UiC Pavilion – 8.15 16 17.2011
8.15.11 Set 1– Back on the Train, I’m sure many called this as an opener due to the fact that half of the pholks took the train to get to the venue. A great opener at any show and this version didn’t disappoint anyone. Rift solidified the fact that the band wanted to come with aggression and nailed all of the changes and harmonies. The two day drive from San Fran to the heart of the Mid West must have rested the band and gave them time to structurally prepare for the three night UiC run. Guelah Papyrus is always a welcomed treat. The way that Trey leads this song and the other three follow is always impressing but I found this version superb. I felt like I was watching a snake with each one following and doing the exact same rhythm structure, one step behind, just slithering along. Great song. Scent of a Mule, I can’t remember the last time I heard this hoedown of a tune. This is a song the boys should play more often. The duel is always so much fun and this is probably the best bluegrass song the band has to offer. Mike throws out some super deep water effects that I thought were going to bring the roof of UiC down. Jesus Just Left Chicago, we all knew it was going to happen but I didn’t expect that in the first set of the first show. This Jesus was supper bluesy and had everyone bobbing their heads.
Page always shines and he didn’t let any one down this time around. Organastic… When they went into Wolfman’s it made me think of Germany ’97 (Slip Stitch & Pass). All of the boys on stage were solid and held a steady groove, with Mike and Fish holding the backbone solid. I still think Mike needs to be turned up, especially in a small pavilion like UiC, Trey is obviously louder than the others. The jam out of Wolfman’s is classic 3.1 This is what the band seems to be striving for and perfecting night after night in their Summer 2011 tour. Anything But Me… always a sleeper / pisser song. They do nail the harmonies and changes but they should save this song for outdoor venues. UiC is no place for Anything But Me. Babylon Baby, what can I say? Never heard of it before, didn’t like it, leave it at home Mike. I love you but keep that outta the phish repertoire. Reba will forever be one of the most complex and well written Phish songs. I’ve seen them fuck this up song up so bad and I’ve also seem them nail every section and had me drooling for more. Reba has interesting lyrics, intricate song structure, and the catchiest chorus. Phestival 8 was probably the biggest Reba fuck up I’ve seen. This was the best I’ve witnessed since then. ALUMNI BLUES!!! (Thanks to someone who had a green balloon with “Alumni Blues” on it that made it just enough times up on stage for Trey to recognize.) I haven’t seen this since Alpine 99! This was a much better version, especially with Letter to Jimmy Page, like they used to do. The set came to an end and everyone around me, except this dude that had slept through, thus far the entire first set, was beaming with energy and so pumped and happy for what they just witnessed for the first set of the first night at UiC. We knew it was only going to get better.
8.15.11 Set 2 – Energy was running so high after the extreme first set and into set break. We were all going nuts; and the Sand opener had everyone getting funky and swimming through the sound. Dude in my crew, Fog, wanted Sand since DTE and didn’t get one until tonight. We were psyched, especially with this drawn out version. They didn’t stop playing from this point until the end of the set… The crowd around us was good, experienced, and all feeling the funk throughout the entire set. Experiment, elongate, and groove was the theme of this set. We all knew it too. Light was a fantastic follow up tune. It has every aspect of Phish that lots of fans want; good lyrics, thick groove, ability to experiment, and the noobs know it so you know the crowd will go wild. Dirt is a song that I personally hold close to my heart. Trey had a prophetic look in his eye while singing this song. I almost feel like it to be a 2pac ballad about him pouring booze for his lost homies. There’s been a lot of Jerry emotions this second leg of the tour I think. Waves got the crowd back into it with the solidified groove that always seems to capture spines and twist them the way Trey wants. Page and Trey did a good job of harmonizing for most of the song with few flubs. Kuroda was amazing, as always, but I seem to remember this song to stand out where he really lit the place up. Trey also plays his, somewhat mellow (normally) solo, more like a Tela sprawl. All 4 of the guys lock in pretty solid and have a good few minutes together before Trey takes it back to the structured section. Undermind is not my favorite tune, though they had the vocals down, which previous times I’ve seen this live they have failed on. Kuroda once again shined amazingly during this tune, especially during the jam section. Trey and Page were hooked up since the start of this song and they just ran with the groove they were sharing. Page seems to tickle the ivory at the most important times of the show, being my vote for MVP of this particular night. Steam. What can I say? Obvious crowd favorite of 3.1 and has the sickest groove. This song has so much potential and the boys have toyed with it 4 times so far. Fog and I saw the debut at Blossom, which blew me away. This version was way more thought out, composed, and professionally executed. I didn’t expect this tune in Chicago at all because they played it in San Fran, their last show. There was a nice mama, front row, with a Steam sign that I imagine played some part in them playing it in back to back shows. I did hear people bitching about how they thought Kuroda shouldn’t use the fog machine during this tune because it’s “cheesy” or whatever… I disagree but I dig cheese ball shit. And fog machines smell like cotton candy and look cool. Steam is hot and will be a classic. I do agree that there are too many words in this song though. Fire, I will leave this with no comment. Ok, so this encore was amazing before it even started. Trey talks about how he always gets told how much time they have to play for their encore before they may get charged for curfew on his way to the stage. He mentioned that nobody told him anything on his way to the stage tonight. Trey talks to Page, Mike talks to Fish… this lasts about 2 minutes before Trey jumps on the mic and says “we can’t decide… sorry” Then busts right into Camel Walk ! Super funky, super awesome – as always. One of my favorites. After Camel Walk you can hear Trey strumming Guyute, and once again I was reminded of Alpine 99. (Such similar shows. Best encores I have seen live and probably top 5 encores of all time.) Horse > Silent is always a nice reminder of what we were doing last year and is a crowd favorite. Harry Hood, awesome! Unbelievable encore. Another crowd pleaser that sent us into the streets of downtown Chicago to have some late night fun and prepare for 2 more nights of the greatest pastime I can think of.