Sunday 07/24/2016 by phishnet

CHULA RECAP: EBB AND FLOW

[Editor's Note: We'd like to welcome guest contributor Pete Hoherd (@FunkyCFunkyDo) for this recap.]

Palm fronds shrugged effortlessly at us on our final approach into the venue. Swaying peacefully, purposefully, their silent grace showed us more life lessons than a year’s worth of living – some years at least. Listen to the silent trees. The dry grass on the rolling hills knew what the trees knew – rhythmically dancing in the same breeze as if they knew no other way of life. The music hadn’t started yet, but the harmony had. It was all around us, on the wind and under water, a subtle, relaxed energy, softly speaking to us. All it took was a moment away from your phone, your beer, even your best friend, to look around and feel that mellow mood unifying. All it took was that moment to know that something special was on the wind this night.

Photo © Derek Gregory
Photo © Derek Gregory

Photo © Derek Gregory

A soft roar trickled through the crowded Sleep Train Amphitheatre as the Phish took the stage. One section at a time, like ripples lapping at the shoreline, took notice of the band’s (normal) anticlimactic return to the stage. The band seemed in no hurry. There was patience from fan and bandmate alike, harmonious acceptance that this was the last show of the tour, so let’s soak it in. The sky was a gradient of warm orange, fading into brilliant white, segueing into deep blue, and finally into a magnificent purple hue. The palms fronds still shrugged. This was nothing new to them. How lucky we were to be able to share this with them, with all our friends, in this corner of time, in this place, whatever it meant.

"Farmhouse" opened the show with a seemingly apologetic tone. I heard no groans, no mumbles – only smiles. After the weirdness of the Forum, although neither I (nor anyone else) would have predicted a "Farmhouse" opener, it fit. As if the salted breeze itself carried the notes from mind to ear, this version’s subtlety was as much of an acknowledgement of our collective situation tonight, the final show of tour, as it was an apology for the night before. Beautifully played, the sentiment was set. I looked behind the stage, the palm trees didn’t seem to care, they were happy to be there, just like always. "555" came next and Trey immediately took a grinding edge with his tone. Improvisationally normal, the song itself has an attitude – one palpable for any fan who has a seen at least a couple of versions of this song live. A good sign. A slowed down, bayou style "Water in the Sky" filled the 3-slot and provided a moment of reflection. Was this planned? Trey seemed to be looking at his feet quite a lot – perhaps at a group of songs the band wrote down, collectively, to let us in on what they were feeling. I felt as though they played this one for us. A trio of songs played with heart and purpose; songs meant to let us know they were just as aware as we were, and now that the hatchet was buried, it was time to do what we all came to to do: it was time to get down.

The gritty notes of "Ghost" hustled through the amps, and bodies started moving. Wide eyes looked around, heads turned to friends, feet started shuffling, and the fuse was lit. Wasting no time, Phish nailed the transition and embarked on a major key explosion within minutes of the jam segment taking off. Reminiscent, almost to a note, of the major key shift in the 12/31/10 "Ghost," this version prowled through the fading sunlight, with Trey stalking each note, Fishman attacking each beat, Mike thundering through the rhythm, and Page driving through the jam. A tour-de-force of Set I jams, we can only look back at this complete, peaking version and say “Whoa.” Trey knew something special had just clicked. He was smiling ear to ear as they returned into "Ghost" proper. Following a quick conversation with the man wearing a dress, "Ass Handed" (finally) got back into the rotation. Perhaps an acknowledgement of the previous night, who knows, the hard-edged 20 second jam gave way to the even harder edged, (ironically): "The Sloth." Played with gusto and attitude, band and fans alike were fully aware that this was going to be no ordinary show.

After nailing "The Sloth," and a few giggles and smiles later, "Martian Monster" announced that we had been selected to be the first astronauts to explore the planet Mars! How serendipitous that I was wearing my space suit for this show! I can only assume the rest of the crowd was aptly prepared, as the first volley of highly controversial dance moves were unleashed during this truncated, yet fiery space expedition of thumping bass and scratching clav. As the dissonant retro rockets fired to get us back earth, with fluttery beauty "Reba" made her second appearance of the tour. Meandering placidly and cohesively through the composed section, the jam called on the name of the wind to guide it through cerebral soundscapes. The palm fronds noticed. A swaying jam, the music was interwoven with soft progressions and warm builds. Delicately gaining in momentum, just as the waves were a few miles from the venue, this "Reba" jam reached a blissful peak, with Trey conversing with the breeze, acknowledging the role it had been playing in Phish’s final show of Summer Tour 2016.

In "Reba's" aftermath, Trey stepped back to talk to Fish, and both started giggling in a grinning, sinister way. FINALLY! The return of "Ass Handed!" Again! Fish took the mic and reminded us of what he told us at The Gorge, “Truer words have never been written in a a song.” (Or something to that effect). This is our concern, dude; you do indeed get your ass handed to you; every day. With energy now radiating from every corner of the sprawling amphitheater, the band sank its teeth into undoubtedly the best "Tube" of the last seven years. Fantastic Fish/Trey interplay gave way to Mike taking the reigns in the second half of this extended (finally!) "Tube." Page patiently sprinkled flourishes and textures throughout, taking a backseat supportive role, and assuring that this jam would hold together. At one point I believe I saw him mouth to Mike, “Do we have any peanut butter to go with this jam?!” Well that’s not entirely true, but it may as well have been, as the Sandwich King’s smile said just as much as the music did.

Continuing the FUNK, "Wolfman’s Brother" appearered next. Talk about controversial dance moves. When the band moved into the "California Love" tease/jam, security was taking shelter as far away from the whirling masses as possible. People were getting down. There was no stopping us. We knew it, the red shirts knew it, and the band knew it, as they blistered through the jam into a reprise of "CA LOVE" before swooping back into "Wolfman’s" proper. Not a second after the closing chords, Page started "Walls of the Cave." Moving confidently through the song's meaningful lyrics and emotive notes, I looked to the palm trees again. They swayed their approval, speaking inaudible words – words only felt by those lucky enough to be in attendance that evening. A seismic build erupted into a flurry of notes, as Trey and Mike exchanged scales. Fish crashed his cymbals in approval, and Page hammered the ivory with passion. The band hit a lock-step, volcanic peak that sent shockwaves through the bordertown. Mexican residents falsely reported an earthquake, how silly, it was just Phish.

Phish took the stage again after an abbreviated setbreak. I don’t blame them. We were just as eager to dance as they were to play, it seemed. Wasting no time, spacey noise permeated the loudspeakers and "Down with…" wait… no… could it be?!? "2001"!! Marking the first time "2001" has opened Set II since the legendary "Moby Dick Show" in Deer Creek on 7/11/00, the dancers' moves were bordering on the prohibited. Transitioning through swampy funk, a "CA Love" reprise of sorts, and dirty disco grooves, both peaks were executed flawlessly, giving us a top contender for best "2001" of the last 5 years or more. The spaceship was now primed for blastoff, and "46 Days" was the rocket fuel of choice. Taking notes from the "WOTC" jam, this version was a welder’s torch of focused energy. Cutting through the night sky like a comet, "46 Days" streaked brilliantly in the 2 slot of the second set. A take-no-prisoners jam complete, the band shifted back into the song proper before fading into "Piper," which continued the energy of the first two songs. Trey stepped back after the lyrics with thought and purpose. He had ideas to take this somewhere. Fans of 2003 "Pipers" will enjoy this one quite a bit. Trey reverted back to some of his classic 2003 licks to engage this one in a feeding frenzy of tension and release. Just as the jam started to sprint, Trey jerked his head over to Cactus who was pounding away in deep bass bliss. Something clicked for Trey. An idea! You could almost see the lightbulb above his head. He dropped the chopping block on "Piper" (sigh) just as it seemed it was going to be one of “those jams,” but undaunted, Trey ripped into "Twist" with a purpose. They got through the refrain with pep, and Trey immediately dropped into a tone and progression reminiscent of 7/23/97 "Ghost." Twinkling and sparkling, the minimalistic starshine groove floated in a free form tapestry of punctuated drum hits from Fish, rumbling vibrations from Mike, and layered organics from whatever concoction of psychedelia Page had arranged in his fortress of keyboards. Shifting gears on a dime, the jam picked up pace. Fishman toyed around the "Twist" beat as Trey scratched over him. Mike unleashed a sonic bombardment of approval as cosmic noise dissipated into the ever-darkening night sky.

"Backwards Down the Number Line" emerged from the depth of night in true celebratory fashion. Trey triumphantly tiptoed around the chord progression, emanating the happiness and positivity at this song’s core. One could not help but smile as the jam reached a swirling, cathartic release – every person in attendance was singing along with the chorus, “ALL MY FRIENDS!” The goosebumps are as real as I write as they were in that moment. That is why we go to shows, that is why we push our bodies, minds, and spirits to their limit: to form the unbreakable bond of understanding, of unity – of friendship – that only a Phish show can provide. "Carini" crashed the late-set love fest and was greeted with perhaps some of the most controversial dance moves of the night… most of which border on superlegal. A hard-edged rocker enveloped the crowd in a wash of power chords and ferocity. A freight train of music, the jam hinted at turning into a major key bliss jam, the likes of which we all know and love so well in this day and age, but alas the jam evaporated quickly and peacefully into the San Diego sky. "Harry Hood" showed us to follow the light, as "Carini’s" darkness disappeared. Some fun, nose-to-nose interplay between Mike and Trey in the opening segment of the song was a harbinger of what the jam proper would hold. Glowsticks flying, smiles stretching, legs moving, the jam took on a progressively laser focus and old-school sentiment. It dug into its roots, finding the time and energy after a full nationwide tour to simply and purely explode, just as it would have in the mid '90s. Is that to say this "Hood" is comparable to those giants of two decades ago? Not quite. But there is simply no denying the sentiment, focus, and energy this "Hood" brought. To my ears, the most fiery version since Dick's 2011, the tension and release blossomed into a life-affirming peak, one which Trey circled back to over multiple measures. Striking again and again, Trey climbed the scales as Fishman was a flurry of brilliance behind the kit. Page’s piano cascaded waterfalls of triumph while Mike steadfastly anchored the harmonic trio to his 5-string Modulus. A full-band effort led by its fearless band leader, "Hood" exploded into one final, emotive peak. We can feel good. We did feel good. We do feel good. Good about "Hood." The chords falling away, Trey walked over to Page, who gracefully started the power rocker "Loving Cup." Played with equal parts heart and passion, "Loving Cup" put an exclamation point on a show that flowed as smoothly and swiftly as a Pacific Ocean current. A beautiful buzz indeed.


"Harry Hood" - Photo © Derek Gregory

After an excruciatingly short encore break (because we know this is the last time we get to see our guys for a month) Trey came out and proclaimed that they just couldn't end the tour without playing Page’s favorite song. "Sleeping Monkey" got a rise out of the crowd, with onstage verbal antics from Page, Trey, and Fish … a solemn, single sad bass note from Mike, who pantomimed a tear running down his cheek. Me too, Mike. Me too. As the final chorus rang through the crowd, people started to gather their… wait. Trey walked back to Fish who bore a grin bigger than a kid on Christmas morning. They’re not done yet! BOOM! POW! "Tweezer Reprise!!!" Words cannot explain the energy wave that pulsed through the crowd when Trey unleashed those first notes. "Tweezer Reprise" is always "Tweezer Reprise," until it isn’t. Until it is played without "Tweezer," on the last show of the tour, the final song of the night, when it is completely unexpected. But that’s the angle isn’t it? The unexpected. That’s why we travel thousands of miles, spend thousands of dollars, and smile at thousands of people: to share in the everlasting surprise that is a Phish show. A phosphorescent glow radiated off of all bodies as the "Ass Handed" lyrics were sung over the "Tweeprise" power chords, reminding us, humbling us, that no matter how good, bad, or in between you feel, no matter how many shows you’ve seen, no matter if your life was saved by rock and roll or if you’re just here to share in the groove, you are gonna get your ass handed to you every day!


"Tweezer Reprise" - Photo © Derek Gregory

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Comments

, comment by Bob_Loblaw
Bob_Loblaw Great write up Funky!

The energy in the venue was just insane. Bliss was contagious.
, comment by Scott
Scott I liked this kind, mystical review of an excellent show.

The Tweezer/Ass Handed Reprise was hilarious. Were they tweaking fans who expected (and might have felt entitled to) a Tweezer?

The set timings seemed to be conditioned by venue issues. The West side gates were searching people very, very thoroughly and the line built up to several thousand people. We were barely moving. Friends inside the venue were like, where is everyone? Locals reported that this level of security was not the norm for other acts at the venue. Then, not too long before showtime, the dam burst and the remaining line flowed in with nary a patdown;we got past the gates during Farmhouse.

My guess is that management had to get involved and the band was apprised of the situation, and started the concert in a pretty chill fashion on purpose. When the seats were good and full, Ghost kicked things into the next gear.

That would also explain the shorter than usual setbreak (I'll take the reviewers word for that) and the encore ending not long past 11. They clearly had a curfew and the entry situation squeezed all the timings. Still ended up with 2:41 worth of show.

I went to all the SF shows but this show might be the best of the West. It had the best first set, that's for sure, despite Fish having uncharacteristic trouble with his fills during Reba, it was still a decent Reba, to go along with a notable Ghost and historic versions of Tube and Wolfman's. The 2001, Piper, and Hood anchor a strong set 2, but I haven't re-listened to that just yet. I'm more confident that the 2001 and Piper will hold up than the Hood, but I was kinda lost in a personal space during the Hood.

A lot of reviewers would have groused about the BDTNL (Why play 46 Days and BDTNL when you could play Tweezer instead?) -- heck, that would have been my preference and I probably would have mentioned it -- but we got their ass handed to us.

I love it!
5/5
, comment by funkbeard
funkbeard Great review!!
, comment by esulkes
esulkes Fantastic review! What a night!!!
, comment by Arbs_Pheld
Arbs_Pheld First off, excellent review. I thoroughly enjoyed this tour closing show.

I was privileged to attend 4 shows on the east coast this summer... I've also been really lucky the past several years to be in attendance at some of Phish's top shows of the 3.0 era (Sunday at Randall's 2014 & last year the second night at The Mann). I don't know if any show of this tour amounted to one of Phish's best, but it's all good because 2016 seems to be one of those transition years.

I think this tour is significant in that we saw Phish consolidating their jams to around the 10 minute mark. Perhaps the boys felt a little of that been there done that mentality in regards to extending their jams to 20+ minutes of exploration.

This show I think really showcases Phish's ability to jam hard and not go crazy deep, a "micro-jamming" style if you will that aptly characterizes this tour.

The last point I just want to mention is that Hood really seemed to take the cake as most consistently best song all summer. I definitely feel rejuvenated in my interest and respect for the tune that I previously may have taken for granted.
, comment by the_man_mulkahey
the_man_mulkahey Ass Handed Hat Trick!
, comment by curleyfrei
curleyfrei Still on cloud 9...
, comment by ckess22
ckess22 Ironically I thought of the dicks 2011 hood, too. I've gone back to those shows a bit lately so perhaos that's it...
Anyhow 2001, tube, wotc, hood all top notch.
So we all know they can rock a crowd...here's to them bringing the huge jams to lockn and dicks.
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 That was an amazing review, wow.
, comment by ProfessorDude
ProfessorDude Great show, awesome review!

the dancers' moves were bordering on the prohibited
Kudos, FunkyC!
, comment by FIKUS0824
FIKUS0824 Best review ever! That was my 175th last night and it was a great show with a noticeable feeling in the air. A special night for all in attendance on a human and musical level.
, comment by marpua
marpua arguably one of the best phish.net reviews I've ever read.. Brilliantly poetic (albeit needed some major editing) but if you were there, the writer nailed the vibe, visuals, and auditory characteristics in uncanny detail.. those five palm trees and wind and sunset can only be related to if you witnessed it all.

One thing the recap failed to mention is how magical the sound mix was. My immediate reaction to the impeccable mix was that chula vista is an acoustic marvel with the mountains and houses (the obvious reason for the 11pm curfew) in the back drop but I've seen shows here before and I can honestly say that this is arguably the most amazing sound mix I've ever heard in a shed.

An instant classic show of Phish on the heels of three magical SF shows and what I can only describe as a dumpster fire in LA. Phenomenal on every level.
, comment by Riko15
Riko15 Thanks for this review and all others by everyone on this tour. The bands awareness, creativity, professionalism, and playfullness is still inspiring and present in this show. I would argue that Tweezer was present in "spirit". Heard it beautifully camouflaged in Tube & Carini but more in spirit from last years Forum show which did not have the tweeprise (pretzel YEM ran long). I can only believe that the band has that short term elephant memory I've witnessed over the decades. I know however, we got our asses handed to us from a spirited bare bottom spanking of a performance, and to never miss a Trey in White Pants show. Last night . . . That's why we all keep coming. CA knows how to party!!
, comment by ucpete
ucpete WOW. Thanks so much for this Pete. You described the show so well that now it actually hurts to have missed the show -- in a way looking at the setlist and listening to the SBD could never hurt. The silver lining is that in all likelihood I would've only gone to the Forum and bailed on driving the last five hour round trip (before the trek north), and ending the West Coast run on the Forum show would've hurt even more :) I'll just rest on my BGCA2 laurels till 2017. Thanks again for the amazing recap!
, comment by JesusFreak
JesusFreak Beautiful review! I was not able to attend any shows in the flesh this summer, and this show was the only one that I was able to watch live via the webcast. After following all the reviews from this tour I honestly wasn't sure if I wanted to take the risk and purchase this webcast. But I am a big fan of that Amphitheater down in Chula Vista and thought it would be neat to get to see it again, even if only through my computer screen...I was blessed to be able to attend the shows down there in 2000 and 2003, and will never forget the monster Disease and Hood jams from '03....
I certainly feel very grateful that I chose to tune in last night. The entire show was completely enthralling from start to finish, and it seemed like every moment it just kept getting better and better. I was so into the webcast that I actually felt at times like I was truly there at the venue. I imagine that even the jaded vets were surprised by last night.
One question though, for those who have been tuning into the webcasts more regularly this summer....have those amazingly cool and trippy visual effects (the ones during Piper) been going on during all the webcasts this tour? Or was that unique to Chula Vista? I've never seen anything like that during a Phish webcast...it definitely enhanced an already awesome concert experience.
, comment by ClarySageMcConnell
ClarySageMcConnell I adore your writing style! Many more reviews from you, fine citizen!
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS great job. Felt like dancing just reading about it.

appreciate your kind imaginings of the band's inner thoughts during the first part of the show. While it his highly speculative, and not likely accurate, it's still true anyway, and we're all sure of it.
, comment by tek9rifleskills
tek9rifleskills This review is very fun! Felt the same things sitting on the couch, but I'm sure nothing like it would have been being in attendance.

I'd like to add another related hint at this early Type II Ghost, in that it sounded a lot like the Lakewood1 Ghost from last year. Not sure what they did musically (I haven't sat down with my instrument to see the chords and notes) but that major key shift reminded me a LOT of the early first set amazement of last year's show. I knew the second they moved in the Ghost jam that the CV show would be hot fire until the very last note!
, comment by lititzphan
lititzphan very well written review,,please do more reviews in the future!!
, comment by frankstallone
frankstallone well done @funkycfunkydo
, comment by Doctor_Smarty
Doctor_Smarty Is palms fronds really a thing? Not palm fronds or palm's fronds or palms' fronds? Otherwise...great job! Glad we made the trip...no matter how short.
, comment by Dog_Faced_Boy
Dog_Faced_Boy Duly noted and corrected, thank you @Doctor_Smarty. Super job on the recap @FunkyCFunkyDo. Good team effort all around.
, comment by gausssplit
gausssplit great review
, comment by jsauce
jsauce This was one of my favorite shows of the tour.
They FINALLY went back to playing a melody and peaking on Hood. Great stuff. I almost cried on the couch.
By the way, the past tense of "dig" is "dug."
, comment by BestBandEver
BestBandEver Great review. I laughed out loud at your descriptions of the varying degrees of dance insanity and cried during number line (just like real life). Fantastic in every way. Got me so psyched for Dick's!
, comment by conormac
conormac Great review, and very well written! Thanks! Fall tour awaits?!
, comment by forbinspants
forbinspants Excellent review of a great night! This was one of those nights were the band's energy and emotion was pulling the fans to an even higher level than they came into the show with.

Mike pretending to wipe away a tear and the band's comments before Sleeping Monkey were them giving Page shit for crying as they were taking a bow at the close of the 2nd set.
, comment by ski2sea
ski2sea Excellent review! Looking forward to more controversial dance moves!
, comment by piper_red_worm
piper_red_worm A show that reminded me very much of 90s greats. I had one of the best times in known memory at this show. Thank you for the incredible review. You really captured the vibe, including the extralegal dance moves. I feel for all the people who were near me in the pit while I was getting loose, including my buddy who I actually slapped in the face by accident. Lol.

I am so grateful for this experience, it's singular among the many Phish experiences I've had, and won't be forgotten.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @Arbs_Pheld said:
First off, excellent review. I thoroughly enjoyed this tour closing show.

I was privileged to attend 4 shows on the east coast this summer... I've also been really lucky the past several years to be in attendance at some of Phish's top shows of the 3.0 era (Sunday at Randall's 2014 & last year the second night at The Mann). I don't know if any show of this tour amounted to one of Phish's best, but it's all good because 2016 seems to be one of those transition years.

I think this tour is significant in that we saw Phish consolidating their jams to around the 10 minute mark. Perhaps the boys felt a little of that been there done that mentality in regards to extending their jams to 20+ minutes of exploration.

This show I think really showcases Phish's ability to jam hard and not go crazy deep, a "micro-jamming" style if you will that aptly characterizes this tour.

The last point I just want to mention is that Hood really seemed to take the cake as most consistently best song all summer. I definitely feel rejuvenated in my interest and respect for the tune that I previously may have taken for granted.
Some insightful comments about the jamming style and your take on the tour.
, comment by JesusFreak
JesusFreak Home on the Train - Sleeping Monkey is Revived
http://youtu.be/ulg1Imcavew
, comment by unoclay
unoclay Wondering why this version of CA Love doesnt register as a "2nd time ever". I guess they werent really playing it....but were they really playing it in 1998? Not sure.
, comment by j_led
j_led Way to capture the essence of the show in words! Excellent writing!
, comment by Happyone
Happyone Wonderful review, thanks Pete!

Sure glad I couch-toured this excellent show rather than the mediocre one at the Forum.
, comment by 339mike
339mike i seemed to have been at the same show you described, which is nice. FH opener also may have distinguished the chula barn factor juxtaposed to the last 4 indoor types.

The only thing I want to add is this was an incredible choice for my 11 year old to attend first show! We spent most of night in 200s or with friends in 100s section. However we went up to lawn for 4th quarter as a concession to mom who wanted us to pull rip chord at intermission.

when they reeled some off his fav's: BDTNL Carini HH he told me we should leave after tweezer. I had to explain that tweezer-time had passed, that it wasn't happening. Boy, was I wrong!

our quintessential moment was taking in the HH crescendo from side bowl vantage point of the whole place enraptured together. Very cool, just to be there and take it in, him and I.
, comment by Yabo1026
Yabo1026 One word "IT!"
, comment by 90invjcc
90invjcc Excellent review Pete! I wasn't in attendance of any of the west coast shows (only Philly & SPAC for this guy), but your review made me feel like I was right there along with the rest of those in attendance. I listened to the first set of the show while reading your review and it helped provide a thoughtful analysis of the vibe of the venue, the ebb & flow of the night's setlist & undoubtly all of that body moving I missed out on! Hell of a tour closer. Thanks for helping to capture through words, a little gem of the 2016 summer tour! Keep up the great writing!
, comment by Aphex139
Aphex139 Great review. Got shivers down my spine just imagining being there.

Dancing Phans vs. Red Shirts FTW!!
, comment by ifyem
ifyem @unoclay said:
Wondering why this version of CA Love doesnt register as a "2nd time ever". I guess they werent really playing it....but were they really playing it in 1998? Not sure.
I completely concur. I listened to the 1998 version of Cali Love and it doesn't seem that they played it out anymore than they did @ Chula Vista! I'm chalking it up as a "2nd time ever" as well.
, comment by ColForbin
ColForbin Great recap, thanks for posting!
, comment by hdorne
hdorne Excellent recap of an excellent show. This has been an interesting tour for a number of reasons, not least of which is the overarching conversation going on within the fanbase.

I find the apoplectic tone of the discussion surrounding this tour to be very strange. Sure, this tour hasn't quite scaled the lofty heights set by Summer 2015, surely one of the best tours in the band's storied career. But there have been what I believe to be some excellent performances. The band are clearly having a lot of fun on stage, and I find so many fans' declarations of "there's a rift in the band" or "maybe they need to know when to stop" or "they're not getting along anymore" to be nothing more than pure speculation and projection. If you remember, Summer 2011 and Fall 2014 weren't the best tours in terms of consistency and risk-taking, but they still had some jams for the record books. These guys are in their 50's and Phish isn't their whole life anymore. They could have come back in 2009, played a few jam-less greatest hits stadium shows and called it a day, but they didn't. They're about to release their third new album since the reunion (fourth if you count Party Time), they've continued to take old favorites in new directions, they've played some of the best shows of their career, and they are visibly enjoying being together again.

They aren't playing 150+ shows per year anymore, so not every show is going to be absolutely electrifying to those of us who remember the "good old days." But if you accept this fact and enjoy Phish for what they are now, instead of pining for the 90's which are never coming back, it's a much more peaceful existence. By all means, call a bad show a bad show. LA wasn't great. But neither was 10/22/13, and that fall tour was amazing. Last summer was legendary, but that Austin show sure wasn't. Every year and every tour has its duds. This is nothing new. It doesn't mean something's wrong with the band and they hate each other and they're breaking up. Remember Coventry? As long as they don't return to that, we're in good shape.

Frankie Says "relax..."
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