We arrived in STL a bit behind schedule. We didn't even bother to look for shakedown, and I was a bit saddened by that since I wanted to socialize and pick up the group vibe. Nonetheless, I was extremely excited to see Phish in a town I hadn't visited since I was a kid. As the show began, somewhere in one of the 10X sections, I noticed a bright orange (?) sign with the words "Frankie Sez" written on it. “Yes! Great request!” I thought (haha).
PYITE was a solid, fun opener and the audience cheers seemed sustained throughout the entire song - we were amped! In return we received a fiery Runaway Jim, a freewheeling Ocelot and a Reba! And what's a variety show without comedy..."Ladies and gentlemen, the John Coltrane of the vacuum cleaner, Jon Fishman", Trey joked in I Didn't Know. A serene Curtain, a blast of Zappa energy (Peaches) and Mound provided the perfect mid-set combo. Sample was its usual self and the Sloth was well received by all. The Camel Walk groove seemed slightly thicker and more sedated than the last time I'd heard it (UIC ‘11). It was slick, cool, and laid back. Oh, Possum…love it or hate it, the bounce is infectious live. This version gets pretty damn insistent just after the 5:20 min mark, with some serious slicing and dicing by Trey. Our sing-along ended with Quinn the Eskimo to close the first set.
Set two played like a series of vignettes appearing out of a foggy terrain. Chalkdust was a surprising opener, but I'd heard what they did with it in Lakewood the other night, so I was excited for the possibility of more exploration. It carried its usual spunk, but as Fish started climbing towards the end of the song, Trey pushed to take things a little further and left the song unfinished. Just after 7:30, I heard a familiar beat trickling from Fish's corner as they settled in to a carefree, misty groove. I blinked and a Frankie Says appeared.
Aside: I've loved this song since I first heard it on SOTG. It seems to fade in and out of existence on that album. If you turned up the volume a little more and adjusted the EQ just right on any other song, you just might hear it rustling the notes and musical structures, like wind in the trees. It’s always there, oscillating just below the surface and just above the deep. It's that wavering shadow you just barely detect out of the corner of your eye but when you turn to face it, it’s not there.
So, in and out of that song they seemed to flow (like a daydream) and we were right back on our original path. Clearly, we were headed towards Sand when out popped quirky little Undermind! I think the more it's played the more peculiar layers they seem to add and/or reveal. Afterwards, we arrived at Sand which offered a gritty sound and an almost repentant, wailing melody. Walk Away burst through the seams to lighten the mood.
A late set Limb by Limb showed us its killer side. Trey started laying down the landscape not long after the lyrics ended. I liked the interplay between Trey and Fish just around the 4:45 mark. They broke things down slow and easy, and then pieced them together again after the 7min mark -- like turning a small cabin in the woods into a bustling metropolis. Everything was so subtle, then all of a sudden larger than life. It was a very rousing segment so Julius was a good follow up tune along with 2001.
Everyone loves a YEM...goddamnit, do we love it! It walks in the room and everyone seems to scream, “NORM!”, except we don't really say any words, we just exhale something akin to extreme relief. A collective "Ahhhhhh" is released by the crowd which extends into cheers of joy. It was a great set closer. Finally, Shine a Light ended the show and solidified our glow as we scampered out into the night.