After taking a day off from melting faces, Phish rolled into the scenic and small amphiteater of CMAC last night. The show went as I had predicted, a laid-back, nothing too crazy show--kind of like nTelos with slightly longer songs and a totally different atmosphere.
Opening with the third ever version of The Connection, they quickly set the mood of the first set--when a short Down with Disease came next it was obvious that tonight they were going to give everyone a breather from what has just happened on tour and before what is about to happen. After playing the second Sample in a Jar in as many shows, the band sank into Ocelot, perfectly capturing the warm summer night in a beautiful place.
The mid-set, daytime Reba was obviously a welcome treat. The jam was punctuated by slightly off-kilter high notes from Trey, rather than a gradual build to soaring six string improvisation. It's certainly worth a listen, however I am waiting for the day Reba finally gets back on it's pedistal of improvisational bliss.
A well played Horn gave way to an excellent and nitty gritty take on a loosely played Funky Bitch. Soon after came Undermind--another through the motions version of one of their most original sounding songs. This song is aching to be a show highlight--I am predicting in August, hopefully. Then, the second Curtis Loew of 2010--is this going to enter the normal rotation? Not sure how I would feel about it. I love the song, and they are playing it great--I wouldn't mind seeing it be a normal show song, but I also love the idea of it being a huge deal when the play it. I'll be happy either way.
David Bowie closed the set, with another standard introduction this version contained an improved jam in that it built a more linear progression towards the end. Trey had licks up and down this version before going into the end that came far too early. Probably the best version of 3.0, however it's hard to say because they really do sound so similar lately.
The second set featured the best Mike's Groove this tour and, arguably, of 3.0. The set didn't flow quite as smoothly as the second sets did in the previous nights, but the massive Mike's Groove held it together like a nice oriental rug hold a living room together.
I was praying that they would not open the set with a Drowned or some other predictable second set opener--they opened with the more unpredictable Possum before jumping straight into Mike's Song. Mike's song, while not at powerful as some of the other versions this tour, started the most powerful overall Mike's Groove of 3.0. The Simple that followed Mike's Song was by far the most interesting version in recent times. It contained a jam that floated deep into intergalactic territory, featuring Page synthesizing all over it--seeming like I am Hydrogen could come floating up at any point, Page instead segued into Phish's first version of the Beatles song I am the Walrus. Although Phish has never played it before, Anastasio's 70 Volt Parade of 2005 had played it 18 times (please don't make me ever think about that band again)--Phish's version was far more lively and fun, leading us into more spacy ambiance before Fishman quietly started Weekapaug Groove. 'Paug, by far the strongest and most original rendition of 3.0, featured more improvisation than all of 2009's versions combined. After the usual out-of-the-gates wailing by Trey, it sank down into a jam somewhat reminiscent of a late 90's throwdown. Trey was playing funk again, albeit with less wah pedal than 97 or 98, and it sounded awesome. The whole song broke down and went through a variety of different textures--unsure if they were going to go into the end of the song or not, Fish started up the 'Paug beat maybe three times, assuming they would be going into the end. Each time he started it it was apparent that Trey was not ready to end it, one time Mike even started slapping the Weekapaug bass like when he thought they were going back into the end--but then stopped when he, too, realized Trey wasn't having it. This unfinished version leads into a decent but energy draining Limb by Limb.
Harry Hood, an easy song to call this set for anyone following Phish's setlists this year, was actually one of the stand out pieces of the show. With Hoods seemingly becoming shorter and shorter in length, this one clocked in at not even 12 minutes. Also, with Hoods becoming better and better in the 3.0 era, this version is easily the best--probably since 2000. The beginning features Mike tearing down the pavilion in one of the reggae-esque interludes, prompting everyone to start cheering. The jam, instead of noodling until just before the end, features Trey playing beautifully the whole time--I wish this version had lasted longer. Then, out of the end, Trey counts off to start a set closing Golgi--punctuating a shorter than average second set before encoring with an energetic First Tube.