Last night's show is a good show--It's an odd show, but a blast of one. Knowing their last show was their radio friendly show of the tour, the wanted to improvise and get a bit different last night.
After the first Punch You in the Eye opener of the tour, Phish moves on through their cumbersome laid back ditty, Ocelot. Dinner and a Movie follows, leading into Stash. This stash isn't great, however, it makes me optimistic that the song will come back to it's explosive history that it seems to have lost in the past ten years. The reason why I love Stash is because of the intensely exciting tension/release jamming that would occur in the 90's, and for me, define Phish's style. The reason this Stash makes me happy is because Trey finally started building the tension again in the song, not so thick you can cut it with a knife like in some versions but it's there. The only problem is that before Trey could release that tension and explode, he goes back into the end of the song. Hopefully this is foreshadowing the tension he will build up in this song the rest of the tour and year--let's just hope he blows the roof off with a huge release.
Next song worth commenting on is Walk Away--"WHAT?!!! WHA WHA?!?!" you say? That's right, Walk Away--after the normal composed song is over, they go seamlessly into what I think is clearly a Tweezer Reprise jam. Remember in Hershey when they played Tweezer with no Reprise? I think this was their answer to it. Fishman kicks the drums up immediately, Page switches to the organ while still playing the grand and Trey starts wailing in Reprise's tone. This version clocks in at almost 7 minutes and will be a favorite for years. It's out of left field and totally Phish.
The other highlight in the first set is Alaska. Trey, accompanied by Mike, builds this baby to an explosive peak. Mike is working his fingers up the neck, ready for Trey at the end. Best version of the song to date. Listen for Trey's "There's a Hole in the Wall" tease in the beginning of the jam.
Ok, 2nd set opens with Party Time. Only thing I like about this song is the bass and the drums, other than that I think it's awful. Trey flubs all over this version, too. However, rather than the normal 9min average the song usually stays alive, this one is only 5 minutes. Out of the end of the song, Mike starts up the eerie beginning of Down with Disease.
Madison Square Garden's Disease from last year might take the cake for the best version of 3.0, but it's hard to say. Apples and oranges, really, between these two versions. While MSG's is explosive out of the gates, this version is a roller coaster ride--going up and down, in close to perfect musical communication with the band, Trey takes this puppy for a walk all over the place. My favorite part, when Trey cues everyone to get down and quiet and then slowly builds up until Fish catches on and they go right back into the raging. Total blast of a version, Hartford got a real treat last night with it. Then, instead of going back into the end of the song, they beautifully go into a dance party of a Sand. This is what we seem them for--no more just ending Down with Disease in normal fashion for the rest of tour, please. The sand at about 14 minutes focuses less on Trey, different than Disease launch pad preceding it, but rather focuses on Fish and Mike--a la Hershey Park. Mike, not using any effects in this bad monster, thumps away creating a thick and dancable groove for everyone in attendence.
Then Trey ruins all the fun--in what will go down as one of the biggest "what the fuck" moments of the year, Trey STARTS PLAYING THE HORSE WHILE THE BAND IS IN A FULL THROTTLE GROOVE. Last year at Bonnaroo, Trey went into Horse, ending a great Tweezer prematurely--however, that was different because he ended his own musical jaunt. In Sand last night, they could have basically did the whole jam without Trey-- he sure rained on the other three's parade (and everyone's there). For almost 30 seconds into The Horse, the rest of the band is still grooving, as if they are in total disbelief Trey would do something this ridiculous when the band is locked in so well, hoping Trey will just tease it and move on. When they realize that Trey is for real they just STOP. I'm curious what the conversations back stage after the show were like about that one.
Because of Trey's complete disregard for the song, band and fans the show loses it's steam right there. Playing some random songs before finally finishing with a pretty good Mike's Groove, this show is almost too weird to rate. The Mike's song, again, was better than any 2009 versions however not up to par with Blossom's dirty throwdown from hell. Weekapaug also couldn't muster quite enough strength to stand toe to toe with Blossom's, however it's certainly a fun and energetic version. One thing of note about last night's Weekapaug is that after Mike's basstastic intro, Trey says very matter-of-factly into the mic "Weekapaug in da house!" before going into the lyrics.