, attached to 2019-06-30

Review by whatstheuse324

whatstheuse324 Prior to 6/30/19, I had seen the previous four shows of the tour in Bangor and Camden with combinations of my wife and kids, sisters, close friends, cousins, nephews, and my niece. Night three of Camden was my grand finale for the summer. I’m a special education teacher and my summer program was starting up at 7:30 the next morning back in Pennsylvania. I was kid free for the night and ready to “completely” rock out one last time for the foreseeable future.

I had found a $10 parking lot on the first night up several blocks on Market St. It was about nine total blocks away but it saved me $30 compared to the $40 they were charging anywhere near the venue. It’s not necessarily wise to park too far away in Camden, but there were other Phish people in the know around. I made a new friend named Andrew who was parked next to me. I offered him a beer, but he told me that he was California sober. I found that extremely amusing. We had a nice conversation through Camden for the five minute walk until I found my friends Kevin, Alex, and his girlfriend Ashley in the main lot. Alex was rocking his “Gay for Trey” shirt. Everything was in its right place. Alex and Ashley had digital pavilion tickets that they shared with me and Kevin, so we were now able to traverse the lawn and seats.

After grabbing a beer, we stopped by speaker 2 on the lawn where I knew a whole crew of friends from Pennsylvania. We were only there for a few minutes when the show started. The butterflies in my stomach assumed the usual position.

The Curtain is a very special song for me, especially when it has the With ending. It reminds me of beautiful times from my younger years and also of Coventry. It’s figuratively the song that Phish chose to “die” to back in 2004 when they were ending their own story. For me, The Curtain With is like mass on Easter Sunday. Phish has now been back from the dead for ten years and this song has had magnificent versions played in the 3.0 era, especially the version on 6/10/11 from the very same venue. The version that opened this sunny and dry Sunday show in Camden felt just as incredible. Clocking in at more than twelve minutes, The Curtain With was played with precision and soul. It’s a fantastic version.

The opening strums for Fast Enough For You prompted me to turn to Kevin and say, “It’s gonna be one of those shows...” The band was bringing their A game tonight. Fast Enough For You was the song that opened the last set of Coventry and is a song that I play on the guitar for my kids at bedtime. For me personally, I saw this song for the first time exactly one hundred shows earlier in Camden 2003 and it was my first time seeing it since Merriweather 2010. I think of it as one of Phish’s most beautiful songs and I was able to hang on every note.

Kevin and I parted with Shelli, Eric, Amanda, Amanda, Alec, and Bob on the lawn and descended down to the pavilion as the drums for Buried Alive kicked up. This show was only three songs old and it was already blowing my mind. While Kevin got beer, I was out to find Alex and Ashley in the seats. First, I had to make my way through the sea of humanity in the concourse moat below the lawn. I have this patented walk/dance that effortlessly transcends my consciousness in situations like this. I break-dance-walked through about a hundred people on my journey to section 201 Mike Side. The seats were to the right just over from the top of the steps. There was plenty of room to dance and it had a great view of the stage. The current situation had gone from great to greater.

Camel Walk was a funky treat that kept all of the bodies in motion. It was a standard version with a little extra interplay between Trey and Fish during the final count pattern that ends the song. Kevin was back. I was still dancing in the aisle as Reba started up. Phish had their collective foot planted firmly on the gas pedal at this point. The sky viewed from the back of the pavilion was a dull pink as Reba put the sun to bed. We even got the whistling.

I thought the placement of Sample in a Jar as a cool down after Reba was great. It was played standardly but had all of the right feels.

Pebbles and Marbles made its first arrival for the summer as a mini-bust out, last played on the White Powder Baker’s Dozen show on 7/26/17. Released in 2002, it stood as the most recently written song of the set.

As Pebbles and Marbles faded out, the opening chords for Tela got a few yells that reached all the way to Gamehenge. Oh, Tela. Our souls were made of pebbles and marbles, but in her gaze, we crumbled into dust and drifted away on the wind. The wind from beyond Camden.

As the opening riff for Mango Song appeared, I realized that this show was going to be made entirely of favorite old songs. There was an abundance of riches tonight. The Mango Song was played spectacularly.

Driver came next with its first appearance of 2019, last played on 7/25/18 at Bill Graham. It was the first time I saw Driver since SPAC in 2012 and it was a delightful breather. My $15 beer was finished and I would have to stick with water for the rest of the night to fulfill my professional obligations. Party mode would never be higher than it was at that moment.

The hi-hat intro to David Bowie let me know that this first set party still had a few miles to go. David Bowie did everything that David Bowie is supposed to do. This version stayed in the box and was all business to close the first set.

Kevin and I took another stroll to the lawn during set break and reconnected with my Pennsylvania friends. As far as I could tell, we were all of the same opinion that we had just gotten our collective socks rocked off. Life was good.

The lights went down while we were still at speaker 2 and we waited for the second set to unfold. We all called different song openers, but no one called Mr. Completely. The last go round for Mr. Completely was in St. Louis after the Blues won the Stanley Cup. Fish batted up the iconic drum beat and the second set was on. The song took a quick left turn just after the chorus and we began our deep sea phishing expedition for the night. They focused on a few murky sections that shifted between B and F# minors before coming back to resurface in the key of A major. During this section of the jam, Kevin and I began our descent from the lawn back to section 201. We arrived at the seats for the peak of the jam, which was reminiscent of Down With Disease, before Fish brought back the Mr. Completely drum beat to end the song properly at almost seventeen minutes.

The Twenty Years Later that happened next was the jam of the night in my opinion. Clocking in at over twenty-one minutes, it was the longest song of the show and went the distance in two distinct jams. The first significant improv started around the 8:00 minute mark and floated on a soft, blissful D major melody to a quiet peak. Around 13:00, the song changed course and the dance party got picked back up by the mothership. F is for FUNK, and lucky for us, they landed in the key of F for a super-funky slow burning winner. Do I dare say the funkiest Twenty Years Later ever? I dare. Everyone was shaking it. A quick spacey interlude leads to…

...Big Black Furry Creature From Mars! The place went nuts. Mike’s shrill was on point. As the last lines of the song were sung, I turned to Alex and yelled, “Tweezer!”

Two seconds later, Tweezer burst on to the scene. Alex said, “The Oracle has spoken.” The Oracle likes when it’s right. Tweezer doesn’t veer too far in either direction, but instead stays straight on a long walk into the night through the dark shady alleys of Camden. At thirteen minutes, it makes the grade as the third longest song of the set, but it never makes it back to the car. Don’t park too far away in Camden.

Speaking of shady, the song Shade was next and it provided some of its namesake to the audience after we cooked in that hot kitchen of a third quarter. I caught my breath as the beginning to Most Events Aren’t Planned started up.

I first saw this song back in 2003 at a Vida Blue show in Philly. Page and the boys were sharing the bill that night with Train Wreck, a band featuring Kyle Gass of Tenacious D. Long since forgotten, Most Events Aren’t Planned was drastically dislodged from my memory banks with the sizzling version on the last night of the Baker’s Dozen. Fresh in my mind now, I was very excited to hear this version come to life. When the beat dropped after the “boundaries of my mind” line, the whole place transformed back into the super funky dance party again. This song is not played nearly enough. It’s just a total rager from Page and needs way more attention than it currently gets.

When I was with my children at some of the other shows, we were playing the game of picking three songs that would be played for the given night. Makisupa was on my list each time. It never happened. I didn’t play the game on this night. Bam, Makisupa. That’s how it works. Trey skipped the code word to talk about how much he couldn’t wait to hear Mike play his bass. It was fun and short lived as Trey quickly took back the reins to unleash a late set Chalkdust.

Much like the version played a few shows earlier in Bangor, this Chalkdust stuck to the script and packed an energy punch to the crowd’s gut. Nobody was going to sleep yet.
Just when some were thinking that it might have been over, Suzy Greenberg stepped on the dance floor and gave us all one more reason to yell. Page’s first solo was the shampoo that cleaned the hair. Page’s second solo was the conditioner that made the hair silky and smooth. With some hee-haws and laughs, Suzy Greenberg came to an end as did the second set.

We waited in anticipation at the seats for the start of the encore. The opening muted strums from Trey led way to Punch You in the Eye. What? Really? In the encore!?! Some shows have a little more magic than others, and some shows have a vortex of magic erupting from the stage all night long. This show was the latter. As Punch You in the Eye came to a distorted end, the silky hair on the back of my neck began to stand up. The dissonant D feedback out of Trey’s amp became the opening wail of What’s the Use?

I have goosebumps writing this. Aside from Divided Sky, the song that made me fall in love with Phish, this is my favorite song. (For the record, I would like the version from 6/29/16 to be played at my funeral). I gave up on the idea of seeing it during this run of shows since they played it at Merriweather, but they must have known that I was in the audience and felt bad that I missed the other one. Sitting for the first time ever in the encore slot, What’s the Use? was played brilliantly. Phish brought the sound down to a faint whisper and the soundscape was generally respected. Out of the silence, one guy could be heard yelling, “I love you Trey!!!” It wasn’t me, but it could have been. From the stage, Trey gave the Han Solo look that said without words, “I know.” From a quiet whisper, What’s the Use? slowly ascended to its blinding summit. It was a truly beautiful version and the ultimate swan song for my summer Phish adventure. I felt like Mr. Completely.

As What’s the Use? kissed me goodnight, the only thing left was the Tweezer Reprise. Ha! That’s why Phish is Phish, the master pranksters. Like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, they said, “No Tweeprise for you! You come back in one show!” Not this time, Phish. I have a classroom to run. The opening riff for Julius floated up instead for one last dance on the summer tour.

What a show! The song selections were outstanding and the playing was just as marvelous. There were three songs that topped thirteen minutes in the second set including the twenty-one minute Twenty Years Later. They played my favorite song in the encore. To be conservative and give this show a 9/10 feels like I’m short-changing it. Outside of the Baker’s Dozen and Magna Ball, I’m going to say that this is the best stand alone show I’ve seen since 7/13/14 Randall’s Island night 3. It’s the real deal.


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