The first set is what it is. Wolfman's, Bathtub, Stealing Time and Suzy, are some of my personal favorites. Suzy as a first set closer is really perfect placement for it because of the way it gets people dancing hard just before the break, particularly if it comes after a nice jam. Another really perfect placement was Julius - which I'm glad to see it get some first set love, as opposed to 2nd set-filler. We also got the 100th Halley's - a song that has been around since 1986 but only in 3.0 has it found its wait into common rotation. Ya Mar is always a fun rare treat. Llama has become a rare gem and tends to be a great omen of what to expect the rest of the night! And I love (love, love) how Stealing Time has really blended into the setlist as if its always been there.
But lets be honest, the first set was an average first set. It wasn't a scorcher, it wasn't innovative, it wasn't a sequeway masterpiece - what it was was solid, consistent playing with pretty good flow that set a great vibe.
The second set, however, is why I have loved this band since the moment I first heard them. It was beauty. It was bliss.
Crosseyed and Painless. Crosseyed started us off right. Can you believe they've played this song less than 30 times over the years? It feels like a Phish anthem. And its been so quiet lately. It enjoyed frequent play in 2011 and 2012 - but really it was a shadow of its former self (see the greatest version ever 7/29/03). But like Split Open and Melt from Saturday, and like Run Like an Antelope from Bangor - The band is showing an intent to reinvigorate old school jam vehicles and Crosseyed was a late 1.0 monster. Crosseyed was amazing and reminded me why I fell in love with the song. And the jam really had tremendous direction....it went somewhere....and that somewhere was:
Harry Hood. I love Harry. I've always loved Harry. It's in my top 5. In fact, Harry is the first phish song where I stopped and asked what I was listening to. Harry has seen better days than 3.0 - and of late - it felt to me like it was completely relegated to 4th quarter status. So...with that being said....I was grinning ear to ear when I heard the Fishman open it up out of Crosseyed as the second song - and really the heart - of the second set. It was the perfect sound at the perfect time and sent a loud clear signal that whats old is new. ...the crowd was willing it to have new life. .... And the band was willing it to have a new life....and the result is that Harry Hood reawoke. The beast has arisen! I can only hope beyond hope that this is a permanent reawakening.
Sand > Light was beyond my wildest expectations. I mean, how often do they followup a 30 minute sequence like Crosseyed/Harry with a 21 minute jam fest comprised of two of the hottest jam vehicles of 3.0? I didn't even like Light until 8/19/12 and Dick's 12 - though that's not to say that this song hasn't had some pre-2012 versions. The lyrical section is still awkward to me and sticks out in a set list - making any sequeway into song sound a little un-smooth... But the song is quickly becoming Phish's own version of Lovelight. You hear the opening notes and you just say "where is this going to go this time?" - and you find yourself yearning for the answer - your feet wanting to know the answer as bad as your ears. This night was no exception and the song is really coming into its own. Thats not to take anything away from the Sand - where even its most pedestrian versions are beastly. This Sand was anything but pedestrian. It was intense, thumping, and a masterpiece.
And I could not think of a better way to end the masterpiece than with Slave. My #1. It too has gone Emeril-style so far in its two appearances in 2013 and BAM!...Its been Kicked Up a Notch. Plus the false ending of Trey saying "goodnight" being followed by the one-two punch of Rocky Top and Cavern was a feel good close to a feel good set to a feel good show.
One final thought: Possum.
I get it - the song is overplayed right now. But there is a reason for it. They love it. They clearly clearly love playing it. It gets the crowd going and it gets them going and its just them having fun. When they play Possum, I feel like they are saying to us all "lets have some fun now". Personally speaking, its a pleasure to see, its a pleasure to experience and I'll gladly take it every time they play it!