Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
 Keyword referenced waking up in "Hempstead."
 Tom Marshall.
· San-Ho-Zay tease in Twist
Average Song Gap: 6.59
Notes: Twist contained a San-Ho-Zay tease from Trey. The lyrics to Makisupa referenced waking up “in Hempstead.” Later in Makisupa, Trey commented on the upcoming 20th anniversary of the band, and noted Makisupa as the first original Phish song ever played. Trey also commented on his long-standing friendship with Tom Marshall and said that Tom had written Makisupa when he was a child. Trey brought Tom out on stage and noted that he thought Makisupa was written in 1969, leading Tom to note that we “have a 60’s song.” As Tom prepared to handle vocals on Buffalo Bill, Trey noted: “Tom is now going to sing you a song about a boss, a log, and a piece of rope.”
Songs by Debut Year:
My normal, everyday, "it's all good" attitude is going to be put on hold for awhile while I jump on my "What the hell happened in Philly?" soapbox.
Setlists are good indicators as to what was going on with any given night. The way songs flow off one another, whether there be a pause or segue, certainly can lead one to believe it may not be the greatest of shows. This show was no exception. A less than average setlist, and an absolutely horrible musical showing by four guys I hold to a very high standard, one that even I can digest an average show and say I had a great time.
There was absolutely near nothing going on this time in Philly. They didn't even try to take “Simple” tune anywhere. “Taste” was one of the worst three versions I have ever heard. Trey could not save this tune to save his life on this night. “Makisupa” -> “Buffalo Bill” was, pure and simple, a self indulgent non-musical Phish moment. They had absolutely no interest in getting anything musical out of these two tunes. You have to understand, I love Tom, as much as anyone. But it's not necessary for him to come out on stage for this. It completely took from the entire musical experience. Trey was more focused on his Tom spiel than he was on playing the damn tunes. It was the tenth “Buffalo Bill” ever (my second), and they use it as a vehicle for some hokey story about Tom writing this tune in 1969. Honestly, who cares? Actually... I care, I just don't want to hear about it in the middle of a Holiday Run show at the Philly Spectrum that I just drove 1000 miles for. Tell me about it in the next book!
One thing that I came to realize after being force-fed this ridiculous attempt at entertainment was, at least Robert Hunter was wise enough for thirty years not to get into the way of the fans’ time with Jerry on stage. He knew that even though he wrote the tunes, the fans were there to hear Jerry sing the tunes, not Robert Hunter. I go to Phish shows to hear Trey sing Buffalo Bill, not Tom Marshall. I don't care when he wrote the song, I just want Trey to sing it. Tom was so badly off key I just had to stand there and shake my head.
I thought that “Bowie” would be the point where they were going to attempt to save the show, but then I realized it was such a bad night, even the “Bowie” was terrible. Who would have ever thought a “Bowie” could be bad? I had yet to hear a bad “Bowie” until this night in Philly. I won't go into details, just try to make it through this; you won't listen to it twice, I guarantee it.
Then they threw in the towel. They paused after a terrible “Bowie” and Trey walked over to Page, then Fish, then Mike, and I actually thought they were talking about a way to salvage this whole thing, but they came back with “Strange Design”. I think Trey must have said something like, "Guys, I'm having a real bad time up here, it's just not happening, let's wrap this up with ‘Strange Design’ and ‘Character Zero’". During “Zero”, I just stood there almost with a tear in my eye.
I am not in any way a spoiled Phish fan. That is not what this review is about. I can take an off night, or an average show, but this was plain pathetic.
Trey needs to take his head out of Dave Matthews’ ass and start thinking about Phish, the most important thing in any of their lives. If you take your eyes off anything that is anything in your life, whether it's your family, your career, your hobbies, or any of your passions, you will most certainly lose your edge, or lose focus when you go back to it.
I am very concerned that these guys are far so wrapped up in the umpteenth solo project that they sometimes forget how to be Phish. I would almost bet Trey has been working a lot harder on preparing for the new Dave Matthews rock star guitar gig than he has about what puts him in the lifestyle he has become accustomed to.
Lastly, I absolutely love “Friday”. And I don't even mind it as an encore. I was under the pavilion having a religious moment during that tune this past summer at Deer Creek. I have thoroughly enjoyed most everything from 2003 up until this point. 2003 has been an excellent comeback year, I can go on and on about what I love about 2003. But this Philly show was a very bad experience.
And since I'm on a roll, will someone tell me if they can find a worse segue than the “AC/DC Bag”->”First Tube” from Nassau?
Sorry for all the negativity, I just love these guys way too much to let them off the hook on this one. We deserve better. We're way too good to these guys.
Holiday traffic on the NJ turnpike makes the usual ninety minute drive from NYC to Philly an extra hour longer. Running inside the Spectrum, we hear the familiar first set opening thumping chords of Wilson, whew made it and not a minute late, ok maybe a minute. While searching for our seats (the “Kaz behind the stage” tour continues, thanks to Phish-Tickets-By-Mail) among aisles and stairs filled with fans, the audience's chant quickly lets us also know that we are singing about the tyrant of Gamehendge, and the second show of this historic 20th Anniversary run has begun.
“Twist” to open the second set seemed like it would be the correct remedy to get things started and revive this show. But this “Twist” was very strange. It started out of nowhere. The band walked on stage and just began fading up into this “Twist” with an opening slow jam. Once into it, the "whoos" and the rest of the song just seemed forced as if not everyone in the band was playing on the same page or in the same mindset. The solo lavished in a very calm mellow mood. Not the kind of start this crowd was hoping for. However, the band kept at it and persistence eventually paid off and it turned out to be the only real jamming highlight of the show. The improvisation began to gain a “Harry Hood”, floating type of feel ,peppered with Trey releasing several quick riffs getting you back down to earth.
This then began rolling along into what sounded like a “Takin' It to the Streets” type theme with some spacey 70's-rock style work from Page and Mike layered among Trey's and Fish's standard theme. Maybe it didn't get the crowd all sweaty, but it was sure good from a groove sense.
Tom was hanging out side stage all night, so it was good to see him come up on stage and be another of the Phish family guests featured during this 20th Anniversary tour. Trey introduced the song by saying Tom will sing a song about "a boss, a log and a piece of rope". Tom and Trey cheesed up Buffalo Bill as well as they could, extending the singing of the "Bi-ill-ill-ill-ill" part to extreme harmonic points where the mics began to feedback. Wow, well that was something else. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming and at least a very “Bowie”, probably the most energetic song of the evening.
The “Friday” encore again was a head-scratcher, leaving us wondering if there was more drive and feel at the Sixers game next door where Allen Iverson was putting up 50 points against Atlanta this evening.
But sticking with the show. Limb has a nice fairly atypical fan/shredding crescendo that works nicely. Dirt> Seven Below is a sweet pairing, the Seven Below being hit or miss but having some truly inspired moments especially right in the middle as it has the -7 bounce but some inspired piano work. It feels really concise but ends up having a little quiet coda tacked on. And the interplay sounds nice! Nicer than it probably would have in 1999 or 2004 anyway.
In a year full of really inspired Divided Skies where Phish blurred the line between improvisation and composition in some underratedly interesting ways, this is another cool version. Did they nail the composition? God no. But they probably came close to nailing it but a handful of times between 97 and 2013 so I'll appreciate the improv bleeding out of the seams instead of complaining.
Treys teasing the heck out of something in this Julius. Or maybe he just found a new wrinkle to add in. Not the most incendiary version.
Amazing Twist jam kicks off set 2. This version covers a lot of ground, taking its time disengaging from the Twist theme from 6 to 9 minutes or so. The first fully improvised segment of this jam has an excellent feel to it, sounding like a fragment of a much deeper segment of another jam. Funky and liquid, some cool synth textures peaking around the edges. Some Cavern / Antelope ending jamming with Trey playing decisive fills and Page fluttering about on the Hammond up until 16 minutes, and then an exquisitely drawn out back door segue into Simple. Wow! I love the 2003 -> Simples, and this one clearly learned from the YEM-> Simple from Shoreline. More than anything, this sounds like a kind of underreported jamming from 1997 I like to call "Sludgepacking" - they did it in like 12-15 jams, slow heavy thematic jams that don't sound much like anything before or after.. Except maybe the "don't shine that thing in my face man" or "I Saw It Again" .
It's a type I Simple for the most part, sure, but god I love how Trey approached it. Kind of like when people go back and write reviews of early 90s shows and complain that Tube didn't have a jam. Some perspective is necessary. This version is more atypical than most Simples. It follows the slow burnout but Trey is soaring in a different manner. More fighter jet going into the sunset, less eagle coasting around a canyon. One thing you definitely can't say is that they didnt try to do anything with it. It's not a crazy type ii version, but it's inspired and north of standard.
Trey unleashes a brilliant midrange run in the Taste for a minute or so and then perfectly flips it, there's an awkward moment where it seems like they're going to get a little weirder and they aren't all on board, and then there's another bad moment in there when Trey goes for the big chord and nobody thinks it's coming. It's a shame because a lot of the rest of the Taste is electric. The flubs come at some critical junctures though and certainly drag it down a lot.
Makisupa, Buffalo Bill is what it is. Can't really expect much more than humor out of those songs. Maybe a reggae jam that goes nowhere? Maybe 10/29/94 in reverse if you're really a masochist who wants to be let down. Can't go into every Fee ready to be mad if it isn't 7/9/99 and you can't get mad about those songs providing what they provide here.
Bowie works the major minor line really well. Page has some great playing throughout it. The moment where they re-engage Bowie proper on their way towards the ending is excellent. Trey putting that growling 2003 tone to great use and Fish punishing the kit. Like Taste though, they don't all seem to be on the same page. Nothing quite so dramatic, but they aren't in synch.
As for worse segues than 11/28/03 Bag-> First Tube... Uhh..literally dozens of them? The only problem with that is Treys feedback didnt sustain correctly. They still hit First Tube on time and in tune.
When the lights went down the place erupted. I can't remember ever experiencing that much energy before or since. We had great seats on the first level directly in front of the stage. The only lights were the walk light on the stairs leading to the stage. Trey came up first, picked up his guitar and before anyone else was at their instrument he played the first notes of Wilson. The crowd went nuts. Cars Trucks Buses was excellent as well. Limb By Limb...beautiful. Dirt slowed things down a bit but was still very nice. Seven Below was nice and mellow. Complimented our mood just fine. Divided Sky , Fast Enough were excellent as well. As a matter of fact it was my first Fast Enough For You. Julius was a nice rockin' way to end the set.
I know the set list doesn't look impressive but it blew our f'n minds. They played real loose and real relaxed for some 15000 of their best friends. I have to note here the lights. Aside from IT, I hadn't seen a show since '95. What I have come to expect from their light shows now, really blew me away this night.
Second set picked up right where the first left off. Nice and relaxed. Twist got into a nice mellow groove and stayed there for 17 minutes. Simple (which i used to hate) was a fun pick me up. Taste was sweet. Makisupa was fun as was Buffalo Bill (my second). As far as Tom Marshall singing it. This run was all about the band , so let them have their fun and nostalgia. He didn't ruin the show for me. Bowie was awesome as always. Strange Design ...beautiful. Character Zero ended the set the way Julius ended the first set. On a high upbeat note. My only complaint was the Friday encore. It was very out of place here.
As for our state of mind. We thought the drugs influenced our experience. We downloaded the FLAC's and were proven wrong. The show was excellent...the lights were beautiful....the only thing we can only speculate about is the crowd energy. But believe me...it was Kickin'. Download this show ASAP