Back in 2016 I was hanging out in the park next to Ascend Amphitheater during the day before the Phish show. It seemed like the only place in Nashville where you could charge your phone and buy weed from a homeless person. I met someone named Fish Taco (F-I-S-H T-A-C-O tattooed on his knuckles) who promised to find us some grass. As we waited long hours with him for his dusty connection to arrive, I became skeptical of anything he had to say. He bragged that beautiful women buy him fifths of whiskey and cuddle in hammocks with him, and I struggled to mask my disbelief.
“Man, you should have been here at 7 this morning,” Fish Taco announced. “This big tour bus drove through the park, pulled up right over there. And Bob Weir poked his head out the window and said, ‘Hey, kid!’”
The weed, the whiskey, the women had all seemed fabricated. But deep down I knew that if anybody was going to call Fish Taco a “kid,” it would be Bob Weir. And as we all know, Fish Taco rewarded my faith in him with a surprise appearance from Bobby that night!
Now, for 2018. If “Soul Planet” is a sweet and pure little sugar cube, last night’s “Soul Planet” had 10ug dropped on it. The heady version alluded to a future evil which the band has been developing at every tour stop. Hints of Halloween, perhaps? The whole opener chunk of “Soul Planet”->”2001”->”555” had all the nerds flopping forward and humping around on bended knees, doing their funkiest chickens.
Don’t even pretend to think about whispering something disparaging about “Farmhouse” in my presence, as I hold a ferocious affection for it. The band always gives it the old college try and it tackles me every time. Friends may have spotted me on the free webcast flapping around during “Farmhouse” like the cluster fly to a flame.
“Halfway to the Moon” was next in honor of the psychedelic moon. “Waste” encouraged folks to come ‘waste’ their Halloween in Vegas. “My Friend, My Friend” followed but this year Bobby didn’t materialize during it. “Maze” brought the energy all the way up and had a nice peak. “Bathtub Gin” was particularly nasty. It had four distinct parts: Exploration, Progression, Menacing, and Buttery. I’ll have to consult my biographer but I’m pretty sure that was the best “Gin” I’ve ever seen.
“Down With Disease” was essentially a tutorial on How to Summon Satan Himself to this Earthly Plane. What started out as exciting and invigorating, curious and inviting, carefully revealed a seething chasm from which light cannot escape. Anyone wearing a Make Phish Evil Again hat can go ahead and eat it because MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
At nearly the same moment that the band began scaring me, a small, sweaty person who was spinning on an untethered trajectory kept bumping into me. With each undesired slap of physical contact, I felt a wetness, which I initially assumed to be sweat, but I had to wonder: did my hand just enter this person’s mouth? Did I graze an eyeball? Was there pus? “Run Through the Jungle,” teased Trey (in “Scents and Subtle Sounds”), a song about escaping from the Devil, already knowing full well that we’ve lost it, we’ll never get out of this Hell maze. “Scents and Subtle Sounds” also quoted “Crosseyed” and “Party Time” in rapid succession before becoming a small funkfest of spooky proportions.
“No Men In No Man’s Land” was dedicated to all the vendors who couldn’t catch a dang break with the Nashville PD to vend their art in a central location near the venue. Watching them pack up for what was purportedly the third time made me want to cry but they were still dancing and blasting Michael Jackson and for that I salute them. Be sure to support a heady enterprise on “Lot Business Saturday.”
I spent “Crosseyed”->”Scents And Subtle Sounds”->”No Men’s” second row in the pit on hard Mike’s side, the sweet area between Mike’s zone and the part of his rig that is so deafening that you cannot bear to be near it. I found myself next to a tall bearded guy whose strategy was to scream, “MIKE!” at Mike until Mike would look over as a reflex response to his name, only to find that a tall bearded guy was screaming at him.
The whole rail in front of me consisted of middle-aged dudes caught in a loop of trying to film and livestream the set instead of just enjoying the concert from an amazing proximity to the band. When the boys dropped into “Boogie On” I finally turned to one of them and yelled, “You don’t have to film! They’re doing a free webcast tonight!” And you know what? He put his phone away and started doing the ol’-bro-in-a-fleece-vest-and-expensive-watch shimmy.
We’ve gotten “Harry Hood” in every city and it always satisfies the phans that want to yell random requests at the band because they’re worried they aren’t going to get their money’s worth with the song selection. By “Antelope,” we were done pretending to be fancy railriders and headed to the walkway in front of the lawn to be with our spinner pham. My husband and I are often complimented on our groovy Phish-er-cising (and occasionally a bloated drunk chomper will call out, “Your dancing sucks!”) so a nice aisle with lots of room in the company of people who want to burn off calories or their drug combination with an astounding view of CK5’s bounty works well for me!
There was a small field recorder on the stage, and listening back to the webcast I can hear myself howling like an injured dog after every song. And, as with all Phish concerts, the band helped me over the rainbow bridge.
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