, attached to 2013-08-02

Review by mblum

mblum My 54th show since 1993 was the best *played* of my four-show Summer 13 run (Tahoe Tues/Weds and San Francisco Fri/Sat).

Free kicked off an absolutely rockin’, jam-filled first set, though the vocals didn’t gel until the flawless Meat. Mike owned that shit, with an energy and drive that would propel the show and lock the band into a unity that would prove to last the entire evening. They just made it look and feel so easy. So tight it was loose. Meat suggests it; Bag fulfills it. The following night (Sat) NEVER (ok maybe during RnR) achieved such seamless inevitable unity. On 8/2/13 in San Francisco Phish channeled nothing but.

Confession: Vultures is just about my favorite tune. One day I found and played every single version! ←dork ;) So my humble opinion here is both more informed and less objective than most: though I’d like an even dirtier Vultures, tonight’s was cavernous and gorgeously dramatic, with recockulous spirals. Boy, man listen to those four guys each and all!!

My 2 on the woos: god 7/31 was a special night. In 20 years, there’s really been nothing quite like it. Where do you go from there? I’m asking *us*. I will say the woo worked for Vultures and during the first passage of Reba, but yeah, started to feel tired or forced at times. What I did like was how the band was experimenting with it by Saturday night: they were PLAYING US! Play the Woo wherever it fits, like Mike’s meatball or Fish’s Toms. It takes a while to master any new instrument. It was our collective idea, but I don’t mind letting the better musicians take a stab at leading how we use it.

How powerfully, how gently does Roggae roll. The ideas were continuous and nearly inseparable. And hey, remember they played a fist night, first set Sand at BGCA last year too, and it worked just as well here cuz da place was on FI RE! Asses were shakin as Trey kept it bad ass and bluesy until Page suggests some staccato, which Trey follows, and then Mike like dominoes and before you know it Page gets gravelly for a syncopated launch that CK seizes to bring the crowd deeply, deeply into the groove. There’s a moment where they start tumbling so fast they stumble, and when Phish is on—and this is the thing—they make every stumble into the first step of the next sweet move. That’s how I wanna be!

Circus—great tune but this placement didn’t allow for its passionate melancholy.

Oh was Reba beautiful!!! At 7:50, (about 1:30 into the jam portion) things got deliciously sensuous. You could see the feeling great in the eyes of seven thousand sexy bouncing smiles.

This was one of those shows that was both propulsive and daring, all the way through. Even Caspian was pretty amazing, thanks to Page leading the charge on some rare edge. That quality segued perfectly into a *lovely* farmhouse that Mike anchored and Page caressed through Fishman’s flourishes. I think Fish is either the leader or the secret sauce. So in quick summary … Punch set the tone. Then Disease started so boiling hot that they needed to turn stove down to medium around the 6:30 mark and another notch at 8:00. But oh those last couple of minutes of urgent quiet exchange! Funny how things smoke at low heat.

Seven Below. Again what’s interesting—and just as important to me as Phish’s caring, daring, and effort—is not that Trey threw the whole band into the headlights by failing to find the intro melody, but that they recovered so beautifully. It’s how Trey, LET his team catch his fall and then seized the confidence of his own truth (I heard insistence and joy tempered with humility and a nice dose of cranky!) to move the conversation forward and actually lift those who had lifted him. Mike grabs the hint and won’t let go, inspiring Fishman to hop right on top of the stack. Dwelling on a screwup is myopic if you're a badass.

Theme was nothing short of glorious and Hood was the prettiest version I’ve heard. And possibly the prettiest jumping, popping, angry uplifting jazz-rocker ever in the history of planet earth. ;) Stealing time is revelatory. A mind blowing edition with sly funk and other stylistic surprises that give it a new-found forcefulness.

The segues weren’t as mind-blowing but they worked, lasted the full set (to Coil), and were unobtrusive. And finally it was a treat to enjoy the well-executed Coil and the soft and open Cave, though Cave did suffer from flawed vocal harmonies (is Page the one having trouble finding notes?).

The band’s communication with one another and with the audience has never been so clear and direct. From set list construction to musical interplay, I have this sense of really hearing them right now, and without any loss of the magic because of it.


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