Wednesday 07/18/2018 by swittersdc


There’s something about West Coast Phish shows. It’s a more relaxed vibe, the people are more laid back, and there’s a more celebratory air. If you’re waiting for Phish to come on stage at Madison Square Garden, you might feel a little anxious and a little overwhelmed. Not so for Tahoe. Under a beautiful blue sky and surrounded by pine trees and adoring fans, Phish kicked off 2018 Summer Tour with a solid show—at times inconsistent, at times magnificent.

The band hasn’t played together in more than 6 months, but they didn’t take long to attempt to shake off the rust and find some grooves. Kicking off with “Free,” Trey went deep with the effects. According to Ryan from, the nastiness we heard in “Free” was an “envelope filter into the Leslie rotating speaker, plus some gain/mid-boost from a Tube Screamer or the Klon.” Ryan also mentioned that “Trey got back into the Leslie in a big way during TAB tour, especially while Ray was out.”

Which brings me back to the rust. In the past 6 months, Trey has played with 2 different TAB configurations, Mike has been out with MGB, Fishman has been playing with The Mallett Brothers, and Page is recording a new Vida Blue album. It would be pretty natural for there to be some rust. But for guys this experienced and talented, they try so many different things in short succession to try and find something that works for everyone, which makes it hard to notice when they are searching for a groove.

For example, in the 3 slot we get a “Moma Dance” that always allows the band to get comfortable early on in a set. Like the Baker’s Dozen version, this was a 14-minute jam. Page drove this one, alternating between a few different keyboards. Fishman holds down the beat, and Page and Trey complement each other for about 9 minutes. Trey subtly led Page back to the main theme with some soloing over the piano. There were several themes in that jam, and it honestly could have gone on for 10 more minutes.

Wasting no time, they go right into a 16-minute “Ghost.” How many times will you see 3 10-minute+ songs in the first 4 songs of a first set? Probably not many (could use some #geekery here). This “Ghost” was patient and lovely, the friendly cousin to some of our darker “Ghost” jams. At one point it got quiet and serene, with some light groundwork from Mike and Page, and that allowed Trey to just burst through the door with a wonderful bliss jam.

There were solid versions of “Funky Bitch” and “Stash,” and a set-closing “Character Zero” allowed me to do my best karate chopping of the night.

(At setbreak, because it was just getting dark, they were trying to configure a new and improved light rig. That’s my pic you can see above. It appears as if people are getting beamed up into space. It happens. The new rig seems to be more mobile. There’s more movement, possibly another row of lights, and more dynamic shifts of the lights themselves during jams. It’s cool.)

Set 2 kicked off with a “No Men,” which I felt was a 17-minute jam that rarely arrived at any particular destination. Trey was having a great time with the effects, and his reworked rig provides some more aggressive, dirty sounding effects. There was good cycling through some thematic jamming, and landed on another bliss jam. This seems to be where the jamming is most comfortable these days. It’s a good place to be.

You knew “Soul Planet” was coming!! It was just a matter of time. This landed mid-second set, and it seemed like the band was having fun with the lyrics. The jam got serious, with Trey getting into the mutron envelope filter, which he’s been using since around Fare Thee Well. This was the most “dark” and exploratory jam of the night, with Mike driving most of the jam. This was probably the best groove they hit, which bodes well. We know that new material is refreshing and always pushes things a little differently. Seems like “Soul Planet” may be that song of 2018.

The set-closing “Harry Hood” was a delight. It seemed like a thoughtful, measured version. Some might find it too slow, but it felt delicate and perfect, like the atmosphere and ambience of this wonderful area. “Hood” is one of my favorite songs, but in recent years it often seems rushed or an afterthought. I don’t typically see it as a good sign if they play it the first show of a tour or run. But this one was patient and blissful. Trey leads us to a wonderful, thrilling conclusion as usual.

In a night of searching, they often landed in these blissful moments. While they seemed to be searching for some of the jams, in this environment, surrounded by natural beauty, it’s hard not to feel blissed out.

See you tomorrow for Tahoe2.

RJ Bee is the co-founder of Helping Friendly Podcast and Osiris Media. Check out HF Pod for daily "Quick Hits," recaps of the shows the day after they happen.

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, comment by coachtech
coachtech Well said. Some of the jams were stellar, but many of them just kind of meandered or fell flat. The first set was a great old school warmup, and when Ghost is the lowlight of a set, well, that's pretty good. With that said, the fact that they were clearly 'trying' on the first night of tour and not just trying to hone their chops with Type I affairs is a very promising harbinger of what's to come.
, comment by SlavePhan
SlavePhan Was I delusional or did the band skip the little delayed, what I call 'blinking light' section at the beginning of Slave and jump quickly to the lyrics? If so, that is the first time I have ever heard that happen.
, comment by micheladameatstick
micheladameatstick Trey definitely jumped the gun a little for sure. I haven't heard the "blinking light" part skipped before either.
, comment by Matty1222
Matty1222 By jumping the gun, this is now the shortest Slave in the past 20+ years. 8 minutes and 48 seconds. Maybe intentionally saving some room for that 16+min Hood!
, comment by Foreverjams
Foreverjams Amazing show ! Great thread
, comment by Foreverjams
Foreverjams @SlavePhan said:
Was I delusional or did the band skip the little delayed, what I call 'blinking light' section at the beginning of Slave and jump quickly to the lyrics? If so, that is the first time I have ever heard that happen.
Yes, They totally skipped Slave intro
, comment by Scott
Scott A few observations:
*Non phishhead locals were impressed with the show and amused by the mini shakedown.
*I think they only fit part of the light rig into this stage but it is like last year's with the moving racks.
*Ghost was exploratory but I felt like it never achieved liftoff. The odd key-shifting ending was cool.
I don't know what Trey was trying to do with the 2nd No Man's jam -- it sounded like he was having issues with his rig TBH. Aborting into Carini was the right decision.
*Fishman messed up towards the very end of Moma and is mostly responsible for the skipped part of Slave (but if Trey hadn't tentatively started singing, I think the rest of the band was ready to ignore Fish's transition fill.)
*Soul Planet was probably jam of the night along with Moma and Hood, none of which was as compelling as the 20 Years Later soundcheck jam.
*I love that they were looking to launch type II even after some fits and starts. Set 2 has uneven flow and synchronicity., so probably a 3 star show despite a strong opening and some moments of joy.
, comment by unoclay
unoclay I dont like being a hater. Most of you know, I love phish like nothing else.

But I gotta say, Soul Planet is .....a "not-great song". The lyrics make me wince. Whatever happened to subtle messaging....not to mention.... they just inserted the bridge from Kill Devil Falls (didnt even finish writing the structure, it seems like?)

There was a decent jam out of it, but regardless, i dont think my opinion is likely to change on this one. I'd thought/hoped it was a 1-timer at NYE. Now im steeling myself for those nails on a chalkboard
GOODTIMESBADTIMES That Hood was very strong. Can't wait for Atlanta and Camden. Yay summer!
, comment by Ataraxilla
Ataraxilla Not to nitpick, but since you asked for geekery ... the BD Moma was 17 minutes, not 14.
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