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Monday, June 27, 2011

Straight Ballin' Kid: Super Ball IX Preview

   Staying with the same theme that launched this blog I figured the best way to review the upcoming Phish festival - Super Ball IX this July 4th weekend - was to review the previous seven...err, eight...Phish festivals in all of their glory. We've been waiting for this four-day weekend since the rumor mill started this past winter, and it's finally here. Multiple days of Phish...multiple sets per day...multiple hours of shit show per set...you get the picture. As I was saying to a group of friends the other night as we sat around talking about past festivals, at the same time explaining what to expect to a Phish festival first-timer, "These festivals have, literally, been three of the top ten experiences of my entire life." I say three even though I've been to five of eight festivals for a reason - more on that later -  but even saying at 32 years that Phish festivals were three of the ten greatest moments of your life is significant. And I 'm married...yes, that obviously makes the Top 10. Being adopted by my incredible family at four years old is certainly one, probably #1 or #2, and yes, I do remember that, although not without a little help. Hmm, sounds like a Phish show. Vacations at Lake Winnepasaukee, sporting events both played and attended, other Phish shows, and times with friends and family would round out the list. But three of the Top 10 were Phish festivals. Now I can't claim to have been to all of them, but between close friends that were in attendance, literature, and the tapes and digital recordings of the music I think I can offer plenty on the festivals that were before my time (Clifford Ball & The Great Went) and made me cry for the first - and one of the few - times in my adult life (my inability to attend Big Cypress for reasons beyond my control). As far as the others, I was there. In body anyway. But in all seriousness, we were there. And we're going to be there, at Super Ball IX, where Phish claims the greatest festival yet will take place. Here's what they're up against:

Phish 1.0

The Clifford Ball, 8/15-17/96, Plattsburgh Air Force Base, NY

   The Clifford Ball was the first Phish festival, and in my opinion launched Phish into it's modern phase of popularity. Of course I don't mean mainstream popularity, but The Clifford Ball certainly put Phish's stamp on the nation as the primary soul-moving - both literally and figuratively - jam band. To this day the Clifford Ball shows rank among all-time shows, and the first show - 8/16/96 - is considered ONE OF THE BEST SHOWS EVER by many die-hard Phish phans. An estimated 70,000 people attended the 'Ball, by far the largest Phish crowd to that date. Those 70,000 phans brought nearly $20 million to the local economy (in an era of $20-30 festival tickets) and made Plattsburgh, NY one of the largest towns in the state for a weekend. Those two facts - among many others - are a few of the reasons Phish ascended to new levels during and after that momentous weekend. I was 17 at the time working as  a lot attendant - no, not that kind - for a local Chevy dealership in my hometown in Massachusetts during The Clifford Ball. I was one month away from attending college, what seemed at the time the most exciting thing to happen to me yet BY FAR, and my only concert of the summer was The Steve Miller Band at Great Woods. In fact, the only things I knew about Phish were that my high-school buddy's girlfriend's older brother was into them - and he was what we considered a "hippy" - and a classmate had quoted Phish in their high school year book. My formal introduction to the music of Phish - without a doubt one of the most significant life-shaping events of my life to that date - would not be for another 15 months. This review begins with a soundcheck, easily one of the most exciting moments of any Phish festival for a number of reasons, because they don't disappoint. Soundchecks are always of interest, but the festival soundchecks always seem much more special. They say first impressions are everything, so perhaps therein lies the answer.

8/15/96 Soundcheck:

Long blues jam > long funk jam, HYHU > slow TweepriZe > HYHU, Old Home Place, slow Little Drummer Boy jam, LDB Jam 2 > LDB/Frankenstein Jam > LDB/Frankenstein Jam 2 > LDB/Frankenstein Jam 3 > Frankenstein/Spock's Brain Jam > Frankenstein/Spock's Brain Jam 2 > vocal (Deep In The Heart Of Texas), Clifford Ball Jam (as named by Trey), Clifford Ball/slow Peaches en Regalia Jam < TweepriZe (~55 minutes).

According to Dave Schall (who also wrote up the set list in The Pharmer's Almanac) it was a rare event due to the lack of tapers and the amount of phans listening on the boundary fences from a half-mile away. According to Schall the phans were so loud that once the band noticed, Languedoc turned up the PA and Kuroda started pointing the lights in their direction. That is fucking awesome.

8/16/96

Set I: Chalkdust, Gin, Ya Mar, AC/DC, Esther, Divided Sky, Halley's, Bowie

Set II: Split Open, Sparkle, Free, Coil, Waste*, Talk*, Train Song*, Strange Design*, Hello My Baby, Mike's > Simple > Contact > Weekapaug

Set III: Makisupa, 2001 > DWD > NICU, Life On Mars, Hood > Fireworks Jam

E: Amazing Grace

These sets included epic versions of Weekapaug, DWD, and Hood, which > Fireworks jam with - obviously - fireworks blasting off in the background. The sun also set during the Silent Jam in Divided Sky, which must have been amazing. All (*) indicate Phish playing the acoustic mini-stage, where the band played acoustic instruments and Fish played a mini-set for the four songs

8/17/96 Secret set

Set IV: Flatbed Jam (~45 minutes)

The Flatbed Jam included Phish rolling along the runways through the campgrounds playing soft jazz. The rolled through, never stopping, for about 45 minutes starting ~3 a.m. Many of the people I've talked to say they had no idea it was happening, and if you were lucky enough to be awake during the secret set you were astonished when you saw some dim lights approaching that turned out to be the band. Some talk of following them for the entire time. What an amazing experience that must have been. I was sleeping over six hours away, without a clue. DAMN IT!!!

8/17/96

Set I: Old Home Place, PYITE, Reba, CTB, Lizards, Sample, Taste, Fee, Maze, Suzie Greenberg (apparently I've been spelling that wrong the whole time...or maybe the spelling by phans changes...either way, who cares)

Set II: Curtain, Runaway Jim, It's Ice, Brother, Fluffhead, Antelope, Golgi, Slave

Set III: Wilson, Frankenstein, Scent Of A Mule, Tweezer, Day In The Life, Possum, TweepriZe

E: Harpua

Heartbreaker jam in Wilson. Brother included Ben & Jerry on vocals, Antelope included an acrobat on ropes, and Tweezer included people on trampolines. The Mule duel was between Page/Fishman instead of Page/Trey. The Harpua was unfinished as a hired stunt plane missed it's cue causing the band to leave to intense stage feedback noise. People still argue that the second set of the second day of Clifford Ball is the best single set ever played. I wasn't there so those people don't include me, but it's worth mentioning as The Clifford Ball clearly set the stage - no pun intended - for things to come. And boy did they...

The Great Went, 8/15-17/97, Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME

   The Great Went, the inspiration for the greatest Phish bumper sticker in history ("I Went"), was the second Phish festival in as many years, but the first in Limestone, located only miles from the Canadian border. This festival also introduced phans to their first of many future unbearable festival traffic jams, a small price to pay for a weekend of Phish and great partying...unless that small price is 52 hours, which occurred at The Festival That Shall Not Be Named. More later. But this festival also offered the first "we've done this before" vibe, and the 65,000+ phans in attendance were greeted by welcoming locals (not that Plattsburgh lacked any) and better facilities (for a whopping $70...wow).

8/16/97

Set I: Makisupa > Harpua, Chalkdust, Theme, PYITE, Ghost, Ginseng Sullivan, YEM, Train Song, Character Zero, Coil

Set II: Wolfman's > Simple > My Soul, Jam > Slave, Rocky Top, Julius

Set III: Halley's > Cities > Llama > Lawn Boy, LxL, Funky Bitch

E: Contact, Loving Cup

Harpua started where it had left off at The Clifford Ball! Unreal! Simple included a "Odd Couple" jam. The Halley's, the last of which was played at The Clifford Ball, included a reprized vocal jam during the regular jam. Funky Bitch included fireworks. The highlights of the show, which are still talked about today, were basically the entire Second Set, and the Halley's > Cities > Llama in the Third Set.

8/17/97 Secret Set

Set IV: The Disco Set

The boys DJ'ed a disco/rave set in the predawn hours of 8/17. Eventually the band retreated into the night while the music still raged and kids danced around the lighted tent. Apparently this annoyed many die-hard phans and tapers who expected another Flatbed Jam a la The Clifford Ball, but everyone I talked to said it was perfect - and perfectly timed - as they danced their last few remaining hours of energy away.

8/17/97

Set I: Wedge, Beauty Of My Dreams, Dog Stole Things > Vultures, Water In The Sky, Maze, Bouncin' > Tweezer > Taste, Carolina

Set II: DWD > Gin > Uncle Pen, 2001 > Art Jam > Hood

Set III: Buffalo Bill > NICU > Weigh > Guyute > Dirt, Scent Of A Mule > Caspian

E: When The Circus Comes, TweepriZe

Tweezer included a Cities jam. During 2001 the band went > Art Jam, in which the band passed along paintings done by artists at the festival through the crowd to an art tower located next to the stage. During the Hood jam CK5 turned out the lights and the crowd formed a glow stick war near the stage. During TweepriZe the art tower was set on fire and burned until it went out. The last Buffalo Bill played before the Third Set was in Boston on NYE '94 (204 shows). The obvious highlights from the show were the Second and Third Sets, especially the Second Set. The DWD > Gin > Uncle Pen, 2001 > Art Jam > Hood is still talked about today. The Great Went marked the second festival pulled off by Phish, but the first in which they were begged to come back by the community. Phish phans showed the tiny community of Limestone that they were polite, respectful, money-generating party animals willing to travel far and wide to see their beloved band - and leave your community the way they found it. It wasn't the beginning of an era, the it was the continuation of a movement...

Lemonwheel, 8/15-17/98, Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME

   Lemonwheel was my first festival, and if I said I was excited I'd be TOTALLY understating the situation. I could - literally - barely contain myself. By the time Lemonwheel had arrived I had only been to nine shows, and was considering this 10th show a milestone. I had never been further than Pittsburgh for a show - two days before - which made me feel like I was a bona fide "tourer". I had just done Pittsburgh-Vernon Downs, but had to come back home to get the two buddies I was going to Lemonwheel with. So I picked up a friend who'd never been to a show and we headed to Providence - the opposite direction of Limestone - to pick the currently estranged former friend of mine who actually got me into Phish and got me into my phirst show on 11/30/97. 11 hours of seemingly non-stop steamroller smoking action later - hey, we had just turned 20 - we arrived in Limestone, ME. I don't remember any real traffic, but then again, I don't really remember anything from those shows except Sexual Healing and Baby Elephant Walk. Those things are kinda' hard to forget. Oh yeah, I also remember the gel tabs. Very hilarious introduction to gel tabs. The first night we were there we were treated to the Soundcheck Set, though it took about 100 people to convince us they were actually playing, and that it wasn't just a joke on us "newbs":

8/15/98

Soundcheck: Funky Bitch, Ginseng Sullivan, Back at the Chicken Shack, Jam, She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride, Dog Log, Down Home Dirty Blues, I Gave My Love a Cherry, Please Send Me Someone to Love

So although very late, we caught a little Soundcheck Phish, my first of many, and it was magical (although I couldn't see them).

8/16/98
Set I: Mike's > Simple > Beauty of My Dreams, Roggae, Split Open And Melt, Poor Heart, Moma Dance, Divided Sky, Water in the Sky > Funky Bitch > Cities > Weekapaug

Set II:  Wedge, Reba, Gumbo > Sanity > Tweezer > The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Chalkdust , Slave

Set III: NICU > Bowie, Strange Design, LxL > Brian and Robert, Loving Cup 

E:  Halley's > Cavern > TweepriZe

The first set highlights were the Water > Funky Bitch > Citites > Weekapaug, in which Cities included Sneakin' Salley teases and alternate camping grounds-related lyrics. Oh yeah, and an entire Mike's Groove set! Set Two highlights included the Gumbo > Sanity > Tweezer, in which Gumbo included a TweepriZe jam and the first Sanity (my first) in 140 shows (10/31/96). Set Three highlights included a very prolonged Bowie intro out of NICU, and the encore was probably the best I've ever heard. The Halley's also included alternate lyrics that referenced the camping grounds. During TweepriZe Trey commented on the weekend, how much they loved festivals and the atmosphere, and the fact that they would be playing more music soon...

8/17/98

Set IV: Ambient Jam (~60 minutes)

The Ambient Jam was played on stage in the dark with the exception of the hundreds of candles lighting the stage. The Ambient Jam was in the style of famed ambient jammist Brian Eno, and represented the third time in three festivals that Phish played a secret set, all of them being starkly different. Could we expect anything less?

8/17/98

Set I: Ginseng Sullivan, Gin > Rift, PYITE, Lawn Boy, Ya Mar > AC/DC > Frankie Says, Birds of a Feather, Guyute, Possum

Set II: DWD > Piper, Ghost > Fluffhead, When the Circus Comes > Wading in the Velvet Sea, HYHU> Sexual Healing > HYHU, Run Like an Antelope 

Set III: Sabotage > 2001 > Wilson > Mango > Character Zero > Bittersweet Motel, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

E:  Hood > Jam > Baby Elephant Walk 

Set One highlights included Gin > Rift and the Ya Mar > AC/DC > Frankie Says. Set Two highlights an unfinished DWD that > Piper and a sick Ghost > Fluffhead. Set Two also included a HYHU, in which Fishman led the audience on by saying he'd be playing "a song about a turtle", an obvious reference to the Terrapin Station bust-out in Virginia Beach a few shows earlier, but instead they went > Sexual Healing, one of the highlights of the weekend. Antelope also included Sexual Healing teases and a "Bob Weaver" replacement of Marco Esquandolas. Set Three highlights obviously included Sabotage > 2001 > Wilson > Mango > Hotel and the first WMGGW in 103 shows (2/26/97). The encore highlights were Fishman playing trombone during the jam after Hood, and the first Baby Elephant Walk in 503 shows (12/1/92)! Lemonwheel proved - for the third year in a row - that Phish doesn't joke around when it comes to these festivals, at least not the music. I should point out, the art at this festival was amazing.

Camp Oswego, 7/17-18/99, Oswego County Airport, Volney, NY

   Oswego was the strangest of any of the festivals I've been to in the sense that it was mid-tour. And not mid-tour like this one with shows of two different legs sandwiching the festival. I mean we came off tour the day BEFORE (PNC) and there were shows the day after the festival ended (Toronto). So despite being a festival, it really didn't have that festival feel, other than the fact that the band had the usual cheese buildings and artwork and misting tents. Oh, and a thousand vendors. Well, there were only five sets. Booo...

7/17/99

Set I: Tube > Boogie On, Birds of a Feather, Guelah Papyrus, My Sweet One, Roggae, Tweezer > Have Mercy > Taste > Character Zero

Set II: Funky Bitch, On My Knees, Jam > DWD, Wolfman's > Sneakin' Sally > Timber (Jerry), YEM

E: Coil, TweepriZe

First Set highlights included Tube > Boogie On and the sick Tweezer > Have Mercy (my first, and the first in 334 shows, 11/12/94) > Taste > Character Zero. The Set Tow highlights are obvious, aren't they? Except for the fact that Son Seals sat in on guitar for his own tune. Which one? Get familiar. Set Two blasted off.

7/18/99

Set I: PYITE, Farmhouse, Water in the Sky > Gin, Back on the Train, If You Need a Fool, I'm Blue I'm Lonesome, Beauty of My Dreams, Moma Dance > Reba, Chalk Dust Torture

Set II: Runaway Jim > Free > Meatstick, Guyute, Axilla > Llama 

Set III: My Soul > Piper > Prince Caspian > Wilson > Catapult > Smoke on the Water Jam > Icculus, Quinn > Fluffhead

E: Hood

Set One highlights included The Del McCoury Band joining Phish from If You Need A Fool through Beauty Of My Dreams, which included one of the guitarists breaking their string leading to an ALL OUT HOE-DOWN! It was sick, and my snobby "I don't want anyone on stage with Phish" attitude disappeared immediately. Those guys rocked. Set Two highlights included a record-breaking (did we  ever actually break the record?) 6-song burner, in which Phish played Meatstick with the intention of breaking the Guinness Book Of World Records record for "most people dancing at one time". Not sure if we did it. Not sure I even knew what was going on. Anyone? Set Three highlights included the whole fucking set. It was ridiculous. Strangely it was my third Catapult in 25 shows. The Smoke On The Water included Cat Scratch Fever "teases", which was really Trey screaming "It's the same fucking song!!!". By this time I was alone, wandering, and making my mark in the art tent with one of many painted rags that were hung everywhere. Remember that? My first Icculus. What else can one say? I suppose I could mention the Quinn, my first, and only the third since 1987. Then many hopped off tour to go to Woodstock '99 - how ridiculous, and I thought that then - and some went on to Toronto. It was kind of weird. I went home then to Star Lake. The rest is history. Then I went to Japan...just kidding.

Big Cypress, 12/29-31/99, Big Cypress Indian reservation, Big Cypress, FL

   I'm going to be honest, this one hurts. I was 21 years old and working at a popular bar. I'm sure I don't have to remind you of the importance of NYE to the restaurant business. I was pushing limits anyway with relationships, school, and work, and it was - without a doubt - because of Phish. Now I'm not saying anything negative about that, meaning that I have NO REGRETS...except that I decided to pick the wrong NYE run to stay at home. I was given an ultimatum from my great paying bar job: If you go to Phish, you have no job when you return. What a horrible decision. It still haunts me. Just at Raleigh a few weeks ago I was in line getting water when two local guys were discussing the past few shows at Raleigh and how great they'd been. Out of nowhere the guy says to his buddy, "Yeah, but nothin' will ever compare to Big Cypress..."..."Oh, you got that right" his friend interrupted. Thanks guys, I need those reminders once in a while. So I'm going to be a little bitch; I'm not really going to get into Big Cypress other than listing the set lists. I'm sorry, I can't handle it. I didn't have my priorities straight and it still haunts me.

12/29/99

Soundcheck: Jam, What's the Use, Ginseng Sullivan, Curtis Loew, Quinn, Timber (Jerry), Jam

12/30/99

Set I: Water in the Sky, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone > Suzy, Corinna, LxL, Che Hun Ta Mo, Big Alligator, Possum, Farmhouse, Ghost, Ya Mar, Character Zero

Set II: Wilson > The Curtain > Tweezer -> Taste, Meat, Golgi, Wolfman's Brother, Jibboo > Hood > GTBT

Set III: Chalkdust, Moma Dance > Antelope, Sloth, When the Circus Comes, Mike's > Simple > Hydrogen > Weekapaug

E: Boogie On > TweepriZe

12/31/99
 
Set I: Runaway Jim, Funky Bitch, Tube, I Didn't Know, PYITE, Bouncin', Poor Heart, Roggae, Split Open and Melt > Catapult, Back on the Train, Horn, Guyute, After Midnight

Set II: Meatstick -> Auld Lang Syne > DWD > Llama, Gin, Heavy Things, Twist > Caspian > Rock and Roll, YEM, Crosseyed and Painless, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Sand > Quadrophonic Toppling, Slave, Albuquerque, Reba, Axilla, Uncle Pen, Bowie, My Soul, Drowned > After Midnight Reprise, Horse > Silent > Bittersweet Motel, Piper > Free, Lawn Boy, HYHU > Love You > HYHU, Roses Are Free, Bug, 2001 > Wading in the Velvet Sea > Meatstick  

This fucking show went on for hours and hours and hours. Do I sound bitter? Good. If you need more information on these shows find it somewhere else. Epic stuff though, I hope you were there to take it in.

Phish 2.0

IT, 8/1-3/03, Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME

   Phish's third trip to Limestone might have been their most anticipated. Phish had been on hiatus from 10/7/00 until 12/31/02 and Phish was coming off a semi-hot summer tour, their first in three years. We had huge amounts of people rolling in and many of us were used to the place from previous festivals. We were stuck in nearly 30 hours of traffic heading into IT and ended up about as far from the venue and festival grounds as one could be. I always feel like it was two miles. That might be a total exaggeration, but I think it was. Let's put it this way: By the second day were were thumbing "wagon" rides into the venue and trading for Gold Bond "handfuls" from dudes off the side of the street. It was hilarious...and chafey. We rolled deep into IT though and we RAGED. And I'm talking right off the bat, beginning with soundcheck:

8/1/03

Soundcheck: Jam > Skin It Back, Jam

   It was the SHIT! Sometimes you take these soundcheck moments for all they're worth. Tunes like Dog Log are HARDLY played at shows - but it's played all the time at soundcheck. Tunes like Skin It Back are never played. PERIOD. Sometimes these soundchecks are magical. Most of the times the shows are, too.

8/2/03

Set I: AC/DC Bag, Ya Mar > Runaway Jim, Reba, Birds of a Feather, Meatstick, Two Versions of Me, Vultures, LxL, Cavern

Set II:  DWD > NICU > Brother, Lawn Boy, Discern, Waves > Jam > Bowie

 Set III: Rock and Roll > Seven Below > Scents and Subtle Sounds > Seven Below > Spread It 'Round > Bug 

E:  Dog Log > Mango

  Ya Mar went unfinished, Reba had Night Speaks To A Woman teases (which I actually remember being sick), and a crowd-induced Meatstick had Japanese lyrics. Second Set highlights included a a sick DWD > NICU with a monster bass solo at the end > a Brother that I swear I was the first in  ~60,000 to hear - ask my crew. Then the Waves > Jam > Bowie. Wow. Set Three might have been the best set of the weekend, which included a MONSTER Rock 'n' Roll > Seven Below > Scents > Seven Below > Spread It 'Round. Unreal. The encore was just as sick for me as they played two of my favorite songs while Trey remarked about the conscious effort not to think about the song choices, while trying to think of the next song choice. Got to love irony. Next came the secret set, and it was EPIC:

8/3/03 Secret Set

Set IV: Tower Jam

   I don't really remember any specific jams, but I remember CK5 lighting up the tower and just thinking "Holy shit, those guys are like 300 feet above my head jamming from the old air traffic control tower." These are the things you remember the rest of your life...or at least you remember being there for the rest of your life. IT...that's exactly what IT was. Too bad it always reminded me of the creepy Stephen King novel. Imagine if Phish had played that creepy piano tune that bugged us out the entire movie? Like, if they kept teasing it throughout the entire weekend? I actually never thought of that until just now.

8/3/03

Set I: Daniel Saw the Stone > Saw It Again, PYITE, Army of One, Chalkdust, Wilson, Mike's > Hydrogen > Weekapaug

Set II: Mellow Mood > Ghost > Mountains in the Mist, Pebbles and Marbles, YEM > Chariots of Fire > Loving Cup

Set III: 46 Days, Julius > Lizards, Secret Smile, Antelope

E: GTBT

   Set One highlights included - other than the obvious - double time Chalkdust ending and forgotten and changed lyrics, which prompted a lot of play between band members. Set Two highlights included a rager Mood > Ghost, an "IT" lyric in YEM, and the debut of Chariots Of Fire while our more athletic peers celebrated their Antelope 5K accomplishments. I still remember waking up to piss and seeing one of my friends running in the race. Am I...? Nope, it's just Phish and their phans. Set Three highlights included a MONSTER 46 Days, Lizards, and an appropriate Antelope with Under Pressure teases, which was clearly a band joke after Trey had thanked the crew, the phans, the chef, and then promised an IT:2 with a traffic-free entrance. Typical Phish nonsense; typical Phish mayhem.

Coventry, 8/13-15/04, Newport State Airport, Coventry, VT

   Coventry was supposed to be Phish's "last show". Unlike the first hiatus, in which the band talked about needing a break, the second hiatus seemed more ominous with statements like "need time to work on other projects", "no plans to play in the future", and "Trey's FUCKED UP". Coventry fucking sucked. 52 hours of traffic, people turned away, almost unbearable camping facilities, and worst of all: SHITTY FUCKING MUSIC. My friends and I laughed at not even including Coventry in the review, but we can't deny it happened. So for the second time in this review, I'm just going to list the set lists. No comments. It's my stand against Coventry, for whatever that's worth.

8/13/04

Soundcheck: Jam, Jam, Light UpLight Up Or Leave Me Alone, GinsengGinseng Sullivan (w/ Danny Clinch on harmonica)

8/14/04
Set I: Walls of the Cave > Runaway Jim > Jibboo, YEM > Sample > Axilla, Poor Heart, Antelope, Fire 

Set II:  AC/DC Bag -> 46 Days > Halley's > Ya Mar, Bowie, Character Zero 

Set III: Twist > Wedge, Stash > Free, Guyute, Drowned, Friday

E: Hood

8/15/04

Set I: Mike's > Hydrogen > Weekapaug, Anything But Me, Reba, Carini > Chalkdust > Possum, Wolfman's > Taste

Set II:  DWD > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Glide, Split Open and Melt > Ghost 

Set III:  FEFY, Seven Below> Simple > Piper > Cool Jerk > Dickie Scotland, Wilson, Slave

E: Curtain With

    OK, so I'll say one thing: Remember going home down 91 and seeing all of those abandoned cars all over the side of the highway? That's what I felt like after Coventry. And on top of it all, it felt like we might never get anything else. Wow...holy shit am I glad it turned out differently! PERSPECTIVE, PEOPLE!!! Just think "Super Ball IX" and take a few deep breaths...OK.


Phish 3.0

Festival 8, 10/29/09-11/1/09, Empire Polo Club, Indio, CA

   I hadn't been as excited for a festival since...well, Coventry, I guess, but I knew that it would be impossible for Phish to bomb another festival, so the excitement was at a...hmmm...let's say a Lemonwheel pitch. OK, in Phish's defense there were horrible storms the days preceding Coventry, which made traffic and camping a nightmare for some (OK, most), Trey was not himself (to be PC), and it was a very emotional time for the entire band, hence the lack of musical enlightenment one would expect from the assumed "last shows". Regardless, I was looking for a festival that would remind me of the old days. This was the first time in Phishtory that the band had combine "two of [their] favorite pastimes" by combined a festival with a Halloween show. There had also been hot Internet debate over the album Phish was going to cover for their Musical Costume, and the choices had been whittled down from what seemed like hundreds to a mere few days before the shows.  They had even brewed a beer called Foam for the festivities. Like I said, I was expecting the greatest of things. Not quite positive if I got that, but as you'll read in a minute, it was hardly Phish's fault. Although I had been to 87 shows I had never seen a show west of the Mississippi River. I had also been calling Camel Walk and counting down to Indio on my now-defunct Facebook page for the previous three months leading up to it...every single day. Imagine reading "Only X more days until Camel Walk" every day for over 75 days. It happened to about 150 people. So we hopped on a plane, flew to the Smog City (not sure if it's called that, but it makes sense...it might be called Tinsel Town...it's definitely called The City Of Angels, but I didn't quite find it to be that exactly - where are my Lebowski fans?), picked up our Pebbles 'n' Marbles from our LA friend/connection, and started a caravan to the California desert.
   Once there the worst gate security I had ever experienced tore our car apart. Did I mention the two of them averaged about 73 years. There were times when I thought "I'm going to Scotch tape these two together and take off so they can't keep searching my car. But they were old an easily intimidated - peacefully - so it was no big deal, other than repacking. At least there was no traffic. Once set up the cell started blowing up with all the west coast/mountain kids in town looking to hang out. BIG MISTAKE. Now Cocineros had Swine Flu a few weeks before Indio, but was medically cleared days before Indio to travel and be amongst 50,000+ people...OK, maybe 30,000+ people. Although we blamed him for months, it turns out it was someone else all together. Apparently my mountain friends had a - supposedly former now - buddy who also had Swine Flu, or H1N1 if you feel my dialogue will generate more mass murdering of poor little pigs. Remember October 2009? Dude, it felt like 10% of the country had H1N1 and 75% of them were in California. Whether hyped or not, people did have H1N1 at Indio, and this little douche-bag who was friends with my good friends was one of them. Well I shouldn't have to explain what hanging with a bunch of kids you haven't seen in almost two years - one of whom has H1N1 - will do to a body. And half the crew he was with...yikes.  I did not make it to this soundcheck:

10/29/09 Soundcheck

Set I: Water in the Sky, Sleep Again, Let Me Lie, Invisible, Back on the Train, Driver (acoustic)

Set II: Jam, Undermind > Devil With a Blue Dress On Jam, Starship Trooper Jam, Gone, Liquid Time

At least Friday just felt like bad hang-over, nothing some drinks and a little recreational activity didn't take care of. If I only knew what was coming...

10/30/09

Set I: Party Time, Chalkdust, Moma Dance, NICU, STFTFP, Stash, I Didn't Know, Poor Heart, Cavern, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Ocelot, TTE

Set II: PYITE > DWD > Caspian > Wolfman's > Piper > Joy, Bowie, Hood > Golgi

E: Character Zero


First Set highlights included Party Time, an awesome LA Woman tease in Stash, a hilarious vacuum solo that had Henrietta "blowing and sucking for the first time" in a figure eight shape, followed by a mid-set Cavern. Set Two was unreal at times with a SICK PYITE > DWD > Caspian > Wolfman's > Piper > Joy, which included an unfinished DWD and Bowie, which included references to the next day's Musical Costume. The end through the encore was pretty standard. And I was starting to feel real shitty. By the time crew members were handing out Playbills for the show the next day- confirming rumors of Exile On Main Street - I felt legitimately sick, although by that time I thought it was a hang-over combined with allergies and dust. Wrong. By the time the Musical Costume Set came around, I was glued to one of the picnic tables in the back, half-dead, with hundreds of people asking me every 2 minutes if A) I was OK, and B) Whether I needed a toke or not. I was physically at the Musical Costume Set, but not mentally. I struggled through the Third Set and Encore, but was toast by the end. I had tried a number of really dumb things to try to pull myself out of it, but they only hurt the situation in the long run. At least I rocked out to the First Set:

10/31/09 Halloween

Set I: Sample, Divided Sky, Lawn Boy, KDF, Gin, Coil, Runaway Jim > Possum, Antelope

Set II: Rocks Off > Rip This Joint, Shake Your Hips, Casino Boogie, Tumbling Dice, Sweet Virginia, Torn and Frayed, Sweet Black Angel, Loving Cup, Happy, Turd on the Run, Ventilator Blues> I Just Want To See His Face > Let It Loose, All Down the Line, Stop Breaking Down, Shine a Light, Soul Survivor

Set III:  BDTNL > Fluffhead > Ghost, When the Circus Comes, YEM

E: Suzy Killme...but wait...

Set One read like a greatest hits parade, and if you were tripping, the only thing that saved you from thinking it was 1994 was Kill Devil Falls, which was SICK by the way. During Coil Trey referenced the actual Coil in the art area of the festival grounds, which was definitely one of the highlights of the festival. Notice the lack of weird Phishy festival grounds art like the cheese house, etc.? That's because the artist who helped design those structures for many, if not all, of the previous festivals couldn't be hired because of conflicting schedules; he's back for SBIX! That may have sounded contradictory, but it turns out both artistic styles rocked...but I like Lars better. Set Two, the one in which I was silently dying on a back picnic table, was epic. The band raged Exile On Main Street, horns and all, and rocked so many of the tunes that they've added a few to their "regular" rotation (Torn And Frayed, Shine A Light). If I'd been healthy I'd probably say it ranked up there with Waiting For Columbus as far as a straight rockin' Musical Costume went. It was pretty amazing, at least that's what my ears tell me. Set Three highlights included BDTNL > Fluffhead > Ghost. In one of the the most hilarious and ironic moments of my Phish career, I actually gathered the strength to make into the soundboard area to find our crew just in time for the encore - SUZY FUCKING GREENBERG! Cruel joke? Not this time as it was one of the best Suzies ever played. The horns rocked and Page raged as I remember this Suzy actually being one of the HIGHLIGHTS of the Third Set/Encore. It's funny how that shit works.
   Now keep in mind, I wasn't sick AT ALL when I got to Indio, and whatever I had was already contagious by the first or second day. I can just hear people saying "Why didn't he go to the hospital or leave the camping grounds so he didn't get people sick?" It was too late for that shit. By the time the third day of shows rolled around I was half dead. I hadn't eaten in almost 24 hours, could barely breath or walk, and could hardly go 30 minutes without throwing up in one of the port-o-potties. Not wanting to ruin anyone else time, I just played dumb and said I was too sick to walk around, but I just needed to be left alone. What I needed was serious medicine. By this time my fiance was also sick, as well as a few of our friends (and 33% of the crowd it seemed), and by the time the much-anticipated Acoustic Set came around, I was half-dead under my rental in the 103 degree heat. We managed to literally crawl into the rental and turn on the AC full blast and thought "At least I'll die listening to Phish...what else can one ask for?" In reality we were just extremely sick and unable - smartly - to go to the set in the unbearable heat dehydrated. Besides, you don't want to ruin other people's time, especially when there's nothing you can really do about it. But my wife and I shed a few tears that afternoon, especially during McGrupp...

11/1/09

Set I: Water in the Sky, Back on the Train, Brian and Robert, Invisible, Strange Design, Mountains in the Mist, Curtain With, Army of One, Sleep Again, My Sweet One, Let Me Lie, Bouncin', Train Song, Wilson > McGrupp

E1: Driver, Talk, Secret Smile

Set II: AC/DC Bag > Rift, Jibboo, Heavy Things, Reba, Wedge, Guelah Papyrus, Undermind, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt

Set III:  Tweezer > Maze, Free, Sugar Shack, LxL, Theme > Mike's > 2001 > Light > Slave

E2: Grind, Esther, TweepriZe

   The third show was pretty epic. Although I missed the early afternoon Acoustic Set I was able to listen over The Bunny. There was some funny interplay between (mostly) Trey and the crowd, in which he kept telling the crowd to sit, or stand, or do whatever they wanted. Most people just talked about being confused - call it heatstroke. Either way the First Set - played at noon - was epic as it was one of the first, if not the first, full length acoustic sets. Debuts of Invisible and Sleep Again. Wilson > McGrupp was epic, car tour or not. The Driver was also a tear-jerker as I feel that song - and subsequent pin - describes my life so perfectly in re: to Phish. We grabbed meds from the medic tent and a blanket so that we could at least witness the last two sets by nightfall, and by witness I mean at least my body would be on the concert grounds and not underneath the rental. I remember Sets Two/Three rocking so hard at times that the music actually was powerful enough to lift me off of my blanket and move - for about 10 seconds - until my energy reserves were gone for the moment. Second Set highlights included Reba, Guelah Papyrus, Undermind, and Melt. Set Three highlights included a MONSTER Tweezer > Maze - as I began to fade horribly as I retreated further back into the dust - Sugar Shack (although Trey fucks it up every time) and a Theme > Mike's > 2001 > Light > Slave that was ANYTHING BUT STANDARD. I love the non-standard Mike's Grooves! We were already almost back at the car by the time Phish came on for the encore. I could barely hear Grind, but as soon as we got to our car I could hear Esther. More teary eyes. Not crying, just sadness. My health had fallen victim to a selfish asshole whom I'd never met before; an asshole that didn't have the balls to admit he was sick and couldn't go to Indio. I don't even know this asshole, but apparently he's no longer part of my mountain crew's crew. That dude was responsible for ruining my festival and getting at least 100 people sick. At least. But then again, A LOT of people were sick at Indio, and the weather conditions didn't help us East Coasters (dry, hot, dusty). Perhaps it wasn't that kids fault, but I blame him anyway. By the time we had our shit together, Miguel Cocineros found us, grabbed the keys and said "Let's go, I'm getting you guys a hotel". So we went on to go die in a hotel before miserably traveling home to MA in a trip that seemed to take years. Our recovery took weeks. But the scene - although quite tame on the West Coast - and the music ROCKED.
   And that's what festivals do, they ROCK. Unless we're talking Coventry, these festivals have been some of the best experiences of our lives. The art, the sculptures, the tens of thousands of phans, the fact that we're posted up for 3-4 days, the Shakedown scene - which can spread for a mile or more - the camping villages that pop up everywhere, the wandering souls looking lost at all hours of the weekend, the vending, the times with far-away friends, the bizarre after parties, AND THE FUCKING MUSIC!!! These festivals - unless Mother Nature, drug addictions, and band meta-emotions conspire at once - are the things LEGENDS are made of - for the band, the artists, the crew, and the phans. In almost 150 shows I can say without question that the festivals were the most fun. You get to live a liphe phull of nothing but Phish phor phour days, with no traveling, no stress, just phun. Sorry for the ph-bombs. So as you read through this blog and pack up your shit,  prepare yo'self for yet another epic event. Phish says this one will be the best, and we have every reason to believe them. Remember those signs: Our Purpose Is For Your Delight...you know it.

Super Ball IX, 7/1-3/11, Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, NY
Set I: ???

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Trigger31.com

Thanks to the Pharmer's Almanac and Phish.net for the set list and scene memory help, and thanks to Phish for making all of this shit possible in the first place! And a special 'thanks in advance' to the festival crew and Green Crew for setting up and cleaning up. We'll do our part! See you at SBIX!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The State Of Phish: The People Have Been Heard...And The MVP Has Answered

   In light of the recent blurb about the Rolling Stone interview with Trey (http://www.jambands.com/news/2011/06/24/trey-anastasio-new-phish-album-less-touring-in-2012) and Gordo's recent phone message - the number to the message line is out there in cyber space - I've decided to take some time from my Super Ball IX preview to say a few words about both (preview hitting newsstands by Sunday June 26th...sorry I keep changing the dates, I'm probably as bad a procrastinator as you are).

   Mike's latest phone message responds to some questions asked by phans. I think he responds to two questions before being cut off, but both questions could easily be morphed into one singular question of the same theme:

WHY DON'T YOU GUYS JAM ANYMORE, AND IS IT BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT FUCKED UP?

   Am I wrong Phish geeks? That's basically what was asked. Before I put in my two cents regarding his response (don't worry, my blog dialogue will make Mike's responses obvious if you haven't heard the message), let me clarify my own complaints about the band, which can be read in the previous few blogs, specifically - and only, really - the review of the "Mason-Dixon Line Run".

My criticisms were:

1. Lack of Type-I/Type-II jamming on certain songs, and abrupt ending of jams that seemed to be taking off (usually seemed to be Trey's doing)

2. Repeats - clear enough.

3. Timing/placement of abruptly ended jams and/or timing/placement of repeats. I'm not talking about the length of a song, I'm talking about the timing of a, say,  sick Bowie jam in a certain set - whether repeated or not - or the placement of said song/jam.

   While I complained about a "lack of jamming", I should have been more specific. The jams, for the most part, were incredible. Let's just use BDTNL as an example: At the end of the day many of us would look at a 17-minute BDTNL and say "Wow, they jammed that one" whether we heard it or not; a similar but opposite response would follow a 7 minute BDTNL. Yet, the 7-minute BDTNL may have SHREDDED the 17-minute version. In other words, we have to actually listen to these shows - sober - to make a sound decision. It's about the the song, the progression, and the jam - the Type-I/Type-II - and not necessarily the length, although in many cases length can equate to leaving song boundaries. Mike's right - Phish DID jam A LOT of their tunes the First Leg.  But it's also a question of reaching that Type-I/Type-II status. Remember the Halley's Comet from Bethel? Not necessarily long, but  Miguel Cocineros called it a "funk space demon", and he stays sober for these shows! The days of 20-minute jams are over...or are they? Some of the second sets of ST11:1 were ENTIRE SEGUES. If they weren't literally, then some were literally a few measly seconds from being full segues. How is that not jamming? Well, sometimes those "jams" or segues included the most oddly-placed boner-beaters. More on that later.
   But in the meantime, let's not forget the PNC Tweezer > No Quarter that lasted 23 minutes. Maybe you forgot that the DTE DWD > Fluffhead WAS OVER 42 MINUTES. Cuyahoga had a debut of launchpad Steam that > Piper > Lizards and lasted over 25 minutes. Cincinnati OPENED with a AC/DC > PYITE > Gin > Taste that lasted 35+ minutes. Our hometown show, the one we bitched about for days, featured a Second Set opener of Back On The Train > Rock 'n' Roll > Mansfield J-A-M > Mango that lasted over 35 minutes! What were we complaining about??? Maybe this was a good example, no matter how poor. One could argue - AT THAT MOMENT - that the sick segue featured two songs that had already been played twice and three times in six previous shows: Back On The Train and Rock 'n' Roll. So at that moment the boys had played one song 3x in seven shows and another twice already - to start a set. Since everything we know of IN THE WORLD IS BASED ON PERCEPTION, is it so hard to understand why someone might freak out a little...at that rate it seemed you'd hear back On The Train eight times by the end of the leg. But it didn't end up like that -  but the perception of that night still lingered, and perhaps lingers, which is one small example of a potential gripe about the music. Now considering the songs they did "overplay" - BDTNL, Possum, Bowie, Antelope, Hood, etc. - it's even easier to understand this perception, however misguided.
   Darien Lake was the sight of jamming EXPLOITATION as the band ripped off a Golden Age > Mike's > FEFY > Weekapaug was over 33 minutes. The band LITERALLY TOOK A 10 SECOND BREAK then played What's The Use > Theme > BDTNL > 2001 > Hood that lasted over 43 minutes. So the band was less than 10 seconds from ripping a 76 minute straight set. Possible bitch? Another Mike's? Another BDTNL? Another Hood? Trust me, you DID NOT HEAR ME BITCH ABOUT THESE REPEATS, NOT COMING OUT OF THOSE SPACE JAMS. When they pop off like that they can play Bouncin' > Farmhouse > Possum until my ears bleed. Camden was mild, but Merriweather 1 rocked out a Rock 'n' Roll > Columbia Jam > Albuquerque > Piper > Wading > 2001 > STFTFP > Suzy THAT WAS OVER 50 FUCKING MINUTES! A potential bitch here? Not too many besides Suzy (sorry Suzy phans, we all hate one, don't we???) Things continued the next night at Merriweather 2 with 36+ minutes of Crosseyed And Painless > Steam > Light > Wedge. It's getting harder to justify the little bitching I even did with every song I write down. It's always nice to go back and reread...
   Alpharetta 1? Carini > Sand > DWD > Maze = 38 minutes. Alpharetta 2? Mound > Mayhem > Mound >  Tweezer > Julius > Slave = 2 hours and 32 minutes. Ok,  so almost an hour was Mayhem - the ridiculous storm that raged through- and Tweezer was horribly cut for Julius, and the last two songs played like set enders...BUT DUDE, really? That's still ridiculous. Charlotte set this bomb off: BDTNL > Rock 'n' Roll > Charlotte Jam > Ghost > Free > Reba. I know no one was complaining about that, but it was over 50 minutes! Raleigh launched a Twist > Rift > Caspian >  Esther that lasted 34+ minutes. And Portsmouth might have been the best: Crosseyed > Walls > Slave > Fluffhead > Sand > Sneakin' Salley > Light > BDTNL for 78 minutes. 78 FUCKING MINUTES!!! So, what the hell were we complaining about? And by we I mean the die-hard Phish community. For the most part we were wrong, as seen vividly from the most recent example.
   Since my jam section took so long, I'll keep the next two sections short. Very short. By just the statistics seen in the polls review section (see the blog below from 6/22) one can see that Possum, the most played song of ST11:1, was right on par with the % played from the previous two years; I'm willing to bet that those statistics pan out over even longer timescales. In other words, Phish isn't really overplaying songs...yet. If they play Possum six more times in the remaining 15 shows (40%), this year would win as the year they played Possum the most of any of the previous three years ('09-'10-'11)...BY ONLY 1%!!! I'd rather not eat more crow with my repeat accusations. If they play songs like Possum, Antelope, Hood, Bowie, and BDTNL (which I have NO problem with being a new tune), then MAYBE we'll be venturing into uncharted waters...but not yet.
   So that leaves us to my last gripe, as little as it may have been: the timing. This is literally the ONE thing that could be legitimately complained about, and even these moments have their reasons. For example, the Tweezer in Alpharetta being cut short for Julius. The fact that every time shit got murky they seemed to go into Bowie. The fact that it seemed like every set ended with Antelope...how about an Antelope opener? Even after a rocking Portsmouth show they END with Suzy...why? Again? Even if they blasted out a Golgi - perfectly appropriate song and equally received by the crowd - it would have been better. Imagine the boys screaming "I saw you...with a Super Ball ticket in your hand...I saw you..." It would have been mayhem. But they chose Suzy. Things like that. It's not necessarily the songs per se, but the TIMING. If it wasn't Antelope as an ender it was Hood or Suzy...SEEMINGLY GUARANTEED. Timing AND repeats...the two combined are perceived as disaster. Again, we're talking about PERCEPTION. So for all the bitching it seems Phish is innocent. Dark, deep jams get cut? No shit, Trey struggled with drugs. You try doing something that DIRECTLY reminds you of a dark time in your life. Single songs don't last an hour? No shit, you ever play a bass that hard for 60 minutes? You ever try it as a 46-year-old? Exactly. Now try drumming for that long as a tiny, lazy  46-year-old man. Get the picture? Now add all of that to the fact that many of us bitching hit ALMOST EVERY SINGLE SHOW. What do we expect?
   So Mike was dead-on with his answers as heard on his phone line. He said "I thought we jammed a lot...in fact, I was surprised at how much we jammed." Touche Cacto, in the end so are we. You guys laid it down and I speak for everyone when I say we're sorry for any bitching. A few "duds" in 18 shows is nothing to complain about, as we can see from the recap, and there weren't too many dud moments, let alone shows. But we do need more Type-I shit, and we're begging for some Type-II shit. Now a quick mention of Trey's admission in a recent Rolling Stone interview that Phish would tour much less in 2012: What the fuck do you expect? They have to raise their families someday. Three of four band members have relatively new kids or are expecting them soon. You have to look at this realistically. Like Mike said, it's not 1993 or 1994. No more four song sets (maybe). No more 60 minute stand-alone songs (probably). No more 100 show years (ever). Get used to it and be glad about one thing: It's not 2004-2009. When you think about it that way, what's to complain about? Having said all that, see you at Super Ball IX!

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Trigger31.com

Thanks to Mike's hotline for the inspiration and to Colonel Phortin for turning me onto the Rolling Stone interview. See you all at SBIX and stay tuned for the review coming Sunday June 26th!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First Leg Poll Results (and then keep going for the NC/VA review)

Despite the extremely poor showing in the polls section (a total of 35 measly responses to the following three poll questions out of nearly 1,800 different page viewers), we have the poll results. The three First Leg polls asked the questions:

1) Which song will be played most during ST11:1? (Choices: Hood, Show Of Life, DWD, Rock 'n' Roll, Possum)

The top answers were DWD (46%) and Possum (26%), followed very closely by Hood (20%). Obviously Possum won with a RIDICULOUS 7 times in 18 shows! That's 35% of the shows so far. Want to know the most disturbing thing? I just realized that Phish played Possum 34% of 2010 shows (17 out of 50 shows) and 33% of 2009 shows (17/52)!! So if anything, we're right on par with the previous two years!!! AAARRRGGGHHH!!!! With only 33 shows slated for 2011 (with 18 behind us) and a probable additional 3-4 shows assuming they do a 3-4 night run at MSG or in Miami that would make for let's say ~37 shows. So this could go one of three ways: Either we're getting 6 more Possums to keep the 33-35% rate going in 3.0, they're going to break 3.0 records in terms of % of shows Possum is played, or they're done with Possum. You be the judge.

2) The longest "stand-alone" song will be: (Choices: DWD, Tweezer, Hood, TTE, Tube)

Stand-alone obviously meant the longest length of ANY song...i.e., I didn't mean one should include segues as one long song (should be obvious), BUT you could include any one song that was part of a segue. I assumed everyone knew what I meant. The top answers were Tweezer (44%) and DWD (33%). Wise choices. The Tube was an obvious joke, and all but one got it...or maybe they got it, too, and were playing along; if so, nicely done. Tube actually got SHORTER this leg if you can believe it. I'm not so sure Tube even AVERAGED 4 minutes in ST11:1. As much as I wanted Tweezer to be the longest tune, DWD took the cake - the birthday cake that is - as the DWD from Mike's birthday show 6/3 in Clarkston was over 24 minutes! Well done, boys.

3) The other random poll question asked was a bitter one after the Alpharetta shows. I bitterly put up a poll that asked what people's opinions were after the recent barrage of Nostalgia Rock. (Choices: Love 'em no matter what, Still go but won't tour, Too many repeats but who cares, and I'm done with these assholes - even though I wrote 'down' by accident...I'm sure that confused many people)

Surprisingly 100% said "I'll still go, but I'm done touring", including myself. I wonder if that southern run through NC/VA changed any minds.

Stay tuned for more polls through the summer, and remember, read the latest review of the NC/VA shows below. See you at Super Ball IX (preview coming later this week)!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ask And Ye Shall Receive...A Little Southern Hospitality: Charlotte/Raleigh/Portsmouth Review

   To say Phish put it all back in perspective this past weekend would be an understatement. After several mediocre shows from Camden-Atlanta, Phish laid it down in NC/VA. What had seemed to stand out most at those sub-par shows - especially to those who had been traveling with the band from show to show -  was the lack of jamming, creativity and the relentless onslaught of several over-played phormer phavorites. Although those shows contained the occasional bust-out and the sporadic jam Phish made it sound as if they were recording "A Live One 2: This One's For The Custies".  I racked my brain searching for answers as to why they would play Possum and Bowie a combine 15 times in 18 shows, why songs like Suzy Greenberg, Harry Hood, and Antelope made the rotation over 33% of the shows played: Sometimes I thought the band was literally trying to get some of us off tour; at other times I thought it might be some forced pathetic attempt to get hordes of previously uninterested weekend warriors to purchase highly-over priced Super Ball IX tickets. And while both could still be true, Phish proved - once again - that not only do they still possess the skills and chops to lay it down, that they can turn it on whenever they want. That's actually partially frustrating, if true, but if we're treated to three gems after three quasi-duds, I've decided I'm willing to accept. Perhaps what this latest tour taught me is that there's a point when one can't follow Phish to every show, even if your job, monetary position, and marriage allows for it. In other words, maybe one Icculus isn't worth  six Antelopes...maybe  one Forbin's > Mockingbird isn't worth seven Possums...maybe a Lonesome Cowboy Bill isn't worth eight sub-par Bowies. Or is it???
   There was no denying the frustration of the dedicated rolling into Charlotte Friday afternoon. The worst storm in recent tour memory had just torn through Alpharetta, but instead of taking advantage of the energy and blasting off Phish decided to play a set of repeats and essentially took the energy right back out of the place. Yet everyone still held on to hope. It seemed like a statistical improbability to play Possum, Bowie, Antelope, or even strangely over-played songs like 2001. Such a large percentage of the shows (20%) had belonged to so few songs (11) that it seemed like the only thing left to do was bust-out, at which point by then a bust-out could've been a fucking Bouncin' Round The Room. We passed Hick Palace, the sight of the Coca-Cola 600, and into the lot at a steamy 94 degrees. Charlotte Shakedown was one of the best of the tour. Dozens of food vendors, plenty of party favors and beers, and three trillion people selling water...phans STILL haven't figured out that a case of water only costs $5 at Wal-Mart and ice costs $3 for four pounds...keep spending $20/day on cold water while these people handle fist-fulls of cash. I can hear the "What The Fuck, Just A Buck" chick cursing me right now. Don't worry lot vendors, the average Phish phan never learns, you'll always be able to make your money...just not off me except for the ONE bottle I buy off the hottest GIRL vendor AFTER the show. The last weekend of shows was here, and we were anxious to say the least.
   You can imagine our nervousness when Phish blasted into yet another Mike's Song (8:11), especially when it was the third standard Groove in four attempts. Mike's > Hydrogen (2:54) > Weekapaug (7:52). Rocking, but standard. That seemed to be the central theme to this everlasting spoof. We couldn't help but laugh at Bouncing Round The Room (3:44), as it would at any other time have been a head-shaking, bowl-packing situation. This time we were practically psyched to hear it - practically. Next was NICU (5:08), and although it was a great version, with a "Leo's House" shout-out and shredded piano solo, it wasn't really doing anything for us. We were starting to get nervous that we might be in for another mediocre show, but we kept our spirits up. NICU > Sample In A Jar (5:48). Wow, this was getting annoying. So they're not repeating like crazy yet, but instead we get Bouncin' and Sample? These are the two relative bust-outs? Things are getting out of control in an unpleasant way. Then, just when we were having that selfish, childish, flip-out "Mom-I-hate-you-because-you-didn't-get-me-a-PlayStation-for-Christmas-oh-shit-it's-the-last-gift-hidden-behind-the-tree-that-I-didn't-see" moments Phish blasts into the one thing I literally live for...the reason I go to as many shows as I possibly can. For the first time in almost exactly a year (7/4/10 Alpharetta) we got Forbin's > Mockingbird (13:27)! FINALLY!! It's the type of shit that you can hop off tour after...not that we ever do. It was as if the weight of the Phishing world had been lifted off of our shoulders. Next was a head-banging Axilla II (3:22), followed by one of the best Wolfmans (10:51) of the summer. Scent Of A Mule (8:07), only the seventh of 3.0, followed Wolfmans, and then STFTFP (7:37) to end the set. We were back on track. The Famous Mockingbird had helped fly us away from Nostalgia, the most boring place on Earth.
   Set two opened with BDTNL (8:21) > Rock 'n' Roll (5:56) > an OUTRAGEOUS Charlotte Jam (7:15), which got so dark it was qualifying for the jam of the summer > an UNBELIEVABLE Ghost (12:44) > a pop-off-athon Free (6:35) > Reba (11:49). The Reba jam was one of the best of 3.0. Phish was back with a vengeance! BDTNL > R 'n' R > Jam > Ghost > Free > Reba. That segue qualifies for one of the best of many Second Set segues of ST11:1. Just when we thought there was nothing left to hide, Phish waded through the Reba murk, slowly wound down, and set shit on fire: ICCULUS (6:10)!! Lets just say we read the book. Enough said. The last time Forbins > Mockingbird and Icculus were played together was Hartford '09, one of the best shows since 1.0. Nothing like some deep Gamhenge action to drag the phaithful back in. After Icculus, things got straight silly: HYHU (1:54) > Bike (4:50) > HYHU (2:18), which included a vacuum solo, Fishman claiming he forgot the words (although I'm positive he finished), and the usual run-around nonsense. It was awesome. Character Zero (6:37) followed and a most-appropriate - although very short - YEM (17:59) finished the set. The encore was Wilson (3:57) - what else, right - > Loving Cup (7:45), which was called by the Texas bell standing next to me. Every single person - myself included - that was grumbling about the previous few shows stacked with repeats and Nostalgia Rock were shut up immediately. But at least we all called the "At least they'll bust out in NC/VA", which by that point none of us were really sure about. There was no denying it anymore. We were about to find out if this was a one-show burner, or if Phish was about to hype the scene to get Super Ball IX sold out - shit, did I just say that out loud again...oh well, you weren't fooling yourselves otherwise, were you???
   The buzz for ST11:1 was at it's highest pitch since Bethel as we rolled into Raleigh and dealt with more heat and high humidity. Shakedown clacked as usual at this forest-protected site as everyone prepared to unload before the long drives home. Dark clouds seemed to follow me as we rolled through the lots before showtime...was another storm looming? Security asked everyone to get into the venue due to coming storms, and as we waited in line to be searched, the drops started falling. Shit. Light drizzle peppered the venue as the boys came out and gave us weary travelers a bouncy travel reference shout-out with the fourth Cars, Trucks, And Buses (6:50) of 3.0, and the first such opener since Riverbend in 2000. When you travel 4,917 miles in three weeks to see Phish, you want a Cars, Trucks, And Buses. Thanks you, boys. Then Peaches en Regalia (3:26)!!! ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!?! Only the third Peaches since 9/24/99 (last played 12/2/09 MSG)!! AC/DC Bag (8:01) followed, then Guyute (10:13). Guyute Stu, where you at homeboy? We hope to see you at SBIX! We didn't even bitch that much at what had to be the 7th or 8th Possum (9:18) of ST11:1, the boys were ripping so hard. Halley's Comet (7:56) followed, which > a SICK 46 Days (7:31). The always beautiful Divided Sky (14:29) was next and was followed by what I consider the best Curtis Loew (5:01) I HAVE EVER HEARD. Page's solo almost made me cry. Then the fact that they ended the set with yet another Antelope  (9:36) actually did make me cry - tears of sorrow. I'm obviously kidding, but what is the fucking deal with this constand Antelope set-ending shit? Do they love Antelope Greg that much? It's just a little sad when tunes like Possum, Hood, Antelope, etc. make die-hard phans say "ugh". But those "ughs' are awfully quiet when they're tearing up Icculus and the like. So I'll shut up.
   Set Two opened with an AWESOME Twist (7:41), the first Twist set opener since Set Three in Coventry (I swore I'd never acknowledge those shows...oh well). Twist > Rift (6:00) > Caspian (8:06) > ESTHER (11:58)! FUCKING UNREAL!!! Some people say they hate Esther. I want to kill those people, even if they're my phriends. It just happened to be the best one I've heard in 3.0. I guess I should point out that it slightly beat out Hartford '10, I had swine flu and was dying under my car in the desert heat on the ground during Indio, and I couldn't hear it at Merriweather '09 because of those drunken hicks. Don't ask me about Philly '09 and I missed Red Rocks '09. So again, best Esther of 3.0. Next was shit that makes shows legendary: Been Caught Stealing (3:22...was it really that short???) with auto-tuner on the mics to make it so the boys actually sounded like Perry Farrell! IT WAS FUCKING SICK!!! Oh yeah, it was also the first Been Caught Stealing since the NYE run in 1998! 298 FUCKING SHOWS!!! What repeats??? As if we could breath after that Phish launched into a 8:35 minute Piper, which > My Friend, My Friend (5:57) > a ROCKIN' KDF (7:30). HEAT. Next we were treated to RAGING Split Open And Melt (14:20), only the second of the summer. Golgi (4:38) followed and First Tube (8:23) ended the set. Absolute fire. GTBT (6:04) closed out yet another insane southern show. Maybe the south does have that "rising" effect. Phish sure rose to the occasion on these two nights. The only remaining question was: What the fuck are these guys going to pull off on the leg ender, especially being the third father's Day show in a row (sorry, Dad!). Brother was a no-brainer.
   nTelos Pavilion in Portsmouth, VA is a pretty sick venue. It's GA, with good seats and a large pit. It's right on the harbor. Boats sail by with battleships in the backdrop. The only thing that sucks about the venue is the cops, and if you're not being shady, even they're slightly cool. The weather was pretty unbearable because of the humidity, but at least we had the harbor breeze. A few assholes took advantage of the southern hospitality and kept getting back in line to horde posters and merit badges as we made our way into the venue to scoop some sick pit space. Roars came and went as we spotted many of the band member's dads coming on and off stage. Expecting that family was in Portsmouth for myriad reasons (and the fact that Red Light is stationed around Portsmouth), we really thought nothing of it...until the stage crew started setting up four mics. A Capella to start the show maybe? NOPE. Harpua (12:25) started this show! Although probably one of the shortest Harpua's in history (no worries here, I come for the music, not a 20-minute Trey story about Senior Nutbag - although I love it anyway), it featured the bands fathers taking turns voicing the parts of Jimmy's dad!!! IT WAS UN-FUCKING BELIEVABLE!!! Every father did a different part and then Phish raged through the remainder of the song as the fathers filed off stage. It was EPIC. Next was the expected Brother (6:50) which had everyone getting DOWN. For the third year in a row the bands kids came out and sat in or around the bathtub as Trey introduced them all. It was awesome. It's great to see these kids grow...and how normal they seem to be. I heard some commotion behind me and realized that Trey's, Page's, and Fishman's dads were directly behind me on the back pit rail. I turned and shook their hands, thanking each and every one of them for being the fathers  of and  properly raising the greatest band to ever walk the Earth. Dr. McConnell was especially kind and friendly, even giving me the grandfatherly handshake with the overhand on top. It was awesome, one of my favorite Phish moments. Then things got sweaty. The boys teased Leave It To Beaver, an obvious family reference, before launching into DWD (8:34) > Back On The Train (6:40). Funky Bitch (6:57) got the ladies going and then Timber [Jerry](6:29) got the whole crowd rockin'. Next was a NASTY Wedge (6:52), then a knee-breaking Moma Dance (7:16). Next the band gave tribute to Clarence Clemens, the sax player from The E Street band, with Thunder Road (6:01), a Phish debut. R.I.P. Clemens. The standard why-do-we-play-this-anymore <4 minute Tube followed (3:36) before the boys ended the set with a SICK Alaska (9:29) > ANOTHER Bowie (10:41).
   Set Two blew the tent right off of nTelos. Before I even get into it let me say this: In a Leg rife with Second Set explosions, THIS WAS THE BEST SECOND SET OF THE LEG. HANDS DOWN. Crosseyed And Painless (11:12) opener. Crosseyed And Painless > Walls Of The Cave (11:19), only the fourth of 3.0 > Slave (9:26) > another Fluffhead (14:13) > THE SICKEST SAND (13:18) EVER, which even included a stop-start jam going right back into Sand >  a FUNKY Sneakin' Salley Through The Alley (5:38) > Light (7:31) > a forced, short, but still rocking BDTNL (6:40). ABSOLUTE FIRE!!! The set ended with Suzy Greenberg, my most hated song, although once again Page destroyed the piano solo at the end. The boys encored with a predictable but awesome Julius (7:36) and there you had it. Some of the best music of the leg, definitely the best moments of the leg with their families joining them on stage. It's an incredible feeling seeing all that. And unlike last year coming from GA, this ride home from Leg One would  be only 9 hours instead of 18. Joy.
   So after all that complaining about repeats and nostalgia, Phish blew the bone off the tops of our skulls again. These guys are fucking amazing, which is the reason we get so annoyed with complacency and the old going-through-the-motions attitudes. The last three shows proved that not only can Phish still rock it in that Phishy way, but they're capable of blowing minds on a nightly basis. Perhaps it was a last-ditch effort to sell Super Ball IX tickets. I don't care. If it takes Forbin's > Mockingbird, Icculus, Been Caught Stealing, and a DEADLY Sand to get people to buy future tickets then I hope Phish never sells out a show ever again. Now we have 10 - well, we HAD 10 - days to prepare for Super Ball IX and everything that shit show is going to entail. I have no doubt that we'll see every repeat we complained about this First Leg. I also have no doubt that Phish will blow minds, festival style. It's in the northeast, it's on July 4th weekend, and IT'S A PHUCKING PHISH FESTIVAL. But that's another review. The last three shows were the best set of collective shows in the first leg, PERIOD. Bust-outs, sick funky, spacey jams, and Gamehenge galore. What a weekend. Now we get ready for the next big weekend. Getcha' popcorn ready!

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Trigger31.com

Thanks to LivePhish & Phish.net for the set list help. Thanks to my crew for making the first leg so much fun, and thanks to my wife for being so understanding about the shows she couldn't make it to. Dad, I'm sorry I missed your day for the third year in a row, but I know from your texts you were happy just to know I was so happy at these shows.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hotlanta, T-Storms, and Nostalgia Rock, Oh My: Alpharetta Review

   If you were in Alpharetta this past mid-week, you experienced something very standard and very rare. The standard part I speak of refers to their repeatability and inability to jam certain songs at the - seemingly - most opportune times, and the fact that Phish has played an 11-song-greatest-hits-of-the-weaker-variety-rotation 20% of the the time! The rare part I speak of comes in the form of a few bust-outs and a suspended show due to the worst storm I've ever seen roll through a Phish show - even worse than Deer Creek '09. Alpharetta had it all, but at the end of the day very few people were blown away by the shows. Not to keep making the comparison, but Alpharetta '11 paled in comparison to their debut shows there the year before, 4th of July celebration or not. Although many lots didn't open until one-and-a-half hours before ticket time and the venue strictly disallowed tailgating (although many "security" guards were very cool and even suggested ways around the rule), the lot was CLACKIN'. The police were incredibly cool - at least from our experiences - even asking us post-show how the show went, and the venue staff were overly polite and friendly. The weather was true to Hotlanta form, but we'll get to that later. Yes, there is a lot that makes Alpharetta one of the better venues on tour - certainly the best new venue - which is why we were expecting these shows to lay Georgia to waste. Not quite, although we got excitement in spades.
   The sun was beaming Tuesday afternoon as temperatures approached 100 degrees. Lot A was jumpin' and it seemed all bases were covered, stepped on or not. For the second year in a row signs large and small littered the pit - obviously a function of the very friendly and accommodating staff. Trey pointed somewhere towards the front of section 101 - way beyond the pit - and answered the call of that person with only the fifth Dinner And A Movie (4:45) since 1.0. Moma Dance (7:49) followed and > the SIXTH Possum (9:28) of the tour (15 shows so far in case you're wondering - that's 43% of the shows or EVERY 2.3 SHOWS!). Much more to come on the repeats and nostalgia. Next was a short but groovy Cities (5:26) which > Fluffhead (14:29). Fluffhead, like Possum, is a Phish classic. And although long and structured - unlike the end of Possum which has the ability to take off - Fluffhead's classic suite of musical parts should be a welcome sound. But after a 2.0 Fluffhead hiatus (last played in Vegas in 2000 as Phish 1.0 > Hiatus 1.0) the boys have played it 25 times in 3.0. I count 117 shows in 3.0. Fuffhead's made 21% of 3.0 shows? Are you kidding? That's a little overkill after a two year absence in 2.0, isn't it? It's been FOUR times this tour alone (29%, every 3.5 shows). Ocelot (9:55) followed and was rocked out nicely, with Trey really reaching new heights during a getting rare Type II-ish jam. Ginseng Sullivan (3:00), the first of the tour, only the third of since 2.0, and only the fifth since 1.0 should have set the place ablaze, but the drunken babbling locals didn't even catch the "to the North Georgia hills" part. Oblivious fools. A ROCKIN' KDF (7:53) > a Bathtub Gin (11:53) that had plenty of lift-off potential but never quite got there. The boys rocked the fucking house with Light Up Or Leave Me Alone (8:38), which was one of the highlights of the weekend, despite them BUTCHERING the end. The set ended with a standard Cavern (4:52), the FOURTH of tour.
   Set Two opened with a destructive Carini (5:57, also FOURTH of the tour), which > an insane Sand (10:09) > DWD (11:44) > Maze (10:44). FUCKING SICK! 38 minutes of heat. With barely a break the boys dove into Meatstick (6:10) - which is becoming increasingly popular > 2001 (5:53, WAY TOO SHORT, FORCED, AND THE FIFTH OF TOUR...never thought I'd complain about the Zarathrustra) > an incredible Bug (9:08) > a standard A Day In The Life (4:53) > THE FIFTH FUCKING ANTELOPE (9:46) OF TOUR!!! DUDE, IT'S GETTING RIDICULOUS!!! The boys encored a rockin' Quinn The Eskimo (5:13), which basically saved many people from immediately remembering the repeats that had begun to plague the latter half of ST11:1. Alpharetta 1 had some insane moments - bust-outs and especially the Carini > Sand > DWD > Maze. But the repeatable nostalgia rock act, especially the timing of said act, was beginning to wear the dedicated down.
   Alpharetta 2 had looming black clouds hanging over the venue by the time these ridiculous lots opened at 6:00 p.m. Was this an ominous sign? We sure hoped not. By the time we were ready to head up to Shakedown the first in a series of violent storms hit - and hard. Henry The Third had a ticket to sell - or basically give away I should say considering what the scalpers did to this "sold-out show" - and ended up taking shelter in the middle of the pavilion as he was pelted by driving rain that reached the pavilion center. Lightning streaked across the sky and deafening thunder rocked the ground. We took up shelter in the adjacent parking garage and waited out the first wave. Everything was soaked. Streams formed out of nowhere. Enormous ponds littered lots. Hundreds of pine cones lay across the lots, with some of their parents snapped in half across the streets, lots, and even INSIDE THE VENUE! It was a pretty dangerous situation. After everyone settled into the venue Phish launched into Paul & Silas (3:10, only the second of 3.0 - and the last before that was 11/29/98). A CK5   deep purple - lighted  (always a great sign) Back On The Train (6:53) followed, then some THICK CACTO POP OFF Foam (8:52). They kept the weather references coming with a real slow and groovy Water In The Sky (3:18). A great but short Runaway Jim (8:59) followed and then the storm rolled in. A perfectly placed Army Of One (4:38) blasted off as it appeared we'd all be battling Mother Nature within minutes - she roared in the distance. An entirely too short and not-so-inspiring Roses Are Free (5:06) > Timber [Jerry](6:40), one of the highlights of the show, which > a sick Mound (4:47...) then shit hit the fan - literally if you'd be willing to consider rain shit for a second. This storm got so fucking violent that Phish HAD TO LEAVE a la Deer Creek '09. Their rig was getting wet the rain was coming in so hard. Thunder and lightning had people running scared - some obviously not so scared for myriad reasons - as the band/venue staff came on the PA asking people to seek shelter, which included the pavilion whether you had a ticket or not. It was MAYHEM. Personal video to follow in a day or so. We were in 105 back, so we had a perfect view of the storm and the confused, wet, wide-eyed, fucked-up, drunk, smiling, stumbling hordes of people as they stuffed us in towards the back of the pavilion. I'm still shocked more people didn't panic. Everyone seemed fine...even slightly amazed, with no where near the nervousness anyone should have been expressing in those dangerous conditions. 
    After a nearly 50 minute break, with the storm STILL raging, Phish's crew removed the protective rain tarps and the boys blasted right back into Mound - at the same exact moment they had left off  - for what we're calling Mound > Mayhem > Mound (...4:44 for a total of 1:59:31) > Tweezer (9:43), one of the other highlights of the show until Trey cut off the sickest jam of the night. Tweezer > Julius (9:27), which was rockin', but weirdly placed. As they rocked into Julius, Miguel Cocineros leaned in and said "This could be the set ender...even though they just took a long break, they need to clear these isles, it's a fire hazard...they'll take a 10-minute break and come right back out." I agreed. If for nothing else, because the pavilion was dangerously crowded, like a giant pit. No doing. Julius > Slave (10:54), another potential set ender. However, Phish continued on with yet another potential set ender in Bowie (11:39). What the fuck are these guys doing? It was that weird feeling like you think the set is ending every song - for three straight songs. Oh, let's not forget: This was the FIFTH FUCKING BOWIE OF THE TOUR AND IT WASN'T EVEN A GREAT BOWIE!!! Are you guys following this? That's four songs five times (Possum, Bowie, Antelope, Tweezer) and three songs four times (Fluffhead, Carini, Cavern) in 15 SHOWS!!!!! Where's David Steinberg when you need him? Is this some kind of post mid-90's record for song rotations? FUCK!!! Things only got worse in my opinion as they chose yet ANOTHER potential set ender in the FIFTH Suzy Greenberg (6:39), in which the ONLY highlight came when Page keyed Trey right off his mic when Trey almost screwed up the timing. This prompted Trey to scream "This is Page's house!" as Page ripped a riff then stood up smooth as shit before sitting back down to continue playing. Suzy > Jibboo (9:23), then yet ANOTHER Hood (11:26), the FIFTH FUCKING Hood of the tour. FUCK!!! As if things couldn't get any worse they followed up with Character Zero (8:58), the FIFTH OF THE TOUR!!! Let's recap: That's seven songs played five times and four songs played four times in 15 shows. Did some of them shred? Of course. Did some of them blast off? No doubt. Did many of them FUCKING SUCK? Yes. This band is entering territory never ventured before - in the WRONG direction. When all hope seemed lost - OK, I'm just kidding there, although I am nervous - the boys sang a cappella Birdwatcher (2:28) - after an eternity - over the drunken Atlanta Braves chants. Guys, we just won the Stanley Cup.  If you're cheering anything, cheer the for us and the sport you've never heard of. Keep you're pathetic small-ball National League baseball nonsense to a minimum at these Phish shows. The band still managed to get the crowd quasi-quiet for Birwatcher, which > a welcomed but oddly placed Kung (3:21), only the second of 3.0 (8/12/10 Deer Creek) and the fourth since 1.0. The nostalgic repeat fumbled stormy rock party was semi-revived when they blasted into first Funky Bitch (5:51) encore since 10/3/99 in Rosemont, which included Birdwatcher teases, then > TweepriZe (3:59). Oh yeah, Tweezer again. I NEVER IN MY LIFE THOUGHT I'D SAY "THEY'RE PLAYING TWEEZER AND 2001 AGAIN? WHY??". Dude, what the fuck is going on? I could be wrong, but I count 315 songs so far for ST11:1. 59 of those songs belong to the same 11 songs. That's basically 20% of what we've heard. A band with hundreds of songs to chose from, that PRIDES itself on anti-redundancy, is playing 11 measly songs 20% of the time. Remind you of any other band that's already older and much more predictable? I'll give a hint: Phish eerily and coincidentally covered them during Indio in '08. Is that where we're headed? Shit, I hope not.
   Do I sound bitter? Well as a tour rat I am. As a weekend warrior, a summer show catcher, or even a run-or-two'er you're probably pumped - and I respect that. But as a seasoned vet with HIGH expectations for 2011 after a rocking Summer '10, Fall '10, and SICK Holiday '10-'11, the latter half of this first leg is beginning to disappoint me for all of the aforementioned reasons. But don't get me wrong, our crew still rocks it EVER NIGHT. I'll dance to any Phish song, any day, any tour. But the stresses of tour begin to wear much faster and take longer to recover from when you're blasted with Possum and weak Bowie's every 2.5 nights. I'm just saying. Alpharetta had it's INSANE moments - storm obviously included - but it had some horribly flat and custied-out moments, and they seemed to come at all the wrong times. Trust me, it's hard for me to write this. It's not like this is becoming Coventry - is it? - but the boys seem less interested by the night. Maybe my days of full tours are over. I could be retiring from full-to-nearly-full-tour soon. In the meantime, Phish has three shows left on the First Leg, a Ballin' festival over July 4th weekend, and another 12 shows for the second leg through Labor Day weekend. Things could go either way, and I have all of the faith in the world in Phish. The spaceship will land again and Phish will take off...hopefully.
   Next the band heads off to Charlotte, NC for the last set of weekend shows in the First Leg before a six-week break. Last years show in Charlotte blew the roof off. I think this is do or die time. If they're tired, they have three more days until vacation...or whatever. If it's disinterested, they only have three more days until they can become interested in something else...or whatever. If that's the case, fucking pretend...for three more days. If it's anything else - as it could easily be - the boys will rebound and blow the roof off Charlotte again. I'm thinking they will. Maybe they won't. They will...they should.  Right? But, hey, either way look on the bright side: No matter what Phish plays, they can't fuck up the local North Carolina talent. That's worth the trip alone.

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Trigger31.com

Thanks to LivePhish & Phish.net for set list help. Are you guys as annoyed as us?