First set was perfect from first note to last. Every song made sense where it was played and there were no awkward "filler" moments at all, not even for a second. Each song got a little bit of jam treatment whether it was for a couple of minutes or for more extended journeys like in Bathtub Gin and Stash. A high-octane Character Zero finished off a set that I'd have been perfectly happy with had it been the second set of any show.
The second set? Phenomenal. Rather than recap each song, I'll share some of the thoughts that went through my mind as Trey & Co. lifted the entire arena to another plane of existence.
First and foremost, "tension and release" was the most recurring jam-oriented theme of the night. Segments of pure bliss were interspersed with moments of skull-numbing dissonance before returning right back to the Promised Land. These guys were on fire last night and communicating like a 4-headed beast.
The Drowned>Light opening sequence may be the most beautiful music I've ever heard Phish play. I turned to one of my friends during the jam on Drowned and said to him "this music is so beautiful I feel like I'm standing at the gates of heaven." And I really meant it. I was truly lifted out of body during that section.
No joke. I really had an out of body experience.
For me the most powerful moment came during the initial jam segment of Light, before they broke out of type I territory. The music began to make me feel like I was being hugged. I'm a new dad, and I felt warm and soothed, just like the way my 8-month old baby boy must feel when I hold him in my arms and rock him to sleep at night. And then it hit me - I felt like I was being hugged by my own father, who died nearly 20 years ago but was right there with me last night, happy as can be. At that moment, blissfully swaying on the dance floor to some of the most beautiful music I'll ever hear - Phish or otherwise - I swear I was accompanied by the ghost of my dad, in his own way telling me I'm doing a good job as a dad myself. I wasn't sad at all to think about him. I was completely happy, immersed in the music. I had a smile on my face as wide as you'll ever see on a person.
This is why we love Phish, ladies and gentlemen. Because their music can evoke such powerful emotions, and moments we truly never want to forget.
After that, a filthy dirty funk version of Sand turned the whole room into a dance-a-thon and everything was icing on the cake after that. I'll never forget the huge smile on my wife's face as she felt a deep connection to last night's version of "Theme from the Bottom" dancing like it was her favorite song on earth. (I'll add that my wife accompanies me to most Phish shows I go to despite that she doesn't really listen to them at all. For her to be pulled into the music light that was a sight to behold. Amazing. "Now I get it" she told me. And she didn't need to say anything more.)
Now we all get it. Thanks, Phish. For everything.
And thanks, dad, for being there with me in spirit.