[Thank you to user @Jsauce, Josh Martin, for the recap. -Ed.]
Greetings from Hampton, everybody. Glad to be back with you all. Truth: I listened to a lot of Phish last summer. I hit the live phish app pipe so hard I thought my brain was going to bleed. A break was in order and a break was had. It was nice to come back to tour feeling hungry for the music.
I usually think of tour openers as being fantastic for the energy of all of us getting together to do what we do best and love most, but relatively slim on transcendent moments. That being said, Albany first night was fantastic, and the second night had moments. My only complaint was how many of my favorite songs they played the first two nights. Save something for Hampton, dudes!
Speaking of Hampton, I love it. It’s not much of a destination spot, but they always seem to deliver here. In one of those occurrences that probably shaped my future more than most others, 11/21 and 22/97 were my third and fourth shows. I’d never had my face ripped off my skull quite like that before. A truly transcendent moment. It’s the dragon I chased for years. On to it.
It’s nice to see a BD one-off getting a good dusting for the rest of us. “Strawberry Letter #23” worked well in the weekend opening slot. “Blaze On” was a popular choice in the house before the show. Trey was not particularly notey here, but focused and on the attack, and that combination is the hallmark of the best 3.0 jams. A slinky rhythm faded into “Mock Song," which was definitely an unexpected treat to all in attendance. To be honest I hadn’t had a lot of exposure to this song, but was stoked that the band is still, STILL, finding ways to surprise us.
In thinking about flubs of well known songs, I’ve done a mind-numbing amount of it. Yes, there were flubs in “Divided Sky.” I still love the song. I hope that is analysis enough. During the big pause, tons of lighters and phones came out. A very special moment to witness.
Has any song flourished as much in 3.0 as “Roggae”? Ever since the come out version from 8/6/11, it’s delivered a consistent, thoughtful, emotional solo from Trey. This was was no exception. This was the third “Sparkle” I’ve seen in 2018.
“Undermind” gets my call for one of the all-time sleeper songs. It can go anywhere. This one featured some really percussive Page, which allowed mike to get up and wander around. “Meat” is a song I’ve never liked, but plenty of people sounded really excited to hear it. A full-on Mike/Trey breakdown ensued, a la “Free” 10/16, followed by a thoroughly (and seemingly intentionally) uninteresting Fishman solo. A very rote “Rift” morphed into a super hot “Walk Away.” They absolutely shredded the ending in a way I’ve never heard them do before. Instantly relistenable and a very solid way to end the set.
Is it sacrilege to say that I’m not a huge fan of “Carini”? I like them shits dark, and recently more often that not they’ve segued, as this one did, into that uplifting but ultimately unfulfilling space which we’ve all started referring to as “bliss.” [All of us have not started referring to spacey jams as "bliss." -Ed.] This one slid back into a very dreamy minor key feeling before winding down into the Fish countoff for “Sand,”which is my other 3.0 MVP. So many ways to satisfy, here a sudden and fantastic shift from "Sand"-groove to choppy a staccato from Trey before bringing it back in hot.
“Golden Age” came off hot and tight, before, for the first of many times throughout the rest of the evening, we dove deep into outer space. Page synth really led the way here, carving out interstellar spaces and gooey, alien red sunrises. From the rudderless deep came “Twist.” Almost immediately the jam dove back into depths from which it came. To my ear, it’s during the still dark waters here and the subsequent segue into “Mountains in the Mist” that the audience starts to lose its attention. (Side note: is it me or does it seem like people are chomping more during songs these days? Has it always been this way and I just didn’t notice? I’m going to go yell at some kids to get off of my lawn).
Whenever Phish find themselves in this situation, jam puddling to an end and not sure where to go, “Meatstick” is always a great answer. We get some dance party funk and they get the chance to pull their heads together, which they did for “Split Open and Melt.” I’m kinda divided on this song. When they do it well (11/21/97), it’s an absolute skull crusher. Most of the time recently it seems as they’ve never really found that edge and the jam tends to just swamp around. It’s a hard song to bring off well, but I always like to hear them try. The back end coming out of the jam was electric and a nice close to an up and down second set.
"Lizards" I’ve seen as an encore at least three times and it works well in that slot.
Overall, there some great moments of risk in this show: pushing “Blaze On” during the first set, dusting off “Mock Song,” and particularly the subterranean psychedelic spaces after “Golden Age” and “Twist.” Bottom line: we need this band to continue to take risks in their music. To quote some guy you know, “When you take a risk, sometimes you’re gonna play shit.” Some of those moments were on display here, but there’s more than enough interesting improv to right the ledgers.
Great time. Hungry crowd. Good music. We’ll do it again tomorrow.
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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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