Crowd control out of the gates didn't over do it but provided a nice energetic tempo. Party Time got things started. I'll always remember this version for the reason that my buddy and I after the band would yell Party Time...we would follow with..."Excellent"...a Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure reference that we soon found several others around us following suit. Also an above average jam for Trey closing out the song. A good Axilla would follow. I wanted Reba going into the weekend and was pleased we got it. Nothing over done but the latter part of song's jam always hits me hard. Free->Mound->Walk Away saw one of the most impressive Walk Away jams in recent history. Several people in our area looked at each other and gave a solid nod. NICU->BOTT saw two fan favorites deliver with noticeable first set prowess. Gotta Jiboo->Roggae provided a personal high as Roggae was a song I thought might elude us this weekend. David Bowie closed out the best first set of the weekend. During set break there was much chatter that the band seemed more "on" than the previous nights and we could be in for a special night. Little did we know...
The opening notes hit and we were in full swing...Crosseyed.
This same time last year I was at the UIC shows and Phish opened up the third night second set with Crosseyed. Would we get a similar Crosseyed themed set with short choppy versions of every other song? Not on this night. What would follow would be 100 minutes of incredible depth, exploration, continuity, creativity, other wordly, awe inspiring, face melting, body aching, heart wrenching, musical perfection.
Mike took an early lead out of the gates in this Crosseyed with echoing bass vibrations followed by Page's unique electronic sound on keys that hadn't been heard all weekend. Trey soon takes on a steady, jovial, soft approach. Big Red's whale calls go on for what seemed like an eternity and he alerts Cactus to step in with a quick bass bomb. Fishman follows suit and hits his cymbals at a flashing pace. We are frozen in time and any thoughts of lacking sets early on this weekend have gone to the wayside. As Fish quiets, Trey start the early notes of Light. This version doesn't delay at all and continues on a path to Phish's musical intoxication. Only a few minutes in we already get Crosseyed teases...several minutes later I'm hearing Page foreshadow Meatstick. Trey steps in and is mastering a southern rock sound and begins a musical sword fight with Page. Trey backs off while Page escalates a Tweezer reprise jam that sent the crowd into a absolute frenzy. Trey picks back up where he left off for a hot minute and then just blast right into Sally. This Sally could of just peaked around the alley and this would of already been the highlight of the weekend. Instead the band continued to push their improvisational command on this night to new heights. Exploding out of the middle vocal section Trey brings everyone back into a combo of Crosseyed teases and Salley teases where we soon don't know which song we are in anymore. Mike and Page sound as if they are in Crosseyed while Trey and Fish are staying strong with Sally. Page begins the early piano notes to Theme and it just fit perfectly. An appropriate time to take a breather for everyone during the early minutes which then led into an exemplary version of Theme. I looked at my brother and friend and we all just had that stare of disbelief. Incredible...almost lost for words for what had transpired so far in this set. Rocky Top ignited the crowd with a well needed jolt that at the time felt like it might close out the set. Not a chance on this night. Boogie->Meatstick brought the funk back in the house and Mike and Page shined throughout. Bug would give us one more opportunity to look around and absorb and grasp what a trip we had on this night. Another perfectly placed song on this night that only gave me more appreciation for how Phish combined top notch shredding with a well thought out set. The icing on the cake came with the set closer YEM. There wasn't a single soul to disappoint with this choice and they hit all the right notes and finished in style.
When they came out for the encore and sang the opening lyrics to Ride Captain Ride..."Seventy-three men sailed up from the San Francisco Bay" the crowd went nuts. Another well thought out way to finish one hell of a weekend. Tweezer Reprise blew the lid of the joint and sent everyone home with that warm and fuzzy feeling not felt in a long time.
This night was the ultimate culmination to an absolute blast in the bay.
To my two brothers who shared every minute of this weekend with me thanks for the memories. Can't wait to do it again.
I'll see the rest of you in Denver!!! Yeehaa