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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MGS11-12: It's About To Get Steamy

   Considering a few of our more anxious contemporaries have used the Mayan calender to predict the end of the world in 2012 (OK, so it's not supposed to happen until next December) I find it fitting to round out 2011 - an incredible Phish year - with a four-night run in NYC at the legendary Madison Square Garden. Last year's run, which included two shows at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA (apparently because they couldn't book MSG for four nights last year), produced five of the better shows of 2010...and 2011 (the unprecedented 1/1 show). The hot dog fed everyone for the third - and most likely final - time as what seemed like hundreds of dancers from all over the world sang and grooved to Meatstick on stage. It was a pretty special run, capped off by an incredible NYE show and an unprecedented NYD show. What's the plan this year? Apparently - according to my rock solid sources - Phish is planning on doing something that has never been done at Unless they're talking about helping the Liberty win their first WNBA Championship, I like what I hear. Perhaps Steamed Hot Dogs??? Nah, I'm sure every one's had their fill of hot dogs. Whatever it is it'll blow our minds, that's for sure. What about the music? Hopefully the boys warm up a bit in VT or NYC after a 104-day break (almost twice as long as the break between Halloween and Worcester last year), but if last year's NYE Run set lists are any indication this run will be a barn burner, complete with song debuts. Let's review last year:

12/27/10 DCU Center, Worcester, MA

Set I: Sample (5:59), Funky Bitch (7:22), Cool It Down (8:45), Roggae (10:13), Heavy Things (6:16), What Things Seem (8:03), Roses (5:15) > It's Ice (7:11), Mountains in the Mist (6:51), Julius (9:40) (T = ~75 minutes)

Set II: Mike's (9:04) > Mound (5:50), Weekapaug (8:57), Farmhouse (6:19), Seven Below (9:23) > What's the Use? (5:53) > Twenty Years Later (6:51) , Velvet Sea (7:00), Possum (9:47) > Cavern (4:30) > Bowie (12:08) (T = ~86 minutes)

E: Loving Cup (6:31)

   The first set was a classic warm-up set. A Sample opener was followed by a standard Funky Bitch before the boys launched into Cool It Down for the first time since Albany the year before (54 shows). A long, sick Roggae and hoppy Heavy Things followed before the first set heated up a bit with the second What Things Seem ever (MG song) and the clear Set One highlight Roses > It's Ice. Mountains In The Mist and Julius closed out the set. The Second Set was like a different show as Phish had clearly warmed up.
   A pimp Mike's > the first Mound in 74 shows (Red Rocks '09). A somewhat standard but rockin' Weekapaug closed the 'Groove before Farmhouse provided the breather. The next 15 minutes was a personal highlight for me with a sick Seven Below > What's The Use? > Twenty years Later. TYL is great, but TYL really should be reserved to cap the longer jams. In other words, if Seven Below > WTU? is 40+ minutes, give me some TYL...if the jam is <20 minutes total, let's figure something else out. Or how about this next time: Mike's > Mound, Seven Below > WTU? > Hydrogen > Weekapuag. It blends beautifully, try it. Velvet Sea - which is practically the same style song as TYL - followed before the set rounded out with 26 minutes of standard Possum > Cavern > Bowie, although the Bowie was slightly long. Trey told us to take care of our boots instead of our shoes in Cavern. The standardization continued with a Loving Cup encore. The Second Set had it's moments, but all in all Phish used the DCU Center to get warmed up Night One. It worked.

12/28/10 DCU Center, Worcester, MA

Set I: KDF (10:05), My Mind's Got a Mind of its Own (2:49), Alaska (10:32), She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride (4:21), Wolfman's (10:49), Pigtail (6:46), Stash (13:40), Bouncin' (3:40) > Rift (6:19), STFTFP (7:12), Birdwatcher (2:38) (T = ~80 minutes)

Set II: Carini (8:51) > BDTNL (7:40) > BOTT (9:19) > LxL (8:53) > Wedge (6:36) > Frankie Says (5:25) > Albuquerque (4:40), Harry Hood (16:39) > Bug (9:56) (T = ~79 minutes)

E: Shine a Light (6:10)

   I love KDF and feel it's one of the best tunes to kick off any show. This 10-minute rocker was perfect and set the place on fire right off the bat. MMGAMOIO followed - the first in 56 shows (Albany '09) - and hasn't been played since. Next was Alaska, which featured Trey playing Sarah Palin saying "Alaska" in her high-pitched, backwoods, moronic tone through some recording device - it was fucking hilarious. "Alaska"..."Alaska"...everyone was cringing and laughing at the same time, like we were collectively watching a drunk chick fall down a set of stairs at a party on the jumbo-tron. Classic.  Bombshell time: She Caught The Katy And left Me A Mule To Ride!!! 323 shows since the last time played (7/21/98 Phoenix) and only the second time since my 10th birthday (7/30/88 in Telluride)! Some times those bust-outs are worth the price of admission alone. A nice long, funky Wolfman's followed before the debut of Pigtail. A large Stash was consumed before we Bounced right into Rift. STFTFP followed before Phish closed out the set with their collective debut of the A Capella Birdwatcher.
   The Second Set blasted off with almost an hour of Carini > BDTNL > BOTT > LxL > Wedge > Frankie Says > Albuquerque. BLAST OFF. BOTT contained Streets Of Cairo teases, Frankie Says ended an 82 show absence streak (6/16/09 St. Louis), and Albuquerque was beautifully played for the first time in 60 shows (11/21/09 Cincinnati). A classic Hood followed, complete with Spanish Harlem teases, which > Bug to close the set. The 'Stones cover Shine A Light, in which I have replaced the lyrics "Good Lord" and "they" in the chorus with "Kuroda" and "Phish", respectively, encored to close out the Worcester section of the 2010 NYE Run and as usual, it didn't disappoint... entirely. I'm not saying the Worcester shows were weak by any stretch, but they were relative to old school Worcester shows. Either way it was a great way to kick off the run as the boys prepared for mayhem in Gotham City.
12/30/2010 Madison Square Garden, New York City

Set I: Cities (5:50), Chalkdust Torture (6:32), Gumbo (4:47) > Quinn the Eskimo (4:25), Halley's Comet (6:11) > Camel Walk (4:51), Maze (11:31), Driver (4:12), Bathtub Gin (12:35), Fat Man in the Bathtub (5:32), Timber (Jerry) (5:55) > Golgi Apparatus (4:43), Character Zero (7:29) (T =~85 minutes)

Set II: Tweezer (18:48) > Light (9:33) > Theme From the Bottom (7:23) > My Friend, My Friend (5:40) > Axilla (3:22), Fluffhead (14:09), Boogie On Reggae Woman (5:20) > 2001 (6:57) > Suzy Greenberg (7:26) (T = ~78)

Encore: Run Like an Antelope (10:47) > TweepriZe (3:44)

   The first night in MSG set off immediately with the expected Cities, and this version made it clear that Phish intended to shake frames. Chalkdust followed, possibly a nod to those in the audience who had just finished a semester. We found plenty of time to stash the Gumbo, which went right > Quinn. Everything was pretty standard and on the short end, but nothing lacked on the rock or roll end. Then things got a bit out of control. Halley's > Camel Walk, which was so bomb that the PA system couldn't handle it. A long, sick, dark Maze followed then Driver, which hadn't been played since the previous NYE Run (Miami 12/29/09, 49 shows). The next 30 minutes burned the fucking place to..the...ground. A sick Gin started things off before the kept the tub theme going with Fat Man In The Bathtub, only the second time played ever (Halloween '10). The always bomb Timber rolled on us right > Golgi before Character Zero rounded out the set.
   The Second Set took no prisoners right off the bat as the boys launched into a segue for the ages that began with what might have been the longest Tweezer of the year or since at nearly 19 minutes! Tweezer > a sick Light > THE Theme From The Bottom > into a My Friend My Friend that cut us up (no "myfe" ending) > a witch-out-the-ditch Axilla that had the place on edge. Think about it: Those are four serious tunes to segue through. And they took almost 45 minutes. DAMN. Fluffhead, an obvious phan phavorite, but a somewhat long an overplayed song (despite many Fluffhead-free years) followed. Don't get me wrong, Fluffhead is a classic, but you know what I mean. Phish has several "suites" (YEM, Fluffhead, Hood, Slave, Guyute, TTE etc.), and I love them all. But if you're particularly tired of one...OK, if it's to the point where you can't fucking stand it...then they can be difficult to deal with, if not for anything else because you're in it for 15+ minutes. That might be where Fluffhead is for some people...just saying. It was still great and was followed by a sick segue to round out the show with a monster Boogie On > a too-short but still groovy 2001 > that bitch Suzy Greenberg...that's a classic "Yeah...ehh...meh" segue, but a rager no less. The encore featured a decent Antelope which > in the inevitable TweepriZe to close out Night One at MSG. We were hunkered down and ready to take in the next few nights...with a few chuckles about the absence of any modern era banners hanging from Madison Square Garden to pass the time. (By the way, the real Garden was Boston, don't get confused. When you refer to "The Garden" you're talking about Boston...I don't care what anyone outside of NE you call MSG what it is: The Madison Square Garden. If you need a history lesson, I'll be happy to meet you in the MSG halls for a quick tutorial.)

12/31/11 Madison Square Garden, New York City

Set I: Punch You In the Eye (8:34) > AC/DC Bag (6:26) > The Moma Dance (6:40) > Scent of a Mule (8:38), Burn That Bridge (6:55), Weigh (5:13) > Ocelot (8:37), Beauty of My Dreams (3:32), Gone (5:43), Rock and Roll (8:15) (T = ~70)

Set II: Wilson (4:46) > 46 Days (7:27), Sand (10:23), NICU (5:16) > DWD (10:02) > Ghost (13:48), YEM > Manteca > YEM (17:55 total) (T = ~70)

Set E: Meatstick (18:21), Auld Lang Syne (1:12), After Midnight (6:40), BDTNL (6:58) > Piper (5:01) > Free (7:16), Waste (5:21) > Slave to the Traffic Light (10:50), Grind (2:40) (T = ~64)

Encore: First Tube (8:37)

   Like I've said many times in the past PYITE is the jump-off. I challenge you to find a shitty show initiated by PYITE. PYITE > AC/DC (uh oh...out of order Gamehenge...jk) > Moma Dance > Scent of a Mule. Now that's how you start a fucking show! 30 minutes of heat to warm the place up immediately. The debut of Burn That Bridge followed before the boys busted out the first Weigh since Portland (11/29/09 56 shows)...Weigh...what a fucking treat. Weight > Ocelot, which contained Auld Lang Syne teases. Beauty Of My Dreams - the first in 133 shows (7/22/03 Deer Creek) - followed and was quite the XMas/Hanukkah gift. Another drought came to an end with the second Gone ever and first since 12/30/09 (Miami 49 shows). A rare set-closing R 'n' R ended the set as the atmosphere in MSG was reaching epic proportions.
   Wilson kicked off the Second Set and blasted right > 46 Sand...jesus. This was going to be ugly...and I'm coining "Ugly" as a positive adjective. NICU with more Lang > a ridiculous DWD > an even more ridiculous Ghost. 30 more minutes of MAYHEM. Looked like my first NYE in four attempts was going to live up to expectations, which is saying a lot considering Phish's NYE phishtory. It only got better: YEM > Manteca > YEM to close out the Second Set. What the fuck??? 301 shows since the last Manteca!!! The Utica Manteca was only given tease status, so this Manteca, which continued in the YEM Vocal Jam, was the first since the pre-Halloween Vegas show in 1998!!! Dude, what were the guys planning for ball drop?
   Well, what they were planning was exactly what I could've hoped for missing so many prior NYE shows. THE HOT DOG!!! Oh, wait. OK, so the came out for the Third Set and blasted into Meatstick...uh oh. Meatstick was just fucking crazy, that's about all I can say. The boys left stage after roaring through Meatstick and kept the tune on loop...which was a mind-fuck in itself. As Meatstick rages but the boys were no where to be seen, dancers dressed in garb from around the globe filled the stage singing Meatstick in their respective languages!! WHAT?! Dude, there were like 100 people on stage from around the globe singing and dancing to Meatstick! WHERE THE FUCK WAS PHISH?!?! Yeah, they were boarding a hot dog, THE hot dog, which floated in the air above the crowd as Phish threw plastic hot dogs - that would end up on eBay for $100 - all over the crowd...fucking floor rats, you lucky pricks. This hot dog slowly floated below the rafters as Meatstick raged on loop as smoking hot faux Swedish chicks danced and sang on stage. EPIC. The show could've ended there, but it didn't. The boys launched into Auld Lang Syne after landing and then blasted into a most appropriate After Midnight. Absolutely crazy...we were dead center in the back with hands on heads and smiles you couldn't have shot off. I got my hot dog...I got my NYE moment. Now I can die. Things slowed down a bit because 1) the boys are old and 2) the previous mayhem would be tiring for anyone at any age. But that's not to say anything disappointed. BDTNL > Piper > Free. Waste > Slave followed (a possible nod to those trying to navigate the crazy Times Square area NYE streets after the show) before the boys capped it off with A Capella Grind. A rockin' First Tube closed out my first NYE show after touring since 1997, and I have to say it was one of the greatest Phish experiences of my life. Unbelievable song choices, space funk, mayhem, debuts, bust-outs, hot dogs, hot Swedes, NYC, NYE...shit, it was unbelievable. Now we had the unprecedented 1/1 show...shit show.

1/1/11 Madison Square Garden, New York City

Set I: My Soul (6:23), Tube (4:41) > Runaway Jim (7:33) > Foam (8:16), Guelah Papyrus (5:44) > Divided Sky (16:25), Round Room (4:31) > Walk Away (6:48) > Gotta Jibboo (10:13) > Reba (12:24), Walls of the Cave (13:31) (T = ~97!)

Set II: Crosseyed and Painless (12:29) > Twist (9:50) > Simple (11:45), Sneakin' Sally through the Alley (9:27) > Makisupa Policeman (8:15) > David Bowie (12:02) (T = ~65)

E: Fee (6:10), Frankenstein (5:20)

   Part of me almost says this show topped NYE. OK, not in antics, but possibly in music. My Soul - which hasn't been played since - opened the show and it was on. Tube > an incredibly short Runaway Jim > Foam. There's some classic Phish for you. The always spine-tingling Guelah Papyrus sailed us on the ocean of Osyrus right > The Divided Sky. There's some more classic Phish for you. A rare Round Room (only played five times, first in 140 shows - 7/13/03) followed the phishtory lesson which went > a SICK Walk Away > a groovy Gotta Jibboo > into a classic Reba sans whistling. The First Set closed out with my new favorite jump-off Walls Of The Cave. EPIC.
   The Second Set launched with Crosseyed which > a bomb Twist > a chest-thumping Simple. Skyballs and Saxscapers. They're everywhere in NYC. Salley was Caught Sneakin' Through The Alley behind MSG and we danced her to was sick...and went right > Makisupa complete with Trey's tongue-in-cheek references to smoking blunts and a kick-drum solo > Bowie. Insanity. Not a single song fell below 8 minutes, and nearly every song was 9:30+...a rarity theses days spanning an entire set. The boys encored with Fee, with Trey on the megaphone, and then rounded out 2010 with Frankenstein, complete with The Chairman on keytar. And so the year was finished - although it had technically just begun - and what a great year it was. Phish was reaching new jamming heights, they seemed full of life and having fun, and 2011 was full of high Phishspectations. The hot dog was revived and the boys were entering uncharted ground with an unprecedented 1/1 show. What would 2011 have in store? Well, we know since this review is from last year. Who knew a theremin would land in Page's yard and he would use it to take Phish to new levels. New levels like  we witnessed in Denver. New heights like we're about to witness in NYC this year. I'll see you there.

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Thanks to & LivePhish for the setlist help.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lynn Margulis: Scientist, Teacher, Friend

   Distinguished University (of Massachusetts) Professor and my long time advisor - of more than eight years since taking her course 'Environmental Evolution' as an undergraduate - Lynn Margulis passed away yesterday after suffering a severe stroke five days earlier. This was indeed sudden, as Lynn was full of energy, as usual, right up until the hour of her stroke. After initially being treated at Worcester Medical, it was decided by her family, based on Lynn's explicit living will, that she be taken home to die in peace. It was just that: peaceful. Surrounded by family and her favorite classical music, the sun beat through Lynn's bedroom window onto her beautiful face as she lay in a deep sleep. I was lucky enough to have seen her the day before she passed, and was able to thank her for myself and those of her students who didn't have the chance to say it themselves. It was a difficult moment, but one that I'll cherish forever. Her body will be cremated and scattered along one of her favorite research areas, close to her home.
   To say Lynn affected thousands and contributed significantly to science is a gross understatement. Countless graduate students of hers have gone on to tenured professorships where her ideas and teaching style have been - and continue to be - perpetuated through them. Her lasting legacy will assuredly be her contributions to evolutionary biology and to the Gaia Theory. She was a unique, inspirational polymath who may never be equaled again. She took a scientific approach to everything - from symbiogenesis to environmental evolution to whether HIV caused AIDS to the events of 9/11 - and always quoted David Bohm telling us that "science was the search for the truth, whether we liked it or not". 
   Lynn's two greatest scientific contributions, endosymbioses leading to the evolution of eukaryotes and the Gaia Theory, changed the way in which we understood the natural world and the ways in which we taught our students. Lynn resurrected the early 20th century ideas of Merezhkovsky and Wallin and developed the modern theory of endosymbiosis, essentially the process by which nucleated cells evolved from prokaryotic, or bacterial cells. Considering four out the five kingdoms of life are comprised of one or more eukaryotic cells, including us animals, her ideas are fundamental to understanding the evolution of all non-bacterial life. And Lynn had plenty of ideas regarding bacterial life as well, as her theories involved species of bacteria forming consortia that led to the evolution of the first nucleated cells (eukaryotes). She developed the Gaia Hypothesis, now called the Gaia Theory, with James Lovelock. The Gaia Theory, in part, states that the Earth is a "cybernetic system with homeorhetic tendencies" due to the origin of life and the co-evolution of life and the Earth. 
   Lynn was a decorated scientist: The Presidential Medal of Science; The William Proctor Prize for Scientific Achievement; The National Academy of Sciences; The Russian Academy of Sciences; The Darwin-Wallace Medal; and too many honorary doctorates, life achievement awards, and distinguished teaching awards to list. She has made many "top something" lists regarding the most influential scientists, and even people, of the 20th century. Her papers, and even personal notes, are archived in the Library of Congress. She was an evolutionist, a biologist, a geologist, a microbiologist, a swimmer, an eager astrology student, a mother, a grandmother,  a biker, a teacher, a mentor, an inspiration, and a friend. She was the single most influential person in my life besides my parents and my wife. In fact, it was my wife who said, as my recently "appointed" girlfriend at the time, "let's take her sounds really interesting." It was. So were the eight years I spent with her following that semester. Interesting. Life-changing.
   I will miss my dear friend and mentor, as will thousands of people whose life she influenced. She will never be replaced. I will dedicate my career to perpetuating her ideas and teaching style, as I'm sure the aforementioned thousands will as well; that's what she would have wanted. The scientific community and indeed the world at large lost one of its great inspirations and wells of knowledge, but she has been returned to the Earth that she cared so deeply about.

"That it will never come again is what makes life sweet." - Emily Dickson (Lynn's favorite poet and next door neighbor)

Lynn Margulis (March 5, 1938 – November 22, 2011)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Quick Note About Scalping...

   I always found that empty paragraph provided by the Phish Brass pretty funny because despite their "attempts" to warn against it, scalping still runs rampant at many shows; this has never been more clear with current MSG NYE'12 shows, which have online tickets ranging from $200-4000. Sure, the obvious question is what is Phish supposed to do about it? Well, without bursting your man(or woman)-crushes too quickly, there are several steps Phish could take to avoid the current situation, most obvious of which would be reviving the Doniac Shvice, the real Doniac Shvice, which provided phans with the ability to purchase mail-order tickets before the public sale. This has been pathetically replaced with a "lottery" in which Phish makes it seem like you're lucky just to get one of these tickets. Oh, it's Red Light you say? How naive are you?
   So once again it's up to the phans to make a difference and I'm proud to say they seem to be doing just that through the miserable world of social media, although this seems to be a rare case in which social media has nothing but positive ramifications. The outrage over 90% of phans being essentially locked out of these shows has spilled over into the social media world with phans racing to Twitter and Facebook to not only express their displeasure over the situation, but to also form pages protesting TicketMaster and StubHub, which if I'm not mistaken, is owned and run by TM. As a professional cynic my moments of "wow, Phish fans really make me proud" are waning. They've basically been reduced to post-festival or post-multiple-day-runs when phans and the Green Crew make the places look as if Phish were never there. Sorry, but getting the paramedics when some wook collapses isn't something to be proud of, that should be human nature. But this is a proud moment. There is still plenty of time for our trustapharians to cave and spend tons of their parent's money on tickets, but for now the quantity on StubHub rises by the day. Keep it up phans, FUCK STUBHUB AND FUCK SCALPERS!!! And fuck Phish if this shit happens again or they start doing these old men 3-4 night runs sporadically throughout the year in places few people can afford the tickets or the accommodations (Hampton, Vegas, stand-along NYC runs, etc.). Keep the scalper hate coming people, we're making a difference.

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2011 NYE Run at MSG announced

   Like many of us assumed (OK...hoped for...that way it doesn't look like we're taking it for granted), Phish will play a NYE run at MSG starting December 28th through the 31st. You know where to go for information.

See you there in a few months!

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Vermont Flood Recovery BenePhish: Giving Back To A Home In Need

   Last night was a special night. For the first time since they sang the national anthem at the 2004 America East Championship game at UVM Phish was on a public stage in the Burlington area collectively making music. The last time they had played an actual song with instruments in the area was in 1999 at the Flynn Theater following a Trey show. And the Flynn Theater was also the site of the last official show in the birthplace of Phish, the famous 3/19/97 Phish Food Release Party show, in which loud speakers were put outside the theater to accommodate the hundreds of phans that had gathered outside originally looking for tickets - or just to soak up the scene. So yeah, it's been essentially 15 years since the boys rocked their "hometown" spot in true style. And although we'd all like to have come together under better circumstances, spirits were high, the energy was amazing, and the music rocked.
   The last time I was at the Essex Junction Fairgrounds was for TAB in the summer of 2002, a time when I was desperately searching for a Phish fix in any way possible. The Burlington area show had the best chance for a "reunion", so we went hoping the others would come out and join Trey - no such luck, they were just their for some music and a little support. As least I got to see them as I peeled the fence back just enough to stick my head through the fence before security chased me away. Not literally, but he did ask me what the hell I was doing and told me to leave. So yeah, this time around things would be different. Most - if not all - of the money generated by the show was going to the Vermont flood relief effort, which prompted VT Governor Peter Shumlin to praise the efforts of Phish, their crew and management, and especially the fans for making the relief effort happen (4:29...get it?). He also urged people to keep helping and talked about ways in which that could be accomplished. It was a really special moment and must have made the people of VT in attendance feel good after what they've been through (also apparently available on the you get it). Gordon talked about how pumped the boys were to be back in town playing for locals and die-hards (although some of you couldn't make it), and it was clear by the time he walked off stage to prepare to come out, it was going to be a special night musically as well. Although the song list wasn't mind-blowing - almost predictably standard, something we figured on going in - every song was played with about as much passion as I've seen the boys play with all year. Gordon said they were pumped to be there, and it showed. Even the most standard Phish tunes were ripped to the highest order; Cacto especially blew my mind, but then again, I did predict he would be this season's MVP.

Set I: Chalkdust Torture (7:35), Moma Dance (7:07) > NICU (5:03), Funky Bitch (6:15), Sample (5:43), Cavern (4:20...insert lame joke here), Gin (12:52) , Alaska (8:39) > Possum (8:33), Wolfman's (11:12) > Julius (11:00)

   The first thing that stands out to me is no theremin, despite the use of one during sound check (Jam, Midnight Confessions, Ginseng Sullivan, Silent Night (on Theremin), Too Much Fried Dough At The Fair, Peaches en Regalia, Cannonball tease, Jam [Unconfirmed]). Like I said, the song choice was almost predictable, but every song raged. To save time I'll say right off the bat that Chalkdust, Funky Bitch, Sample, Alaska, and Possum were standard, but by no means were they soft. Every one of them was played with as much passion as the day the debuted it. The rest is worth elaboration. The Moma was particularly funky and went > a super pop off NICU. I'm telling you, Gordo meant business last night. Gordon was popping the mid-set Cavern off so hard people were falling down all around me. The Gin got pretty deep and was probably the Set One highlight if not for yet ANOTHER BOMB Wolfman's. This shit took Set One to a new level. Although not confirmed (even by me yet with a re-listen), I heard Golden Age teases. Just like the other Set One ragers, Cacto controlled this one. From pop off to poppin' off Gordo and the boys DESTROYED this Wolman's like they have much of 2011. Wolfman's then went > Julius, one of the better ones of the year and certainly one of the longest. 

Set II: Carini (12:17) > DWD (12:30) > Slave (9:56) > R 'n' R (7:35) > Twist (7:01) > BDTNL (8:05), Theme From the Bottom (7:44) > Suzy (6:19) > Character Zero (9:18)

 E: Loving Cup (7:21)

   Set Two launched off with Carini after a shout-out to the ol' security guru, and it was clear the Second Set madness would continue as it did through the course of 2011. A LONG DARK  chest-pounding Carini > DWD, probably the highlight of the show > a classic Slave > a short but SICK rare mid-set Rock 'n' Roll > a standard but great Twist > yet another, but good-feeling-inspiring-nonetheless BDTNL. Apparently there was a break between BDTNL and Theme, but I didn't hear it. Theme is so fucking sick, and this one was no different. From the deep murky melodies to the mind-bending guitar riffs to Page's spine-tingling piano strikes this shit has it all. It seemed longer. Theme > ugh..Suzy > ugher...Character Zero, although Trey cock-rocked this one to the extreme. He was flipping his red hair around like was crazy. They were obviously into it...well, Trey was...too bad it was Character Zero. But again, much was to be expected of this show, including something standard like a Zero set-ender. Still rocked. Loving Cup was a serious boner-beater, but again, certain things were to be expected. We figured it was Loving Cup or First Tube (based on the ginger banging from Character Zero) or maybe a nice surprise for the locals, something like a YEM. We got the former and we lived with it.
   So ended the Vermont Flood Recovery show, one of our prouder Phish moments. Bad circumstances, great cause. I think we raised a lot of money for the people in need, and we did it in style - our style. Phish rocked the "hometown" spot, and all the locals who didn't get a chance to rage tour got their fix. It was a fitting way to end the first chapter in the Phish 2011 Yearbook. We'll see you in a few months to finish that book when the spaceship lands again and little theremins come out and take over...

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Thanks to & LivePhish for the set list help. Get the Golden Age teases in there. To everyone who helped out with the recovery show - from the band to the vendors to the management to the state to Essex Junction to the Green Crew to the ticket holder - what an incredible benePhish. We feel honored to have been part of such a great community effort, and I'm sure VT is deeply grateful. We shown the country once again what we're made of - besides hemp, veggie burritos, tie-dyes, and pins - and I couldn't be happier to be part of it. Is it New Years yet?

Friday, September 9, 2011

BenePhish: Special Announcement

   Although we can't claim VT residency, because we live five miles from the border, and only 15 minutes from one of the worst hit towns in VT (Brattleboro), my wife and I consider VT home in a way and were devastated by the damage stemming from the remains of Hurricane Irene last week. Many areas, including several towns around us in MA and VT, were hit hard and are still recovering. We feel honored to be part of the flood benefit show outside Burlington next week, and feel even prouder that our beloved Phish stepped in to try and soften the blow left by the storm.

   If you plan on going consider making something (baked goods, etc.) or bringing some of your hats, shirts, pins or legal etc. to sell to raise some money for the flood effort - even a few of X makes a difference. Many, if not all, of these Phish organizations take charity checks. Sell your stuff like you would at any other show and then give some back, if you can. A little usually goes a long way.

   Unfortunately I don't have any information myself at the moment, but if anyone knows of any organizations helping with the VT (or any other community affected by the floods/storm) recovery effort, or has any information regarding food, clothing, etc. drives at or around the venue, please leave that information via comment, or send the information to me and I'll post it for our readers and abroad. Use social media to get the information out. In the meantime I will look for this information myself and provide it when I find it. I know when we think of VT we think of Killington, Stowe, Lake Champlain, and seems glorious, but trust me, VT needs our help. And so do other surrounding communities. Do what you've always done Phishheads, help when you can!

See you next Wednesday!

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Now continue on for the Colorado reviews...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rocky Mountain High: The Labor Day Run

   I love that the Denver area is like a home town show at 5,280 feet surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. There are that many of our friends out there, transplanted from a dispensary-less Massachusetts to a fantasy land where the right people can actually order off of menus at their choice of myriad places. So Colorado had plenty in store for us from music, to old friends, to new friends, to new adventures - what a blast. Phish rolled through Commerce City, CO this past Labor Day Weekend to end "Summer Tour 2011" for one more 3-day run two weeks after they burned Chicago to the ground, although I still say Summer Tour 2011 ended in Chicago. Calling these shows part of "Fall Tour" is a stretch, too, but that two-week break between Chicago and Denver was enough to consider them different, in my opinion anyway. I still can't figure out why Phish didn't play any shows during those two weeks, and no one's been able to give me a good reason. I suppose Phish doesn't need one.
   The shows were held at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the oil rig known as Commerce City about 15 minutes outside of Denver. Despite the hideous appearance of the surrounding city, the venue, a fairly new MLS soccer stadium, was awesome - clean, convenient, great seating, great sound (for the most part),  and relatively close lots for quick, easy walking. It was a pretty cool place and although Phish was only the second band to play inside the venue, I see many more shows happening in this place. And of course GA is always fun because you don't have to worry from 7:40 to 8:05 that some dork and his wife are going to come up to you 7 minutes before the show after you've been squatting in the seats for a half hour and say "Sorry bro, these are our seats". Then they just stand there or sit and keep awkwardly looking back at you as if something from your body or clothes is going to come of you and land on them giving them some horrible wook disease - only to leave the show early anyway. Am I talking about someone specifically? Maybe it's you. Probably not, but you know exactly who I'm talking about. So yeah, GA is cool. We had 3-day field passes, but bounced around for three days between the floor and 119. The sound was great almost anywhere you went, and aside from a few places (specifically dead center stands towards the field and the rails around the soundboard) there was plenty of dancing room. So all in all the venue experience was a great one and I hope Phish continues to play there. As far as the music is concerned, wow. I'm not about to hop on the ship that has declared the Labor Day Weekend run as the best shows of the year, but I will say with certainty that they were three of the best. Shit, Sparks and Guy Forget would have been enough to make my trip worth it (both debuts for me - well, almost all of you). From mind-bending jams, to fun covers, to bust-outs Phish rocked the house all the way up until the lone encore of Night Three when they took a collective shit on stage with the flattest BDTNL in history...but let's have the good news first, which is 99.9% of it.

Night One: Friday, September Second: SSSSSSStounding

Set I: Sample, Sparkle, The Sloth, Sweet Virginia, Suskind Hotel, Strange Design, Stash, Sneakin' Sally > Sparks > Scent of a Mule, STFTFP, Shine a Light, Split Open and Melt, Squirming Coil

   Sample opened the weekend and although I'm not the biggest fan it's a rockin' tune and gets the crowd going right off the bat. The first Sparkle in 41 shows (Amherst 2010) followed before my favorite mythical hit man got his shout out with the always sick Sloth. Next was the 'Stones cover Sweet Virginia, which I thought was a Dead cover for about 90 seconds until I recalled hearing it through my flu-clogged ears as I lay half dead in Indio - either way it was sick. Next was Suskind Hotel for only the second time ever (Super Ball), definitely one of my favorite new tunes (written by Mike and Trey but performed mostly by Mike during his runs), and a great version at that. Wait, another "S" song? This was five in a row, but I was still denying any significance as my friends started whispering about the importance. The beautiful Strange Design followed...OK, maybe there was something to this. Stash...yup, we had an "S" set. A raging Stash set the stage for 20 minutes of INSANITY: Sneakin' Salley > Sparks > Scent. Are you fucking kidding me? Salley was bomb and went > the first Sparks in 463 shows (11/29/96 Daly City, CA) > Scent. UnbelievableSilly. Stupid (the good one). Shocking. SHIT! STFTFP followed this sick segue. Another great 'Stones tune Shine A Light followed, then a decent Split, then the classic Squirming Coil. Set One was in the books and already had people talking a blue streak...the boys were in town and had laid it down immediately.

Set II: Sand > Simple > Steam > Soul Shakedown Party > Seven Below > Suzy Greenberg > Scents and Subtle Sounds > Slave > Silent in the Morning > Sanity, Sweet Adeline

E: Sabotage

   Set Two continued two trends, old and new. First, the Second Set was again almost an entire segue, which seemed to be a theme all summer, and secondly, the "S' mayhem continued as the Phish opened the Second Set with launching pad Sand. The Sand was amazing and went > only the third Simple since last fall tour > easily the best new SOUL SHREDDER Phish has in Steam > Soul Shakedown Party, which did the work Makisupa hasn't been able to do in years > a personal favorite in Seven Below > the custy anthem Suzy Greenberg > a sick S&SS > the old phan phavorite Slave > a Horse-less Silent In The Morning > in-Sanity. Are you fucking kidding me? What an unbelievable set! Take Suzy out of that set and we have one for the ages. What's my problem with Suzy you keep asking? Well I'm half-kidding about taking it out of the set, but I do hate the song save Page's 2-minute funk solo. And here's why in a nutshell (Disclaimer: Phans have every right to love, hate, dance to, get excited, etc. about ANYTHING as long as they don't bother others, but...): This dude weasels his way through the crowd finding the smallest amount of room to squat out in. He's bumping into my wife because this loner is insisting upon squirreling up as close as he could before the Second Set. This short skinny dork proceeds to literally STAND STILL with his arms at his side FOR THE ENTIRE SECOND SET...THROUGH SAND...THROUGH STEAM...THROUGH SOUL SHAKEDOWN...THROUGH SEVEN BELOW...YES, THROUGH EVERY ONE OF THOSE FUCKING UNBELIEVABLE RAGING GALAXY TOUR DANCE PARTY SONGS...

...THEN THE FUCK STARTS JUMPING UP AND DOWN LIKE A FUCKING CRICKET DURING SUZY FUCKING GREENBERG!!!!!!! THEN S&SS BLASTS OUT OF THE AMPS AND THIS KID GOES BACK TO STANDING STILL FOR THE REST OF THE SHOW!!! WHAT?!?! OK, he could have been tripping, but come on. That's why I hate Suzy Greenberg. Show me someone who loves - truly loves - Suzy Greenberg and I'll show you a...ahhh, that would be too negative. No, I want to. I'll show you a 21-year-old shit-faced college chick signing her favorite - and one of only four - Phish songs she knows at the top of her lungs. There. The song sucks and so do you if you live for it, I'll leave it at that. That was this dude. It was so hilarious that my wife and I started laughing about the fact that his friends must have had a bet with him that he couldn't move to any sick songs, that he was forced to dance only to shitty songs. If only they had played TTE that might have been confirmed. And I've seen people like him - male and female - at every show I've been to since Phish came back. You sit during Walls Of The Cave, Seven Below, and Scents And Subtle Sounds, but you rage to Character Zero, Chalkdust Torture, and Suzy Greenberg. You look confused during Golden Age, but you're crying during Loving Cup. OK. It's just amazing we're both here in the same place. Anyway, the boys grouped up for A Capella Sweet Adeline for the first time in 285 shows (8/1/99 Japan) and the first time in 404 shows in the USA (also played 7/1/98 in Denmark; last time played in the USA was  8/13/97 in Burgettstown). It was one of the best A Capella experiences in a long time, maybe since that last Birdwatcher. The encore was Sabotage for the only the fourth time in Phishtory and the first since 11/21/98 during the famous Hampton run (318 shows). Crazinessssss. And so ended an ssssstounding start to what was going to be a sick weekend. The letter "S" came and shit sweet music into our ears leaving us all wondering what letter was coming next...

Night Two: Saturday, September 3rd: Golden Age of Dick's

   After a few days in Denver with good friends from the Happy Valley days we headed to Boulder for more of the same. We even got  chance to have dinner with relatives...we're everywhere. Boulder was the shit and made me want to move there with it's beautiful scenery, great weather, laid back attitude,  awesome food, "shops" I'd actually be interested in, and it's only at 5,200 ft. Trust me, when you're an East Coaster that makes a difference. I suppose you acclimate, but when I lived at 5,500 ft. in Socorro, NM I was fine; as soon as I visited my boys in Summit County (~9-10K) I was breathing heavy playing disc golf. So yeah, it's tempting. Without a party bus for Night Two we ripped the 30 minute drive in the rental and got to lot a little earlier than the night before. Shakedown was small, but hopping. Security and the police were as cool as they could be. I saw a few instances where kids were doing stupid shit and a cop would just go over, put their hand on the kids shoulder, say something, and walk away. There's that laid-back attitude (that's really only displayed by locals). After a less-than-enjoyable dance scene on the soundboard rail Night One, we retreated to Section 119 for Night Two. That got a little crowded, too, but that was our crew's fault anyway. 60+ fucking people will do that.
Set I: Possum (9:55), Moma Dance (7:48) > Wedge (7:58), Ocelot (9:21) > Divided Sky (15:38), Funky Bitch (7:11), Axilla (3:28) > Llama (5:18), Fast Enough for You (7:12), Wolfman's (12:07)

   Night Two opened with Possum, probably the most played song of 2011 along with Antelope, BDTNL, Crosseyed & Painless, and Golden Age. Next was Moma Dance which went > The Wedge. Ocelot, a song that is dropping down my "Like" song list as fast as Peyton Manning is dropping down the Fantasy Quaterback list followed. The jam is predictable and really goes nowhere. In other words, the song is getting boring. Ocelot did go > Divided Sky, which is always great. Not a single drop of sweat during this freeze during the Silent Jam...a lot different than Chicago. One of the better Funky Bitch's in a while followed, and then Axilla, which went > a relatively short Llama that contained Streets of Cairo teases. A long, SICK FEFY followed before another insane funk bomb in Wolfman's ended the set. Wolfman's has been KILLING it lately and it was a perfect way to round out Set One.

Set II: DWD (11:50) > Tweezer (14:28) > Golden Age (7:26) > LxL (7:35), KDF (11:02) > 2001 (6:18) > Light (8:31) > Julius (7:24) > Cavern (4:21) > Antelope (10:52)

E: Sleeping Monkey (4:43) > TweepriZe (3:57)

   These Second Sets seem to be of the same theme here in 2011. It seems almost every single Second Set this summer opened with either DWD, Crosseyed,  Sand, or R 'n' R. Trust me, I'm not complaining. That's my kind of Phish. I love ALL of it, but those tunes along with the Lights, the 2001s, the Golden Ages, the Tweezers...these are my Type-Trigger jams. It also seems that nearly every Second Set is either a segue, or could be if you blinked. I love it. So in 2011 fashion, Second Set opened with DWD and went > a LONG SICK Tweezer that had Green-Eyed Lady and Golden Age teases > 2011 New Jam Of The Year (cover or original score) Golden Age > LxL. After a tiny break we got a ROCKIN' and LONG KDF which went > 2001 and > Light, which contained full DWD end solo teases from Trey > Julius > a DEEP MURKY Cavern > into a totally unnecessary Antelope. Phish has forced me to hate Antelope. Many times this summer Phish has ended a bomb set with 2-4 set-ending songs, and usually they seem forced and unnecessary. Night Three Chicago is a perfect example. Look at that set list...the last three songs are totally unnecessary and forced, like they felt compelled to play them for the "faithful", which are probably so sick of some of these songs they could scream (Golgi, Antelope, Julius, Character Zero...ugh). And they always seem to end these unbelievable sets. WHY?!?! Just end the fucking set with Cavern, PLEASE! It's not even like the Antelopes have been sick...they've fucking sucked! Listen for yourself. But there's no denying how sick the Second Set was, or the show in general. Everyone was loving Dick's. The end of tour was nearing, a bittersweet time. One more night. It should be a huge Dick's night, right?

Night Three: Sunday, September 4th: No Guy Could Forget...Or Girl

Set I: Maze (10:15), Back on the Train (8:34) > Rift (5:55) > Gin (15:19), The Way It Goes (5:33), Halfway to the Moon (7:31), Gumbo (5:03), Halley's Comet (6:09) > Tube (4:37) > Timber (Jerry) (5:18) > Roses Are Free (5:05) > Chalkdust Torture (9:10)

   Night Three sure got off to the right start with the first Maze opener in  536 shows (12/9/95 Albany)! After a long sick Maze we were treated to over 30 minutes of mayhem with a SWAMPY BOTT with Sneaking Salley teases > Rift > an UNREAL Gin. Apparently the boys got their shit together after several tries during sound-check because they were able to debut Gillian Welch's The Way It Goes, which contained Streets of Cairo teases from Page, who led the grooving during the next tune, his Halfway To The Moon, a tune that NEEDS to be in rotation! The set just continued to fucking sick. Then we got 20 minutes of straight dance party in four different forms: Halley's (bouncing up and down) > Tube (funk pops and locks and Charlie Chan teases) > Timber (swaying back and forth) > Roses (throwing pumpkins at trees) > Chalkdust (kill me - I'm a teaching assistant at a college...think I want to be reminded that I had a flight in 9 hours to go back to work...can't I live while I'm young?!). It was pretty clear we were in for something ridiculous for Set Two...

Set II: R 'n' R (10:18) > Come Together (3:04) > Twist (7:41) > Piper (12:04) > Hood (12:47) > Roggae (7:59) > Ghost (7:14) > Guy Forget (2:23) > Ghost (0:51), Walls of the Cave (12:37)

E: BDTNL  (8:23)

   R 'n' R...shocking. But we love it. This Rock 'n' Roll did not contain it's famous "Venue Jam", but did go > the first Come Together in 537 shows (12/8/95 Cleveland)! Anyone else find that coincidental? Set One had a Maze opener, the first one in 536 shows since 12/9/95...then Come Together in the Second Set is the first in 537 shows since 12/8/95...weird coincidence. Anyway, Come Together was incomplete and went > a sick Twist, which contained Low Rider teases and a LR jam > a LONG SICK SPACEY Piper with Roadrunner teases and Page on the MIGHTY theremin > a classic Hood > a sloppy but still sick Roggae > a Ghost that made up for Chicago's egg with Oye Como Va teases before they morphed > the allusive and highly sought-after Guy Forget back > a short Ghost clean-up, which contained more Guy Forget nonsense towards the end. Holy shit. Guy Forget...we chase...we eventually catch. I only have a few more left. After a tiny breather the boys launched into Walls Of The Cave, a song that needs to be in the rotation from now on. We've seen this tune a few times now since Manchester and it's EPIC. The second half of WoTC will rip your chest open and fling your heart on stage. Whether the boys stomp on it or not is up to them.
   Now comes the 0.1% we talked about at the beginning: After 33 shows over eight weeks from New York to Alpharetta back to New York to The Gorge to LA to Chicago to Commerce City, CO in a tour that certainly had it's dull spots but was overshadowed by unbelievable musical moments show after show and the best festival in recent memory as far as music is concerned we expected a most appropriately SICK encore. Would it be a crazy bust-out? Would they push the curfew envelope? Would they bring out the Keytar? It was only 11:28...they had over 30 minutes based on Night One and Two. This was going to be crazy. I was thinking maybe First Tube > Frankenstein. That would fill the spot and send everyone off begging for a NYE run. No dice. BDTNL...and that was it. It wasn't even a great one to boot. And I usually LOVE BDTNL. It was longer than I thought, but the encore ended at least 25 minutes earlier then the previous nights. Not only that, but Trey barely said anything, barely thanked us phans for providing the millions of dollars that make it all happen, nothing. Nothing. A flat 8-minute BDTNL and a mental "see you all on MY tour in a few weeks" from Trey. You won't see me there Ginger Jedi. I'll see you in NYC during Phish's NYE run. OK, maybe TAB in New Jersey...maybe. But that would be it.
   But I can't end on that sour note because that tiny flat moment was dwarfed by a three-day run that compared to almost any of the runs of 2011. Bust-outs, insane segues, funky grooves,  Cacto popping off, Page on the theremin...what else can one ask for? So as we round out Summer Tour 2011 & Labor Day Run 2011 we're left with a great feeling. Phish seems as strong as ever, they seem passionate about the music, Page is having a baby and raising a theremin, and we expect the boys to be back in 2012, although they'll scale things down a bit according to Trey. So let's support VT's flood recovery efforts with some BenePhish next week, then let's prepare for a skull-popping run in NYC this NYE, then let's wait for what 2012 has in store...the End Of The World Tour. Let's go out with a bang together. So ends another tour, my first blogging tour. I hope you enjoyed the blogs and the insight, and I hope you keep coming back for more Phish, sports, and other stuff...but mostly Phish. Thanks for reading and thanks for being part of the experience. Phish makes the music...we make the scene. Holla'.

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Thanks to & LivePhish for the set list help. Thanks to Marky Mark for the bed and care package Thursday (glad you made it to the Second Set Saturday!); thanks to Max-Has-Millions and Campaign Corey for hooking the hospitality and party buses throughout; to all your crew - great kids, especially the roommates and Ollie; thanks to Butterfield Tim for all the Boulder hospitality - call us when you're in MA; to the Homboldt/Denver crew we met through Portland Dave and Makin' It Renee: Bradley, McKenzie, Josh & Wendi - you guys are the shit, we need to hook up more at shows; and finally I need to thank the rest of my crew - SeriousLeigh, Miguel Cocineros, Henry The Third, The Duchess Of West Warren, Matty Fractal, You Know My Esteez, Colonel Phortin, Who Has My Zanoff, 83 Blue 83 Blue Hutnik, He Knows Your Body, The Charlton Crevier's, The Greater Cape Cod Crew and anyone else I foolishly forgot - tour would not be the same without you guys. One last quick shout-out to all our shakedown and vendor kids - you know who you are - thanks for making the scene, you guys bring the scene together and keep us full and beaming. We love it and we'll miss you until next time. Last but not least, much thanks to Phish, four guys who had more influence on my life than anyone besides my wife and parents. Thanks for another unbelievable tour. I honestly don't know what I'd do without you guys (because I forget what 2001-2002 & 2004-2009 was like, but I know I was bored). Peace out until next time pholks!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chicago On Fire: UIC Review, Night Three

   The last night of Summer Tour 2011 - still refusing to consider the LDW shows part of ST11 - closed the Chicago chapter of the Second Leg and it was the perfect ending to the best three-show run since Charlotte-Raleigh-Portsmouth, which may have been the best three-show run of ST11...possibly even 3.0. NYE MSG '11, Southern Run '11, and Chicago Run '11 are the obvious candidates. Someone told me it was Freshman "move-in" day at UIC...can you imagine? Only two things come out of that situation: Either the student thinks "fuck, this is my college!" or "holy shit, this is my college!", "fuck" being the negative adjective, "holy shit" being the positive adjective. Regardless, they will both end up being wrong, but it's still hilarious to think about it. And if you're a pothead freshman, it might have been the greatest freshman move-in day in college history.
   The most humid of all the days, Wednesday didn't seem like it was going to be any cooler...and it definitely wasn't, although we finally found an AC vent and posted up. Tickets were hard to come by, although we all ended up inside, which made for some hilarious entertainment watching 300 lb. security guards tackle - and in some cases beat down - 125 lb. hippies. The same went for the floor...still can't figure out why so many people cram the rail during indoor shows. In a place like UIC there's about a 10% max on shitty seats, i.e., there aren't many bad seats in the house as far as sound is concerned (although we managed to find the worst sounding- but most roomy and vented). To sum up the show before I even review it I'd say it had ridiculous potential, but then, like so many other times during similar type shows, it took a serious nose dive towards the confused/crammed/custied/choppy/request party/weirdness that has plagued these Second Set Galaxy Tours. You'll see what I mean, but either way it was a rockin' ending to one of the better three-show runs of the year.

Set I: Colonel Forbin's (6:10) > Famous Mockingbird (6:49), Gumbo (4:42) > Possum (9:29), Weigh (5:06) > Divided Sky (17:05), Alaska (8:33), Bathtub Gin (12:27), Maze (10:01), Cavern (4:31) > First Tube (8:31)

   Colonel Forbin's > Mockingbird, only the fifth of 3.0, opened a show for the first time since 11/3/89 at the Tree Cafe in Portland, ME. I say Forbin's > Mockingbird because Mockingbird has followed Forbin's all but twice...just a little FYI. Other then the fact we were section 208 near the top - that 10% sound I talked about - it was magical. But it was terribly unfortunate how bad it sounded up there (at first). The always bomb Gumbo followed, which went > 2011 Joke Of The Year Possum (although this one was sick). One of Gordo's finest in Weigh was next and went > the always amazing Divided Sky, which included the sweatiest Silent Jam in recent memory. The band stalled so long after DS that we all thought they were either busting out or playing a new dice. Alaska. A ridiculous Gin followed, before another long strange pause...was this the bust-out/newb? Nope, it was a fucking bonkers Maze that had me in my best scan dance of 3.0. Cavern followed, which seemed to be the Set One ender, but Mike's bass line was so deep and groovy that it got Trey off and thinking of one of his personal jams. So Trey asked Mike to keep the groove going and blasted into First Tube, which was out of time on several occasions (because of Trey). I actually love those situations. Someone - usually Trey -  hears something and requests that sound go to new places, even if that new place is a well-known tune. It's still great to see that chemistry and communication in action. Set One had it all and was one of the best First Sets in a long time.

Set II: Crosseyed and Painless (11:30) > No Quarter (9:26) > Timber (Jerry) (4:49) > Tweezer (8:32) > Caspian (3:36) > Piper (8:41) > Ghost (3:48) > Makisupa (5:43) > Sleep (2:01) > Buffalo Bill (2:17), Golgi Apparatus (4:34) > Character Zero (5:35) > Antelope (9:55)

E: Funky Bitch (5:33), Show of Life (5:08) > TweepriZe (3:50)

  I wish I had come up with inter-post titles, like a title for every paragraph. If so, this section would read - Set Two: It Should Have Stopped In Buffalo. Let me explain. The ST11 Second Set Galaxy Tour continued with another bomb C&P opener. It was the seventh such opener of ST11 and the eighth of 2011...and I love it. It also invaded almost every song in the Second Set. By the time the set was over we were still waiting. C&P > the third unbelievable No Quarter of the summer > the Timber we've been waiting on for weeks despite numerous teases > the inescapable Tweezer > a shoot-me-in-the-face Caspian > a sick Type-II-ish Piper > the shortest forced Ghost in history > a Makisupa out of nowhere that included many hilarious pot-induced puns on famous musician's names > the first Sleep in 105 shows (8/7/09 Gorge) and only the third of 3.0 (fourth since 1.0) > an oddly-placed but awesome Buffalo Bill. Then the set fell to shit. It was as if Phish was ending all together and Trey freaked over the fact that some audience cusites weren't getting the Greatest Hits they so desperately came to one show a year to see and would never have the chance to see again. A typical, boring, old, unflattering, hindsightingly predictable, rip-my-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it-like-a-spent-cigarette Golgi > Zero > Antelope ended the Second Set. How terrible. Three overplayed, unnecessary, set ending songs all crammed together to end an otherwise unbelievable show. How gross. Those would be three of the Top 5 "Please Don't End This Epic Show With Any Of These Horrible Boner Beating Songs". Price Caspian had already shit in my ears, so Suzy Greenberg was the only other one left. Now I feared the encore. But the encored kept par with the UIC theme and Phish ended with Funky Bitch, Show Of Life, and TweepriZe. So a three-show run that had "I can die now and be completely satisfied" written all over it turned into a "I have to go to Denver now because three of the last six songs I heard cannot be Golgi, Zero, and Antelope". And don't even give me the "don't go to every show" bullshit. It's what we do. See you in Denver...err, Commerce City.

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Thanks to & LivePhish for set list help. Thanks to Phish for providing the music and to all the phans for providing the atmosphere. Another successful Summer Tour in the books! See you next Summer Tour for the 2012 End Of The World Tour.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicago On Fire: UIC Review, Night Two

   We all knew it would be hard to top Monday night's show, but that didn't mean the boys wouldn't try. Everything leading up to the show - weather, the lot, the authorities - was no different. Actually that's not completely true. We did see Harley Davidson clad under-covers (bad news) busting nitrous dealers (good news). And they moved the fucking port-o-potties against the the rail - the only place to sit around Shakedown. It didn't seem to deter dozens of people from hanging there, but I'm straight. So to avoid cigarette-pack-searching teenage security guards we headed in much earlier then usual, with about an hour to go before showtime. We had great seats, but that was an illusion because they were on the aisle and it became a serious shit-show quickly. I was forced into the aisle within seconds and then subsequently surrounded by myriad tools that seem to love being squished against strangers sweating rather than search for space to dance. I hate these people. Act like you've been to a show before, you don't need to be close to the band. They don't care about you and Trey is not looking at you. Get over it. As usual, just when anxiety and frustration was building to the point where I was about to tell these aisle crammers to get lost before they got bundled the lights went out.

Set I: Dinner and a Movie (4:49), Ha Ha Ha (1:37) > Chalkdust Torture (10:00), Mexican Cousin (4:24), Walls of the Cave (10:56), Runaway Jim (7:48) > Foam (8:38), I Didn't Know (4:03), Ocelot (9:58), Ginseng Sullivan (2:49), The Wedge (6:35), LxL (9:45), Let It Loose (6:05)

   We went out to Dinner And A Movie for only the fifth time since 2.0 before the Ha Ha Ha orange sign kids got their request (only the fourth Ha Ha Ha since 2.0). Decent start to the show. Chalkdust came out of Ha Ha Ha and took the wind out of my sail for a minute before the jam began to pull me back in. The boys then blasted into Mexican Cousin, one of my favorite hardly played tunes. The solo wasn't quite as sick as the one I remember from Charlotte ST10 (YouTube it, I'm the guy in the blue hat in front of the dude filming). Walls Of The Cave blasted off - what a sick tune - before Phish went into the archives for an old-school Runaway Jim > Foam, I Didn't Know. Ocelot - which now seems to me more band breather than jam launch pad - followed and then Ginseng Sullivan. The Wedge pulled me right back into the groove before I got my 35th LxL, which according to ZZYZX should be a statistical improbability. An absolutely SICK Let It Loose ended the set.

Set II: DWD (21:27) > Twist (8:28) > BDTNL (7:39) > Theme (7:13) > Golden Age (8:31) > A Day in the Life (4:54) > YEM (22:52)

E: Heavy Things (5:05) > Slave (9:40) > Rocky Top (3:04)

   Second Set lifted the fuck off. Another complete Second Set segue full of the deepest, darkest launch pads. A MONSTER DWD ran nearly 22 minutes before blasting > an UNDENIABLY MIND-BENDING Twist > a rockin' BDTNL > a MURKY Theme (although some of the vocals - one of the best parts of the song - were pretty butchered) > 2011 Song Of The Year Golden Age > A Day In The Life > a RIDICULOUS YEM, vocal space jam included. The Second Sets continue to blow minds. DWD raged mental war with me...Twist was so deep it hurt...Trey ripped Theme like it was 1997...Golden Age continues to send people to the Moon...and YEM went old school like flat top fades and even Walked This Way for a second or two...fucking amazing. The lengthy encores continued as Phish blasted off a Heavy Things > Slave > Rocky Top to end the show. Another gem. It was no Night One, but it rocked just the same. We have a 15-hour drive home tomorrow, so we're expecting something to be talking about the entire way there. See you inside.

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Thanks to & LivePhish for set list help.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicago On Fire: UIC Review, Night One

   Phish absolutely destroyed the UIC Pavilion last night. Absolutely destroyed it. From the first note of Back On The Train to the last sweaty, fucking exhausted note of Hood at the end of the EPIC five-song encore Phish blasted every note, shook every seat, drained every ounce of water from every single pore in the place, exhausted vending supplies, and ripped the heart out of every single person in the building. The encore was so epic I thought we were being held hostage...ahh, in a good way. Bad analogy. You get the point. It was bananas. This show will be talked about in 10 years. As in, "Were you at that UIC show in 2011? You know, the indoor show in 90 degree Chicago in the middle of August?" Yeah, we were there. And we're lucky we made it out to tell the tale. Last night was on a different level. There's been a lot of talk about "types" lately in reference to jamming, etc. So much so that 2011 MVP Cacto "Soft G" Gordon (by the way, where the fuck are the Micheal Gordon shirts in Chicago?!?!?!) has dialed in his opinion. So if Type-II is "you can't really recognize the song anymore because the jam is getting so deep" then I'll categorize Chicago 1 as Type-What The Fuck? And that was the entire Second Set. OK, I'm getting  ahead of myself.
   Chicago is awesome. It's like New York with way less people and no attitude. Beautiful buildings, great food, great bars, even sicky hotels. The cab rides are relatively cheap and the walks are relatively short. The rivers at least look clean and the people seem genuinely friendly. Locals, am I getting this right? The lot was poppin', kind of. Most of the normal lot kids were selling their great food, and the cops and security seemed pretty cool. Security getting into the building was a fucking joke, but that could have just been our toolish 19-year-old security guy. He was emptying out people's cigarette by one. Once we got into the show the energy was building by the second. People packed into the smallish venue, which seemed oversold. It was fucking sweaty. It was like being in a cave, except the cave was 90 degrees. If the show wasn't one of the sickest shows I've ever seen, it would have been unbearable. But it was could it not be:

Set I: Back on the Train (8:16), Rift (5:55) > Guelah Papyrus (6:37), Scent of a Mule (7:22), Jesus Just Left Chicago (8:06), Wolfman's Brother (13:24), Anything But Me (5:40), Babylon Baby (6:50), Reba (12:15), Alumni Blues (3:42) > Letter to Jimmy Page (0:56) > Alumni Blues (3:42)

   It was on from the first note of BOTT. Thick, groovy, sick. Rift followed and > an INSANE Guelah Papyrus. A standard Scent followed before a most appropriate Jesus Just Left Chicago. The Wolfman's of late continue to rage. The first Anything But Me since SPAC '09 followed before the debut of Gordon's Babylon Baby. SICK. A pretty standard but still sick Reba followed before some college venue inspired Alumni Blues > Letters To Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues blew the roof off the place. I wish, it would have been a lot cooler inside. The First Set was unreal and it was just the beginning. And I can't stress that enough.

Set II: Sand (12:36) > Light (10:25) > Dirt (4:24), Waves (12:09) > Undermind (13:06) > Steam (8:10) > Fire (8:05)

   It got murky right off the bat in the Second Set with Sand, which blasted > another insane Light before the boys slowed it down and > Dirt, a mesmerizing version. Waves lifted off before slowing to a near stop after a crazy jam, just to blast right back into an even SICKER jam. AHHHHHH!!!! Waves and Sick Jam went right > the best Undermind any of us have heard in A LONG TIME. All of this craziness went directly > STEAM AND IT WAS FUCKING STEAMY AS FUCK! HOLY SHIT THIS SHIT WAS EPIC!! The hot Steam turned > Fire, which about summed it all up. Absolute FIRE.

E: Camel Walk (5:02), Guyute (10:10), The Horse (1:18) > Silent (5:22), Hood (14:57)

   Can you see this encore? I'm leaving it at that. We're headed to the UIC right now and I'm not sure if I can even say more about this show. Download it...listen to it...melt. End of story.

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Thanks to & LivePhish for the set list help.

I Was Not Inside: Outside Lands, San Francisco Review

   I was not at the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco at the beautiful Golden Gate Park. Several phriends went, although none of them answered the call to review the show for the blog. Then again, I didn't try too hard in asking; I was too fixed on Chicago (and as you'll see, for good reason). If you feel like reviewing this, let me know. Send me some text in an email and I'll post it up, credits and all. But in the meantime, I'm just going to give it to you straight:

Set I: KDF (7:51) > Wilson (4:25), Funky Bitch (6:54) > Moma Dance (6:59) > Peaches en Regalia (3:13) > Sample (4:34) > Possum (7:59), Tweezer (11:14), Mound (7:05), Suzy (5:56) > Axilla (3:22) > Mike's (6:22) > Hydrogen (2:46) > Weekapaug (6:59)

Set II: R&R (8:59) > Steam (8:23) > Piper (7:10) > Roses (5:35), Julius (9:12), Life on Mars? (3:32), Birds of a Feather (5:11) > Fluffhead (14:13) > BDTNL (8:26) > 2001 (4:15) > Chalkdust Torture (7:35)

E: Cavern (4:15) > TweepriZe (3:43)

I smell a Live Greatest Hits album due 2013...I swear I'm not hating.

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Thanks to and LivePhish for basically letting me copy and re-post the set lists and song times. If there's any legal jargon associated with my previous statement, leave me alone.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Jackpot!: Tahoe Review

   So Tahoe might be the sickest place I've ever been to. Strictly speaking in Phish venue terms, I basically consider Tahoe a cleaner, much sicker Atlantic City combined with Telluride. It was the perfect setting for a Phish party. Lake Tahoe, mountains, warm (hot?) weather, dry air, cool (cold?) nights, casinos, intimate venue, plenty of tickets for those brave enough to go out without. It was awesome. Nothing like a Gorge-LA-Tahoe meat bound by natural bread. Oh yeah, and the scene was split between CA and NV, so if you wanted to gamble you walked to NV; if you wanted to puff tough you walked to CA. Paradise. So you can imagine the atmosphere as phans started rolling into this picturesque town to rage two nights before rounding out the West Coast run in San Francisco. By the way, don't get excited for a SF review...not even sure if I'm doing one. Anyway you slice it Tahoe rocked the house. The sound was great, there wasn't a bad seat in the place, and the vending/facilities were convenient. Seldom do I travel to a place that I truly contemplate moving to...Tahoe is one of the few.
   We rolled in late enough to Tahoe night one that we didn't have much time to do anything but trade in our paper tickets for "real" tickets. What the fuck? What is this nonsense? What is the point, can anyone tell me? Perhaps a desperate ploy to at least get you into the casino? Maybe once you're surrounded by the lights, beeps and other noises, and 23% ppO2 you're sucked in. I don't know, it didn't work for me. All the exchange did was annoy me. So we set up camp, collected our friends and brains, and headed out for the short walk to Harvey's. It was party time.

Tuesday, 8/9

Set I: Party Time (6:26), Oh Kee Pa (1:49) > AC/DC (6:08) > Mellow Mood (4:01), Rift (5:55), PYITE (8:53) > Meat (5:39), Bowie (10:55), Bouncin' (3:42), Horn (4:06), Water in the Sky (3:26) > 46 Days (9:43)

   Party Time opener. Obvious shit show. Oh Kee Pa, the first since Bethel (5/29/11) and only the second since ST10 was great and thankfully not followed by Suzy. Instead it > AC/DC before blasting into Mellow Mood, a shout out to the local atmosphere, despite the casino rising overhead. A sick version of Rift followed before the boys blasted  into a mid-set PYITE. BOMBISH. And that was just the beginning. PYITE > Meat, the first meat since Bloomfield (10/12/10) and only the third of 3.0. A great mid-set Bowie followed, then Bouncin', then Horn. Water In The Sky followed and went > a rockin' 46 days to round out Set One. Obviously Phish had an agenda in Tahoe.

Set II: Jibboo (8:56) > Light (16:57) > Chalkdust Torture (7:12) > Slave (9:34) > Free (7:02), Rocket Man (4:24) > Hood (10:26) > Walls of the Cave (13:37)

E: Bug (7:59), Coil (9:59)

   A groovy Jibboo opened Set Two and > a FUCKING RIDICULOUS 17-minute Light that had Timber and Tweezer teases > a Potterish Chalkdust > the always chest-thumping Slave > a rockin' Free. Nearly 45 minutes before the boys set it down, but for good reason. The boys were mentally preparing to award the several hundred - at least it seemed that way - of phans carrying paper rockets on a stick supplied by a few eager phans pushing for the Elton classic. Jackpot. Rocket Man. This blew 50 Ways To leave Your Lover right into the Pacific Ocean, but anytime Page sings a cover it blasts off. He really seems to take other musician's music seriously, especially if it's a piano-heavy tune. And Rocket man certainly is. One of the best (spontaneous?) covers they've played yet, although I don't think anything will compare to the first No Quarter we all heard. But let's not downplay anything here. Rocket Man > the always galaxy-traveling Hood > a SICK Walls Of The Cave to round out Set Two. This song fucking rocks. Walls needs to be put in rotation for the long hall immediately. Listen to the silent trees and accept it. A great 18-minute encore of Bug and Coil put the first Tahoe show in the books. Now we were off into the night...these things don't make blogs.

Wednesday, 8/10

Set I: Dogs Stole Things (5:05), STFTFP (4:46), Poor Heart (2:29), Alaska (9:34), Halley's (5:46) > It's Ice (7:03) > Circus (4:47), Ya Mar (6:56), Stash (11:33), Funky Bitch (6:50), Instant Karma! (4:15) > Antelope (10:37)

   Dog Stole Fucking Things. THANK YOU! FINALLY!! I really wanted to punch 73% of the crowd when Phish blasted into that tune and I could hear crickets at the lake shore. But that would be bringing my East Coast attitude to this Tahoe chill scene. Oh well, but if it happens anyway, Dog Stole Things. The first since the Gorge in 2003 (7/12) and only the third since Fair Well Tour 2000 (thank science that wasn't really fair well). A short STFTFP followed, then Poor Heart for the country folk, then Alaska. Good ol' rock 'n' roll. The Tahoe ship lifted off directly after with a POPPIN' Halley's > a freezing cold It's Ice > a BOMB Circus Come To Town. Ya Mar followed, then a decent Stash, and Funky Bitch. Instant Karma! > Antelope to round out Set One.
Set II: DWDSalley (5:44) , Guyute (10:06), Velvet Sea (5:33), YEM (19:08)

E: Show of Life (5:20) > GTBT (5:45)

   Set Two blew minds. A weasely unfinished Disease opened and it was on. DWD > Runaway Jim > Ghost > Golden Age > 2001 > Sneakin' Salley. If it wasn't for the fact that the second half of that MONSTER segue was full of inappropriately short versions I might have claimed it was the best segue I'd ever heard. But I probably say that a lot. Either way, the shit was EPIC. People lose weight during shit like that. And it was still 50 minutes. Guyute followed this journey, then Wading In The Velvet Sea, then the first YEM since Charlotte to round out Set Two. Think about that for a second...that's a 10 show gap, the longest gap since the gap between Charlotte and Cincinnati, which was 8 shows. Trend? Hopefully not, because most of us were raised on YEM. It's a staple, like bread and water. The last 10 show gap was in Summer 2000 between Antioch, TN and Toronto. There have only been eight 10-show YEM gaps in Phishtory and by my count less than 20 eight-show YEM gaps. Those are pretty significant statistics for me, but I guess I'm not really sure why. At the very least it's worth note. Show Of Life and GTBT encored to end the show.
   Yo - Tahoe rocked the house from Sun up to Sun down. The music was fucking epic, we saw many old best friends, and lost no money at the casinos, and partied like it was 2011. We swam the beautiful lake, hopped the rocks at Zypher Cove, chilled on a snowless Heavenly, and decided we might move there. You know a place rips it up if you want top live there after. I guess that's all I can say. We set off for home (a horrible experience I don't feel like blogging about) and prepared for Chicago. We're expecting a fire.

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Thanks to & LivePhish for the set list help. Many thanks to Colonel Phortin for setting up the Blue Lake Inn and to Henry The Third's Tahoe boys for the hospitality. Also thanks to Adam Icculus' crew for setting us up upon arrival and for racing Chrysler Town & Countries with us. It was nice finally put faces to (cyberspace) names on this West Coast trip. One last thing - sorry to my few fans for flaking on the blog. Internet service was a luxury and we were traveling mightily...thanks for being patient.