Yeah, Phish played at Bonnaroo last night. We at OPT have no problem with Phish playing more radio-friendly shows for a different crowd (even though Trey didn’t have a problem dropping a 50-minute Night Speaks to a Woman on the crowd in 2002). I personally loved the Outside Lands show last year and enjoyed the ACL show in 2010. But the reason last night was particularly comical is because nearly every song was played at the Centrum, many just literally one show before last night.
After saying “how could Phish not know?”, I realized that, Phish could very well know what they are doing and be laughing about it. That being said, that show the most vanilla thing I’ve ever seen, wow. Despite having Kenny Rodgers on stage for what might be the most boring guest song ever, Trey played pretty well throughout; I really enjoyed his patience in the first-set Tweezer and the way he started off slow and then blew up in the Number Line jam. Both songs were representative of what Trey’s been doing since opening night: instead of diving ring into the rock portion of jams, he sits back and lets everyone get their footing before venturing out. This makes almost certainly for better improv.
I was incredibly frustrating that they chose to bust Shafty out for the Bonnaroo crowd. A crowd that seemed more interested in swinging their flags and dolls on sticks around in the air than what Phish seemed to be playing. The best I can hope for is that they played Shafty as a kind of inside joke on the Bonnaroo crowd, using the lyrics to tell them that they are in hell and they don’t even know…that they are oblivious fools? Yeah, I know, it’s a stretch. You know what, who cares at all about the Bonnaroo show?
What I really want to discuss is Kuroda’s new rope lights. We saw the ones lining the canvasses during Woosta, but now that no one was sitting behind the band, they added the oval ones. The lights might have finally gone too far. Aside from these thin LED rope lights not matching the rest of the lighting rig AT ALL, CK5 is like constantly using them. There is always movement on stage now. Sometimes I just like the lights to drape the band in color, enhancing the mood of the music. The lights shouldn’t be a focal point of the show. With the lights zipping around behind the over 50% of the time, it almost seems like a carnival on stage. The next step is to put a live video of each member in each oval like DMB does. As Guy Forget tweeted last night, “the new lights are like Chris’ Whammy pedal”.
I simply see last night as a scrimmage for AC and the rest of tour. Phish, keep playing how you’re playing. Chris, lose the fun-house lights.