, attached to 2016-07-06

Review by Slewfoot

Slewfoot Months back when I first saw that Phish would be playing in Portland while I would be in town my heart skipped a beat. Phish at a small venue? In one of my favorite cities? In Maine? With floor tickets? It all seemed too good to be true! Did the show live up to the hype? For the most part, yes!

Walking into the venue it become immediately apparent that there was not a bad seat in the house. We got up to around the 14th row just in front of Trey. As the crowd filled in so did the heat and the air became thick with with smoke and all the smells one comes to expect at a show. Down went the lights and showtime!!!

It was a welcome surprise to see the Acapaella mic being brought forward. Grind had a soothing effect to start things off and then Cars Trucks Buses kept up the jazzy vibe. I've always enjoyed CTB which held true tonight. Blaze On, Yarmouth Road and Kill Devil Falls were all solid with a special nod to Yarmouth Road which they nailed. The next few songs gave Trey some trouble and flubs persisted throughout the rest of the set. Some of the changes seemed difficult to master on this night which made the choice of My Friend, My Friend a questionable one when it began. My buddy and I asked each other why Trey would want to do this to himself and we settled on him wanting a challenge. Luckily they nailed the My Friend with as good a version as one could ask for these days.

The Heavy Things, 555 and The Line all saw more flubs, but were played with gusto otherwise. It kind of seemed like at this point in the set they were throwing out songs trying to have something take off, but none ever really did. I really enjoyed Things People Do as I've been missing the old Bluegrass tunes making this song a welcome addition. Stash was the clear highlight of the set for me and they nailed this one. Trey's guitar danced around the arena and the jam got deep and massive just before they nailed the peak. All in all a solid if not remarkable first set.

For the second set we decided to move elsewhere. We ended up basically on the far end of the rail on Page side which had loads of room for dancing and was a good 5 degrees cooler than the middle. The sound was also noticeably better. Yay!

From the moment First Tube started it was clear that they were a different band from the previous set. It was rockin! I was especially glad to hear this song since I woke up that morning and immediately had the opening dum, da dum, da dum, da dum in my head. I felt a Tweezer coming next which was the band seemed to feel as well. I feel like of all their classic jam songs Tweezer has improved and evolved the most. They were immediately locked into a thick groove for the song structure itself. I turned to my buddy and said that the sound of the second set seems larger than life. The music was flowing and in the zone. I had a vision of a huge steel engine turning it's gears to the music. The jam itself started out deep and soon got very pretty, sounding more like a Simple jam.

As the jam wound down Trey started strumming the intro gallup to a wonderful, triumphant Guyute. This was a *great* version. I can't recall enjoying one as much since The Great Went. At one point during the song I thought, "this song right now is everything good about Phish." It had classical music elements, 70's prog rock, a Gamehendge vibe all thrown together. Classic Phish.

The Mike's Song that started had a slinky backbeat to it. A bit mellower than usual which was fine because the groove was tight and flowing. A string of slow songs followed that seemed a bit out of place, but were all very well played. The Bittersweet Motel was especially great and to my ears had a Brokedown Palace type vibe. And then out of nowhere came Fluffhead! Woo-hoo! Just like Guyute this was masterfully crafted from start to finish. Amazing that after the first set flubs in the changes they nailed two of their more complex songs in the second set. Never underestimate these guys! Weekapaug followed on the heels of Fluffhead and was the perfect closer as always.

We weren't sure what to expect for the encore, but I doubt anyone saw the Contact coning. Trey mentioned it was a personal request from Mike. A lovely version that had the whole crowd swaying with nostalgia. Then came the Reprise that just about blew the roof off the place. A fantastic second set that I look forward to hearing again very, very soon.


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