MIKE'S SONG is a great opener, IMO. Granted, it usually doesn't stretch out as much as it can when placed otherwise, but it really gets the crowd going. This version mostly featured machine-gun Trey on guitar in the jam. The segue into SIMPLE was very abrupt; it was not a smooth transition but came after the "end" of Mike's (the end being what the usually play before H2). Trey gave us the screaming guitar riff after the be-bop line, which I love. The jam stuck to the simple theme/chords, and was very mellow at times. BEAUTY OF MY DREAMS was next, which we had just heard the original of on the Badger in the morning. Leo had a nice little solo after Trey told him to play it. ROGET, which I had never heard, is a great new song. The main lyric is "The circus is the place for me" if you want to be able to recognize it. Unfortunately, there is nothing even remotely about a Thesaurus. The whole band sings on this one, trading lines like Page and Trey "Rift"-style. There is a short jam that I can only describe as psychedelic. The lyrics continue the contemplative nature of latter-day Phish, IMO. After the song, Trey says "Thanks for coming everybody, I hope you're having as good a time as we are." Then, "By request from a tiny little boy named sam" come SOAMelt. I would describe this version as medium length and typically great. POOR HEART featured some nice yelling by Fishman. Before I heard it, I thought MOMA DANCE would suck the life out of Black Eyed Katy by adding sing. I'm very happily mistaken. The song begins like BEK and featured some Simple teases. The lyrics are very cool, and I'm going to have to run to dejanews and check if anyone has transcribed them. I look forward to hearing this on the album if it is indeed there. Since the sun was just starting to peek through the clouds, we knew what was coming next. DIVIDED SKY is one of my favorite songs to hear outside and was played very tightly. It might have been a bit longer than usual but I can't be sure. The new arrangement of WATER IN THE SKY followed, continuing the sky theme. The new version reminds me of the CD single of Strange Design, with some great percussive work by Fishman. FUNKY BITCH was what I thought might be the set closer, based on the length at this point. Page was all over the organ in this Bitch. While a segue is noted between Bitch and CITIES, I didn't hear one on the tapes. Trey messes with the lyrics a bit, asking us "Did I forget to mention the garden of infinite pleasantries? Home of the portalet pagoda and the pond the steam comes out of. And the Hojo dojo." This version was nowhere near as good as the Went, however. They then break it down for the people on the ferris wheel into an almost bluesy jam and segue into WEEKAPAUG GROOVE. Trey gives us an anthem-like guitar solo which ends in a jam off the main riff of Weekapaug to close the set.
Setbreak: We headed out to the garden of infinite pleasantries and tried to figure out what was going on with the people who were heating up the rocks. As we watched, scared of the giant sentry, 4 or 5 people in yellow arabian costumes ran past us with a giant tree branch and a chainsaw, yelling "Chainsaw Bonzai!" Ever curious, we followed them as they ran to and up the step pyramid to the top. They then proceeded to start up the chainsaw and cut the branch, in a great parody of real bonzai gardening. Soon, a man on stilts came and chastized the bonzai practitioners for "killing trees" and tried to get the audience to join him. It didn't really work, however, and as soon as the guy with the chainsaw was done with the tree branch, he decided to go after the stilts. He cut them down to short stubs and then they solemnly brought the bonzai tree away from the pyramid. As we were following them to see where they were bringing the tree, we encountered some masked individuals wheeling a cart with 2 red-hot rocks in it. They brought this cart to the blue pond, and ,in a very serious manner, dumped them into the pond. The pond steamed as the rocks were dropped in, but very little. The mask people left, as seriously as they had come. We then walked around some more and checked out the shopping and other such stuff (who would have thought that they would sell phatty glass IN the venue?). We then moved back a to the second speaker tower on the right of the stage, which turned out to be a very chill place to hear the concert.
THE WEDGE got things going and was an obvious choice with Limestone in the lyrics. It was similar to the version at the Went. Next came one of the songs that, IMO, defines Phish, REBA. There was a pretty mellow jam (beyond the typical composed part) that had some nice interplay (echoing, etc.) between Page and Trey. This version included the whistling, which I was happy to hear. GUMBO followed Reba, and included the the best jam of the night, if you don't count the 4th set. It was long and funky, and left the funk to build using chords similar to Tweeprise. I was hoping for a segue into Walk Away, but instead, I got the rare treat of SANITY. Trey probably looked up and noticed that the stars sucked, and got a big cheer when he announced that fact. There was a little spacey messing with the mnain riff at the end of the song by Page, Trey and Mike, which ended when Trey played the beginning of TWEEZER. Page gave us a little Frankenstein style-keyboard work in the beginning and Mike was laying down a thick groove throughout. Trey was playing in true machine-gun style, not funk, and then the jam slowed to a hard rock groove that slowed to a stop. THE HORSE>SITM was standard, but that doesn't mean I (and everyone else) didn't cheer at the "just last year" lyric. CHALKDUST was a typically rocking version that didn't stand out in my eyes, but was fun to dance to. The glowstick war during SLAVE was amazing to watch, and Limeston secured its status as the best place for such a war. Slave was definitely great, but I don't feel like I can say objectively how great, just because all of my senses were working overtime.
Setbreak: Quick run to the bathroom and then an hour or so of chilling (literally and figuratively) before the next set.
NICU is a song that I've been hearing a lot lately, so I'm getting a bit tired of it. It still has some of my favorite lyrics, which Trey flubbed a bit with a laugh. It melded into BOWIE, or as I termed it, the space intro, because it was at least 8 minutes long. The band pulled out all of the space effects that they have; Fishman started and stopped the bowie cymbals several times before they kicked into the beginning of Bowie. The jam was mostly guitar-based, and didn't stray too far from the song structure. In between climaxes at the end of the song, Trey mixed it up a bit, bending notes like crazy. STRANGE DESIGN, far from being "dreadful" as the Bangor paper called it, actually served as a nice comedown from Bowie. Had very appropriate lyrics, considering the long drives everyone had made with their companions. Next up was LIMB BY LIMB, and I really enjoyed the stop after the lyric section and the way they bust right into the jam after it. Has this been happening all summer? This was a very good Limb, but not quite up to the standards of the Went. BRIAN AND ROBERT has some very cool music, but the lyrics leave me a bit perplexed, as Phish usually doesn't write things this dark. If anyone wants to take a chance on interpreting them for me, I'd love it. LOVING CUP is a classic sing-along cover and a great set closer. The solo may have been a little longer than usual, but maybe not.
HALLEY'S COMET was nothing like the Went, but more similar (if a bit shorter) to the Ball, with a building jam. Trey again referred to the garden of infinite pleasantries in the lyrics. CAVERN followed immediately after Halley's, and I was disappointed to see no one throwing shoes at the band like in days of yore. We all knew TWEEZER REPRISE would follow, and we weren't disappointed. At the end of the song, Trey tells us all about the Ambient Jam that would follow.
Setbreak: We made our way back to the tent as fast as possible in order to change into some warmer clothes. We figured we had plenty of time; so we grabbed some great organic coffee from a vendor to warm and wake us for the fourth set. As we attempted to go back to the venue, we were met with a large exodous of fans leaving the jam. Was it that bad, I thought?
The AMBIENT JAM was wonderful, and my only regret is that the damn setbreak was too short for me to get into my warm clothes and get back into the venue in time to hear the whole thing. This was the ideal Phish experience for me: sitting down on a blanket and taking in a completely improvisatory set. I was extemely happy they didn't make us wander around the parking lot this year to hear the experimental stuff. Take your favorite moments from the Type II jams over the years and meld them into a long jam and you will have this set.
After the jam, we waited until the lights turned on to be sure they were done playing, and then went home to sleep.