The Scene: Many, many, many, many ticketless, and many cops to make sure no one had too much fun. I swear, providence has more unmarked cop cars than any city needs. But this doesn't really matter that much.
I got into the show really early, and Ann and I decided to walk around and check out the t-shirts and all that fun stuff. Then we made our way over to the Waterwheel table where were made a purchase that lead to us being awarded the Holy Grail - Aftershow Passes! I'll get to the description of the "party" later...
[Timings are for the START of the songs and are not completely accurate] Set I: Tweezer [8:05]> Taste [8:25], Bouncin' [8:35], Funky Bitch [8:38], Ginseng Sullivan [8:45], Limb by Limb [8:49], Lawn Boy [9:00], Charcter 0 [9:04] [Set ends at 9:11]
Set II: Birds of a Feather [9:53]> 2001 [10:10]> Brother [10:25], Brother Outro [10:38], Ghost [10:48]> Can't Turn You Loose* [10:55]> Lizards [10:57], David Bowie [11:10] [didn't write down end time]
E: Harry Hood
*aka "The Blues Brothers Theme"
[you'll notice that songs divided by segues are written about in one paragraph, if you don't like this, let me know]
TWEEZER as an opener got me pretty damn psyched, and was quite fitting seeing as they finished up Friday's show with Tweeprise. I got the feeling throughout this whole show that the funk was being toned down a bit, and while Tweezer is always pretty funky, this one had some spacier elements to it as well. Being the first song on my two night run, I unfortunately don't remember as much as I wanted to, but I was delighted to hear the jam degenerate (in a good way) to some funk out of which sprang a Trey-lead segue into TASTE. Let me just say right now that Trey was definitely in rock-star mode the whole weekend, hamming it up on stage, and taking several waka-waka solos during the run. Taste had a very nice solo by Trey, but it is one of those types of solos that I have a tough time judging at shows. I think it was probably above-average, if that means anything. I just felt a lot more emotion coming from Trey than I usually do in Taste.
BOUNCIN' was next, and the singing of my section mates was oh-so-enjoyable.
FUNKY BITCH, the rock favorite of jaded men everywhere, came up next, and we were treated to one of the longest EHHHHHHHHHHH-very from Mike that I have ever heard. The other parts of the Bitch were unremarkable (but fun nonetheless).
GINSENG SULLIVAN is a song that I've been seeing a lot lately, but luckily it's my favorite of the bluegrass songs. This actually got a smile out of the unhappy parents that were sitting next to us at this show. Phish really has something for everyone.
LIMB BY LIMB followed, with a jam that I was VERY impressed with. While I haven't really latched on to any Limb jams before, this one seemed to have direction and melody in Trey's solo that I think others have lacked. Most of the time when Trey starts up the high-pitched effects in this song, they start to lose me a bit, but this solo was VERY tight.
LAWN BOY was up next, and Page did his usual routine of standing up and crooning like Perry Como. Speaking of Perry Como, does everyone here know that he did an album of heavy metal favorites in his signature style? Or maybe the heavy metal bands did Perry Como favorites in their signature style. I forget...
CHARACTER 0 closed out the set nicely. It was nowhere near as good as 12/31/96, which set the standard for "Phish Arena Rock"
Setbreak: I finally got to meet Bill Marconi and Matt Frankel. We chatted for a while, and it was finally great to see people who I only knew by their words. Bill looks a little bit like Don Glasgo (trombone for ween '96 and professor at Dartmouth). I found out that rmp people are as cool in real life as they are here (and reaffirmed this at the gathering the next day
BIRDS OF A FEATHER started up with some guitar riffs by Trey and then a driving bass line by Mike which continued throughout the whole song. The chorus, in case you want help recognizing the song, is "Birds of a feather/are flocking outside." From that, one would think that the song is about conformity, although I can't be sure, since it was kind of hard to hear in there. I'm pretty sure I heard the words "ritual drum" which gives a vague hint that the song is about the conformity WITHIN the Phish "community" (drum circles). The other lyrics were pretty cool as well (and supportive of my theory), although I can't remember them. But I'm probably completely off with my ideas about this song. It definitely has a Talking Heads feel to it, like everyone was saying on the net and at the Gathering on Sunday. The jam was pretty cool, but it didn't really go too far, IMHO. It seems to be grounded in the same driving bass line from Mike throughout, with very few, if any chord changes (I'm probably going to catch hell from a music major here). Trey and Page did some great soloing over the essentially static rythym section in this song, but my favorite Phish moments are when songs break out of their molds. I suppose the mold for BOAF isn't hard enough for them to break out yet, so I'm just being a jerk. Anyway, the end of the song degenerated into space, and after 17 minutes (did I just complain about a 17 minute new song? somebody slap me), the drum beat for 2001 started up. This was one of the great 2001s that we've been hearing lately, lots of funk with a little space thrown in. (Jeremy Goodwin has a nice name for this, but I'll let him share it with all of you). Kuroda was NUTS on the lights. I thought I was seening some new effects, but I think I was just seeing virtuosity on the lights that was above Kuroda's usual greatness. Of course, when he tones them down a bit, people decide that it's time to throw the glowsticks. A lot of them ended up on stage, which is not too cool in my book. After 15 minutes of 2001 mahem, Trey started a percussive vocal jam, sort of playing cymbals with his mouth. It sounded REALLY cool, and the rest of the band joined in with their own percussive sounds. Trey still had the delay loop going, which is why I indicated a segue into BROTHER when he played the main riff. This was by far the spaciest and coolest Brother I've heard, although I have only heard a few. It got REALLY spacey, with Trey hopping all over his pedals and Page on the clavinet. Trey kind of ripped the band back into reality by playing the main riff, and this listener thought it was an ugly transition.
I can only assume the band thought so too, because they did the whole thing with the "radio-friendly" version, which was essentially the BROTHER OUTRO that they had just screwed up.
Then, they decided to play something "radio unfriendly" and "very long and very slow." I had no idea what it might be, but they ended up playing GHOST, which certainly isn't that slow in my book. This was a typically great Ghost, and I love this song every time I hear it. My memory is failing me here, but the segue into CAN'T TURN YOU LOOSE was nicely done, and it was great to hear a cool tease/jam like this one. Amazingly enough, this jam found its way to LIZARDS without stopping. I remember thinking that it should have gone into something else (maybe "Walk Away") but I forget. I usually think of Lizards as a fun song, but not particularly moving. I actually LOVED this Lizards, mostly because they were putting a lot of emotion into the jam, like they were actually trying to make it sound better than usual. I thought this song would end the set, but...
The hi-hat for DAVID BOWIE kicked in. I couldn't believe they were starting Bowie at 10 past 11! This was a nice Bowie, with the ending being repeated more often than usual, all with digital delay from Trey. I think they even fooled Chris! I know the description here isn't that great, but...
Between the second set and encore, Ann and I made our way "backstage," which was actually the lounge at the very rear of the venue, above the 200 level.
Watching from the lounge, HARRY HOOD didn't receive all of my attention, since I was so psyched to be at the Aftershow Party. I do remember liking it a lot, and I've been VERY impressed with the recent variation in Harry (12/30/97). It seems that no song is too sacred now.
Anyway, Hood ended and the lights came up. I was disappointed to see people *paying* for beer at the party. I had always assumed that that sort of thing was free. We couldn't find any food either! Ann and I did snag a glass of water for free, and sat down at a table. As we were sitting down, who came from the back elevator but Mike! He went and sat a couple tables away from us. Before I got up the nerve to go say hello, he walked back into the room with the bar, where most of the people were gathering.
After a few minutes, I realized that I wouldn't have many more chances to talk with the members of Phish in my life, so Ann and I went to the other room to seek him out. There were only a few people around him, and there were a LOT of people at the party. I was glad to see he wasn't being mobbed. After watching him talk to a few people, I finally got up the nerve to introduce myself. "Hi Mike, I'm Dan," I said, holding out my hand to him. He said "Hi Dan." I told him "Great show tonight, and he said thanks." While I had his attention, I decided to ask him a question that I had been wondering about for the few days before the show. I recently found out that Jan Kerouac (daughter of Jack) had written a book called "Trainsong." (It's out of print, so I unfortuately have yet to find a copy). So I say to Mike, "I have a question about the song Train Song." "Sure, go ahead." he tells me. So I ask him if it is related to the book by Jan Kerouac, and after a clarifying who Jan is, he tells me "I don't know. That's interesting, I'll have to check that out." I told him "Thanks again for the show." and left, because at this point I had no more planned questions, and spontanaeity would have been a disaster at this point. He also had somes friends with him, and I didn't want to bother him that much.
Mike is the NICEST guy, and if he was being patronizing to me or anyone else, I had no idea. He seems to really enjoy talking to the fans. He is shorter than I am (5'11") which was pretty surprising to see.
Sorry for all of the minute detail here, but it was an amazing experience for me, and I just wanted to share it with all of you. If I had to sum up the aftershow experience, I would say that the party was a lot LESS cool than I thought it would be but meeting Mike was MUCH cooler than I ever imagined.
Stay tuned for the review of Sunday night (and the gathering!). Right now I have to go catch up on homework that I neglected to see these amazing shows. (and to write this review!)
To sum up: You probably want the second set (8), and maybe want the first (5). You definitely want to meet Mike The whole show gets a 6.5, if you can't handle averages.