My thoughts are relegated not to the entire performance but select songs.
As a huge Axilla fan I was not even slightly offended that Trey basically ran through the first verse without actually uttering any of it. In 2002-2004 this would have struck me as mildly insulting and turned me off as it would have coincided with what I thought was a precipitous downard spiral. However, on this nite it struck me as simply eager musicians and really was compensated for by virtuoso playing on this tune.
I had just been informed by a friend that he locked into Page and sure enough The Chairman of the Boards took over the initial solo component of Heavy Things in a refreshing and dexterous manner that even Trey would have to admit was a welcome break from his carrying of the interlude of this tune. Great reworking of the song.
Antelope was as good if not better than ever!
I had never seen Golden Age or heard of its original or the band that originated it, but upon later listening to the original the verdict was unanimous...Phish once again owns a cover having really added texture, dexterity, and scale to a song that while good in its original form deserved the stretching out that only Phish could give it.
Twist was interesting in that I always found the final "Whoo!" somewhat childish but the rest of the song stout. Apparently from the mocking tone of the band at the tail end of this version they agree with me and they expressed this sentiment in a really playful, engaging, and unforgettable manner that reprized during the Self Storage "Sleeping Monkey" climax.
Well what really hasn't already been said about this Tweezer it was epic and the final 5-6 minutes harkened back to last year's MSG rendition. Chalk this Tweezer up in the category of why I still show up to shows after 135+ since 1989!
AND last but not least the Self Storage jam incorrectly labeled hear an encore. It clocked in at 60+ minutes which if you take out the 12/29/1997 encore is one the longest I know of on record if that is what you wanna call it. I would prefer to call this moment one in which we as fans got to experience the band in a moment where they tuned out everyone and everything and just drilled down to the center of their musical core. What spouted from the drill hole was a multitude of sounds and colors that I will never forget and be forever thankful that I experienced. The Self Storage jam started with a cadence that engulfed us and ended with a Sleeping Monkey for the ages. Sure there will be haters that say they simply pissed in our ear circa Bittersweet Motel. I would argue it is as close as this band or its fans will ever come to the type of moments the likes of Ornette Coleman, Mahavishnu Orchestra, or John Coltrane created. These are giant names but so is the name Phish and they proved that they have a respect for improvisation that goes beyond the word and gets at the pattern and process that drove their predecessors and their greatest moments alike. Conduits of the avant garde are Phish and I am glad to have experienced it for 60+ minutes at Watkins Glen.