PZ: The only “never miss a” Sunday show of Phish’s fall tour fell on its last day. Given the gradually ascending upward trajectory of this tour, the final day of the Halloween stint was sure to provide plenty of tricks and treats. The frantic energy of the Halloween holiday weekend was tempered slightly on Sunday; in stark contrast to the first two nights, ticket availability went from major pain in the ass to tickets on the ground faster than you can say “need to catch a flight home for work/kids/life.”
A classic old-school opening combo “Runaway Jim” and “Foam” kicked off the gig, starting the set with an early 90’s vibe; a common show opening couplet from ‘92-94. The first “Mexican Cousin” since 6/19/12 (Portsmouth VA, 110 show gap) followed, offering swaying homage to the most ubiquitous of Vegas imbibing traditions, and their aftermath. Our trip may indeed be short, but Phish’s history is long: Round Room’s “Mexican Cousin” debuted after the first hiatus, but it wasn’t an exaggeration when Trey noted it as ”an old one, but a good one.” “Ocelot” continues to solidify its role as an anchor type-I first set jam vehicle, then Trey negotiated the pitfalls of Mike’s “Sugar Shack” in more than respectable fashion.
Photo by @hersch
2014 witnessed Undermind’s “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” enter consistent, regular rotation for the first time; more than a third of all performances of “ASIHTOS” have taken place in 2014, to the general delight of fans. (Listen for subtle Star Wars theme teasing in this “ASIHTOS”). Page’s lovely “Halfway to the Moon” develops a pleasant short jam before giving way to “Bathtub Gin.” This 14+ minute “Gin” is great with a patient deep pocket developed by Page, Mike and Fish. A textbook example of “average great,” the wide open door to true “Gin” greatness was left wanting as Trey was seemingly content to lay back in the pocket instead of using it as a launching point for a dramatic peak.
Photo by @tweeprise
When the band launched into “Free,” one might have been forgiven for thinking that the band was just running out the clock on the set, but they clearly had better ideas. “Free” is a fine tune brimming with fun and positive energy on an average day. But when “Free” morphed into a hybrid with “Martian Monster” quotes, the crowd was going wild! Your spaceship is about to take off! Because of the incredible speed of your rocket, your trip is short. Based on the literally ecstatic crowd reception, you have to think that elements of Friday’s Haunted House set will find a welcome home in the repertoire. What a release! “Walls of the Cave” closes out a solid first set.
LMo: sunday night was a perfect finale for this short trip some of us embarked upon this fall tour. as the saying goes... never miss a sunday night show. this is vegas and all bets are off. we can all enjoy ourselves and our final night together for what seems like will be a very long time. i can't possibly dissect the best among so many incredible moments. i recall that i danced the night away with a real sense of connection with the music. everything felt just right.
Photo by Rene Huemer © Phish From the Road
the first set again had the intensity and drive of a second set, when the band seems absolutely calibrated for musical excellence and communication. my personal first set highlights include ocelot which was so danceable and most fun, all hippity hoppity like. i noted in song i heard the ocean sing that page takes lead near the conclusion of the song and took things away with spectacular keys and a sweet transition into halfway to the moon. this part of set one was all about page. i was mesmerized with the piano section.
the gin - free - walls of the cave rocked my world and i was out of space and time, carried through time with the phish. this is a recording i cant wait to hear again and again.
Photo by @alliedise
PZ: The fact that patient, exploratory type-II versions of “Chalk Dust Torture” seem to routinely roll the stage with assembly line regularity in 2014 – The Mann, Randall’s, Portsmouth, Dick’s – is yet another indicator of how spoiled we really are these days. One so-called “knock” on recent set-opening anchors is that while they set sail for a long journey, that they are often without a decided peak; they maintain a consistent high level of floating grooves but never hit the release. This version fits that mold, effortlessly meandering through several distinctive thematic sections without a decided crest; personally I’m thrilled riding that wave all day long, save the release for later! After coming to a natural gliding conclusion, “Piper” assumes control and offers a spectacular counterpoint to the “CDT” jamming with Trey taking a more decisive if rhythmic and balanced lead. Standing alongside SPAC and Portsmouth as the crown jewels of the 2014 “Pipers” this version capped a brilliant half hour of improv, delivering a clutch third quarter.
The middle section of the set was excellent if routine (“average great”) with more or less stock versions of “Theme From the Bottom,” “Wombat” and “David Bowie.” The only real misstep of the whole show was the inexplicably bad call of “The Line,” but even that would be forgiven quickly given the extraordinary strength of the concluding “You Enjoy Myself.” For anyone with any lingering questions regarding the band’s ability to dip into the silly end of the pool, look no further than this “YEM.” This version had it all – tight composed sections, a legit jam section, and although Trey passed on his solo in favor in favor of feeling the moment through dance, there was more weirdness to come as Trey picked up his megaphone and began using the siren on it as he ran around the stage. Mike joined him, and Trey held the megaphone up to Mike's bass. Mike then began playing his fight bell with drum sticks while Trey went to the drums and played along with Fishman. Finally, Mike and Page joined in, so that all four were playing on Fish's kit, before returning to the traditional vocal jam ending. After Page thanked the audience and crew, Mike teased "The Load-Out." The first ever “Moma Dance” encore proved that Trey still knows how to troll a JadedVet™, then the curtain fell on this outstanding tour in brilliant fashion with “Slave to the Traffic Light.” See you in Miami!
Photo by Rene Huemer © Phish From the Road
LMo: set two was also spectacular. my personal highlights include a very very tight perfect wombat with good fits and starts and breaks. the timing felt tight as a drum. the wombat is a rocker. the yem is my favorite live experience with yem and that is saying a lot because i always love this song. this version felt a little different somehow. it was deep and funky and again, the timing of transitions was spot on. the light effects are always a pleasure to visually melt into as i enjoy the different phases of the composition.
did the music in this fall tour start off a little disjointed? i don’t know. whatever happened, the phish had it all happening and on point in vegas. "all is well that ends well... and so it goes.”
Photo by LMo
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