[Thank you Brad Krompf (@bradkrompf) for recapping last night's show at the Mohegan Sun. Please note that the opinions expressed by a recapper for a show on this blog are not necessarily those of any volunteer who works on Phish.net. We are all fans with varying opinions, just like you. -Ed]
It was about 7:30pm and we found ourselves in a ridiculously long line of relaxed people, coming in from a long day at the pool, gambling, or a number of other similarly incredible ways to spend a random Wednesday. I’m not certain if Mohegan N1 had an overwhelming amount of flow, but the entire “weekend” (which is what it felt like) had enough overflow to make up for it. Perhaps that overflow would spill into the arena tonight. Proudly donning my Hartford Whalers t-shirt, I was more patient waddling through the security line than I would’ve guessed. We had good friends around us, and despite growing up in Connecticut for my entire childhood, last night was the first time in at least 15 years I had slept there.
We got past security around 8:10 and ran when we heard the opening notes of “Buried Alive.” Without question the Phish from Vermont came to party and so did the crowd.
Next up was a standard “Cavern” followed by a “Dogs Stole,” which hadn't appeared since 8/6/17, the final night of the Baker’s Dozen. It was evident Phish were intentional in setting a tone. They were patient, sitting right in the pocket, and the crowd was comfortable and enjoying the close-up view that a small venue provides. The always pleasant “Sugar Shack” followed, and while I know Trey has been hit and miss on this in the past, this version was within the range of error. That guitar lick had me floating.
And then the show opened up…
Most critics can generally agree that “Stash” is a great jam vehicle and we have seen some fun things already happen in 2019 (e.g., 6/11/19, first night of summer tour, and 6/18/19, Toronto), but this "Stash"... this "Stash!" … and it was so well placed! This thing started to take off at about the 7-minute mark, going sideways into an Eastern musical feel----like you’re at a snake-taming rave. The band took this song down with such a peaceful landing to the lyrics; hope you’ve already enjoyed this 12:30-minute jam. It’s a must listen. Trey brought it back with an eerily delightful tone. Spooky but with a hug.
A well-timed slow down into “Wingsuit” was next. This song doesn't typically get too big, but you need to keep in mind the size of the room (tiny; not Bill Graham Civic Auditorium tiny, but small enough that “Wingsuit” got larger than expected). Trey started crushing “Wingsuit” at about the 4:30 mark, leading up to soaring guitar riffs that played very well with this venue and this crowd. My notes from last night at this point were “Trey just blew the roof off this place. The party is on tonight.”
Disclosure: “Limb By Limb” is probably my favorite Phish song, and it had been a long while since I had seen it live. So with that, yes, I found the "Limb" last night to be a delightful experience. I’m not sure if it’s my bias or the version but I will listen to this 100 more times.
Next up was “Gumbo,” although at the time of writing my notes last night, someone came up to my wife to congratulate her on her phishchicks picture that showed up on Instragram from Mogehan N1. After that quick distraction----which made her night-----we were back to the "Gumbo," and a funky "Gumbo" it became. Page started getting crazy on the Clav, the crowd was loving it. Page’s solo on the grand at the 4:00 minute mark brought out some funky Joplin vibes. We all enjoyed hearing a little more Page tonight for sure.
After an above-average “Gumbo," they quickly moved into “Stray Dog." Not sure how it played in front of the band, but from our behind-the-stage seats this song caught fire.
“Steam” got dirty about halfway through and darkness took hold of the room. Again, spooky with a hug. Trey was in the pocket and he knew he had us! The transition back to the lyrics was seamless without losing an ounce of the funk. After a brief interlude of effects, we dove head first into “David Bowie." "Bowie" was a universal highlight of the night (according to the informal poll I took at breakfast). The groove they had in this song was pure fire. All four bandmates were getting after it hard. Make that five, as Kuroda did full magic on the crowd. That Bowie.
Between a lovely floor show the night before and a day spent at the pool with our best friends from all around the world, once we opened with “Party Time” for the second set, we knew we were playing with house money. Page really showed up in this version, and everyone was glad to see him! It was a raucous opener, signifying to us all that the band would not leave the reservation until they tried to burn the roof off.
“Chalkdust Torture” plays well in a small room (you see the pattern), and it played great last night. Don’t let the length of this version confuse you, a lot happened in a short amount of time. At the 6:00 mark, Trey moved the whole thing to the upside down. He instantly transitioned the crowd from happy-cheerful-singing to some sort of mystery-series in which we were the detectives (think Scooby-Doo, not Matlock). I found myself pretending to walk down into an eerie, abandoned, amusement park. A nice transition through what I can only describe as ‘spaceship funk’ moved us into “Ruby Waves."
“Ruby Waves”: THIS I was excited for, I had never seen it live. It brought us through quite an experience. Once again, the Vermonters showed patience, and then “Seven Below” popped up---an interesting call. First debuted at New Years 2002 MSG, the first show post the two-plus year hiatus, and last played on 12/31/18, and commonly considered a highlight of the night whenever it's played. Trey flubbed the opening somewhat last night, but they powered through. I think the song choice was an attempt to let Trey keep showing off that mid tone he uses between dark-and-creepy and pure bliss. This is my note from last night: “My favorite part of the song is that my friend Matt is next to me.”
“Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan” was next, and... Weird call. Phish got bluesy on the room quick-like. From there we fell into “Piper." A concise version (not short on groove) that got people dancing. We then took a seamless dip back into "Ruby Waves" before Page took us on a spaceship ride through “I Always Wanted it This Way.” I last saw this song on 12/29/17 and it stole the show for me. I admit I didn’t get it for the first few minutes when I first heard it, but then it quickly won me over.
The next transition brought a collective, “What is this?" from the crowd. Uh oh. “Drift While You’re Sleeping”? Some were uncertain about another Ghosts of the Forest song. Worry not, friends; this band we love knows what it's doing! The chorus took us to church…. If your church was filled with a large percentage of Jewish people on acid. Trey made it clear: “It is and it always will be love.” And the room enjoyed this sentiment.
A lot of recaps seem to---rightfully---gloss over the encore. But both nights at Mohegan had encores that felt like you were doubling down on a ten when the dealer’s got a four. House money. With that caveat aside, we'll skip over “Bouncing Around The Room." I don’t actually hate the song like many vets, but you’ve seen it before, and you get it. “Saw it Again” however is ALWAYS a weird pleasure. This one was particularly well placed, and if you can get your hands on a video, it’s worth a watch. The band was surely having as much fun as we were on this one. They slipped in a “Kung” overlay, and Trey delighted the crowd with a joke about the most random rule on the reservation: “Don’t sit down during set break… STAND UP!!” True story. Security wouldn’t let people on the floor sit down on the floor during set break, either night. (!) The casino stopped serving alcohol at 1 am, and yet this "no sitting rule" still won as the most unpopular venue rule. A brilliant “Slave to the Traffic Light” closed the show. This one is your standard excellent "Slave," but still worth a (re)listen.
As the house lights went on, 10,000 wooks stumbled once again out into the casino. It was time to keep playing with house money.
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