Spice company Adams Extract is thought to have spread the red velvet cake throughout the US during the Great Depression by including it on recipe cards as a means to sell red food coloring; the cake was appropriated by the Waldorf-Astoria as the Waldorf-Astoria Cake; additionally, the cake may have seen a resurgence in the late 80s after being featured as an armadillo in the movie Steel Magnolias. (Thanks, Wiki.)
No matter its history as a food, fans began the guessing process following the announcement of Red Velvet as the flavor of the third evening of the Baker’s Dozen. Guesses of Velvet Underground bust-outs to a cover of Velvet Revolver to the obligatory "Wading In the Velvet Sea" glazed over screens throughout the day. But I tried to keep an expectation-free head as I made my way into the Garden (alas, too late for doughnuts but not too late to settle-in a few people back, Mike-side). Having followed the first two evenings — or, shall we say, Coconut and Strawberry — via Twitter, stream, and shitty chat rooms, I was quite ready to get my sweet on in person.
The coming of a new year has been celebrated for over 4,000 years as a moment to actively look back on the past while marking the arrival of the new. It was in 46 B.C. that Julius Caesar instituted January 1st as the first day of the year, partially as an acknowledgment of the two-faced god Janus, name-sake for January. And in 1528, Pope Gregory XIII made January 1st a religious holiday, solidifying its significance. January 1st. One-one. Essentially, this holiday is the celebration of numbers. How does one keep track of time except through numbers? Another rotation around the sun, the year clicking forward like the slow turn of an odometer. We celebrate making it through the past 365 days and welcome the next set.
Photo © @Phish_FTR
And we Phish fans are fascinated by numbers. Show dates. The number of shows seen. Gaps between times-played. The length of songs as a measuring stick. Types I and II. 1.0/2.0/3.0. Wrapping the two together, Phish concerts begun the 31st of December have always been moments of joy and spectacle. Big Cypress. The 1995 Mike’s Groove Time Factory. 1993 and the “Down With Disease Jam.” Of course, balloons were hung from the ceiling. The one additional element was an inverted cone, or funnel, suspended over the soundboard area. What was in store for 2015?
Last night marked the thirty-third time Phish played Madison Square Garden, the twentieth New Year's Eve show, and the ninth such show played at “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” And the tenth time “The Moma Dance” opened a show. The slow, loping funk of “Moma” was followed by the bounciness of “Possum,” which in turn lead to the funk of “Wolfman’s Brother.” “Wolfman’s,” while not extended, seemed to exhibit just a bit of gusto. After some pause and conversation, the band decided on a standard “Birds of a Feather.”
Photo © @Phish_FTR
A celebration of the Fishman family was to follow, with “The Man Mulcahy” demonstrating his vacuum skills on “I Didn’t Know.” Then at the request of Fishman, the crowd (and band) sang an arena-filling “Happy Birthday to You” to his daughter Ella for her 14th birthday, celebrated the day before.
“Martian Monster” was followed by standard-great version of “Reba.” Trey made it through the fugue-like middle section relatively unscathed to deliver on the “Reba” jam that some fans have compared to oxygen — hard to live without. This would mark the first of many moments throughout the evening when Trey faced skyward toward the balloons hanging with anticipation, channeling the “hose.”
Photo © @hersch
“Walls of the Cave” would close the opening set. (Interestingly, “Walls” has closed a set the last fourteen times it has been played.) As the song built to its rawkus “silent trees”close, the floor of the arena actually began to undulate. With the restrained first section and the energetic second, the song and its structure could be offered as an analog for the show as we would discover.
The second set of the evening began with “The Wedge,” followed by the crowd participatory “Wilson.” “Wilson” then transitioned into “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.” With Trey acknowledging the changing of time, “10 years before the mast,” “ASIHTOS” was stretched ever so slightly.
After “Yarmouth Road,” the opening notes of “Kill Devil Falls” reinforced this feel that a standard “first set” had extended deep into the second, and some fans were becoming anxious. A shift needed to occur. Little did we know that this shift would happen in “KDF” — “this time will be different” indeed. The song opened up into the first Type II territory of the evening with Mike dropping bass bombs that made the arena rumble. The jam featured a bit of “plinko” as well as this loose seven-noted repeated riff. Arguably the most exploratory “KDF” since Bonnaroo 2012. The jam dissolves into the opening notes of “Piper,” which was driving and fiery as expected — albeit on the shorter side.
With the successful shift in tenor, the band was free to open things up and the set closing “Twist” would prove to be one of the highlights of 2015 (see 7/24 and 8/12). The jam once again featured Trey staring upwards, reaching for inspiration (or at least to Cream with a couple “Strange Brew” teases). As with “KDF,” Mike would once again lead the charge, dropping meatballs and leading the band on a dark and nasty course that would feature two distinct jams. The last thirty-seven minutes of music certainly lifted everyone’s excitement for what was to come in the third set and the transition into the new year.
Photo © @Phish_FTR
As noted above, the only sign of a “gag” or spectacle was the white shape suspended over an area immediately behind the soundboard. During set break, it was observed that a drum kit was arranged and gear was introduced. It became clear the band would perform beneath the shape. It just wasn’t clear for how long, or what else would happen. Around 20 til midnight, the band took to the floor and began to play the 2015 debut “No Men In No Man’s Land.” (A confident betting man would have put money on that new fan favorite being part of the NYE festivities.) The structure of the song quickly dissolved into what could be described as sounding like a “fourth” or “secret set” — ambient, without specific structure, setting a mood rather than taking us on a journey. And while that was happening, the shape slowly began to lower itself from the ceiling while images were projected against the translucent fabric. After reaching a certain point, another section of fabric dropped from the shape and covered the band, forming an hourglass shape. The projections then began to feature an hourglass with sand marking the passage of time, with various items passing across the surface — flying wings, wolves, blocks. It was reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s animations.
At some point with only a few minutes before Midnight, the band made a stealthy escape from below the hourglass and situated themselves on the darkened stage — they appear to have pre-recorded a piece of music to play over the PA leading into the countdown (“Thirty, “Twenty,” “Ten . . . “ booming over the speakers), as it did not appear they were performing until the balloons dropped and “Auld Lang Syne” began. A second fan favorite from 2015, the aptly titled “Blaze On” brought us all into 2016. Another highlight of the evening, as the jam freed itself into Type II territory after seven minutes, reaching a gorgeous, buttery peak. Happy New Year indeed!
The “Carini” that followed featured a short, patient section of improv in contrast to the songs darker, chaotic melody. And that section dissolved into a “David Bowie” that once again featured quite a bit of Mike, through a quiet section through a great peak before returning to “Bowie” proper.
Photo © @languagestrange
The obligatory New Year’s “The Horse” into “Silent In the Morning” (played at seven New Year’s Eve shows; “I think that this exact thing happened to me, just last year”) was a nice cool down from the earlier spectacle. The set closing “Backwards Down the Number Line” was almost as obligatory as the preceding “Silent,” with allusions to the past and birthdays, “somewhere between the past and future.”
Last evening, twenty-six songs were played over the course of four hours. The longest song was “No Men in No Man’s Land,” clocking in at 21:32 (based on the Live Phish tracking). With the exception of “Happy Birthday” and “Auld Lang Syne,” the song with the longest gap was “Kill Devil Falls,” at 16 shows (8/5/15). One could go on and on. But despite this fascination with numbers, what really keeps fans coming back, year after year, every 365 days, is the joy of the old (rather, those melodies and lyrics we know and enjoy) and the celebration of the new (exploration, improvisation, and the unknown). And last night’s New Year’s celebration delivered on both accounts, in spades. And we are just halfway through. (Two out of four shows, for those who like numbers.)
(For the “tl; dr” crowd: Listen to the “KDF,” “Twist,” “NMINML,” and “Blaze On”)
With the announcement of Phish's return to Miami for this year's NYE run -- which will mark the fourth time they have celebrated the New Year in the Sunshine State (third time in Miami) -- we thought we'd ask you about your favorite Florida Phish show. While there are some obvious front runners (one brought to mind by the recent leak of a certain video . . . ), there are other contenders that shouldn't be hastily overlooked. So share with us your thoughts. Participate. Rank.Phishing Poll, Vol. 12: Best Florida Show
Below, please find a representative song or jam from each night to help you with your ranking.
2/22/1993, "Guelah Papyrus"
2/23/1993, "Paul and Silas"
2/25/1993, "HYHU > If I Only Had a Brain > HYHU"
2/26/1993, "Divided Sky"
2/27/1993, "The Curtain"
8/2/1993, "La Grange"
8/3/1993, "The Lizards"
4/28/1994, "Run Like an Antelope"
10/21/1994, "Foreplay > Long Time"
10/23/1994, "You Enjoy Myself > The Vibration of Life > You Enjoy Myself"
11/12/1995, "Slave to the Traffic Light"
11/15/1995, "Theme from the Bottom"
11/16/1995, "Timber (Jerry)"
10/29/1996. "Mike's Song"
11/2/1996, "Crosseyed and Painless"
12/30/1999, "Light Up or Leave Me Alone"
12/31/1999, "Roses Are Free"
12/28/2003, "Frankie Says"
12/30/2003, "P-Funk Medley"
12/28/2009, "Harry Hood"
12/29/2009, "Gotta Jiboo"
12/30/2009, "Back On the Train"
12/31/2009, "Blue Moon"
With Dick's mere days ahead, we thought we'd give the pot a little stir and provoke some discussion around the finest jams of summer tour proper.
There's an embarrassment of riches to pick from -- from the varied meanderings of the "Randalls Chalk Dust" to the dad-rock majesty of the Northerly "Wedge" to the trifecta of jamming "Fuegos" -- and we encourage you to rank 'em up below the fold and discuss in the comments. We've started you out with the staff's top ten, but please feel free to add your own favorites so people can vote those up as well. Enjoy!
(If you do not see your favorite jam listed, please feel free to add it following the existing format: 7/dd - song - city, state)
The phish.net's crew's initial rankings of a Top 15 are as follows (with links courtesy of PhishTracks):
7/13 - Chalk Dust Torture - New York, NY
7/20 - The Wedge - Chicago, Illinois
7/04 - Fuego - Saratoga Springs, New York
7/19 - Harry Hood - Chicago, Illinois
7/30 - Fuego - Portsmouth, Virginia
7/18 - Wombat - Chicago, Illinois
7/08 - Fuego - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
7/20 - Ghost - Chicago, Illinois
7/01 - Harry Hood - Mansfield, Massachusetts
7/26 - Ghost - Columbia, Maryland
7/13 - Light - New York, New York
7/13 - Tweezer - New York, New York
7/30 - Piper - Portsmouth, Virginia
7/04 - Down with Disease - Saratoga Springs, New York
7/11 - Down with Disease - New York, New York
A three-night run of Phish at the same venue breeds familiarity. A beginning, middle, and an end. By Sunday night, the end, each fan knew the quickest (or most convenient) way to get to this island in the East River. Each fan had their ticket ready at the check-points, knew which beer line was shortest, where to refill the water bottles. And for those of us who were more particular than others (pun intended), the most optimal location to enjoy the show. For our crew, it was on the pavement in front of the soundboard, “just to the right of Mike, even with the first aid tent to the west.” Something to be said for being surrounded by friends, both old and new, from New York City and abroad. Smiling, familiar faces. This particular spot of ours sounded pristine, with just that extra bit of Mike. We were able to soak in some amazing breeze. It provided us with a view of that gorgeous Full Buck Moon on Saturday night. Familiar. A place to call “ours” if only for a few hours.
Phish also breeds familiarity, particularly over a run. What sort of mood is the band in, how nimble are Trey’s fingers, what fashion statement will Mike offer us. With each show, fans check off songs knowing they will not return, shrinking the list of possibilities (by only so much). But with the yin of familiarity is the wonderful yang of the unknown. What keeps us coming back. Knowing that "it" could happen at any time. Well, it happened on Sunday. In such a huge way.
The pre-show music was a mixture of Al Green and some jazz. Good Sunday afternoon music. While, a bit sparser than the night before, there seemed to be a lot of chatter. It could have been due to the projected forecast of rain and lightning -- a forecast carrying enough weight such that @phish tweeted earlier in the day that the 7:00 show would start at 7:15 rather than the understood 7:20. The heavy breeze even felt as though weather was on its way. (Glad that ended up being wrong.)
"Promptly" at 7:23, the band took the stage. We should have known we were in for a unique night as "Sand" opened the show; while “Sand” had begun second sets in the past, I believe this was the first time this song was ever chosen to open a show. It started things off where "First Tube" had left us all the night before. A song with origins in Trey's Tony & Russ trio, centered around a groove. A good song to loosen up the fingers and settle in (rather than, say, a right-out-of-the gates "Buried Alive"). And yes, there was a little extra mustard thrown in there to get us all engaged.
After the eight-minute "Sand,” the eighth selection off of Fuego for the run was played, "Winterqueen." I should admit I've been a fan since I heard the debut last Halloween. It was odd, though, to hear the second song of the set begin without any acknowledgment from the crowd with the exception of some polite applause. Maybe a different placement next time? (::coughWadingcough::) I quite enjoyed Page's utilization of what I would call "that calliope sounding keyboard" a few times during the song.
Aside: I should mention the transition into the closing section was a bit rough. And if I was going to criticize Trey's playing at all this past weekend, it would be centered on the lack of nimbleness in transitioning back into the ends of songs. There seemed to be small hiccups each night at these specific moments.
During the song discussion following “Winterqueen,” I could pick up on some chanting in the crowd coming from in front of us, to the left (Trey side). You could see Trey leaning over that direction, giving that familiar grin and head bob. And just as soon as I made out “Reba, Reba, Reba,” Trey kicked in to the opening notes. I felt this was an average-great version of a song I had been wanting to hear all weekend. I felt the composed section was successfully navigated, sailing into the expected bliss. I quite enjoyed Page’s work on the Rhodes leading into the peak and the “normal” whistling. Trey afterwards: "Thanks you guys. Thanks for the suggestion." You were more than welcome, Trey.
Another aside: I should take a brief moment to comment on how Page’s playing this weekend (among other shows I have heard from the tour) has really impressed me. It just seems he is picking the right instrument at the right time, the right notes and fills, leading jams when needed. Not that other band members haven’t, mind you -- we benefited from standing in front of Mike all three nights -- but something about Page is standing out.
“Birds!! of a Feather” was next, despite the large green pig balloons which had appeared at the front of the crowd, with “Guyute” written on them. As Scott Marks noted at the time, Angry Birds won over Angry Pigs
First thing I heard with the opening notes of “Water In the Sky” was “Don't jinx us, Phish!” Thankfully, they didn’t. I should have had more faith.
With “Water,” I decided to take a walk and see how grass felt beneath my feet. I was surprised that once I left the pavement (with the exception of the beer lines), how spacious and comfortable the lawn felt. Room to walk and stroll, people walk, and run into friends. “Possum” was enjoyable enough (I had written “more organ” in my notes. I believe that was a positive thing.) “Runaway Jim” followed. As with “Reba,” this was a song I was pulling for -- I have always loved “Jim.” While I prefer it to be selected as an opener -- as I appreciate the “driving” nature of its structure, with Trey trilling out notes along with Page on the piano -- it still put a smile on my face (despite slight issues, again, transitioning into the ending). “Bouncing Around the Room” seemed more enjoyable on the grass than it would have on pavement. And by the time I made my way back up front, Phish was on to “Maze,” where it seemed Page was conjuring more breeze with his always-full organ solo.
Aside: It would be natural to wonder about the energy of both the crowd and band alike following the three nights. If Sunday, “for the band,” would be able to keep up. And it appeared to me the setlist was constructed with songs that assisted in keeping up momentum: “Sand,” “Birds,” “Jim,” and “Maze.” Each projecting forward. The closing song was also in that vein.
For some reason “Split Open and Melt” was a song completely off my radar when it started at 8:37; just one of those times when other wants and wishes took up space. But that all quickly dissipated like a “steam dream" as it plunged dark and deep. With Trey on the delay and the chanting from the band, one might compare it to early 90s versions. Strong build of tension and dissonance, accented by Kuroda’s work on the lights. The background changed each evening, from a transparent mesh the first night, to a mesh with a white backdrop the second, to the all black on Sunday. It provided a great backdrop to the band, bathed in red light, with moments of color dancing around the stage in time with the music. Trey making his guitar howl as Page banged away, over and over, drawing out the evil like a guitar salve. Or something like that. Let’s settle on a damn good “Split” to close the set.
All in all, a good first as we are growing to expect them these days. A series of stand-alone songs with one or two highlights. I feel the “Bathtub Gin” from night one was the first set highlight of the run, but the “Melt” may be second if I was forced to choose. The setbreak was highlighted by the Bill Withers being played over the PA, complete with a “Lean On Me” sing-along by the crowd around us.
Down came the lights at 9:10. The opening notes of “Chalk Dust Torture” took me a little off guard. And let me say that I remained wonderfully off guard for the next 56 minutes. The opening hour of Sunday night’s show may be my favorite hour of Phish since Big Cypress. Relistens may temper my hyperbole, but I am still glowing from what we all witnessed, with what Phish performed for us. While Mike Hamad illustrates the musicality of “CDT” in a way I can not even attempt to equal, I am simply going to share with you the notes I took in the moment:
Chalkdust - five minutes in starts to get stretched with this great upbeat jam led by Page "butter jam", desk flip; slowly stumbles into darkness as the rain drops fall (Mike led) but not too dark; rhythmic section, darker, then back to the "buttery" section (9:27) Baby Elephant Walk like; Page leading it another direction ; red lights mean dark CK5 :30; Trey feedback with Mike and Page banging away; whale screeches; bombs :34 rumbling bliss as Trey starts playing pretty; Mike teases? Fishman shuffling along as it slowly dies into . . .
What that all means is that you need to listen. A must-hear, hands down. Best “CDT” of 3.0? Give it a whirl and compare away. I will just say that jaws were dropped, grins were plastered, and “Wtf?” laughter all occurred. (FYI: Through the wonders of immediate relistening, it appears there were also teases of the “Piper” from Dick’s ‘11, aka “Roadrunner Tease.” Just something for you geeks to discuss.)
Fishman shuffling along as it slowly dies into “Light,” twenty-eight minutes after the set began. And what a perfect choice to follow the wonder what we just experienced. “The light is growing brighter now,” matched by Trey's piercing guitar that came out of the vocals. I loved how Trey popped in the tease of Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas” (thanks, Dan) in the middle of the beautiful jamming -- sometimes teases just fit. The beautiful jamming transitioned into “Harry Hood” territory about nine minutes in. Only to be followed by a jam structured around a descending melody that immediately brought to mind “Mind Left Body” (see here or here). While it may not have been a tease, or quote, it was close enough and had the desired effect -- more joy. Building to a huge climax around ten minutes in.
To be followed by “Tweezer.” Why a one-two punch when you can have a one-two-three punch? It began slow and funky, dripping like we all were. At one point, the band slid in and out of tempos, slowing down as if someone was playing with a turntable, making it even stickier than it already was. Once that was over, Page brought the jam to this soulful section, reminding me what he did with the “Down With Disease” two nights earlier. The jam really began to soar after twelve minutes, building to a huge peak -- complete with me punching the air over and over again. It was that kind of hour of music -- where you lose control of your (sober) body and let the music guide your limbs. A slow old-school Tweezer ending after about sixteen minutes.
Whew. Breather. Times for high-fives and quick exclamations of hyperbole with friends and strangers alike.
The band felt the need for a breather as well, it appears, and offered up “Wading In the Velvet Sea.” Despite any internal groans I may have tried to suppress, I did find myself swaying to the music. See above re: losing control of one’s body. The “Sing Monica” which followed was not what I would have selected. Sounding to me like some 60s Bay Area pop song, it would have come low on my list of song choices. But hey, I was not in a complaining mood and I did appreciate the little reprise of the melody following the vocals-only chorus.
The beauty of “Slave to the Traffic Light” was a fitting choice to wrap-up a run of music in NYC. And I always enjoy Mike's lead, ringing out so clear. Even with its proximity to “Wading,” it felt right.
Before they began their encore, Page took a moment to thank everyone for coming out, noting that they play “for us.” Sentimentality must have been flowing as the encore began with “Backwards Down the Number Line.” A song about friendship and familiarity. “Do you know why we’re still friends? / Laughing all these many years” -- because of the music, Trey. The expected “Tweeprise” that followed, complete with the Mike bombs, put an exclamation point on the evening, the weekend, the first of hopefully many runs on Randall’s Island.
Continuing with the theme, the walk-out music was the Rolling Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend.”
Even before the expected “Tweeprise,” superlatives were being tossed around regarding this three-night run, with many in agreement that this could have been the best run of 3.0 after Dick’s ‘12. Another offered this evening’s “Chalk Dust Torture” > “Light” as the best one-two song combination of 3.0 since the Albany ‘09 “Seven Below” > “Ghost.” I will let those with the knowledge bases and ability to compare such things prepare a blog post. All I will say is that I am happy we can even have these discussions. That this band, after all these years and countless shows, can still create music that some of feel are “Best evers,” topping previous versions. That through all our familiarity and expectations, they can surprise and fill us with such great joy.
Expectations. It is better to go into a situation without them and be pleasantly surprised than it is to go in and be let down. Expectations that a certain thing will happen, or at a Phish show, that a certain song will be played it its “regular” location. (Or, shall we mention Halloween and the expectations of a musical costume. Did those expectations and the ensuing grumblings get to the band’s ears? Six sets and no covers. Makes you wonder . . . ) Following last night’s show at Madison Square Garden, the third in Phish’s four-night New Year’s run, let’s just say my pleasant surprise outweighed any let-down that may (or may not) have occurred.
Having decided to go to one show this year, I chose the 30th. I felt there was something poetic about attending Phish’s 30th show at MSG on December 30th, during their 30th year as a band. It was poetic, on paper; in reality, I knew I had to temper my expectations. All reports from the first two nights were pointing in a positive direction, especially the second set from the second night. Needless to say, I was excited for what was in store for us that Monday evening.
Back by popular demand this week: Phish content!
I'll preface this installment by outing myself as an unapologetic fan of The Phish Ballad. I love the band's approach to the song form over the decades. I love the punctuation they provide in the right context. And I love the way Phish's ballads show off the band's grasp of harmonic movement and dynamics.
We gave the staff here at Phish.net an opportunity to rank their favorite original Phish ballads across the breadth of the catalog, and below the fold you'll find our top 10. As usual, please feel free to add your own over at Ranker.com (instructions below the fold).
From the editors: For this installment of our Summer Tour Recaps, the editors of Phish.net wanted to extend an invitation to Peter Skewes-Cox (aka @ucpete) to offer his perspective on Friday night’s return to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Peter is a San Francisco native and longtime West Coast fan who in the last few years has become a more avid contributor to phish.net by reviewing shows and annotating as many teases as he can.
The 20th show of Summer Tour 2013 (and this reviewer’s 25th show since 1999) brought Phish to the place where being a dirty hippie was invented. A place I’m proud to call “home”. The tour has started off quite well, and has only continued to gather more steam (and rain) as the band knocks out its annual West Coast Swing. The anticipation in the crowd of 7,000 was palpable, and it seems in every direction one could hear a conversation involving “Tweezer”, “Tahoe”, and “37 minutes”. Not only was the “Tahoeezer” fresh in everyone’s minds, but the last time the band was at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, this happened. Would the band drop a 38 minute Ghost tonight, replete with “WOOO”? Or would they “revert” back to the fluid, well-structured, cohesive sets of July? Would the first of three be the “song-driven” show? Would there be a much-wanted Dead sit-in or cover for three San Francisco shows falling in the week between Jerry’s birthday and the anniversary of his death (somehow I got both in my first two shows and haven’t had either since)? Let’s find out…
Back in the early age of the internet, and before widespread use of cell phones, fans would usually have to wait until the next morning to find out what happened at a concert. I have three vivid memories from undergrad when, while I was sitting at a computer, I felt myself filling with excitement and joy in reading what had happened the night before. One was March 20, 1995, when I read on rec.music.dead that the Grateful Dead *finally* played Unbroken Chain to close the previous night's first set in Philadelphia (stories were coming back that a few chosen fans held up their cell phones for friends; others rushed to use pay phones at setbreak -- it was a big deal). The next was November 1 of that same year when I walked from Studio near the Pantheon to one of the only computer labs in all of Rome, just north of the Vatican, to find out that Phish played Quadrophenia for Halloween. The third was in the Fall of 1996, reading about Phish's famous "M" set from St. Louis, complete with Mean Mr. John Popper (just a week after seeing my fourth and fifth shows).
Fast-forward seventeen years to yesterday morning, when I woke up to hundreds of messages on my phone in the form of Tweets and GroupMe posts describing what had gone down just a few hours earlier in Tahoe. If I had stayed up, I could have even listened along to the Tweezer by means of a fan's stream from the show. Instead, I quickly downloaded the show and was able to listen to the eighth-longest song Phish ever played twice before I even got into work. And by early morning, I was up to my fourth listen (compared to seventeen years earlier, when I was resigned that I would have to wait weeks -- or months -- before I could even hear a note; I remember anxiously awaiting for a tape Vine or Tree for that Dead show . . . ).
Three songs into Kenny Rogers' set at Bonnaroo on Sunday, he expressed his gratitude to the organizers and the crowd for welcoming him to the festival. He made some quip about young fans remembering his music (blissfully unaware to the apparent hipster irony), closing with a proclamation of his intent to play every one of his hits. The tent erupted.
With Rogers, a greatest hits set is expected. He does not need to prove himself at Bonnaroo, as acts have done over the past eleven years. All attendees are expecting to hear are recognizable songs, as he has been performing for years in Branson. While Phish certainly no longer needs to prove themselves, their fans, by contrast, do expect more than a run through of the hits. Especially during a four-hour slot on what could arguably be the largest stage in live music. But other than one or two moments of surprise and adventure, Phish's show was filled with songs that simply muscled through the bigness of the event.
(Please post any corrections that you may hear in watching the video.)
Hi everyone. My name is Trey Anastasio, and I am a proud graduate of the Washington County public drug treatment court.
I can't begin to describe how moving it is for me to be here today. In 2006, my life was a wreck. I was arrested and sent into drug court. At the time, it seemed like the worst thing that ever happened to me. I was in drug court for 14 months, and then a couple years of probation. Today, I say from the depths of my heart, that that was the greatest thing that ever happened in my life -- for me, for my wife, for my kids, my parents. It's indescribable. I just want to dig deep down and say thank you to all of you. I don't even know if you can be aware of the positive effects you are having. Not just on the drug court participants, but on their families and everyone they come into contact with. I am a huge supporter of drug court, and a huge supporter of everything that all of you do. So thank you.
I am going to say one more thing and then I get to introduce the senator. My case manager's name is Melanie Vaughn. She could not be here today. When I was in drug court, she scared me. [laughs] I ended up going to jail, and you know everything that happens in drug court. Today, she is one of my best friends. We text each other all the time. The reason she couldn't be here is 'cause in Washington County -- which is in New York, upstate New York, very economically depressed part of the country -- there is one case manager in Washington County drug treatment court for probably about 60 or 70 participants. She couldn't afford to be here and she couldn't take the time. But she sends her love. And I send my love to you, Melanie, and wish you could be here. And like I said, thank all of you. Keep doing what you are doing.
So I am going to introduce Senator Robert Menedez. And I grew up in New Jersey, so it's an honor for me to introduce the senator from New Jersey. Senator Menedez is a true champion of drug courts. In 2008, Senator Menedez co-sponsored legislation declaring May as National Drug Court Month. Senator Menedez has supported drug courts, not only in New Jersey, but has insured drug courts throughout the country receive the funding they need by signing letters to his colleagues supporting drug courts. Senator Menedez, we all rise to thank you for being a supporter of drug courts.
Having missed Bethel, last night was my first show since the First of the Year. I was excited to make it to at least one this summer, and it was a perfect evening to be outside enjoying the Phish. All in all, I liked the flow of the first set, at least for the first few songs: (predictable) energy of "Chalkdust," breeziness of "Roggae," crowd-pleasing of "Punch," funk into rock of "The Moma Dance" . . . did it really segue into "Rock and Roll?" Always a fan of "Sand" and this one had me moving a bit. The too-short "Tube" was the turning point, though. With the fubar'd "Divided Sky" (complete with Trey claiming it was on purpose, and stopping to hold out the mic to the crowd and just laugh at his flub) and the anti-climactic "Character Zero."
For set two, I really enjoyed the "After Midnight" and it's reach into Type II territory. It didn't get spacy, like the later "Drowned," but it clearly left all resemblance of the melody. (Anyone give the "After Midnight" a re-listen? And do you hear "Runaway Jim" near the end of the jam? I am interested to see if it holds up on tape . . . ) "Possum" was a bit of a let down, if you ask me. Only to be brought up by the "Drowned" and the subsequent space. Sure, it meandered, but I was happy they at least went there. "Maze" could have been something different, but it was actually really well played with what seemed like an extended solo from Page. I was expecting "Circus"; but "Dirt" worked just as well as a breather. "Alaska" was quite a downer, if you ask me. I find the song boring and monotonous. Blah. "YEM" was quite tight and very well played (especially when compared to the "Divided"). It was fun to watch Trey getting down while Mike closed off the song pre-vocal jam. But it was short and standard.
I was hoping for an "Axis: Bold as Love" encore (hey, if Possum could get repeated, why not this one?); we got Hendrix, just a different one. "Fire." Nice walk-out music.
All in all, for what might be my only show of the summer? Really fun, with a couple instances of Type II balanced with flubs and a downer or two. Enjoyed the flow of the first set, and the bit of exploration in the second. If I had to apply a number, I would say 4.5-5.5.
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