Wednesday 07/25/2018 by FunkyCFunkyDo


That’s not fog rolling through the San Francisco Bay, casual observer, that’s the aftermath of the inferno that swept through Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Tuesday night. An easy mistake to make, as, perhaps, only 8,000 of us or so can tell the difference, for those of us in attendance last night might still be considered fire hazards, especially those four onstage. Don’t let the fire marshal get you.

Phish walks on stage, Trey, particularly, is all smiles. For those of us that have been around live Phish for a minute or two, Trey wears his emotions proudly and with intent when he takes the stage. His ear-to-ear smile is indicative of the set to follow, and he wastes, literally, no time as he picks up his guitar and starts riffing “46 Days” before his three bandmates settle into their battle stations. Bombs Away Trey! Fiery guitar outbursts of the Round Room tinderbox quickly relent into warped murk. Heavy, thick guitar tones slush through the jam and until the guitarist resets his tones into a final "46 Days" proper explosion. The song ends and Trey and Fish exchange laughs and smiles during a brief respite before “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters.” Something must have clicked right there, as before “McGrupp” starts, Fish exclaims through his microphone, “Can we play that one again?!” Well, why not three times? I’ll try anything twice, especially that opener. Math was never my strong suit.

Photo by Pete Hoherd, used with permission
Photo by Pete Hoherd, used with permission

A jazzy “McGrupp” hits all the right notes and leads into Page nailing his solo, much to the ferocious appreciation of the crowd, whose “Hotness Level” is quickly rising from 2: Wrong Shower Nozzle to 4: Sexy Lava. “Pigtail” skips into the three slot and provides a fun bit of pop-y, happy vibes. After a brief conversation, Trey lurches into “Cities” and the BGCA crowd unleashes their first volley of highly controversial dance moves. As Trey guides his band into some swampy, underwater funk, the crowd responds in kind with variations of the famous dance suite Naughty Shower Lufa and also, purportedly, the lesser known Drop the Soap. Perhaps, the dance suites are too controversial as seen from stage, as Trey quickly reels in the funk after Mike, it seems, was ready to scrub a little harder. Don’t fret, loyal reader, as we revisit this theme later in the show. “Nellie Kane” gives a 2-minute hoedown, acting more as bridge than between two swampfunk classics: the aforementioned "Cities" and the forthcoming “Gumbo.”

"Gumbo" turns the “Hotness Level” up to 5: Lacey Curtain Surprise. No jam tacked onto this one, but Page’s super squishy (not to be confused with the Kwik-E-Mart’s Super Squishee) clavinet solo adds some extra Cajun flair to the dance party classic. A well-orchestrated “Guyute” races next into the set and it appears Trey has regained his chops that some fans were sure he had thrown into the Columbia River Gorge in a fit of obstinacy. Luckily, Trey still seems to know how to play a guitar, and tap into long-term memory (must be that cold green tea), as this version was as tight as you’ll get for “modern era” versions. The psychedelic, jagged ending of “Guyute” sets the fuse for a 1-2 combo that continues a surge of power chording and high-intensity playing. “Axilla” rocks the arena and “The Dogs’” placement and play is essentially an extension of "Axilla" ("Axilla Part 3"…? Like I said, math was never my strong suit). This power combo torches the arena and clothing is being removed faster than Superman on laundry day. “Dirt” nestles perfectly into the end frame of the set and gives us some quiet, contemplative playing, despite a few minor misses from Trey early on. Nonetheless, a tranquil solo eases mind and body (wait, where are my pants?) before Trey whispers sweet nothings to Fish to tell him to start “David Bowie.” A well-executed composed section, for the most part, grudges its way into a jam filled with musical tug-of-war. I use that term with endearment, as sonic dissonance is what "Bowie" should be. This one, had that… kind of. Page pulls with his Grand Piano. Fish pushes with his drums. Mike surges with his bass and Trey winds up with his guitar ready to deliver strikes 1, 2, and 3. Just when it seems the frenzy is going to explode, Trey streaks out in front with a full complement of bandmates at his back. Energy is swelling! But, ah! Doh! All too soon Trey starts the apex trilling and jumps into the peak of the jam. This felt forced and unnatural, given the direction and frenzy the jam had started to create, but alas, our fearless bandleader relented into one (yeah, one) peak and closed out the set with a lower case exclamation point, if that is a thing. No matter, as the building was already ablaze, and, per Newtonian physics, you can’t backtrack on Hotness Levels.

It was rumored that before the second set, the event staff was handing out Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons to the local pants store. It was confirmed that 98% of these coupons ended in the trash. The other 2% were hoarded by Mike. This is relevant because pants have no place in the second set. Not any one, and especially not this one. The local nudist colony is taking furious notes. “Moma Dance” sashays into the set 2 opener spot and delivers a quick hit of elevated, electrified funk. At this point, your author had exactly two thoughts: 1) They’re going to use this as a primer for a huge follow up, or 2) This is going deep. Having properly hedged my bets and ensured a correct prognostication, I feel confident in the direction the band can take and puff my chest out as “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” rumbles next. The band surges like a breaking wave out of the song proper! An understated solo from Trey leads to a soaring, misty jam, where Page and Fish parallel each other, pushing the pace back and forth. The jam is really rumbling now, like the ocean against a cliffside, again and again Phish crashes and churns, unrelenting. A “Manteca”-esque jam swirls out of the tumult as Mike takes over into a breezy, calypso escapade. All sorts of ideas are being exchanged and new Mai Tai recipes are being invented on the spot. A jam so cool that ice starts to sweat. A jam so hip that it takes two belts to hold it up… not that I have two belts, as my pants are long gone at this point, but that’s not exactly news, is it, avid reader? Notes scatter like a Jackson Pollack painting before “Mercury” comes into orbit.

Photo by Pete Hoherd, used with permission
Photo by Pete Hoherd, used with permission

Well-played and tightly performed, "Mercury" takes no time to strut into a shuffling, off-beat jam and quickly returns to the underwater robo-funk that "Cities" had teased earlier. Submersed melodies and double-wide bubbles float suspended in the thick, dark, funk. Rough seas ahead. The sun submits and tells this moon, “Your problem now.” Darkness sets in… but what’s this? Peaceful hues start to radiate on the musical horizon. Placcid. Soothing. Is this a dreamscape or a nightmare? I wonder if my pillow knows the answer to that. "Mercury" completes its hellish and heavenly orbit, showing a great dichotomy of jamming styles and technique. As it disappears back into space, “Carini” explodes out of the darkness. The few remaining clothed people stood no chance against this jam. Rightfully so. Phish immediately strolls into some "Moma Dance" funk, complete with Mike toying around with its signature bassline and providing sonic bombardment that rattled ribcages and realigned retinas. Mike leads a jam dirtier than a cowboy’s underpants. A jam so dirty that my left shoe looked up at me and said, “You should probably step into whatever that stuff is over there.” Wait, what? Was it referring to the puddle of notes Mike was dripping or the puddle of liquid from an unidentifiable source? And why I am having a conversation with my shoe? Ah, the realities of a Phish show. The jam slows down into an opaque haze before Trey swiftly takes over and climbs the scales in a delightful, soaring riff. Exploding with sunflowers and rainbows and the look your dog gives you when you get home from work, the "Carini" jam is overflowing with happiness and joy. The crowd elevates to Hotness Level 8: Medium Brown and was awash in a sea of smiles and hugs. This is what Phish is all about. Without a moment to reflect on the accomplishment of which we were just a part, “Maze” swirls into the set next with a demented and evil tone. Ferocious, furious organ work from Page strikes like lightning through the arena. Hair stands at attention and goosebumps call in reserves as Trey takes over and charges ahead, guitar first, into the raging solo. Volcanoes look on in awe, some even flat out go dormant, as Phish erupts into the peak knowing they just… they just can’t compete with what’s happening in the set so far.

Good thing we’re naked, because “Boogie On Reggae Woman” shimmies its way late into set 2. A standard-great version, with Mike again, unsurprisingly, exuding sex appeal in this short, bubbly classic. Before the blush could exit my cheeks (winks at Mike) Fish starts “Harry Hood” and Phish follows. A calming, peaceful buildup is an exercise in meditation and patience. No one is hurrying, we can dance all night. Tempo changes with telepathic execution built in intensity and beauty. Like a sunrise, more and more color reveals itself as the jam evolves. Brilliant daylight starts to streak out of Trey’s guitar and rays of sunshine radiate from Page’s piano. Fish anchors bright, splashy cymbal work tethered to a firm, authoritative bassline. In lockstep, the band teases around the peak – a false summit! Just as you thought Hood’s *ultimate thing* was about to happen, just when we were about to feel good, Trey downshifts and soothes out the chaos. Recoiling now, there is time for one last charge. One more surge. One more collective explosion of bliss as the band returns to let us know, in pure celebration, that we can feel good about "Hood." Dehydration be damned, there is still some more Phish left. Phish, respectfully, must have sensed this sentiment, as they encored with a heart-achingly pretty version of “Squirming Coil.”

Tonight, just about every song was amplified by its predecessor and successor. The energy grew and surged and permeated every inch of every body in attendance, band and fan alike. Tonight was one of those shows that you high-five your friends, hug your besties, and regale with strangers on just how lucky we are. Tonight was a night where if Phish are horses, the show is a stampede.

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, comment by JuniorGong
JuniorGong Show looks a lot better on paper than what transformed live IMO. Carini was the highlight, felt there was a lot of low energy for many of the others.
, comment by Tiddlywinks
Tiddlywinks Phuck yeah Phish! Great review nailed it. Energy was great, jams were chunky and funky, and if I didn't love every song choice I sure loved the band's jamming all night long.

Thank you Trey...may we have another....tonight!
, comment by yEEt_1331
yEEt_1331 @JuniorGong said:
Show looks a lot better on paper than what transformed live IMO. Carini was the highlight, felt there was a lot of low energy for many of the others.
That’s how they’re evolving, using lighter peaks for creativity, and keeping it there for multiple songs, until some parts, like Carini or Hood, finally explode in the “giant” peak.
, comment by ucpete
ucpete @JuniorGong said:
Show looks a lot better on paper than what transformed live IMO. Carini was the highlight, felt there was a lot of low energy for many of the others.
I couldn't disagree more. To me, it looks far less impressive on paper than it actually played out.

While there were quieter, more pensive moments in some of the jams, there was never a lack of energy or focus. The show was glorious from start to finish. Everything was well-played, and the trio of jams (ASIHTOS, Mercury > Carini) in the second set explored new terrain and were downright euphoric by the time "Carini" lifted off.

To me, last night was the best show of tour to date, the lack of 20 minute jams be damned. Excellent song selection, impeccable flow, solid execution, deep exploration, and music that makes you dance your ass off – what more do you want?

Indoor Phish FTMFW!
, comment by phootyjon
phootyjon Very solid review for a VERY STRONG show at BGCA. I was in attendance as well and I can relate to my shirt, pants, socks and shoes being blown off by the funk. Heady, heady show imo. I'm down for N2. Let's get it going!
, comment by dkstar1
dkstar1 In the Phish Setlist notes below...I think Trey said "Home of Xenon" not Zenon. Xenon is an A/V company in SF.
, comment by ucpete
ucpete @Tiddlywinks said:
Phuck yeah Phish! Great review nailed it. Energy was great, jams were chunky and funky, and if I didn't love every song choice I sure loved the band's jamming all night long.

Thank you Trey...may we have another....tonight!
While I did post the recap (and screw up by deleting the byline before posting), @FunkyCFunkyDo is the mastermind behind this one!
, comment by prab_mode
prab_mode someone mentioned low was anything but imo. huge song selection, jams out of the gate. they seem to play better and better each time they play BGCA. feeling great about last night. one of the best i've seen recently. can't wait to walk in tonight. see ya soon.
, comment by TNzak
TNzak This was a terrific review and hilarious read. See yall tonight!
, comment by vinsanity46
vinsanity46 Stellar review. Flowing like the band itself -- more from FunkyC please!
, comment by HRFluffnStuff
HRFluffnStuff I thought last night's show was great, but I felt like Mercury was not up to snuff to other versions in its short yet storied history. Also, nothing in this show holds a candle to that Fluffhead>SOAM from Sunday night at the Gorge. I do agree though, overall best show of this tour.
, comment by User_43385_
User_43385_ Hey now! This one was worth the read! Thank you!
, comment by labuz
labuz That was the MOST entertaining review I've every read. Thank you!
, comment by hieronymous
hieronymous I have to go along with the "low energy" comments. it seemed like they just gave up on some songs (like Boogie On Reggae Woman) instead of pushing to take it somewhere like they did at the BGCA show I saw a couple of years ago. I attributed it to low energy but maybe it's part of a new approach? I'm just listening again so I'll withhold judgment for now, I still enjoyed the show a lot - David Bowie was the highlight for me! BGCA needs to work on ventilation though - the balcony was like a swamp! Or was that because of the funk?...
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 Great review @FunkyCFunkyDo! I agree that we need a lower case exclamation point.
, comment by JakeB
JakeB Great review, but do you really have to infect Phish with your opinions on PANTS?! Some of us listen to Phish as a way to escape pants!!

J/k, awesome review of a killer show!
, comment by MindMuse
MindMuse I really love what the boys are doing. Instead of simply using the predictable (although incredibly awesome) major bliss peaks that melt our faces, they are playing around with all kinds of themes and sounds, creating new and unique landscapes to lose ourselves within. ASIHTOS > Mercury > Carini was 45 minutes of high quality Phish. Great review! Can't wait to see where this tour heads!
, comment by Longhaireddan
Longhaireddan Fun review
, comment by CForbin
CForbin Burnt that MFer to the damn GROUND
, comment by kidrob
kidrob “New mai tai recipes are being invented on the spot.” Brilliant! Great review, can’t wait to listen to this show.
, comment by nicuenjoymyself
nicuenjoymyself awesome review
, comment by OrangeSox
OrangeSox Super fun review as always @FunkyCFunkyDo!

"Tonight was one of those shows that you high-five your friends, hug your besties, and regale with strangers on just how lucky we are."
, comment by Foreverjams
Foreverjams great review and a magical night
, comment by Matty1222
Matty1222 Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?

Solid review! Hope to read more from of you, @FunkycFunkyDo !
, comment by Phreakmama
Phreakmama Hilarious and great writing. I feel like they always love to play the dark metal vibe at BGCA atleast one night, and Tuesday was it. Second set was the crush though, and definitely Carini for the win. It’s great to see them taking different songs for a ride into funkland and using new platforms for the launch. Let’s hear it for artists who refuse to be predictable. ❤️
, comment by pureguava
pureguava probably my fave review evaahhhhh!
, comment by Tchfunkta
Tchfunkta @JuniorGong said:
Show looks a lot better on paper than what transformed live IMO. Carini was the highlight, felt there was a lot of low energy for many of the others.
I totally agree. After 46 Days, Trey was nowhere to be found until the last 2 minutes of Bowie. Sure, he pensively and carefully executed Guyute. But until Carini, he forgot that he had a guitar in his hands, and/or was too wrapped up in his pedals to play it. Very lukewarm show overall, largely due to Trey being low in the mix or just plain sitting back and not playing. Night 2's execution made up for it, setlist be damned!
, comment by 46Blaze
46Blaze Black-Eyed Katy was reborn during this Carini.
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten Nice work.
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