, attached to 2018-07-25

Review by hseamons

hseamons I concur with a couple other reviews that this great show is vastly underrated here. What's up with that!? Guess I need to give this one some love as my first review here:

The Roggae opener (first since '98) followed by the energized Tube > NICU > Jim trifecta were all top form. Could not have asked for a much better song sequence so early in the first set. It seems Trey has a new, resounding guitar tone that served the Roggae jam well (as it did at The Gorge), and it set the mood nicely for the show. Some of the recent NICUs have been slower and sluggish sounding to me, but this upbeat version took me back to earlier days. They were making the vocal efforts this song desperately needs to get it right. The Jim was super charged coming out of NICU. Even Phish.net notes this as having a special jam/vibe to it (the last time Jim made it to the "Jam Chart" was 2013), with a superb climax to keep this set in high gear. The Horse > Silent in the Morning was yet another old school surprise, played delicately with no flubs from what I could tell. I started to wonder, as I hung out with some good people on the balcony who appeared just as excited as I was, whether this show would potentially surpass the epicness of night one, which I also attended. (Maybe it did?)

That's when Mike dropped his new Keepin' It Real song (were they referencing the first six song classics they had just nailed?), and it appears there were mixed reactions to this one. I personally thought it had a nice forward-thrusting groove to it in the same vein as Mike's Babylon Baby, Susskind Hotel, or How Many People Are You—some good, jammed out versions of those songs are out there. Keepin' It Real could be a future jam vehicle as well, if only Type 1. Back to the tried and true goods, we get a well played Driver bust out that was likely a response to the huge Driver request sign hanging from the balcony the night before, followed by the show-friendly Saw It Again—reminding me that the last time I saw Driver live was Alpine '03!

Ocelot takes us into our first major effects-laden jam of the night, giving the song some more room to breathe and a chance to space out a bit before slowly building to its satisfying conclusion. Like the Runaway Jim as of late, this version also gets a rare inclusion in the noteworthy Jam Chart. Waking Up Dead brings us back to the Mike Zone, and I think many could have done without it given the weird vocal flubs and lackluster execution of the main body of the song. Page and Trey bring some nice interplay in the short jam portion, but it still falls flat in the end. Backwards Down the Number Line and More were standard 3.0 fare and a bit disappointing given where the set was headed earlier on, but they still both rocked as a "double-whammy" set closer. Overall, a solid first set worth coming back to, with the first half being the stronger portion.

The second set is one of the best from the West Coast leg of the tour. Set Your Soul Free has proven to be a great jam vehicle, and this 24 minute version is something to behold. It goes in several different directions, from mellow ambient grooves to some raunchy funk, followed by some ethereal spaciness. It feels fresh and innovative, without falling back on the more "typical" jamming styles. They are definitely taking us someplace this night—which evolves into a sinister Twist that hearkens back to the dark ambient jams of 2.0. Trey digs deep here with his guitar effects, especially toward the end. It was amusing that a girl wearing a "Make Phish Evil Again" hat walked by during this rendition of the song. Makisupa was a nice way of bringing us back to Earth for some mid set Phish fun before launching us back out again with an extended Scents and Subtle Sounds that departs from its delicate intro into some soaring and intense playing that could have just as well been part of a Steam jam, which is quite alright by me. While not quite hitting the kind of climactic peaks in the previous night's second set (see Carini), this show's set two jamming is all about dark ambient grooves and exploratory space, which is why it seemed highly appropriate to drop it all into the sustained drones of What's the Use?. Not always my favorite song to hear in set 2, but it works well here as part of the journey. A standard but always welcome Wedge, followed by a uniquely raging set-closing Possum, seemed like what we needed to bring the night full circle. Ending with Gamehendge's Lizards was the icing on the cake, reminding me how the BGCA run nearly began with Gamehendge as well with the much loved McGrupp as the second song. Shows like these are why I keep coming back to see Phish.


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