The Second Set's "element" theme and the Encore set's "animal" theme will be much discussed, but how about the first person narrative thread throughout - beginning in Set 1 - "When I first jumped off..."/"I struggled with destiny"->"I rowed upstream"/"I lie in bed and dream of you"/"I'm alright!". Then the first person interaction with the elements in Set 2 - "I would not be able to equate my life with sand"->"I can see the light between me and my mind"->"I wanna live beneath (under) the dirt (which was followed by Undermind)->"and my name I think I hear, concealed within the theme"->"I have only one burning desire".
Set 1 also dropped a lot of characters on us - Guelah, Jesus, The Wolfman's Brother, Babylon Baby, Reba, Jimmy Page. The final character, Harry, showing up to close out the show. Similarly, the Mule showed up in the first set as harbinger of the animals in the encore set. The encore set brought all the threads together - the animals (camel/pig/horse), the first person narrative interacting with the animal theme (the Horse)->"if you are there with me", and then Harry. Now I realize this is nothing new or groundbreaking - Phish has always been the thinking phans group when it comes to thematic interplay in their sets - but last night's themes had an incredibly cool symmetry going in multiple directions.
On top of it all, was the energetic playing. All 4 guys emptied the tanks, and it'd almost be wrong to single any of 'em out on this night, but, man Fish? He was destroying his kit at points. As Trey once said, "If I were going to Phish shows, I'd go to see Fish." Incredible energy from Fishman - I still don't know how he does it. The ripping Alumni->Jimmy->Alumni to close out Set 1 left me with a thought - "the energy's so high right now, they gotta keep going", only to have the exact same thought at the close of Set II, "they gotta keep going", only to have a different thought during the epic encore, "man, are they gonna keep going? They can't keep going, right?" I think at some point (was it mid-Set II?) Trey summed it up cheekily, "You know, you can leave if you're bored" (or something to that effect). Reminiscent of Hendrix almost exactly 42 years ago at Woodstock, "Like you all can leave if you want to, we're just jammin' that's all."
Maybe I'm over-the-top for this one, and things just clicked with my listening experience last night - I'm sure Phans will find their moments of distaste, and start a lot of "well, this one isn't as good as this one" back-n-forth, and that's what we do - there's nothing wrong with it. I'm only providing one man's laptop listening opinion from last night. Been into Phish for about 18yrs. and this will stand among the favorites ever heard, no bout a doubt it.
As always, THANK YOU PHISH!