, attached to 2015-08-07

Review by pistilstamen

pistilstamen Not sure how you phanners fared approaching the venue from the east on West Steels Corners, but I can report that approaching from the west, I ran into 0 traffic. I am not exaggerating, as I pulled up to the Blossom Music Center entrance there were no cars in front of me.

We navigated the winding makeshift one-way road into the venue in the left lane which put us in “Lot B” (I think)…a short walk over the bridge and viola(!), we were inside.

A quick analysis of the crowd size and limited exit points led me and my old-man cohorts to determine an ‘early exit’ was in order to provide the best opportunity to expedite our departure. To be fair, we were driving back to Pittsburgh after the show, so trying to escape traffic as quickly as possible was pretty high on the priority list.

As I settled into my piece of grass I quickly made observations re: the state of Phish fandom (this being my first show since Coventry): w00ks may be on the endangered species list, there are significantly more attractive women attending the live performances of the greatest band of all times (which makes me happy), and the paranoia about recreational drug use is at an all-time low. Points 1 and 2 are likely related. Was the white-guy/girl-with-dreads/patchwork/etc a 90’s thing, or maybe just not a NE Ohio thing?

Nevertheless, watching the crowd became far more entertaining than the first ¾ of the first set. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was supremely excited to be attending my first Phish concert in over a decade, but the majority of the first set was by-the-books.

Well, I wish I could say that it was actually by the “books”, but Trey forgot how to play Rift. Seriously, the ass-whipping solo after Page’s solo is why Rift is a song in the first place. I thought to myself: “why play this song if you are not prepared to play this song?” I’m not one to get overly annoyed/hung up on flubs at my increasingly advanced age, but why not just shelve the fucking song if you can’t play it how it was written and try something different (LIMB BY LIMB, for example)?

My recommendation if you are wondering about this show: skip to It’s Ice and start there, because that is basically what the band did. If you enjoy Roses are Free and want to hear Trey plead with Dean and Gene to get the band back together, then check that out.

Anyway, back to It’s Ice. The jam is where this show finally received a tail-wind. I was able to overlook the band’s lack of precision in playing songs from their second-best album (Billy Breathes = #1), and this Ice got me moving. Trey going to the Mutron and Page on the Clav made for a limited, if not interesting jam.

The Gin that followed, while not exactly my cup of tea, blew the roof off of the place. Tremendous energy was transferred from the band, to the crowd, who gave it right back, and that led to Trey doing things I have rarely, if ever, heard him do in Gin. It was a beautiful and high energy close to a very pedestrian first set.

Set break was enjoyable. For example, I was able to get a close up of the blonde who was really getting down during the first set, and thought about giving her a Jeremiah Johnson-esque nod of approval, but decided that it would be less creepy (read: far creepier) to state my appreciation for her moves somewhat anonymously via the interwebs.

Also, props to my middle-aged neighbor who seemingly inhaled more cannabis vapor during set I than he did oxygen.

Chalk Dust came ripping out of the gates and I just assumed “here we go boys”. I was a bit perturbed when the jam was wrapping up in ‘standard’ fashion, all the way to Fish doing his drumming thing right before the song concludes, but that's when Trey said: “hell to the fuck no”…and things just took off from there. I closed my eyes and let the music do what it wanted to me. What is most prescient is the way the jam seamlessly progressed to the “Paradise City”/”Roll with the Changes” portion. I made note of the latter and was vocally appreciative of the progress with several “woo’s” (no Tahoe Tweezer) and “FUCK YEA’S” and “oh maaaannnn’s” during this segment.

Eventually the jam morphed (excuse me for being fuzzy on details, this is from memory), quite well, mind you, into Tweezer, which I received with fist pumps and more expletives. While many Tweezers in recent years have gone 'major mode', this one did no such thing. In fact, if you can find a more bleak, desolate, dark, and brooding Tweezer in the entire Phish catalog, I dare you to point it out to me. This wasn’t flaming hot magma ‘dark’ Tweezer jamming ala 12-2-95, no, this was the Mutron to Hades edition. This was some bleak shit. For a band that has weaved through varying levels of personal darkness, on several occasions to get their lives back on track, this was a stark and welcome departure from ‘happy/bliss jamming’.

For the record: I love this Tweezer. This may not be “hear at all costs, 10.0” on the Dirksen scale, but it is unique and will entrance you if you have any sort of darkness residing in your soul (guilty).

On the drive to the show my buddy Matt said in response to my query of “any songs you are looking for tonight?” “I’d really like to hear Lizards”. He received a back-hand slap across the shoulder and a celebratory smile when the opening notes started emanating from the stage. Side note: thank fucking (enter deity here) they didn’t go into Shade. Very strong rendition of The Lizards here. It’s like a different god damn band was playing this second set.

Makispua came next and Matt proclaimed “this was second on my list!”. I enjoyed more employment of the Mutron in unusual places (Makisupa jam), and the transition into Ghost (which I was audibly calling for late in the Tweezer jam).

Ghost saw more of the Trey-centric rock star thing that I don’t really enjoy but everyone else seems to, before really (really) teasing with Psycho Killer. I thought for sure Trey was stepping to the mic and telling us that he can’t seem to face up to the facts.

Eventually my wish was not granted, but they did play Harry Hood. I was expecting the usual/unusual with Hood (after nearly 20 years I still haven’t learned to never have expectations at a Phish concert). This version was compact, ‘old-school’, and wholly average. It wasn’t bad, but it never really went to the transcendental places that many ‘normal’ mid-90’s Harry Hood’s went to. Alas, it was good, not great.

Tweezer Reprise was notable for how awesome of a song it is, Mike’s bass, and Trey bounding all over the fucking stage, hamming it up for the crowd.

We made our move for the gate a verse into GTBT, but were able to enjoy it on the way to the car.

For the record: we were able to exit the venue swiftly and returned to the ‘burgh prior to 2am…a win-win all around.

This was a good show (not great), though I do believe the second set will grace many ‘best of’ lists from this tour. I haven’t heard much else, but I can say with certainty that the Chalk Dust -> Tweezer was some top shelf 2015 Phish.


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