[Would like to thank user @KipMat Matt Schrag for recapping St. Louis for the blog. Be advised that the opinions offered in a "recap" of a show (or in any post) on Phish.net's blog are not necessarily shared by any of the other many volunteers who work on the site. We would appreciate it if you correct anyone out there ignorant enough to suggest that the "recap" of a show on this site is in any way, shape, or form an "official" view of the show by Phish.net. There is no such thing, and no such thing has ever existed at any time at all whatsoever. Thank you. -Ed.]
I had initially volunteered to write just one show recap for the Blog, but was asked by Phish.net to provide recaps for both nights of the tour-opening St. Louis run. Several well-meaning folks read my recap of last night’s show, and felt that it was lacking, or simply not what they were expecting.
This site is one of several sources on the internet for day-after recaps of Phish shows. These recaps are traditionally linear in form, in that they provide a rundown of the setlist, start to finish, with commentary on each song. I do not prefer this style for two reasons: fluff, and formula. A recap doesn’t have to include an opinion on every single song. Even though sentiments like “I love 'Roggae' it’s one of my 50 favorite Phish songs!” or “I wish I could hear 'Bouncing Around The Room' at every show!” are pleasing and help spread good vibes, they don’t pique my interest. And because recaps are essentially newspaper-style journalism, the writing tends to fall back on tired conventions to fill space. "Song A featured X, then segued into song B which featured Y," or "Phish often does ______ during a show, and tonight was no exception." I acknowledge that there’s an audience for this kind of journalism; I just find it bland.
So let’s talk about last night’s show! @EvenCarlSagan disagrees with me, but I thought the first set was weak sauce up through “We Have Come To Outlive Our Brains.” Everything up until that point struck me as safe, by-the-numbers Phish, while a noticeable portion of the audience was out on the concourse watching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on the mounted flat-screen tv’s. Nothing from the stage seemed “off," but the music just wasn’t happening for me. The ice was broken by Trey’s acknowledgement of blowing the repeat of the chorus of “WACTOOB” by hamming it up and asking the audience to sing along. The band’s performance seemed to refocus after the flub, and the rest of the set was a distinct improvement to my ears. Of course, the news that the St. Louis Blues had won the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history had spread during “Run Like An Antelope," and New Jersey Devils fan Chris Kuroda (pictured here in 1989) was gracious enough to shine bright blue and gold lights on the audience, using the Blues’ team colors to acknowledge the occasion.
There were more than a few fans at the show wearing blue t-shirts that read “Play Gloria” in support of the team, requesting that the band further acknowledge the championship by playing the team’s unofficial victory song, Laura Branagan’s “Gloria.” As I am old enough to remember when this Grammy Award-winning Italian Synth-pop song was a hit, I really didn’t think Phish would have the cojones to actually play it; I figured a tease of the tune would be enough.... which only goes to show that I’m a fool for underestimating the greatest band in the history of Earth. “Loving Cup” was also appropriate for celebrating the cup-winners, and few were displeased that they extended the jam to a respectable length for the erstwhile 2nd-song, 2nd-set placement of this popular encore cover tune.
By the time Trey brought the band back around to the closing chorus of “Loving Cup," Chaifetz Arena had lifted off the ground, and was flying and spinning with music and light and thousands of people having a great time, finally landing about 47 minutes later as the “Light” jam wound down. The venerable arena-rocking Phish classics “Suzy Greenberg” and “First Tube” allowed Chris Kuroda to dig deep into his bag of lighting tricks. A blow-up Stanley Cup was tossed onto the stage during the encore, and Trey hoisted it above his head, as he had just done with his Languedoc guitar, before tossing the inflatable replica back into the audience.
I’m not a St. Louis resident or native or a St. Louis Blues fan, so I admit that I don’t have much to say about the meaningfulness of seeing Phish play in one’s hometown while one’s home team is winning a championship. I hope that others who do have something to say will provide their take in the comments section below, or on the Forum. It is truly uncanny how the band has managed to continually place themselves in sports history (and earn a little mainstream media coverage from atypical outlets) by playing right-place, right-time shows like last night, or by performing at stadiums hosting teams that subsequently ended long championship droughts; I would expect other long-suffering sports franchises would take notice!
Anyway, I certainly enjoyed myself over the last two days, meeting show neighbors and hanging out with good friends, and am inspired to return to the city to experience the history and culture and taste more of what St. Louis has to offer. Thanks for reading, and safe travels for everyone going to rage the Phish this weekend at Bonnaroo!
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