Thursday 07/19/2018 by swittersdc

TAHOE2 RECAP: 24 HOURS LATER, EVERYTHING IS RIGHT

Photo © 2018 Phish Rene Huemer
Photo © 2018 Phish Rene Huemer

Despite a little rust during night 1, Phish came out on night 2 at Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena completely locked in and ready to play. The playing was much tighter, and although the jams and experimentation didn’t always reach the lengths we wanted or expected, this second night at Tahoe bodes extremely well for the rest of the tour.

One of the most surefire ways to get Phish fans riled up is to open a show with “AC/DC Bag,” so everyone can yell in unison, “let’s get this show on the road!” It worked again, and that opener helped set the stage for a sometimes meandering, sometimes hot 80-minute set. The energy continued from “AC/DC” into “Martian Monster,” again using effects and humor to get the crowd engaged. And then comes “Ass Handed,” a 2-minute song whose only point is humor.

The first notable jam of the night was in “Everything’s Right.” As Tom and I discussed on our video review of the first night of Tahoe, it seems like there’s a lot of energy coming out of new tunes. This has been true forever. But it seems more notable now because the band, in its 35th year, has such a vast catalog to draw from that you might expect more experimentation from proven vehicles. Similarly to the previous night’s “Soul Planet,” this jam featured some of the most exploratory music the night. Even though it was only 12 minutes, this was a highlight for me. The band seemed to be completely in sync.

Then came a series of well-played but otherwise standard tunes: ”555,” “The Wedge,” “Lawn Boy” and “Back on the Train.” I’m not trying to be a jaded jerk here, but nothing really remarkable happened. Those songs were played!

Ocelot” had a really not-”Ocelot” jam in, with Trey taking it into more of a dark and psychedelic place instead of a laid-back Southern rock place. That was fine with me. This was a good example of how well the band was playing. They were able to slip into a completely different place in a typically standard song. So that must bode well for a special second set right?

But first, “Bathtub Gin.” One of the most reliable jam vehicle set closers of Phish 3.0. According to this fine website, this was the 14th time that “Gin” has closed the 1st set since 2009. This one was as high energy as any. With Mike and Fish driving an uptempo jam—well, here we go folks. One of the people I was with said, “This is what we’ve been waiting for.” This jam built toward a really glorious peak and left us all holding our collective breath for the start of Set 2.

A funny thing happens to me when I go to Phish concerts. They play “Down with Disease.” Every time, it seems like. I will begrudgingly admit, though, that this song is a dependable jam vehicle, almost always. According to ZZYZX's wonderful Phish Stats, I’ve seen “DWD” at 28% of the shows I’ve been to. That seems like a lot.

At any rate, this one, which clocked in around 13 minutes, was the beginning of a set that left us all feeling like something big was coming. People may complain about ripcording a “DWD” to go into “What’s the Use?” That’s not going to be me. This was a beautiful moment of the show. In some ways, this song is an exercise in actual crowd control for Phish. Can they get 7,000 people to be completely quiet? Especially these laid-back California fans, who actually seem to talk more than other fans (more on that another time). In almost every case, the answer is yes. This version was no different.

Blaze On” came next and featured a great example of type 1 jamming for almost the entire song. It went sideways for a few minutes, but mostly remained true to the song’s original structure.

I Always Wanted It This Way” is a really fun song to hear live. It features Page’s most creative use of his keyboards and pushes the band’s sound in a completely different direction than almost any other tune. Part-EDM, part-Radiohead, this was only the 3rd time this song was played without Trey on the Marimba Lumina. I think it’s better without it. It’s nice to let Page stretch and drive a jam that’s so unique.

Next came “Joy,” which is always an emotional song to me, although I don’t necessarily want to hear it in the middle of a second set. But the “Limb By Limb” that came next was pretty interesting, mostly because we noticed Trey using the Leslie during the jam, pushing it beyond the basic structure.

You know another awesome thing about Phish shows? 2001 peaks. Finally, we get a set closing “You Enjoy Myself.” This was a great way to cap off a really good 2-night opening run. It was energetic, funky, and had a really nice jam toward the end. Some were sent off to The Gorge with another funky, high-energy encore in “Suzy Greenberg.”

In less than 24 hours, Phish completely became locked in and on point. Everyone I was with agreed on this. Even if some of the jams didn’t lead exactly where we expected, we see the possibility for huge things for this tour. Where will Phish be next week at BGCA, or next month at Curveball? Somewhere wonderful. I’m heading back home tonight, but those headed to The Gorge are in for some beautiful things. Thanks, Tahoe.

RJ Bee is the co-founder of Helping Friendly Podcast and Osiris Media.

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Comments

, comment by unoclay
unoclay In no way trying to brag or get undue cred. Just adding a factual note that I Always Wanted it This Way was played in response to a sign I brought into the show.

Trey visibly read the sign during Lawnboy (first set), staring at it / me for roughly 10 seconds (everyone around me freaking out; Me: "yes, trey does indeed read signs").

Wasnt sure if he could quite make it out (i was pretty far back) but apparently he indeed read the sign. Like I said, it was obvious he saw me--he was staring for a solid amount of time.

Was a neat moment when they played it. Hooray for signs!
, comment by swittersdc
swittersdc @unoclay said:
In no way trying to brag or get undue cred. Just adding a factual note that I Always Wanted it This Way was played in response to a sign I brought into the show.

Trey visibly read the sign during Lawnboy (first set), staring at it / me for roughly 10 seconds (everyone around me freaking out; Me: "yes, trey does indeed read signs").

Wasnt sure if he could quite make it out (i was pretty far back) but apparently he indeed read the sign. Like I said, it was obvious he saw me--he was staring for a solid amount of time.

Was a neat moment when they played it. Hooray for signs!
Awesome man!
, comment by frankstallone
frankstallone @unoclay said:
In no way trying to brag or get undue cred. Just adding a factual note that I Always Wanted it This Way was played in response to a sign I brought into the show.

Trey visibly read the sign during Lawnboy (first set), staring at it / me for roughly 10 seconds (everyone around me freaking out; Me: "yes, trey does indeed read signs").

Wasnt sure if he could quite make it out (i was pretty far back) but apparently he indeed read the sign. Like I said, it was obvious he saw me--he was staring for a solid amount of time.

Was a neat moment when they played it. Hooray for signs!
So that was all YOUR fault!

Image
, comment by lostboy01
lostboy01 swittersdc: "a funny thing happens to me when i go to phish concerts. they play “down with disease.” every time, it seems like."

ha! same here. seen it 22 times in 57 shows or 38% of the time. an "aww, f**k" usually emanates from my mouth every time it starts up. just can't seem to shake it. luckily my last few seen (8.23.15, 1.17.2016, and 7.18.17) have been good. but, come on!
, comment by OldButNotJaded
OldButNotJaded It's CDT for me: 21 of 40 shows!
, comment by Wombat_en_Fuego
Wombat_en_Fuego Mine is Piper, at 41%! Zero is 34%, which doesn't surprise me I suppose.
, comment by lysergic
lysergic @OldButNotJaded said:
It's CDT for me: 21 of 40 shows!
Over 50%! I hope you're coming to MPP this year. Love me some CDT.
, comment by seano
seano Was the playing really much tighter on night 2 from couch perspective? Was on floor page side both nights, and my crew couldn't get over night 1. Am i succumbing to song selection bias or no?
, comment by experiencechuck
experiencechuck @seano said:
Was the playing really much tighter on night 2 from couch perspective? Was on floor page side both nights, and my crew couldn't get over night 1. Am i succumbing to song selection bias or no?

no, lot of us at home loved the looseness and adventurousness of night 1, and I personally preferred it to night 2 which was strong but safe.

Either way, they sound great right now, so if it’s only gonna get better, count me in! See y’all at Curve!
, comment by Cerias
Cerias Chalk Dust/Ghost/Piper in a three-way tie at 37% for me ...
, comment by Scott
Scott This was epitome of a 'solid' show -- everything from Theme through Suzy was classy A- Phish, but I doubt anything will make the jam chart.

Other comments/observations -

*Alas, I got my ass handed to me every day; it [the house] pays off once in a while, then robs you clean. A slick talking dealer at Harveys claimed to have dealt the band a lot of losing hands in a previous year, so I'm wondering if those tunes weren't chosen with the locale in mind
*The setlist has a conventional structure to it and that's fine early in tour when everything sounds fresh anyway (Pro tip: with the possible exception of Live Bait, don't listen to Phish for 1-2 months before tour)
*Everything's Right is a terrific 1st set type I-1.5 vehicle with good lyrics; one of the highlights of the show IMO
*The Blaze On jam devolved into something Trey started layering over with the echoplex, which made for a nice -> into IAWITW. Given the story above about the sign, it seems like this is something they worked out at setbreak.
*There were few to no mistakes compared to N1, so yes it was tighter.
*I played cards with a old man from Firenze and a couple other phans... he got super excited when I waxed nostalgic about traveling in Italy. I didn't think to mention YEM to him but I'd still like partial credit for the mojo that led to it being played.
, comment by Longtimegone
Longtimegone @Cerias said:
Chalk Dust/Ghost/Piper in a three-way tie at 37% for me ...
In a very small sample size, (4 shows from 1999-2000) I’m at YEM with 75% if Big Cypress counts as one show. Incidentally, I’m heading to my first show in 18 years in Alpharetta in a couple of weeks! Can’t wait!
, comment by PhunkyBallOfTits
PhunkyBallOfTits @seano said:
Was the playing really much tighter on night 2 from couch perspective? Was on floor page side both nights, and my crew couldn't get over night 1. Am i succumbing to song selection bias or no?
I was kinda shocked to read the review that there seemed to be a night and day difference between the shows. YEM was sloppy in many spots, the band wasn't on the same page at the end of Bag. Not to critique too much, bc those things really don't bother me, but the point is there are moments where it wasn't the cleanest. I thought night 1 was better. And by tightness are we talking about limited flubs in composed sections? Night 2 wasn't nearly as exploratory, so I would happily take that Moma with the miscued reentry into the song over a "tight" 21 song show.
, comment by curleyfrei
curleyfrei Still listening to this show right now but would like to point out, happily, that Trey FINALLY nailed the crescendo before the jam in Theme!

(Y'know, the part he's been flubbing almost every time they've played it since '09?!)

I don't know why it gives him so much trouble, but glad to hear that he seems to have rehearsed it this time. When he does nail it, I get chills every time...
, comment by Choda
Choda N1 was pretty fucking hot.

I’d go back and listen to that:

Free Possum Moma Ghost Bitch

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