Starry Eyed at Starlight

8.22.12 | Dave Vann

Phish played one of the coolest venue’s in their career last night at the open-aired mid-evil-styled theater in Kansas City. While they didn’t reach the same levels of experimental depths as some of their well-received concerts last week, they played an incredibly solid and beautiful show.

The entire evening had a sort of lazy and chill feel. Maybe it’s because it seemed that many of their songs were played with a slower tempo or maybe it was Trey’s soulful playing, but there was a sort of summer breeze in the music that matched the air around everyone. Things were kicked off with seemingly slower-played Chalk Dust Torture before dropping a monster-groove Skin it Back.

After relistening to the incredibly cumbersome and thick Skin it Back from last night, it begs the question, “will this become a show centerpiece?” The song can easily adapt to an open-ended funk factory if needed. The infectious grooves offered from all four members of the band makes for sublime smiles and dirty dancing. I sure hope that they come out with an enormous second-set version of this before the tour is over…maybe into Steam (please)?

After well-played and well-placed renditions of Moma Dance and Rift, Gin came out with its guns blazing. Trey came to a melodic climax. While the linear rock structure of it is similar to the other 3.0 versions, there was just something special sounding about Trey’s guitar last night. He was playing it beautifully all night and it started with Gin.

8.22.12 | Dave Vann

Pared with this fantastic Gin was a 15-minute Stash. The jam began slow and dark, Trey leading with patient notes. Soon, Fishman begins the Timber Ho-style of drumming we’ve seen during some of the more-impressive jams of this tour. The jam offers almost no peak but the jam is very interesting and worth a listen.

Curtis Loew came out for the first time of the year in fantastic style before a standard Kill Devil Falls and a bluesy Funky Bitch that added to the night’s lumbering swankiness from Trey.

Trey’s incredibly thoughtful and blissful playing continued in the Tweezer jam that opened the second set. In another great example of 2012 full-band communication, the jam started out of a slow and beautiful theme started with the Ocedoc, Page, Mike, and Fish throbbing under it like a well-oiled unit. Trey eventual reaches a pattern with his guitar that’s completely understated and gorgeous all while being supported by Fishman’s ride cymbal and delicate snare and toms. The magical journey wraps up with a short but incredibly funky Piper–totally opposite the jamming in Tweezer.

8.22.12 | Dave Vann

The Piper jam sinks with the help of Fishman’s pulsating and rolling beats. Trey steps on his Cry Baby for some wah-pedal magic and we’re officially in the 2012 funk factory albeit for not long. The jam rolls right into a solid Mike’s Song that is followed with one of the most unusual string of songs ever to be contained in a Mike’s Groove.

The Mike’s Groove bookends Bouncing > Number Line > Heavy Things, If I Could. All good songs but none that really can keep the excitement that should be contained within a Groove. That being said, the Heavy Things is gorgeous. I’ve said a number of times that I really enjoy Trey’s playing in Heavy Things this era. It seems like Trey plays incredibly crisp and joyful during this song and last night’s is no different. Number Line also features that joyful Trey playing, full of mini peaks and valleys.

8.22.12 | Dave Vann

The Weekapaug is one of the better versions of the year. Slower like the CDT and other songs, it allows Trey to slip into that Piper funk once again. Page quickly layers a series of descending notes over Trey and it sounds like a stop/start jam is about to evolve. Mike works his Modulus’ neck all over and Trey eventually comes out of the funk with some mellow and understated soloing making for a nice pairing with Page’s piano at the end.

Hood worked to continue this fantastic night’s bout of beauty by dropping immediately into what I think sounds like ‘plinko rock’. Trey plays a series of quick notes over fish’s gorgeous ride cymbal work and while the overall climax isn’t explosive, it’s certainly soulful.

The show ended with a lively Suzy Greenberg with Fish referencing the state’s embattled US Senate Republican primary winner, Todd Akin.

Upon first glance, this show might not look like much–it certainly doesn’t on paper–but there is a unique feeling to it. This show has personality. While not as risky as some of the California shows, this show offers a more refined and sublime side to Phish unique to 2012.