Saturday 10/25/2014 by phishnet


[For this recap we'd like to welcome guest blogger @n00b100 - SP]

After last year's decidedly fun Hollywood Bowl show, which was capped off with a nigh-legendary “Harry Hood,” I was chomping at the bit to get to another show. I was actually excited to hear that Phish's LA area show this year would be in the Forum (home of the Lakers and Kings for many years), because as cool and beautiful a venue as the Hollywood Bowl is, I've always been told by my longer-tenured Phish friends (i.e. all of them) that indoors Phish is a much different experience. So were they correct? We shall see...

Photo by @stim_buck

A very sharp “46 Days” immediately got the almost entirely full Forum out of their seats (I was in the back, so I could see the whole venue easily, and while there were a few patches of empty seats higher up top, the entire lower section and the floor was packed with writhing, shimmying fans), and “Tube” - accompanied with loud cheer at the "freeway in Los Angeles" line - kept the crowd moving as well. One cool thing about the live experience, among many, is watching the band interact and signal each other, and I got to see that in “Tube” as Trey turned to Fish and called for him to move into the bluesy stomp that precedes the final verse. “Train Song,” which is something of a rarity these days, came next, and the harmonies were done quite well (glad to see Mike can still sing this, even if “Drowned” is somewhat beyond him these days), and then came the first surprise of the night - a first set “Ghost.”

Photo by @stim_buck

Now, if I do have one criticism of 3.0 (I do have a few, now and again), it's that there seems to be some sort of invisible barrier that separates Set 1 from Set 2 these days, and if a Set 2 jam vehicle crosses over into Set 1, it becomes more of a Set 1 "get the people going" song than a Set 2 "improv launching pad." Case in point: “Ghost” on 8/30/13, a very fine and compact version, did not venture beyond its usual boundaries at all. And this first set “Ghost” matched that to a tee, as it served as a “Kill Devil Falls”-esque way to get the dance party back on track after the “Train Song” breather, although I'd never say no to the regular “Ghost” jam and the band gave it the energetic treatment you'd want from a first set song. “Sparkle” (my first repeat from last year) and “Sample in a Jar” came next - your intrepid reporter will admit that he got a soft pretzel and bottled water during Sample, but could hear it perfectly fine in the foyer, and can safely report that it sounded exactly like “Sample in a Jar.”

But “Sparkle” and “Sample,” much like a jet plane testing its brakes before takeoff, were the appetizer to the first main course of the night - “Divided Sky.” The further along I've come as a Phish fan, the more I've come to appreciate songs like this, and “Fluffhead,” and “The Curtain” (either “With” or “Without”) - songs with nary a lick of Type-II improv and that are mainly differentiated by subtleties in the playing, but are remarkable compositions and contain moments of absolutely heart-stopping beauty. As Page's swirling organ part led into Trey's solo moment, I thought about how humbling it was to hear this song, a song Phish has played at some dude's pig ranch, university lounges, some of the Northeast's most famous clubs, on Halloween 1994, during the first night of Lemonwheel, and now in front of my face right at this moment. Then came the pause, nonstop cheering from the crowd, a gigantic smile on Trey's face (I could see it even all the way across the arena), and an absolutely *crushed* version of “Divided Sky.”

Photo by @stim_buck

The Line” came next - I stayed to listen because I really like the song, and it was quite the juxtaposition to see people dancing furiously and what felt like a quarter of the crowd streaming to the restrooms - and then Page's showcase in “It's Ice” (cool to see a spotlight on him while he wailed on his clavinet), during which time I saw a young teenager about ten sections away dancing his ass off, full spin-move-doing-the-Robot-in-the-Soul-Train-Line-in-the-70s dancing that you just know he's feeling the effects of today. It was great to see. A ferocious “Kill Devil Falls” came next (see what I mean?), and then the second first set highlight in a massive "Classic Gin" Type-I “Bathtub Gin,” replete with hilarious “Low Rider” and “Long Tall Glasses” teases, that built up to a frenetic, double-time close (it's kind of hilarious to see Fish, such a compact fellow, just hammer away on the skins). So that's a heck of a way to end the first set.

Setbreak: I heard a lot of whistling of “Low Rider” in the men's room.

Photo by@Phish_FTR

Set 2 opened with two Type-I dance vehicles, first a well-played version of Fuego standout “555,” then “Backwards Down The Number Line,” which nobody in attendance seemed to have much of a problem getting down to. In person, I was a bit perplexed by the song selection, although in hindsight “Number Line” makes sense as a tribute to one of Mike's daughters (apparently he was wandering around the lot with his daughter, and he informed a few lucky fans that it was indeed her birthday), which, if so, is more a nice touch than the apparently continuing campaign to make “Number Line” The Most Hated Phish Song In All of Fandom. But we hadn't gotten deep yet, and it felt like it was time for the band to stretch their legs.

And that time came, courtesy of the fog of noise that Mike coaxes out of his bass every time they play this song, with “Down With Disease.” The initial jam out of the final verse was kept at a low boil, with Trey playing something that sounded like “Under Pressure” while Page picked out some lovely notes on the organ. Trey shifted to some stabbing chords as the band kept the groove going, searching for the next avenue to explore, which seemed to be coming as Trey worked out the hair metal power chord sequence he'd hit upon in the 7/26/14 “Ghost,” but then Page took over and started playing a repeating, atonal riff that both Trey and Mike picked up on. Suddenly, things got weird and off-kilter, mid-90s style, as the jam seemed to be eating itself; Trey started going to the effects, Fish played around with his beat, and a dissonant wave of noise emanated from the stage. Phish doesn't go very dark anymore, so when they hit this kind of darkness it's always worth hearing. Then comes the magic moment - that roar you can hear from the crowd is Kuroda hitting the "star" lights on the ceiling of the Forum while switching off his own light banks, lighting up the Forum like a huge planetarium, as the band latched on to a 2.0-style groove and Mike found himself a new filter. I've included a picture, which gives maybe 25% of the insanely cool effect those lights had:

Photo by@n00b100

Then, with Mike dinging away on his fight bell and Page moving back to the clavinet, Trey remembered the power chords from before, and all of a sudden we're back in the ‘80s as the band moves as one towards a *furious* peak. Maybe this is attendance bias, but as cool as the 7/26 Ghost is, this jam (thanks to Trey dropping the chords and soloing his ass off) is a total improvement on it, especially with just how massive and powerful the energy built up on stage got. The jam cycled down, Page tickled the ivories, and “Fuego” kicks in. I don't think I can say enough about that “DWD” - it delved into the darkness and burst out into brightness, Trey got himself a nice little showcase, and you could just feel the band's palpable chemistry throughout. “Fuego” was quite nice (especially when it devolved into another spacey piece of business, as the band continues to work the lessons of 1999 and 2000 into their current arsenal), as was the “Twist” that came next (although, as “Twist” is my favorite Phish song from a composition standpoint, it's pretty easy to tell when “Twist” is going to move into Parts Unknown and when “Twist” is going to stay in the pocket), and a perfectly placed “Bouncing Around The Room” gave the crowd a chance to relax a bit and sing along. Hey, I'll take a “Bouncing” in the late second set over “Wading in the Velvet Sea” or “Gotta Jibboo” any day.

And then, with another neat little flurry of effects before the song proper, came the Fall tour debut of “David Bowie,” and this is a strong version given a little extra oomph (as @fracai noted in his show review) by Trey's Echoplex (which he utilized to very nice effect at certain points in the show). “Character Zero” (my second repeat from last year) closed out the second set proper, and with the crowd urging them to return, they came back to give me my third repeat from last year - an encore-slot “Harry Hood!” I certainly wasn't expecting them to give me another Hollywood “Hood” - I wasn't even expecting one of the outside-the-box “Hoods” like Eugene's or Randall's or Philly's - but what I did get, a "typical-beautiful" “Hood” that spiraled upwards to a lovely peak and Trey sustaining one note for an extended period as the star lights came on again and the crowd went bonkers, was more than enough to satisfy me at that point. “Grind,” charming and goofy as usual, ended the evening.

Final thoughts? A quite good show to keep the fires stoked after Santa Barbara's damn good second show. Make sure you catch the “Divided Sky” and that super-fun “Low Rider Gin” - and the “Down With Disease” is absolutely not optional.

Photo by@taopauly

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, comment by Bob_Loblaw
Bob_Loblaw Another solid review. I also agree about the non existent barrier between sets lately. After the lengthy songs first set I thought 2nd set would either have a very long jam or some kind of surprise (Harpua, HYHU, Col Forbin). But it turned out to be somewhat similar to the first set. No complaints here though. Solid show great playing, Trey was on fire.
, comment by Hoodward
Hoodward Phenomenal review. What a fun show. Trey was, indeed, killing it and looked 25 years younger than Seattle. The band is in top level form. Pumped for tonight and the rest of this tour!
, comment by ucpete
ucpete Great work as always @n00b100! While the Tube "on a freeway in Los Angeles" line was particularly fitting, especially for me having driven down I-5 and 405 all day from San Francisco, I thought that "The Line" and "It's Ice" we're purposeful references to the Lakers and the Kings respectively.

On a personal note, I met for the first time and spent the show with @FunkyCFunkyDo (aka the other Pete on .net -- or maybe I'm the other Pete?). His first show (my fourth) was the last show at The Forum, on Valentine's Day 2003. We share a love of that 2/14/03 Gin and were talking about it before the show. Midway through the first set, after the Sparkle, Sample combination, it occurred to me that we'd get a first set Gin -- I tapped him on the shoulder and told him as much, and in the end we were pleased to have seen both Forum Gins! I agree with pretty much everything in your review, and also picked up Trey's signal to end the Tube Funk, but the one thing I'd emphasize is that the It's Ice shouldn't be overlooked. Awesome work by Page on the clav, and the jam was the most percussive Ice I've ever heard. Enjoy the Chula Vista show, and may you get to see the other Chula Boogie!
, comment by fracai
fracai Awesome review! Thanks for the nod.
, comment by theothr1
theothr1 You call that a THOROUGH review?...are you kidding me?...leave it to a fuckin' noob...i can't believe i spent the time it took to read it and, after all is said and done, i come away not knowing your take on the indoor-show-experience!?!?!?...hahaha!!!....all kidding aside, as usual, wonderful to read, my friend...also, please allow me to say that, for a "noob" (quotes because, due to it's context being generally negative, i'm not at all a fan of that word), you get IT 100% which is promising to see...oh, yeah; thank you for it being an actual review...uuuuuum, even though you never actually did wrap up that one, yet extremely pertinent-to-the-outcome-of-the-review, loose end ; )
, comment by The_Silent_Tree
The_Silent_Tree Noob'd
, comment by enigs
enigs great show, great energy, great lights. great time.
, comment by thebuzzman
thebuzzman Being at The Forum last night, after couching the SB shows, two things struck me immediately. From Trey's very first strum to open the show the sound was incredible. I don't know if the recent remodeling had something to do with it but the mix was perfect from the get go. Easily the best I've ever heard the band sound, yes Hollywood Bowl shows included. The second thing was the overall energy. Contrasted to the jahness two nights before in SB, at the Forum (again from the first note) Phish was very much a large arena veteran kick-ass rock n' roll band firing on all cylinders.
, comment by Jestinphish
Jestinphish This is the kind of review that makes me go home after work and immediately download the show and listen to it... I can hear it already. Also, I love the part about "Divided"... You get it, and we all should remember to get it more often. When they are on point during a Divided (or Fluffs or Esther or Weigh or etc., but especially Divided) it's just about the Phishiest Phish song in the Phishiverse. You just have to close your eyes and count your lucky stars (or ceiling stars) that you get to be there. Great write up. Can't wait to listen to it!
, comment by FunkyCFunkyDo
FunkyCFunkyDo Nice work @n00b100! As far as first sets go, I was floored with this first set. Fluid and passionate are the defining words I would chose to describe it. 46 Days/Tube opener set an emphatic tone for the evening: dance. 46 Days raged. It really did. Within Tube's two minutes of improv, I probably tallied 10 minutes worth of hard cardio. Train Song was a serene and welcomed transition song - executed beautifully - and set up a that first set Ghost. When Ghost hit, I freaked out. I was thinking, rather EXCLAIMING, that this would be the return of Set 1 Type 2. Apparently I am not Nostradamus, but damn it I tried. This Ghost is nothing special. A perfunctory funk/rock blend that was entertaining, but never gained traction to take it to the next level. Nonetheless, a first set Ghost is always welcomed. Sparkle/Sample brought serious "launchpad" energy - the crowd was dancing hard, ready to explode with anticipation and dance for what lay ahead. Divided Sky. Boom! Pow! Trey navigated this version brilliantly. It was so refreshing to hear the band's tightness, so refreshing to groove to. The jam was short, but above-standard and extremely satisfactory (if those two words are able to be combined together). The Line. I believe I made the loudest, most disappointed sigh of all time when I heard the opening bouncey rhythm of this song. The Phish said, "You shut your mouth when you're talkin to me!" I gotta hand it to The Line, this version was good. This version, if you're a purest, should NOT be skipped when listening start-to-finish. I can't believe I wrote that... wait, yes I can, because I got down to The Line. After feeling quite impressed with what The Line offered, I was anxious to keep bringing the dance. I had emphatically declared earlier in the evening in the lot that we were due for a funked-out Ice (I had been listening to 6.18.94 Ice in the drive to the Forum). Well shit, Phish. Maybe I am Nostradamus after all (I was wearing my Dodgers/Divided Sky shirt too, fwiw - pics to follow). Phish brought the phunk during the breakdown.. Yowza. GET IT PAGE! Perspiration and palpitations a-plenty, I was so stoked with the first set at this point. When KDF hit, I thought, "Man, what a raging and appropriate closer/bookend to the set to compliment the 46 Days opener and the set in general." Trey blasted through this song, leaving smoldering remnants of fans in his wake. But wait, apparently Trey has a heart, because he decided to BRING THE HOSE to wash us all down for a set-closing, arena-rocking, heart-attacking, tease-dropping, dance marathoning Gin. Wow. I changed my underroos at setbreak.

555 opens set 2 and riding my Nostradamus wave of glory, I firmly proclaimed to @ucpete that THIS would be the version that gets taken for a ride. Nope. A quality set 2 opener in my opinion, this version doesn't stray far from the norm, but sets the table nicely for a nasty jam vehicle. Whoops. Number Line. Not exactly the jam vehicle I had in mind, but you know what, despite it's highly abrasive opening chords, this is a pretty dang good song. This version culminates to a blissful peak - just straight-up happy music. I was satisfied and ready to bring some more dance to the Forum. DWD starts to growl. It starts to grumble. Mike broods. Liftoff. As of today (10.27.14) this is hands down the jam of the tour and a likely top-7 or 8 jam of 2014. It follows a Who-esq rock jam into some dark, gritty space: dissonant and weird but extremely engaging. Then just when you thought it would dissolve into Sand or 2001, Trey and Page pick it back up and the dance party explodes. If you like Reading 2013's DWD, this one will knock your socks off. I mean it really rages. You will get goosebumps. You will smile. You will start to dance. You will listen to it again and again. It is that good. A slinky -> to Fuego ignites the crowd. Fuego gets into a short, mellow groove before evaporating into some scary, eerie space. Good stuff right there. Twist follows and is a standard version. Some latin/jazz fusion. You've heard it before. Bouncing is a perfect interlude to a gritty, sultry Bowie. Bowie grinds. Bowie grits its teeth. Bowie menaces the unsuspecting LA crowd. What a cool juxtaposition this was to the upbeat-nature of the show. Such is the case with Phish: they know exactly how to take you on an emotional, spiritual, and psychological roller coaster during a show. They did so tonight. Rocky Top was bonus Phish.

Hood. Truly inspirational playing. It won't hit you like the Hoods of the mid-90s, but this jam will absolutely take you into a dream-like state before Trey reels in the band for an emphatic and passionate climax. Grind. These guys... theeessseeee guys! After all that, let's sing some barbershop. They are just too cool.

Special big hugs to @ucpete. You were so much fun to talk to and see a show with. If our sweat is any evidence of the quality of the show, safe to say this was a damn good show. So stoked to have raged with you! Catch you in Vegas my man.

My photos :)
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