, attached to 2016-07-23

Review by ThomasFunkyEdison

ThomasFunkyEdison I'd like to start off, for context's sake, by saying that I'm from the east coast and just completed the full west coast run, all the way from The Gorge through Chula Vista. I also made an 18 hour drive (round trip) in 1 day to see the Hartford show a week prior.

I will first start off by giving my honest thoughts about this show in a vacuum, and then provide some overall thoughts about this show in the context of my tour experience.

First Set:
- Farmhouse opener may not be a crowd-favorite, but it's an OK one for this reviewer since, well, I live in a farmhouse. They continue with another mid-tempo song duo in 555 and WITS (the slower version which they seem to have brought back this year). For these first three songs, only about half the crowd had made it to their seats, likely the result of an earlier ticket time on top of an over-bearing, slow-as-molasses bag check line. This may not have had anything to do with the slower song selection but perhaps it did.

- Ghost gets things going a bit, with some good soloing by Trey, similar to BGCA. Now I'll never complain about a Ghost in any position, but it always stings a bit known it wont go much past the 10 minute mark given that it's one of my favorite jam vehicles. Despite staying within Ghost proper, it definitely infused some much-needed energy into the crowd.

- Ass Handed follows. This is classic Phish to the max and without question my favorite of the new songs debuted this summer. It's funny, non-sensical, and has an unexpected riff of power chords at the end. It shows they're still having the same ol' fun they used to have, and if nothing else provides a good minute of smiles for the crowds (I mean, c'mon, it's pretty funny).

- The Sloth and MM continue the set, and keep the energy and dance grooves rolling. The Sloth is a nice treat, not seen by this reviewer since 2011. Martian Monster is probably my favorite post-fuego new song. It has a smooth, driving tempo and Page's work on the clavs always gets me moving. That said, it's curious to me that they've shrunk it down to a mere 4 minutes the last few times theyve played it. I don't think I'm wrong to say that many (most?) of us thought for sure it would be the next jam vehicle, so to continue to see it shortened and in the first set is a little disconcerting.

- Reba follows, and is, well, Reba. Very nice jam to it and the composed section was well-played from what I remember. Ass handed is played again, and it's every bit as good as the first.

- Tube is where the show really got going for me. Like everyone else here, I love the fact that it was finally jammed out a little bit. Trey had some nice stylings on the Supa Puss and all 4 of them brought it out to a really nice peak at the end! Some really wonderful, unexpected stuff right there. Wolfmans continued the energy with some nice funk and some California Love teases. I leaned over to my GF after the first few notes of the tease and said, "I think thats a California Love tease right there." After Trey started singing the lyrics it was pretty clear that my ability to call Phish teases made her underparts tingle just a little. WOTC was a nice way to finish the set.

Overall I think this was one of the stronger sets of tour. It's an odd feeling to put a first set in the conversation, but I guess that's just how this tour was for a lot of us.

Set Two:

- 2001 is a great way to start the set. It's a little bit jammier than most 3.0 versions but still rather tame. Ive come to temper my expectations about ever hearing a 2001 that compares to the stronger 97-99 versions, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I felt that excitement about the prospect last night, given its rare position in the 2.1 slot. Despite staying within the box, this 2001 delivers a solid 10 minutes of boogying before moving on to....

- 46 Days. Always a great rocker to help strengthen the mood. 2015 saw some standout renditions in MPP and Magnaball. This one stays within the box, but rocks out for sure.

- Piper. "OK here we go!" I thought as the intro started to build. Piper featured some wonderful playing by the front man and some great full-band interplay. Around the 10 minute mark it seemed as though they were going to take it deep and finally give us west coast folks some type II delight. Unfortunately it wasn't to be and the band went into a pretty abrupt > into twist.

- Twist again provides an opportunity for some deep space exploration. If it's not evident from my review already, let me say that the reason why I travel so far across the country to see Phish is for the long, deep jams. Sure, I love seeing old friends, meeting new ones, catching some bust outs and new songs. But I can stay within a 100 mile radius of my house and do that. Twist again stays within the box and doesn't quite deliver that *punch* that I've been hoping for this west coast run.

- BDTNL is next, which all but states that this will, for me, be a jam-free summer, which is disappointing to say the least. I do like numberline, but after seeing 23 renditions (most in the second set) it's one that I can do without for a while. It takes me a few minutes to accept the fact that there won't be much type II until 2017 for me, after which I was able to just enjoy being in San Diego surrounded by friends seeing one of the greatest bands alive still kicking it and having fun.

- Carini was carini. It felt too little too late for me as far as this show goes. Generally when I hear those notes I go ballistic, knowing what could possibly come from it. This one again stays well within the box and doesn't quite deliver for me. Well-played, however.

- Hood was *wonderfully* peaked. Loving cup was a good ending to a good summer.

- Monkey > Tweezer Reprise/Ass Handed Reprise was really really really fun. The perfect way to end the summer.

In a vacuum, this show is very solid. It had some great setlist choices, a longer-than-average Tube, California Love teases in Wolfmans. When put in context of this tour as a whole, it was standard-faire, pre-2012 3.0 Phish. At risk of sounding overly negative, this summer was disappointing to me. As far as risk-taking and jamming, this seems to be the first step in the wrong direction since the return. To me it has been a steady increase every year since 2009. Each tour brought something new to the table and the band members seemed to become more comfortable dipping into the ethers. This summer seemed to fall flat in all regards as far as improv and jamming goes.

That's not to say I didn't have an ABSOLUTE BLAST this summer. Phish is playing well, their peaks aren't telegraphed from a mile away, and the setlists were fresh. That said, there were so many shows (I'm looking at you Mann and BGCA3) with weak, weak second sets. For me to *really* get into it, I really do need at least one long-form jam to hang my hat on. Last summer it came on my first night of tour (MPP1) and continued through Magnaball. Shows like MPP2 don't seem as flat when you've just had a show like MPP1. This summer that never really came for me, unfortunately. It was the first time in my relatively short career that my mind wasn't *blown* at least one time. It seemed as though every time they miiiiight attempt some long-form jam it was cut short for something else. There were some definite highlights (SPAC Moma/CDT that I wasn't there for), but I could probably count them on my fingers with a few left over.

That was all said to say this: had there been at least one or two *incredible* jams or shows, a show like last night would have been the cherry on top. However, all things (re)considered, it fell short of what I could have hoped for overall.

I give the show a solid 5.5-6/10.

Thanks for the good times this summer everyone!! Be safe out there.


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