, attached to 2021-09-03

Review by Laudanum

Laudanum This show wants us to think about the past (and time itself), but I think we need to spend a minute or two on the present first, and talk about what exactly the band is up to this tour. It's not just a fluke now, or a handful of outlier shows: this is a full-on renaissance, a band remaking itself yet again, after having already done so only four years ago.

Their sound is so thick at the moment--so many vibrations, so many echoes, like a model of some quantum system. Songs come and go, but there's a through line in nearly every set, every show. And that through line has touched on more and different emotional and evocative spaces than at any other point in their career.

How many other bands can reinvent themselves at such a late stage? Hell, how many other artists? Monet, maybe?

Yeah, I just compared Phish to Monet. Deal with it.

Listening back to the Dick's shows from '11, in some ways it's not even still the same band. They've come so far. Patience is a virtue as a Phish fan: it's taken a decade from my rekindled interest in the band until now, where they're as meaningful to my life as they were in the '90's, but for much different reasons. I don't think we, the older fans, fully realize how lucky we are to have art that grew up along with us, always at our side when we needed it.

Which brings us to this show, with its obvious references to time and the past, and its anniversary vibe. Narrative design seems part and parcel to lots of sets this tour, and here it's taken to an extreme. As someone who's been at a lot of these shows over the years, I was brought back to a number of Dick's performances, like 9/2/16. Or 9/5/15, with it's great ASIHTOS > CDT, replicated here to great effect. When the band launches into the Plasma/Party Time/CDT/46 Days et. al. mashup late in set two, it feels like a trip in the Dick's Hot Tub Time Machine.

You don't need any of that meta stuff to appreciate this show, of course. The Carini is up there with the best of the tour, and presents all the fun and happy parts of alien visitation. The CDT jam is particularly static for this tour, but it's groovy as all hell. And the Slave is a towering version. But in some sense it's useless to talk about individual songs or jams in a show like this, which demands to be taken as a full unit.

In the tarot, the fool's journey is cyclical: he travels in a circle, arriving where he began, but armed with knowledge and experience he lacked at first. In many ways, that seems an apt metaphor for the last ten year's at Dick's.

You always end up where you start.
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