratchMoore said:
I'm so glad I'm a noob and could enjoy last night's show on #couchtour

I feel bad for the vets (jaded and otherwise) who apparently should have been standing with their arms folded, absent-mindedly yawning and checking their watch.

How awful that must be. Pity.
I think you are either missing the point or getting the point and not getting that you are getting the point.
It's a riddle wrapped up in an enigma...
, comment by runmikeanantelope
runmikeanantelope My apologies but I think that review is fucking rude. Stand behind one stance. How are you allowed to call that show great and awful in the same piece? Calling any phish show a 3 out of 10? At best you're a 3 out of 10.
, comment by phunky58
phunky58 im kinda along the lines of jaded vet here except i may give it 5-6/10. that being said the boys are just getting warmed up. and if ne kind souls out there have two xtras for second night at the mann i have straight cash for them and will be on lot. hit me up if ne1 can help thanks fam.
, comment by itsraininben
itsraininben Leave the politics out of your god-awful chomper reviews. Also, I don't think you know what the word calamitous means.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS You know you've become a jaded vet when you can knock it out of the ballpark with a meatstick full of satire.
, comment by TheMightyGin
TheMightyGin I get the feeling you can't really defend the comment about Britain leaving the EU but really just made it offhand for something clever to say. So I respectfully disagree on that but mostly agree with the Phish show review.
, comment by Just_Ivy
Just_Ivy LULZ
, comment by surpher
surpher @sguy26 said:
Page's favorite team is the Mets.

That's what I thought too. I've seen him in Mets had many times but never once in a Cubs hat.
, comment by Phish4soul
Phish4soul last night's show 6.8/10 --- reviewer 3.2/10

Stop watching other people's urinals for starters. Maybe you heard the phone fall? Or maybe it was a lucky sideshow for your prying eyes. Maybe it's all in your mind. This really isn't important right now.

ONE THING IS SURE, Sunday YEM!
, comment by pureguava
pureguava Thought the boys sounded well-rehearsed on Friday. Not a lot to complain about really. Nothing too exotic (save for the encore) but they played well on the big stage early in this season. Not a given!
, comment by thesloth11
thesloth11 I think all show reviews should follow this format going forward. Really helped me understand what went down night 1
, comment by Cajunphan
Cajunphan well, you open the critique with a political statement from a land which you don't live--which had nothing to do with the Phish show. You were immediately discredited.

...and the rest of your review proves the above statement.
, comment by markgugs
markgugs @Skyballs said:
Last night was my 69th show. I feel that the "noob" review came closest to capturing my feelings regarding the show.

Agreed. It was my 59th show, saw my first one in 1991, and it was great. The vet/jaded vet "reviews" are the Phish fans everyone hates.
, comment by JezmundToo
JezmundToo Wow, I now feel stupider for reading that rediculous review.
, comment by mmcnally
mmcnally I'm an old dude who's seen ~25 shows since 2000 ... I was at the show, listening to every note Trey played ... Average show? sure. But, I was at a focking Phish show ... nowhere else I'd rather be.
, comment by curleyfrei
curleyfrei I hope I never become so jaded. I absolutely loved "Miss You."
, comment by FarTooManyRaccoons
FarTooManyRaccoons Great read and review. Thanks for the laugh!
, comment by wauch
wauch @TheMightyGin said:
I get the feeling you can't really defend the comment about Britain leaving the EU but really just made it offhand for something clever to say. So I respectfully disagree on that but mostly agree with the Phish show review.

I agree with you Might Gin
Phish.net stick to what you know the "inside baseball" regarding Phish. Your simplistic take on Brexit demonstrates you haven't done your homework.
, comment by arrows42
arrows42 As a vet, I loved it. I thought Space Oddity was incredible. What a daring thing to do. We were about 75 feet away, center, so Kurado's lights were interesting. There's some real potential there. . Sand was very nice. 2001 was fun. Fun time.
, comment by GAphishin
GAphishin Thanks for the treview! I am a listener of shows from a long way off this summer, sitting on my favorite Slovenian porch where, coincidentally, I had the joy of starting 2014's grand summer tour begin as well.
I had all three versions of this review as I listened last night to this epically anticipated show. Boston's game park show 7 years ago will be a better choice for a re-listen. I should know better than to expect too much early in a tour, especially as I still am dealing with the hangover from last summer's blackout-worthy summer tour. But the thought going through my head throughout the first set was, "Guys, I really think you should spend more time in the offseason at least talking with each other about music."
I got the feeling after listening to St. Paul and Wrigley 1 that although they are all playing great music independently in the offseason (save for Page who, according to everyone who commented on him, is busy watching baseball), they do not seem to have recalled how much time passed since they actually sat in a room and played their old game of follow the leader and jammed all night or all weekend.
Do not get me wrong, since Conventry 2004 I have thanked my lucky stars that I get to be in the presence of these four men either in the venue or in ear phonic delight on a porch in Slovenia, but I know we only have a short moment with these guys each year, and I want us all to savor it while we have it.
As far as the music, Twist gave me a moment. The rest seemed rusty and the guys seems out of stepped with each other. Page brought me to a few moments of glory, and Fishman on the skins and in the microphone sounded wondrous. They sound happy, but I wonder if Space Oddity was on their mind all night, and I wonder if it would have been a better choice to sing it first and get it out of the way. Then we may have all had a good laugh, a nice hat tip, and a night on Fuego!
This item has been archived. Comments are now closed.
Phish.net Login

Register | Forgot Password
Support Phish.net & MBIRD
The Phish Companion, 3rd Ed.
Phish News
Subscribe to Phish-News for exclusive info while on tour!


Phish.net

Phish.net is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.

Credits | Terms Of Use | Legal

© 1990-2017  The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. | Hosted by End Point Corporation