The Wow! and Why? are frustratingly balanced as they have been all year: nice to see a Bowie opener but I wish they'd let this tune grow again; great selection of Set I funk/dance tunes (swell KDF!) but (per the ol' Dead style) the deep-sea stuff has to wait for Set II, which starts with yet another (excellent) Drowned (i.e. the standard modern Set II opener that isn't DWD or R'n'R); Twist and Piper get yanked suddenly down to earth just when it seems they're about to get crazy; and setbreak surfs one more stupendous 2009-vintage dropkick-to-the-brain first set rendition of Stash.
Look, the boys are playing some sublime stuff at times, so it's churlish to complain, but I can't help looking at the date - November 22, an auspicious date in the history of this band - and feeling these desperate pangs of longing for the long-form free improv of the late 90's. I 'know' those days aren't coming back, yet I keep hoping that the band will let the music get more...dangerous. When I'm actually *at* the shows this doesn't matter, but engaging with the recorded materials is a somewhat more abstract process; the comparatively denuded sensory experience leaves room for reminiscence and expectation.
So: I know I'm bitching about how a relentlessly upbeat, energetic, joyful Phish show isn't exactly what I obsessed over 12 years ago. I know the band is playing the shit out of songs like Maze, Theme, Stash, DWD, Drowned; I know the new tunes are vibrant and welcome (particularly Light); I know the second set here starts with 40 minutes of pure Phish energy and you'd be an idiot to scoff at it. This is an excellent show and a sign of great things to come! My complaint is that it's not a 10. My recommendation is that you take this 7.3, inject it directly into some pulsing brain vein, and walk around for the next 24 hours with a slack-jawed blissful smile on your face.