My thoughts on The Lovely Phish Concert at the Kiel Center in Downtown Saint Louis, Missouri on the 15th of November, 1996
First, the setlist:
I: Wilson, Divided Sky, Bouncing Around The Room,
Character Zero, Punch You in the Eye, Prince Caspian,
Ginseng Sullivan, Train Song, Chalk Dust Torture,
II: Makisupa Policeman -> Maze, McGrupp,
Split Open and Melt, TMWSIY -> Alvenu Malkenu,
My Mind's Got a Mind of it's Own, Mike's Song,
Sleeping Monkey, Mean Mr. Mustard, Meekapaug Groove
E: Monkey Bitch
So, I went with a bunch of friends to this show, I had eight tickets in all. Sadly I could only find six other people to go and the show wasn't sold out. Again, like in Dayton (11/17/94), I had to give away the last ticket for the small price of two hugs (More on this later...). We had a nice spaghetti (only thing I can cook) dinner beforehand and we were all in good spirits; my friend, Alok, was in from out of town and he was going to his first Phish show ever. At every show there are more and more first timers. Another interesting thing, Whit was going to see Phish again. Now, I understand this doesn't seem interesting at first, but allow me to continue. Among other strange coincedences between him and I, Whit used to really like Phish. He had seen them in Madison a few times and out east a few times too. He knew Shelly way back when and etcetera, etcetera... The last time he saw them was 3/13/92! When he told me this I was like, "How are ya? Let's go to Hawaii!" well, not really. But I was amazed, I fetched the tape and told him that it was one of my favorites. Anyway, he wanted to see them again to see what they were like now, I said ok.
So we went to the show and found our seats among the uniformed youth, some St. Louis based, others travelling. I saw a whole lot of Wash U-ers there, naturally. (Wash U = Washington University, my school). So someone I knew said, as we were waiting for the house lights to go out, that John Popper was going to be joining the band that evening. She further explained that Blues Traveler was plaing the Kiel Center in the following two nights. I thought it would be fun to see that because special guests are always good. I thought to myself, we shall see. As it turned out, I should have trusted that initial thought as well as another I had later in the second set. So we sat and waited, we had fair seats, I was pleased.
First set begins with Wilson. My comrade, Alan, had made the call in my favorite pre-show game. I guessed Runaway Jim. Divided Sky followed, that was a nice version. To my chagrin, Bouncing came next. I had the solution though! I offered to make a beer run. I collected the dough and went out to get them. I was informed by the kind woman working the concessions that there was a two beer limit per person so I had to get two, make the delivery, and go back for more. That just about lasted for all of Bouncing. But the next song was entitled "Character Zero." (Recall, if you care to, that the only other show I attended this fall was Halloween where they performed Character Zero and Prince Caspian) I remembered the last time I heard Character Zero and knew that I was not in for a real treat, so I got a couple more beverages. I could tell PYITE was coming from the rhythmic scratchings of Trey, I nodded to Alan. As always, PYITE was good, I enjoy the sound of that tune. I was not entirely happy to hear Prince Caspian again because I'd rather have heard a different one from Billy Breathes that I hadn't yet heard live. But there was a mini-jam in this tune but nothing spectacular. I still have trouble with that ending - what's the deal with that? I was glad to hear Ginseng Sullivan again and I also liked Train Song. What amazes me most about the new ones is that Phish has really gotten to know how to make all kinds of sounds with their instruments. Train Song and Swept Away -> Steep (from Halloween) really impressed me. Chalkdust was standard, Taste was good, and Cavern was fun. That was the first set, not overly impressive, not shitty.
The setbreak was full of people watching. I love to watch people, especially at Phish shows. There are so many different people to look at. Also the intermission was really long. Why do they intentionally lie about the "15 minute" break? Why not just say "We'll be back later" or something, because if it's a joke, it's not funny.
The second set opened with Makisupa Policeman. I really enjoy this one everytime I hear it. They always are doing something cool to it. It morphed into Maze which rocked. I also generally always like Maze too. By the time they played McGrupp I was beginning to sense a theme. I was also really excited! Back a couple of years ago when I was bored in class I would invent cool setlists because I was always interested in the whole set as a piece of art. Just like an album (as a collection of songs) can be one single work, I think a set can be too. I think to sets like 5/3/91 set II, 12/30/93 set II, and others like those when I think about good sets. So in my in-class boredom I would think of themes that could run through a set. A hard rocking set, or a set full of chill songs, or a set where every song leads seamlessly into the next, or a set where the songs are all animals (Antelope, Harpua, Runaway Jim, Sloth, Llama, etc.) or people (Reba, Harry Hood, Wilson, etc.), or songs that all start with the same letter (e.g. "M"). This, as far as I know, correct me if I'm wrong, is the first time they have done this! So SOAMelt followed which was strange and weird as usual. TMWSIY was next and I was psyched because I had never seen this one before. I, of course, knew that Alvenu Malkenu was to follow. And my friends from the tribe were all excited. My Mind was next, funny lyrics. Mike's Song was the highlight of the show for me. After the middle part of the jam where they change to that other chord, it started to get all funky. I was enjoying it immensely, I can't wait to hear the tape. Sleeping Monkey was a good Beatles reference lead in to Mean Mr. Mustard. Is this the first time played? John Popper emerges and whips out the harp for a Meekapaug (why not keep the theme?) Groove, sans beginning. Before they started this, Trey says that the set was dedicated to the letter "M" and the number "420" (oh, come on). That reminds me of the dumb ass lyric in Makisupa Policeman. The set ends after John Popper trys to blow as many notes in succesion per measure as he possibly can without regard to the aesthetic implications involved in such a maneuver.
The encore was the standard special Guest song that I will call Monkey Bitch for the sake of keeping the theme. Trey and Popper trade off some then Trey wails and everyone's happy. The place was seriously going bonkers! The people were cheering so loud as to deafen eachother. I wonder if people would rather go to a Blues Traveler concert. Ok, I'm sorry, that wasn't neccesary.
About this whole giving away the tickets thing... I'm getting really tired of people who want others to "kick down" for them. Like, what the fuck do you want here? Oh, I'm broke because I'm on the road, can't you just kick down. I almost took the ticket in with me just despite the beggars. Maybe if some of those people sold the Jeep Cherokee and bought a Yugo they could afford to BUY A TICKET for the shows they traveled all over creation to see. I still can't get over these people who devote their lives to following FOUR GUYS who play music around the whole damn country. Go to school. Do something for yourself. Leave me alone. Before I go to a show I buy a ticket, everyone should. If you go to every show and expect to get in free you're an idiot. Your cheering probably isn't enough to pay for the experience. Now, I'm not saying that this whole capitalism thing is the way to go and that tickets aren't expensive but... But how can you expect to get something for nothing? That's probably the most American attitude someone can have. If you can't afford to buy a ticket, how can you afford to fill up the damn car with gas to get you to the next parking lot? Yeah, I've seen many, many, Phish shows but I haven't comprimised myself to do it. Some people need to get a life. It makes me sad to see these kids who have dropped out of "high" school to follow a band. If music's so important to them, why don't they make thier own? Some of these people are the nicest in the world but I don't want to have to give away my ticket for a hug. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have bought so many tickets, but it doesn't make this my fault. Ok, enough of that.
Let me not lose sight of what this page is for: 11/15/96. The show was a good one, all in all. Not the best I've seen, definitely not the worst. (That would be 11/23/94). So that's all for now.
As always, I appreciate comments. Send them to email@example.com. Also, look forward to reading the Fall tour stats...Bye!