, attached to 2019-12-06

Review by The_Good_Doctor

The_Good_Doctor Going into a show we assume that anything can happen. But somewhere between Charleston and Pittsburgh, we became reasonably sure of what wouldn’t happen in South Carolina. There would be no repeats and most jam vehicles, like Harry Hood and Tweezer, were off the table. Carolina opened and was followed by Party Time, which together confirmed that it was time to get down in the Palmetto State – setlist mainstays be damned. Strawberry Letter 23 came next with its plaintive yearning that was quickly soothed by the greasy swagger of Undermind. Phish leaned on the depth of their repertoire with a boisterous, bluesy rendering of I’ve Been Around, before breezing into the technical eloquence of Divided Sky, and then nailing the delightfully gritty rocker about everyone’s favorite nipple-slicer, The Sloth.

The first set could’ve gone anywhere next and to the joy of all, they launched full-throttle into Destiny Unbound. Destiny enjoys celebrity status in Phishdom, not only for the legendary Nassau bustout (02/28/03), but also because it is a righteously fun singalong. This Destiny veered off the map and cruised into uncharted territory adding a new dimension to an old favorite. The first set continued with serviceable takes on We are Come to Outlive Our Brains and My Friend, My Friend before plunging into the inky darkness of About to Run. They resurfaced with The Horse > Silent in the Morning and then closed with a frenetic David Bowie.

Set II blasted off with Axilla before locking into orbit around Scents and Subtle Sounds. Scents was conjoined with its oft omitted intro whose lyrics implore us to live one moment at a time, aligning with the ‘surrender to the flow’ theme that would be revisited later in the set. The Scents instrumental section began with explorations by Trey and Page while Fish and Mike supported patiently. The searching broke through and ballooned into an expansive, gooey pulse that Koruda bathed in strands of ultramarine and lavender. Each instrument urgently probed the ether until the music swirled into a heaving mass punctuated by peekaboo guitar licks and keyboard stabs, the latter entering the mix with the ferocity of a dropkicked hornet’s nest. Trey introduced a string of descending power chords that tumbled into a brief, but slinky start/stop section before easing into a plinko riff underpinned by Mike’s swooping bassline and Page’s lilting clavinet. The jam spilled out like a breached dam and collected into uneasy, shimmering pool. As the vapors of Scents ascended, the opening notes of No Quarter fluttered in like leaves on crisp fall breeze. The guy in front of me abandoned his row and sprang onto the handrail with the athleticism of a gymnast and the enthusiasm of a televangelist. With a fist raised he unleashed a primal, guttural howl essential to that moment, just as Page’s watery vocal launched the song’s explosion into buzzsaw psychedelia.

From there the second set sailed smoothly through the transient funk of Your Pet Cat, a fairly standard Mercury (minus a verse), and reached shore with The Lizards that again reminded us to surrender to the moment. Set II closed with a raging Suzy Greenberg and as midnight neared, Bittersweet Motel led the encore with Erie fittingly swapped out for Charleston. Death Don’t Hurt Very Long landed in the second slot. If cow funk describes the origins of Ghost and Moma Dance, then Death is the toadstool funk that cropped up after the cows left the pasture. The night ended ceremoniously with the sparkling glory of Loving Cup and Page brought us all back home spent, but eager and ready for night two.


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