SET 1: Sample in a Jar, Reba, Wilson, Scents and Subtle Sounds, Maze, Driver, NICU > Ya Mar, Rocky Top, Lawn Boy, Julius
SET 2: Piper > Rock and Roll -> Seven Below -> Prince Caspian > You Enjoy Myself
ENCORE: Wading in the Velvet Sea
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Review by FunkyCFunkyDo
Let's get one thing straight. This is a high-powered first set. This first set powers the fences the line the Tyrannosaur Paddock. This first set can be seen from space with in infrared camera. Hooo boy! Fasten your seatbelts. Let's go!
Sample in a Jar sets a simultaneous energetic, playful, and elevated mood to the show. I don't know what it is, well I suppose I do - the intangible aspect of Phish. A seemingly "regular" song that can be placed anywhere at any time, and really have a feel of "meh" to a feel of "HOLY VOLCANIC SPACE MONKEYS!!!" Intangibility of this *feel* is what a Phish show is all about. Sometimes Sample is just Sample, but sometimes it is indeed a volcanic space monkey. This one is the later. Followed up a #2 Reba, holy cow. Phish means business. Composed section was adeptly played, with that slight 2003 edge, and the bliss jam featured some focused, bird-like trilling from Trey and fancy fill-work from Fishman. The jam built upon itself in quite economical fashion, much like 7.10.03 Shoreline. It won't blow the roof off, but it is certainly a fine version that features a series of very pretty builds and melodic webs. Wilson crashes the setlist party, and everyone celebrates his arrival. The hard-rocker adds a few extra head-bangs during a slightly extended mid-song jam segment and the energy of the show starts to amplify upon itself. We. Are. Rolling. Scents and Subtle Sounds in the 4 slot of set 1 is a treat. This laid back, somewhat slowed down jam is a nice counterpoint to Wilson. It does not feature the blissed-out cathartic-peak of 7.9.03 Shoreline, but as a first set jam, there is nothing to complain about here. A smokin Maze comes next. Maze, like Sample, can be "meh" or can be "COSMIC MUSICAL LASER GEYSERS!!!" This one falls nearer to the latter on that spectrum. A few almost-sloppy transitions do not diffuse the power this Maze brings to the table. Furthermore, Trey really goes nuts on the peak. Good stuff. Driver (I love Driver. always) is a *perfect* respite after a, count it, 5 song show-opening volley of Sample, Reba, Wilson, SASS, Maze. Whoa. NICU picks the pace back up and sets the table for a breezy Ya Mar. Tropical and calypso-y, even if short on the time scale, this is a superb follow up song to NICU, as they both have that island-feel. Rocky Top is an odd choice, but given the songs natural energy, it suits the set well and adds to its ever-growing energy! Page hams it up during Lawn Boy and we all have a good laugh as he croons his way through the song. Mike has some nifty work too. The peak of this set-long energy, to my ears, comes to a boiling point during this ferocious, incendiary Julius. Regardless if you "like" this song or not, this version is FANTASTIC!!! Do not skip it. What a first set!!!
Whew. So the band obviously is feeling it tonight. They are crackin. Snappin. Poppin. The energy is vibrant and the vibe is energetic. Let's see how set 2 shapes up. Can it hold serve for set 1? Set 2 can be divided into 3 mutually exclusive 20+ minute segments. That should whet your appetite.
A monstrous Piper starts off the second set. Now, I saw monstrous with more a negative connotation. Some fans love this version. I am not one of those. It is dark, dissonant, and discorded... in a more specific word, it is jagged. Some fans love this stuff, not me though. Not to say it isn't worth a listen, but allow me to break it down. 0:00 - 13:00 is Piper grimy-jam. It groaaans along. Dark. Deep. Dirty. 13:00-16:00 it feels as though the are about to lock into a melodic, peppy groove... but 16:00-19:00 they dive back into the depths, weird stuff, only to be saved by... 19:00-23:00 where they find this (still brooding) but metal-esq chord progression that builds and builds in an intense frenzy ... it is really fantastic to listen to. It'll pump you up. I love these last four minutes! The jam winds down and Rock and Roll winds up and delivers a Nolan Ryan fastball. This is where the second 20+ minute segment begins. WOOSH!!! This Rock and Roll is furious and given its relatively tame timestamp, packs one hell of punch. It drips into a slinky, poppy outro groove after a wild Trey-driven Rock and Roll outro before a totally seamless, perfect, amazing -> Seven Below. WOW! What a segue!! Seven Below bounces along and much like Rock and Roll, packs a great jam into a very limited time frame. Must listen stuff between these two. Seven Below eventually evaporates into Prince Caspian, which showcases some inspiring Trey soloing. They are feeling it tonight. Not 10 seconds after the extend Caspian jam ends, the finale begins. 28 minutes of You Enjoy Myself: check please. This is no ordinary YEM. This one is burn-burner sitting atop a volcano on the sun while fireworks are exploding overhead. It spews comets and asteroids. It absorbs negativity and hatred and turns them into dance moves and flailing limbs. This jam section contains three separate jams sections. Each one building, then subsiding; then building even higher, then subsiding (into some dirrrrty Mike/Fish combo work); then building finally into a HUGE, machine-gun Trey peak that is, I don't even know, I just threw my thesaurus at the computer screen. DO NOT EVER SKIP THIS YEM. Wading is, whatever, I mean honestly at this point an encore wasn't even necessary. Phish had nothing left to destroy. What a complete show!!!!!
Must-hear jams: Julius, Rock and Roll -> Seven Below, You Enjoy Myself!!!!!!
Probably-should-listen-to jams: The continuous segment of Sample-Reba-Wilson-SASS-Maze, Piper (especially the final 4 minutes)