It began for my friend and I as Trey's guitar tech checked his rig. From our vantage point we could clearly hear the tonality of Wilson coming from the chords that were strummed as he the tech helped shape the tight distortion, tipping us off we we're in for a classic treat. The Wilson kicked off an instant dance session and the audience was rocking. A very fun Wilson, though not too out of the ordinary in my experience.
From there we hear Trey begin to blip out the very articulate, Morse code like beginning of Rift. I thought this song was extremely well played in a technical sense, with all the runs, and open splashy landings seeming to line up harmoniously.
Then came out the third animal in our three day phishy menagerie, the Ocelot. This was very funny to watch as when Trey began the song Fishman seemed to jump on the riff on the off beat, and Trey and Mike kept chuckling as they tried to realign the song in the opening measures. I found this to be strange song placement originally, but the Ocelot does deliver a funky groove which the audience certainly didn't mind slipping into. It seemed strange to me to bring the energy to a moderate chug at this point in the show, but hey, I don't write the setlists.
At this point Water in the Sky began, but all I really took from it were the beautiful sweeping piano lines coming from Page, I won't lie, it was a great opportunity to just listen intently and maybe puff a little...
For me a highlight came during the next song, Sample in a Jar. Because of the fact that it reminds me of friends that have some, but not much experience with Phish, it always makes me smile. This was a particularly rocking Sample! Toward the end of the guitar solo Trey could clearly feel this too as he built and built only to land on a classic blues/rock distorted fast strum. It was so cheesy Trey actually stopped playing it about two measures in and just let the grungy sustain ring out the chord as he laughed and waited to pick up the next cue. Hilarious to watch, musicians will probably agree, sometimes it's the simple riffs that are repeated a million times by everyone that get the job done!
Now I always love the opening guitar scream of a Funky Bitch and this one hit on the opening. From there, there were a few issues. Trey flubbed the Riff on the second portion of the opening solo, but recovered quickly. The mistakes didn't end here though. For some reason as the song built back up after the breakdown, Mike sang the fourth verse completely different than he typically does, altogether missing the hold on the "EV-ery time I see..." Trey hit it, but they we're clearly not together. This threw off the momentum of the song and in my opinion this Funky Bitch didn't end up quite as rousing as others I have heard. Despite this it was still very dance-able, and gave way to a 46 Days that kept the energy up up up! This song just screams and always seems to be an audience sing along. There were some nice peaks but admittedly nothing stand out from where I heard things. Very well played nonetheless.
Theme from the bottom... Whoa! This was just awesome! From the fun plinko guitar and piano sounds, Fishmans impeccable timing and a perfectly harmonized vocal bridge, this had it all. If that weren't enough, we also were afforded the opportunity to discuss our least favorite politicians and most favorite beers, all while swirling to a scratchy funk wah. ( I admit this was strange two nights in a row, it almost seemed schtick-y, and I had never personally seen the band do anything so similar two nights in a row) Back to Theme for an excellent and very tight ending. Perfect!
I would be willing to bet that Trey called an audible on this next one, because after a brief chat the band came out with a Yarmouth Rd that seemed a little impromptu. I think the tune was brought out because the band seemed to be firing on all cylinders, and it was the opportunity to mold Yarmouth road into a more final version (that's the evolutionary process live music undergoes, as Trey told us Thursday in reference to Wingsuit) Well, it worked. This was what I believe to be the most solid version of Yarmouth Rd yet, with a loose but unwavering groove and the best vocal work I've heard from Mike on this song, ever.
Limb by Limb was then begun so fluidly that I'm pretty confident this was the other half of the pre-Yarmouth discussion. This song is so bouncy, so cerebral and another audience favorite, clearly. Lots of fun. Now I was expecting one more song here.... I was wrong!
Holy Guacamole people! Mikes was all there and lets get right to it, what a dark, funky, sinister Mike's it was. The solo section simmered quite well. As far as Hydrogen goes, I know, it's divisive. For me, excellent, even with 15 shows, this was my first I Am Hydrogen, I was very happy to hear it. Some of my cohorts with nearly ten times the number of shows under their belt as compared to me were less than thrilled, but hey I like it! Weekapaugh always makes me bust out the dancing shoes and I was cutting a rug through the end of set one. Well done gents.
Set two: Down with Disease other than the mildly extended intro from Mike with some strange ambiance laid down by the guys, this was pretty by the books. I also realized that I don't know what the end of this song actually sounds like as it seems to have been unfinished the last million times it was played (yes I am clearly exaggerating) Fun though...
If memory serves correct, Piper began somewhere between a fade and a ripcord, and the audience was elated. This Piper also seemed within the confines of normalcy to me, but was again very pleasant on the ears.
Roggae was a (live) first for me, and I enjoy its relaxed chunking and lyrics very much. I can picture this as a something being sung to children at a carnival, very surreal and again well played. It dissolved into Waves and this also stayed in surreal land, though it's a more brief song in general. At this point we were all relaxed and wrapped in our warm Phish snuggies, but that wouldn't last long...
Tweezer! Here, I suddenly became possessed by some dancing demon. Don't get me wrong, I didn't become Fred Astaire or anything, but I did not stop moving for this one at all. I think it's worthy of note that there were moments where Mike approached his bass rig but then visibly decided to keep the bombadier doors closed. Sit tight for resolution on this matter my friends, but let's just say it paid off.
Highlight of the night- JULIUS! Listen to this Julius, then listen again. Then give a copy to everyone you know. This was awesome, feel, solo's everything. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure the initial intention was for Trey to take the first solo, but he approached the piano and handed it off to Page (rather abruptly). The raging, Jerry Lee Louis piano solo that followed was Pages best playing of the night, hands down. This was insane. If Page does't quite blow your brain out of the top of your head, than just give it a second, because here comes Trey. JUST LISTEN TO THIS JULIUS.
Yeah you know what happened next. I wasn't to into this particular Backwards Down the Number Line, and the band didn't seem to be either. A double length intro strum began the tune with some dissonance as Trey was too far from his mic to begin singing. Alas, this BDTNL didn't really even have the flowy Allman Brothers style piano lines that some more interesting versions have had, so it might be a second set skip when it comes to relistens.
Character Zero is always high energy, if not a little overplayed lately, but it was obvious that people were enjoying themselves and the band. Let's be real, who wouldn't take a Character Zero to get you back in the groove after a BDTNL.
Sleeping monkey featured a big ol' group sing along during Fishmans vocal break, and I was really surprised to hear so many people talking about how much they like that tune. I always thought it was more of a cheeky humorous thing personally, but hey, to each their own.
Pilot to bombardier, pilot to bombardier-- Signal Mike to open the bomb bay doors! This was the moment we had all been waiting for. Cue Cactus with the room shaking Tweeprise intro. Auditory bliss. From here we were treated to that sweet sweet intensity only delivered by pure raging arena rock. Very fulfilling. Very.
This one is going to probably seem a little backwards but this was a night I feel set one trumped set two in execution and excitement, but all in all this was a great performance. Give it a listen, I don't think you'll be dissapointed!