The amusement park at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center captures what Phish is all about right now: fun. You don’t know what’s around the corner. It could be a 25-minutes Down with Disease or a Smoke on the Water tease at the end of Character Zero. It could be a jammed-out show, or it could be a relatively jamless show with tons of songs. Last night’s show was the latter, but as long as Trey keeps playing like this, I’m going to love it.
Last night’s show was balls-to-the-wall energy with fantastic guitar–the only downside to the show is that there was probably the least amount of flow a concert could possibly have–especially the first set.
As Phish took the stage last night, Trey looked into the GA pit and noticed a sign. The sign read: JENNIFER DANCES. The song that was only played three times ever, and was joked about by Trey before Tweezer at last year’s MSG show, was now getting repped with its own sign. The person who was holding that sign, you ask? OPT’s very own Guy Forget! Guy has stood by the song Jennifer Dances as being Phish’s greatest song of all time since 2000–his dreams almost came true last night. After Trey pointed the sign out to Mike, Trey asked for the sign from Guy. Trey says (very clearly on the recording too), “FINALLY, finally someone got a sign right. Geez louise!”. After talk between Trey and Mike, Phish (unfortunately to Guy) opened up with the now-elusive Nellie Kane.
Set 1: Nellie Kane, Mellow Mood, Buffalo Bill, Kill Devil Falls, Wolfman’s Brother, Rift, Undermind, Ride Captain Ride, It’s Ice, Dog Faced Boy, Brian and Robert, 46 Days, Limb By Limb, Character Zero
Set 2: Golden Age > Mike’s Song > Fast Enough for You > Weekapaug Groove, What’s the Use? > Theme From the Bottom > Backwards Down the Number Line > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Harry Hood
Encore: Good Times Bad Times
Keeping things light under the sweltering New York sun, Mellow Mood came out. Very interesting choices for the first two songs–but, when Buffalo Bill came next, people were wondering if they had something up their sleeves, or if they were just picking songs out of a hat at the moment. It turned out they were simply just playing totally random songs. Also, one of my pet peeves is when Trey starts a segue song up from a stand still–we have seen this with Buffalo Bill and Have Mercy at other points in 3.0. Buffalo Bill is not a song that’s meant to stand alone, I’d argue the same for the Dog Faced Boy later in the set.
They finally decided to get people moving when they launched into a blazing version of Kill Devil Falls. Trey took the Ocedoc out for a wild ride once again as he came to an explosive peak towards the end of the jam. Not wanting to stop screaming, the Ocedoc came back out in the following Wolfman’s jam. Instead of Mike and Fish being prominent in this jam, Trey decides to make the Wolfman’s jam guitar-driven. He sounded great in it too.
Ride Captain Ride made its second appearance in 12 years after impressive versions of Rift and Undermind. After slowing things down with an out-of-place Dog Faced Boy and pretty Brian and Robert, 46 Days came out with its guns blazing. Trey goes for more of a themed guitar solo in this version before heading back into the closing lyrics by soloing around a pattern that emerges briefly. The guitar work came back during the Character Zero closer–unfortunately, after Blossom’s version raising the bar, I won’t be totally happy until that standard is met again.
Golden Age, by T.V. on the Radio, opened the second set. After it opened a second set in Broomfield last year, it became a hopeful jam song because of its open ending. Last night it sounded like some extended improv could come of it. Mike’s poppy bass line seemed like things were going to take off–it even sounded like it was going to go into Manteca at a point; instead, Trey started up Mike’s Song.
The standard Mike’s Song segued beautifully into a gorgeous version of Fast Enough for You before Weekapaug Groove. The Weekapaug intro featured Golden Age teases by Mike that were quickly reprised by Page during the jam.
What’s the Use? was started from a stand still after ‘Paug. The dark version is made eerie by Page’s synth before Trey started up Theme. This Theme is gorgeous. Trey wails during the jam–for those of you that usually skip Theme on your iPods, make sure to give this version at least one listen.
While the second set is almost as discombobulated as the first, each part was played well, each version had its own highlights. While the Number Line that followed Theme was shorter than Riverbend’s, it was much better. Trey’s playing was clean, energizing, and inspired.
I mentioned in my last review how it’s a good sign that Trey is inserting teases into jams again–it shows focus and playfulness. Last night’s show contained even more teasing. Aside from the Golden Age teases by Page and Mike during Weekapaug, I think the noodling by Trey in the beginning of 2001 sounded like an extended Manteca tease–this noodling continued into the main jam. During the beginning of the main jam, Trey puts an entire Happy Birthday lick down–although I’m not sure who it’s for. Like Pine Knob’s 2001, Trey seems to be trying to hone his funky strumming again during the song–he does this after the jam’s initial noodling.
The best tease of the night came when Trey started playing What’s the Use? during 2001. Page quickly jumped on it by jumping on the synth–perfect! My only complaint? It’s too short! Mike’s liquid bass that we saw during Blossom’s Sally was itching to get extended during last night’s 2001.
So, I gushed over how Bowie was making a comeback in 2001 during yesterday’s review of Great Woods. I said how I’ve been saying it was one of a few songs that was severely hurting in 3.0 before 2011. Harry Hood was the other song I was starting to give up hope on. While I’m not ready to “gush” over last night’s, it’s important to note that every since the impressive hood in Worcester last winter, the song has been getting more and more impressive. Last night’s boasted some truly impressive full-band playing. The sonic mesh that was created is something from dreams. The guitar work that Trey layered over the jam was gorgeous he played with speed and accuracy that I thought he would never regain again. Beautiful. Thank you, Trey.
Good Times Bad Times was the encore. It’s funny; in the lot before Pine Knob, I was talking about how I don’t even care about GTBT anymore because it had become so bland in recent years. Then they dropped the Pine Knob GTBT that melted my face. Trey has been crushing these guitar-based songs. He has been inserting tension/release-based peaks in these jams too. Last night’s rendition of GTBT followed this pattern. Trey melted face again. His tension into the main peak was jaw-dropping.
While the setlist made my eyes roll, the guitar made my face melt last night. Trey, who the fuck turned your switch to ‘on’ again?