It was a very humid day. The forecast called for mostly sunny skies with rain right around doors, so it was a bit of a gamble to figure out the calculus of when to leave for the lot. Luckily, hopping in rides with 1.0 friends made that easy.
We got to the lot around 4:20pm and jumped in line. At about 5:00pm there was incoming lightning, so the venue and band touring crew made the call to go ahead and pull us into the venue to shelter in place in an effort to weather the storm. We all posted up in the hallways to wait it out, and wouldn’t you know it, the lightning blew over without a drop of rain! So the show was not delayed, nor was it shortened to one set, which was the dreaded outcome had the lightning postponed doors.
The silver lining of the rain-not-rain was that the cloud cover made the preshow much easier than the previous day (before the first Charleston show this tour). While it was still hot and humid preshow as it had been yesterday---the 90% humidity was thick enough to taste---the sun was not baking until it set behind the northwestern tip of the stadium.
Credit One Stadium is primarily used as a tennis stadium. It was a fantastic space to see the band. It’s very similar in layout to Forest Hills Stadium in NYC, which has excellent sound throughout the venue. A great setting to see the band, and I hope that they play this Stadium again.
“Cool It Down” opener was, of course, great --- super fast-paced and the aforementioned climate gave that perfect Phish snark. it was followed by classic 1.0 Phish, "Foam." So for me this is where the highlight reel starts: I have been waiting for the bust-outs of all the Sci-Fi Soldier material but particularly “Knuckle Bone Broth Avenue,” which is clearly one of the best dance/jam vehicles from this past Halloween. Also I can’t help but feel like there’s a connection between KBBA and Grateful Dead’s "Shakedown Street."
After a wonderful rendition of “Dirt”, “555” came out next, which is one I love. Mike seemed really happy at both of these Charleston shows. My sussing of that comes from observing Trey stepping back and giving Mike the space to take the lead. The last couple minutes of “Backwards Down the Number Line” feature a triple upswing note riff that appeared throughout the whole show.
Skipping to the end of the set, the “Divided Sky” was beautiful. It was timed in perfect Phishy-ness to the sun setting behind the horizon, and sky and clouds picking up stunning pinks/yellows and oranges. Closing the first set with a Gamehendge tune: such perfection after the show of set closers last night.
Keeping with the Gamehendge theme, Trey opened Set Two with a rocking “Wilson.” The “Simple” that followed was spectacular, topping out at 23 minutes, highlights included a lot of Trey shredding in the first 15 minutes, and when his ring modulator kicks in, the “Simple” fully feels realized. And then it takes off, with full dying-robot reverberations, reminiscent of the 2021 Dick’s “Catapult.” Tonight, the band ended the “Simple” with a weird alternate ending, singing the single line, “We’ve got it simple” over and over to end the song.
Then they gave a nod to the Coastal Show with a well-played rendition of “Prince Caspian.” During the “Egg in a Hole” soon after, the following lyric stood out to me: “Egg in a hole / it’s a stolen phrase.” Knowing that I was writing this, I made a mental note to look for or “think about” what the phrase might be referring to. But then they launched into “Piper,” which was so well-jammed that the band was fully-synced together, playing the best that they have on the run. The “Piper” also had a couple “Guy Forget” yells from Page, and the band was fully locked in, eventually ending the jam with the triplicate riffs that were apparent throughout the show. To complete the sandwich, and a little to my disappointment, the ban transitioned back into “Prince Caspian” for a quick one-minute jam.
After a short pause and a much needed second set cool-off, they played “Lonely Trip,” the title track from Trey’s recent album, Lonely Trip. I feel like this song is super special, as it has the meaning that it does from its creation during COVID, but now it takes on a different meaning, one of re-convening. Other than “Back on the Train," it was the second set highlight to me. “Most Events Aren’t Planned,” which has had HUGE jam potential over the eight times it’s now been played, was wonderful, my favorite version of ths song to date. Although still not topping the 10-minute mark, this song is just so fun to get down too. Pulled from the Vida Blue catalog, this is just a pure funk groove.
Closing the set out with “Blaze On,” the lightbulb clicked for me: the opening lines to “Blaze On” --- “…while all around are living eggs with living yolks” --- could possibly be the mysterious “missing phrase” from “Egg in a Hole."
The encore was just pure treat, an epic four-song encore to close out the run. Opening with “Nothing,” a pretty big bust-out (158 show bust-out to be exact) followed by Los Lobos’s “When the Circus Comes to Town,” and then to wrap the show, we got one final Gamehendge song: “Oh-Kee-Pa Ceremony,” which suddenly transitioned into a victorious “Suzy Greenberg” to end the run.
It is also noted that there have yet to be any repeats on this tour… We’ll see if that holds out over Deer Creek. The band and crowd are clearly having a ton of fun this tour. They are all smiles as is the crowd. As we finally enter June of 2022, we are hitting the one year anniversary of the Trey SPAC shows, the first post COVID shows. We are now embarking on year two post COVID, and that feels nice to think about. We did have to do that New Year's Run pivot, so lets hope for another year in the clear.
There is a vibe with Phish that does and doesn’t extend to the fans. But it’s the hidden messages, jokes, references that are intermingled throughout the shows. That feeling has transcended all the eras, and it is one of the most special things about seeing them. The pure raw improv of the moment, the interplay that occurs between the band members over all the years, and all the fun and networks created by the fans, the Venn diagram that occurs in the live show venue is why we all love this so much.
As I enter my 28th year dancing and travelling and seeing this band and seeing all the friends I have made over the years, it feels like the biggest gift one could have stumbled upon in this lifetime, I hope that you all enjoyed this piece.. thank you for reading, hope to see you down the road…
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