, attached to 2016-07-18

Review by Fondue

Fondue Tension and Release - BGCA Night 1

Before rambling on about the music, I thought I’d describe the joint a little for those who haven’t been. ...It’s basically a slightly larger version of your high school auditorium, with a large floor and one level of balcony. It’s also totally GA, and a good 1000 people lined up well before doors. Bill Graham is as intimate an indoor venue as you get with Phish outside of UIC, which officially holds exactly two less people.

After seeing 8 shows this summer, I can say that the lights are absolutely spectacular in this venue, so good that I found myself marveling at them repeatedly throughout the evening with incredibly happy, perfectly overzealous Phish fans, sound good and volume loud. At the Gorge, the sun might epically set behind the band and the moon come up behind the lawn, but this room is just as incredible in its own way and should go on your Phish in-person bucket list.

The music - tonight was all tension and release in just about every tune from 46 days on, where Trey builds and twists out a ripper of a solo. A long discussion leads to a tight Sugar Shack, respite for the messy clam bar version played in SPAC. Roggae, on a goddamn tear all last year, soars and peaks from a very quiet start, surely a set 1 highlight, to a great high energy Daniel which finds Trey looking to his watch as he holds out the first note. I had a brief moment of wanting this Divided Sky to find it’s way back in time to the Gorge, but the volume the crowd reaches as Trey keeps us hanging in the break was just crazy, even with 43 thousand people less than were at Wrigley. He clearly soaks it in and the band gives us a bluesy peaky jam in Ocelot that’s certainly worth a re-spin. The instrument switching gag appears again in Ya Mar. Though fun to watch, it’s sonically not nearly as interesting as the gag was in MM at Syracuse. Mike’s got a few good riffs, tho… Even good ol’ Possum brings the tension in a razor sharp Trey/Fish back and forth teetering on a SOAMelt-ish middle section. Certainly one of the best first sets of tour.

Golden Age gets us going a little after 10pm, and descends type 2 for a few brief moments until a tight, crunchy Twist emerges. It’s practically over before it began, and they rip thru an enjoyable My Sweet One. I like fast Phish… so let’s skip the awfully placed Line and move onto an uptempo Simple. I think I’m spoiled from seeing this tune so many times at MSG. I just expect there to be a euphorant sing-along huzzah at “We’ve got skyscrapers…” but I guess it doesn’t happen anywhere else. Simple falls into a few minutes of bliss and then Sally makes her first appearance in 2016, and she fucking sneaks the shit out of that alley. Sally rocks, rolls, builds, peaks, even gets a bit dissonant for your definite highlight of the night. If nothing else, pull up this and the churning Limb that follows. Slave was its usual peaky self, tho I prefer the Philly one over this. Another great encore follows, with the definitive tension and release tune in the catalog raging and kicking us out the door into the gentle, cool night.

If you do listen to the show, point your ears at Fishman. All night he nudged tempos and lockstepped with Trey into some interesting territory, especially in tunes where I don’t feel like I usually hear it - Ocelot, Possum, and Sally’s Limb in particular. It’s texture we haven’t heard much of this summer. I think @n00b100 has aptly noted a few of this year’s shows seem like ‘93 throwbacks, and I think he’s right on the money. This show will stick with me much like my favorites from that era, when I first started seeing the band, and for many of the same reasons. Last night was tight. I'm glad there's two more.


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