Lighting Up Lake Tahoe

Yellow rockets were held all show (B. Greenfield)

Since 2009, Phish have made it a point to make some wonderful tour stops while touring outside of the Northeast.  On a second leg filled with almost all “destination” venues, Harvey’s Lake Tahoe may take the cake.  Located lakeside and nestled into the mountains, the natural beauty coupled with the intimate crowd size of 6,000 made for a spectacular event.  Just days after Zim and Eric Wyman debated whether webcasts affect Phish’s concerts, Phish proved us wrong with the very strong performance.

Last night featured a number of shorter, strongly played songs and one large jam in Light.  Mix in a first-time cover of Elton John’s Rocket Man, an Oh Kee Pa > AC/DC Bag, and a Walls of the Cave closer and you have yourself a serious show–although I’ll argue that it’s the weakest of leg II thus far.

Set 1: Party Time, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > AC/DC Bag > Mellow Mood, Rift, Punch You In the Eye > Meat, David Bowie, Bouncing Around the Room, Horn, Water in the Sky, 46 Days

Set 2: Gotta Jibboo > Light, Chalk Dust Torture > Slave to the Traffic Light > Free, Rocket Man, Harry Hood, Walls of the Cave

Encore: Bug, The Squirming Coil

Party Time, now cut from nearly 10-minutes to about 6-minutes (something I had been hoping for), accomplished what it was written to do: get the party started.  As the sun shined on an exuberant crowd, Trey’s happiness was emanating through his guitar as he started up the Oh Kee Pa Ceremony.  The last time anything other than Suzy Greenberg was played after OKP was on Valentine’s Day in 2003 when AC/DC Bag popped out of the end.

Looking down on Harvey's before show (B. Greenfield)

AC/DC Bag’s jam matched the energy of the sold-out crowd, many fans leaving the bleachers for a spot on the GA floor.  At the end of the song, Trey let a loop run behind him as he discussed the next song with his bandmates.  Phish’s 9th version of Mellow Mood emerged–a song perfect for the blissful and relaxed setting.

After Rift and a Punch that ended with poor guitar and awkwardly, Meat finally made an appearance.  Meat has only been played three times, post-hiatus, up until last night!  Although the last time it was played was at Broomfield last year, the most memorable was at CCCC on 11/29/09.  Last night’s wasn’t a CCCC version, but it also wasn’t too shabby.  I love Meat and hope it comes into regular rotation.

Usually when there is a mid-set Bowie, it’s a biggie.  If the song isn’t being used as a set-closer, there is no need to rush the jam–improv usually flourishes.  Some great mid-set Bowies from this year alone are 6/3, 6/7, and 6/15.  Unfortunately this Bowie was extremely rushed.  With an intro that made other 3.0 intro look like 6/18/94’s, the initially pretty jam sprinted into the end with no real peak.

Water in the Sky, played with the faster arrangement, seemed perfect for the setting sun and teed up the hot 46 Days really well.  46 Days was a serious injection of rock into last night’s first set.  Trey kept pushing and pushing for the sky.  It was a perfect choice for a set-closer.

Considering what Phish had recently done in Rock and Roll, Sand, Crosseyed, and Piper, I thought THE JAM was gonna come in Jibboo when it opened the second set.  Just for historical reference, the last time Jibboo opened a second set was from Vegas on 4/16–so, this isn’t something that usually happens.  As Trey drops his delay loops (with a slight hiccup at the start) for the jam, I was in heaven.  Unfortunately the eight-minute version goes nowhere and they go back into the closing segment of the song.  That’s okay because the Light that followed did most of the improvisational heavy lifting.  Further developing this new style of “storage” jamming, Phish unleashed a psychedelic monster on us.  It was somewhat similar to Rock and Roll’s Gorge jam, only not quite as danceable.

The Light jam came to a slow and natural halt and then an unexpected CDT roared over the crowed.  Trey teased Dixie and the theme from Harry Potter (Hedwig’s Theme) within the song before exploding into the jam.  The jam, however, quickly falls quietly–while I was expecting it to go places like 6/25/10’s CDT, the band slipped into a beautiful Slave.

Band takes stage (B. Greenfield)

The Slave was pretty, yes, but the peak was cut short by Trey.  However, Slave at least had a peak–unlike the Bowie or Hood later in the second set.

After an uneventful Free, Elton John’s Rocket Man started up. Guy Forget tweeted from YEMblog, “people have had these yellow rocket signs all show. Not sure if there’s more back story.” and that people were holding up rocket-related things before the show even started.  Page sang the number with Trey using a slide for parts of the song.  The song sounded great.  Hopefully it doesn’t disappear like Amoreena did.

Harry Hood featured a pretty jam segment.  After years of bashing Trey for not being able to play quietly, he’s finally getting control of his ‘doc.  He starts out patient, pretty, and quiet while slowly building the jam.  To our dismay, however, like Bowie earlier in the show, the jam led to NO peak whatsoever.  This was extremely disappointing–10 minutes? comon!

Walls of the Cave made up for the peak-less Hood though.  With Trey cumming all over the crowd, just like the first set closed out, this Walls is probably the best version of 3.0–I have to relisten though.

The encore was Bug and Coil.  This show marks the first time Slave, Hood, and Coil were played in the same show.

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Here’s to tonight!  Wonder if YEM will come out or if it will continue sitting on the shelf!