, attached to 2014-07-25

Review by kent241

kent241 Phish always seems to bring the heat to Charlotte, NC in the 3.0 era. Both 2010 and 2011 were phenomenal shows (2012 a little less so, IMO). Nevertheless, for those having doubts after Randall’s Island about the direction of Phish tour, last night in Charlotte, NC (CLT) should put those worries to rest. Last night might be appropriately titled the “SegueFest” show of the tour thus far i.e., more → and less >. Keeping with, possibly, one of the more ridged setlist rotations in recent years (everyone gets a Fuego) Phish crafted a highly entertaining and lively performance. This was my sister-in-law’s first Phish show and an old high school friend of mine’s first show as well, so my wife and I got to bask in their wonder for our 30 and 32 shows, respectively. For first time shows, they probably could have not asked for a better introduction. In a number of ways (again, much like CLT 2011), this show defines what Phish is all about.

The first set popped with (another) first set Mike’s opener. It was like 2011 Charlotte all over again! (Mike’s has only opened three shows; I think, ever - 2/3 in Charlotte). Mike’s went to BOTT, only to drop right back into Weekapaug! Probably the best Mike’s Groove my wife and I have gotten since that incredible evening in 2011! Wingsuit belongs in the first set. I thought this placement and Trey’s playing gave this one a particular ‘spark’ if you will. Page had some room to improvise in Possum adding to what would have otherwise been a piss break. During Tube it seemed Trey wanted to ripcord but the rest of the band pulled him back in for a few more second of unadulterated Phish ‘crack’ flowing into the second My Friend of the summer (always welcomed). Surprisingly, I think the highlight of the first set was slightly improvised Winterqueen. I will have to relisten, but it fit the moment well and the placement was spot on. Always glad to hear (an atypical) Bowie. First Golgi of the tour to end a solid first set of Phish.

Keep 555 in the first set, but valiant attempt in seeing where it fits best. I thought Phish would be taking 555 for an extended trip last night, but that was not the case. Charlotte achieved lift off with the third extended CDT of the summer (another keeper), keeping the pace with the Fuego -> Twist -> CIRCUS. Only Phish can make a low-key cover song into, perhaps, the absolute ‘peak’ highlight of the evening. After a crunchy 30+ minute exploratory second frame, the band misfired with Piper -> RiftCORD. To be sure, I have to say that this was a ‘fun’ Rift if anything and the set did not take a nosedive as it seemed their momentarily. Instead, I think Trey and the band realized the ‘mistake’ and went into a solid version of Reba. No complaints. They punctuated the evening with Zero and the first Loving Cup encore of the summer.

As any good Phish fan knows you cannot judge a show by a set list alone. It is what they do with the songs that matters. It is clear that whether it is changing up Possum, or taking CDT into uncharted territory, Phish is having a blast doing what they do. Having saw the SPAC run this year (7/4 the highlight of that run) and last night (to conclude my ‘vacations’ for the year), Charlotte will probably be looked at as a hidden gem of tour. Whether overshadowed by Randall’s, what goes down at MPP over the weekend, at Dicks, or throughout Phish Destroys the West Coast this fall, they came to Charlotte last night and brought the goods. It was grand.
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