This show was webcast via Live Phish. David Bowie contained a Theme from Gilligan's Island tease from Mike. Trey teased Sneakin' Sally in Possum. Jefferson Waful assisted Chris Kuroda on lights for the first time and would do so for the rest of the weekend's shows.
ASIHTOS sets us off on a quasi-ocean-themed show, and is wildly successful in setting the tone. This opener wasn’t really about getting everyone revved up musically but seemed to be the band’s way of saying “We’re playing next to the ocean. That’s awesome. Get hyped.”
My Soul goes as well as it can, I think. Martian Monster gets another outing… I’m beginning to feel like this one is somewhat overplayed, especially when there are so many other good Halloween songs just sitting in the basket, unsued (Birds, Bridge, Shipwreck, etc.) By the seventh or eighth time you’ve been selected to explore the planet mars, you know what you’re going to find. Although, every so often you do find a sandwich on mars, which is always fun.
Ya Mar is tight and the perfect song for the atmosphere. Jonathan puts some extra mustard behind Halley’s in what’s a really solid, compact version. These two make a great pairing.
The > into Fuego is BONKERS. Just a glance over from Trey to Page and we’ve completely shifted gears. This was obivously rehearsed and it payed off. I don’t think people have been that stoked about the opening to Fuego in a long time (read: a year.) It’s a very good, straightforward version that Trey really tears up before going back into the Whoa part. Recommended listening, especially for that transition.
Theme was fun, especially with the botched lyrics. We’re a strange fanbase… we love it when they mess up. Free is even more majestic than usual, and Bowie was probably a fitting tribute, but my computer freaked out and I had to reset it and missed the whole thing.
Altogether, a first set consisting partially of standards and partially songs that didn't get quite enough love in 2015. Well-played, but nothing revolutionary. Sometimes that's all you need.
If you have not listened to Quadrophenia in full recently, I really recommend that you do. There’s so much power in that album, especially if you do more research into the mod culture of London from like 1962-67ish. Fascinating stuff that says a lot about identity and growing up and fitting in and believing in yourself. These are lessons that everyone can take to heart, and a song like Drowned becomes so much more powerful when you feel the entire force of the album behind it. Gordo really gets the vocals on this version for the first time in a while and the whole rhythym section is giving it its all. If ASIHTOS was about getting the crowd pumped about being next to the water, this song was a reminder that Phish is for fun, but Phish is also not messing around.
The -> into What’s The Use? is certainly an interesting phenomenon. I waver on this song a good deal… one minute I think it’s gorgeous, one minute I think it’s boring. I think we clunked into this particular one a little bit too much; the time signature change is a lot to swallow sometimes, and this might have been one of those times. The most contested part of this show will undoubtedly be this transition, and I think that the band could have built a lot more momentum by saving something like this for later in the set, but they’re Phish, so they know what they’re doing.
I wasn’t sure if they would play Sand to be honest. Seemed too obvious. But here it is, and it’s a rip-roaring version that has not one, but two great jam sections. It’s all of the gnarly, dark funk that makes Sand one of the most special songs in Phish’s repertoire, and the dip into the second jam section is surprising and delightful (although, I guess if you’re reading this review, it’s not surprising anymore. Whoopsies.)
The -> Ghost is buttery and exciting. It’s one of those moments when you listen to the show and think “wow, that Downed, WTU, Sand was really great, they could mail it in and it’d be a fine show.” And instead they play Ghost. An elegant version that serves its spot in the set well, not really going into outer space but still straying as far from the ranch as a Ghost of its length should.
2001 is longer than it has been and has some really great noodling. Wolfman’s is -stellar-, with a gracious little vocal jam that actually propels the song’s momentum forward. Then they played Possum.
Shine a Light is a great song for this spot! A really wonderful singalong to bring the crowd together after an intense, rainy, cathartic second set. Wonderful choice. Same goes for the R&R encore.
I think that if there’s one takeaway from this show, it’s that 20-minute jams are not the only thing that makes a good Phish show. In relistening to a lot of this summer’s highlights for the bracket, I’ve noticed myself leaning toward really high-quality, shorter jams (meaning those in like the 13-15 minute range) rather than the ones that go on forever. I don’t think that we have any legendary jams on our hands, but I do think that the Sand is a really good exemplification of what Sand is all about, and the same goes for Drowned. Altogether, it’s a very cohesive set. The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts, for this show. I’m sure that anyone who was down on the beach tonight will agree.
Drowned- An appropriate start to an ocean themed show, for me I loved it, I thought of myself floating out to sea and trying to survive w/ giant waves crashing over my head, but to no avail I can't keep my head up...and What's the Use anyways, I mean life is over. My lifeless body comes up to the surface and bobs up and down and drifts towards the shore. As my body lands on the sandy shore, the band goes into an ever so appropriate and inspiring Sand with a tremendous slow segue into Ghost. My soul came alive with that ghost and I felt all of the love and energy combine into one mighty end of a show. This is more than just music folks!
I always find it interesting reading reviews of a show I attended. There certainly was an element of "they could play whatever and however the hell they want and this is still going to be fun."
Nonetheless, I thought it was a really good show. 1st set with no real throwaways. Despite the lyrical botch, they're doing things in Theme that are very original compared to standard Theme. And Free was given the treatment it deserves. Those 2 songs being the highlight of Set I for me.
Set II to me, everything worked, including the What's The Use and right down to the Shine A Light closer and atypical Rock N Roll encore. Sand being the highlight.
I don't know, maybe you just had to be there, but it was a raging beach dance party from start to finish. With the phish.
First set simply sets the table. A little bit more mustard on Ya Mar and David Bowie but nothing terribly inspiring.
Second set kicks off with drowned. The first since fall '14 but they should keep this one on the shelf. Mike can't hit the notes anymore. It's pretty funny listening to him try though.
Trey forces the band into WTU which to me is completely unnecessary. WTU should never feel forced. Nothing particularly notable about this version.
The Sand -> Ghost > 2001 sequence is top of the line Phish though. Sand has two distinct jam segments sandwiched around the main theme of the song and both rip. It starts pouring during Ghost and, much like the famous Ventura show, this seems to push the band to really go for it. They crush it with a sticky type II jam that ends in a peak reminiscent of Summer 98 versions. 2001, as always, is a party and possibly the second nod of the night to the late, great David Bowie.
Overall an average great Phish show that happened in paradise. Cannot complain about that.
Seek out the Sand -> Ghost > 2001 if nothing else.
"Nothing I see can be taken from me..." Some thoughts on the first night of the Mexico run from my vantage point splashing in the sea for this entire show from Free onward...
The extensive, subtle, hidden yet obvious route they took to honor David Bowie (and I wasn't the first to point this out but definitely jumped on board with the perspective) was the entire Friday night show! Combined with the ocean-themed songs, the rest of the song selections had a very David Bowie-esque* mystique to them…
A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing > (welcome to the first time Phish has ever played on a beach immediately next to warm ocean water that you could be in during the show...)
*My Soul, (first since 2014 and who better to embody the idea behind these lyrics than >)
*Martian Monster > (Mr. David Robert Jones, the man with the soul of a space oddity)
Ya Mar, (apparently Gordon first heard this song as a kid at a tropical resort on vacation)
Halley’s Comet > (“what is the truth, what is the faithful lasting proof”)
Fuego > (“I’m a sailor’s girl, the best is yet to come”)
The Wedge, (numerous water references)
*Theme From the Bottom > (“keep what’s important and know who’s your friend” ~ Bowie a friend. Also the underground theme of death and darkness.)
*Free > (“I feel no curiosity, I see the path ahead of me…” Nod to Bowie’s acceptance of death and the artistry of his last album and timing of its release.)
*David Bowie (The man himself)
*Drowned -> (“I ain’t seen a sign of my hero”, look closer young jedi… Plus the obvious death reference in this song.)
*What’s the Use? > (reflections of life and death. absolutely surreal from out in the ocean floating on my back and hearing this from under water...)
*Sand -> (“I would choose my own religion” very Bowie-esque. Also, the idea of the circle of life where death decomposing back into the earth provides for new life. And the obvious beach reference.)
*Ghost -> (out of death buried in the sand, the spirit rises… Bowie’s ghost is now free to roam…)
*Also Sprach Zarathustra > (…into the cosmos)
*Wolfman’s Brother > (climbing “on a stairway to the stars”)
*Possum, (The idea of "playing dead", captured in Bowie’s Lazarus video released three days before his death.)
*Shine a Light (“Angels beating all their wings in time … thought I heard one sigh for you … come on up, come on up now”. Bowie shining his light back down from the cosmos. Ah-ho!)
*Rock and Roll (“you know [all our lives] were saved by Rock ‘n’ Roll”… Bowie, Phish, the fans)
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