I flew up to Boston from Philly to celebrate our anniversary...Phish's 20th and my 10th. This would be my 57th show and mark my first return to the Fleet since NYE ‘96. I had high hopes that this would be a monumental show. There was a ton of hype: special guests, a third set...I mean we're talking about Phish here, so anything goes.
Entering the Fleet, the crowd was restless. They made us wait for what seemed like forever before they let the masses into the arena. Once inside there a buzz in the air, literally; I remember getting shocked a few times while inside Legends. After finishing our meal, we headed for our seats. I told my friend Alex we were definitely getting a “Birds” tonight, to his chagrin.
My heart started racing when the lights when down and I heard Fish start the beginning of “Hood”. I love a “Hood” opener and it made me think this was going to be no ordinary show. During the glowstick, war a guy next to me asked "Do they do this at every show?" It was his first show. I only smiled. “Cavern” was in my head at the end of “Hood” and Trey heard it... but flubbed the lyrics, which I loved. As soon as “Birds” started I hugged Alex and we sang together "It's easy sometimes when you just coast along...". Though not a stellar version of the song, it just made sense. I mean, the song is about us and I always take it as a compliment when they play it.
“Yamar” started and got everyone dancing, This version ended with a great "Banana Splits" theme. How fitting for me, since I had watched this show as a kid, and my life nowadays is spent watching kid TV shows with my 13 month old son. “Horn” came next, which is a beautiful song IMO. At this point I was starting to notice that the jumbo screen in the middle of the arena was flickering. Or was this just me?
Then we get to the absolute meat and highlight of the first set... the “PIPER”. This version started off quick, instead of a slow build. Trey started the theme about 5:47, Page played around for awhile on top... at 7:51, helloooo Mike. He really lays down the groundwork for the ensuing hard jam, and Fish follows right behind him. They are just pounding before Page comes back in. Mike starts going crazy right at 11:07 or so. The peak of the jam starts at 12:30ish before they bring it down to a nice quiet ending.
We needed a ballad here and they obliged with a lovely version of “Anything But Me”. This song reminds me of a Garcia ballad, a la “Standing on the Moon”, and Trey sang it from the heart. “Water in the Sky” is always a treat and they end the set with a “DWD” that didn't stick out for me because I was still absorbing the “Piper”. All of a sudden the crowd erupted with the opening of “Fluffhead”. But wait a minute...that's not live...
Then laughter bellowed as we all realized what was happening.. There they were, our boys, on the big screen, in all their 80's glory! The video retrospective was all things Phish. Funny and emotional. It was so cool to see so many things you've been there for and also the things you've only heard on tape or read stories of. This definitely needs to be released for all fans to see.
Time to settle in for the start of one of the best second sets I have ever seen. “Rock and Roll” starts and I can't help but giggle. My life truly was saved by rock and roll. The jam in this version is why I am obsessed with this band. First of all... I've never heard a “Groove” out of something like this before. And then they cut the “Groove” short to go into “Tweeprise”, and I think so many people were confused at this point and not sure what was going on. It was everything I love and more. At this point they rip into a raging “Frankenstein” > “Kung” > “Frankenstein” that defied all forms of logic. This, my friends, is truly a Phishy moment, with Trey acting Jesus-like with his arms raised in the air and then falling down each time he said "stand up!". It was all so chaotic and elegant at the same time.
By the end of the set I was ready to collapse from dancing so hard, and I finally had a chance to sit and listen to the tear jerker of the show... “Waste”. This moment was the moment of clarity, when we realized what we have shared over the last twenty or however many years together, when it sinks in that we are part of something bigger than just a rock n’ roll concert. We have had the pleasure of wasting our time with the greatest band on the planet, and with each other: the greatest fans on the planet. Trey didn't speak to the crowd to say thanks that night, he sang it... beautifully. All I can say about the “Bug” encore is that there really wasn't any other way to end the night. It just didn't matter.... or did it?
For me, I couldn't care less about the hype leading up to this show, or how amazing the show was the night before. I just wanted what I had been waiting all year for, a jam-packed, groove-oriented funk-o-rama that would release those Phishy endorphins and give me that zen-like feeling that all was right with the world. And for one special night in Beantown, it was.