Some Phish shows are known for their jams, some for their over-the-top and unexpected antics; last night would be the latter. Despite the lack of nearly any improvisation for the first webcast show of the year, the on-stage antics made for great TV viewing. Trey was particularly chatty the entire night and in an obviously silly mood. The small sell-out crowd was treated to a very entertaining show.
Trey’s chatting started right in the middle of the year’s first Party Time. He introduced Carl “Geerz” Gerhard as an early student from the “school of Phish”. It was interesting to see the horns incorporated into a new song; the horn worked really well in Party Time actually. To the dismay of many, he left after the song, closing the door for a Suzy or a Julius. Simple quickly followed with what was the beginning to quite the sublime jam segment before Trey pulled the rip cord for a ripping song: Axilla.
After people were yelling “TUBE”, Trey said “well, we’ll play what it sounds like you’re saying”. Phans immediately got their popcorn buckets out after the funk factory that emerged during Bader’s. This version went right back to 3.0’s narrative and was about only five minutes. The KDF > Water in the Sky > Horn that followed was a very nice daytime interlude before Mike counted off to the beginning of the second time Babylon Baby was played. They need to play this song more. It’s a perfect song for Phish; it has so many intricate parts with nice room for slight improvisation/solos. I’m impressed that Mike wrote it as it’s not as obscure as many of his songs but rather quite Phishy and perfect for Trey’s and Fish’s style.
The Gin that followed is similar to DCU’s in that it starts out slow and patient and eventually kicks up the tempo to a blazing speed with Trey going off. Hopefully this isn’t just the new mold for the song though–I hope each is different from each other, unlike most Gins from ’09-’11. Stealin’ Time also followed it’s preceding version’s ways with a patient beginning. I love the new jam arrangement in Stealin’ Time because it allows for Trey to end it with some snarling licks before it finishes–it’s menacing.
Then the silliness started. For what [I think] was the first webcasted vacuum solo, Fishman walked to the front of the stage, Electrolux in tow. Trey said he was representing the military and that he needs to tuck in his shirt because of this. Fishman tucked his dress into his boxers, resulting in it looking like a huge diaper. After the solo, he walked back to his kit, and he kept his dress tucked into his boxers for the rest of the set. It was Fishman at his finest.
The exciting Antelope that followed referenced the shirt-tucking with Trey substituting “run, run, run, run..” with “tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck…”, and, the one that made me laugh, “tuck in your dress man! YOU’RE OUT OF CONTROL!”. The set break was humming with idea of what the second set would bring. Obviously Phish was enjoying themselves tonight. Were we in for some monster, AC-style jams? A rarity like Harpua or Icculus? No one knew. But when the second set opened up with Back on the Train for the third time this era, people were excited–especially after the one from Bader that was beautifully sandwiched between Birds and Heavy Things.
However, in disappointing fashion, BOTT gave way to a poorly placed and a not-so-cleanly played Rift. Trey missed a number of cues in the song that’s normally praised for its lightening-fast guitar and musical changes. Trey’s finger issues spilled over into the mid-second-set Melt that followed. Having Melt in the third second set spot was exciting at first. Maybe this would be the song’s triumphant return? No. The jam was particularly cringe-worthy. No one knew what the hell Trey was trying to do with the horribly place, slow, screeching notes he decided to play. It even looked like Mike was about to shudder at some points. Eventually, when Trey realized this jam was literally going nowhere (and sounded worse than most garage bands covering the song), he abruptly went into the finish. I say he should have skipped the end and left the disaster unfinished by someone working in a creative segue into the next song, Mango Song.
It was becoming apparent that the band was very uninterested in jamming tonight (read: Trey). There was a glimmer of hope that Number Line would become an open-ended adventure for the first time in a long while. But not tonight. Trey teased Dave’s Energy Guide right before finishing the song and going into Limb by Limb and Shine a Light.
Ears perked up as soon as Fishman stood to begin a very rare mid-set Lengthwise. They asked for people with dresses near the front to come on stage, adding that they “must tuck” if the come up. The first was a gent that was also wearing a Fishman dress. When he was told that he had to tuck it in, he lifted the back of it towards the crowd showing the bottom of only his sweet cheeks (a la Mary Swanson) to both the audience and the many streaming at home–no one said the webcast wasn’t R-rated after all. When he tried to get close to Fish, Fish told him not to get close to him. The girl in the skirt was less impressive as she did almost nothing and stood in the dark the whole time. This subsequently led to probably the best intros to Maze ever.
Trey grabbed a light saber from some obnoxious rook in the front row (seriously, did this year’s Bonnaroo show begin the trend of holding up flags, party balloons/stuffed animals on sticks, and light-up toys close to rail?) and started doing some real Jedi shit. He asked Chris to turn off the lights and did some pretty sick saber moves in the dark. Trey, in rhythm, sang “you suck at tucking” for a while over the Maze intro–referring to the two that were just on stage. Trey picked up his guitar and started playing it with the saber. However, don’t let the song’s introduction antics out shadow what was an extremely fierce piece of rock. Page and Trey absolutely destroyed this beast.
After closing the set with Cavern > Fire (and more tucking references), Trey, Mike, and Page all tucked in their shirts before leaving the stage. When they returned, Trey and Mike donned ridiculous sombreros (especially Mike’s). Mexican Cousin was without a doubt going to be played. After an abbreviated version and the hats were given away, Slave brought back a more serious tone to the show before the night ended. However, this Slave relied more on fast strumming and decent guitar playing–unlike the 9/14/11 and Dicks versions.
This show won’t be listened to very much after people hear the Party Time and Lengthwise > Maze, but it was a fun show nonetheless and just as Phishy as one that contained serious jamming. Let’s just hope tonight’s show brings back some of that boardwalk heat…and tucking.