As tour winds and leg two comes to a close capping a stellar summer of Phish, I can’t help myself from thinking about all the shows I missed. Who knew moving to a new city and going through a major life transition would make catching shows so difficult. I only managed to catch the Bader Field run, which was great, but my plans to catch some Leg II shows fell through, leaving me with no choice but to observe from a distance. While some folks may be content with couch tour, I get jealous and uneasy every time Phish plays a show I could have attended. Even if I couldn’t have logistically made it to such a show, I still have that unsettling feeling that I missed something special; this has occurred several times this summer, and I couldn’t be happier.
My Phish “pain” is undoubtedly someone else’s gain. Even though I would have given what Trey once wanted to give to play YEM again, I am thrilled that the band is playing at such a high level and that fans are seeing memorable shows. I am disappointed that I haven’t been able to soak some more shows in during this summer, but how could one be upset when the band is playing at such a high level and fans across the country can enjoy such good live music.
Like the “3.0” Leg II’s before it, summer 2012’s Leg II has built upon Leg I. After reaching their goal of 200 songs during Leg I, Phish has been successful in sculpting fresh and memorable jams – something many fans predicted during the mid-summer tour break. Maybe the band is more focused, determined, or self-motivated to push musical boundaries on stage, or maybe it’s just by chance . Regardles, Phish has made Phish tour interesting again. It’s not that Leg I wasn’t good, because Leg I produced some great moments and some standout jams, (and I’m not saying previous tours weren’t good) but shows seemed a bit too formulaic with all the banter, antics, tucking, and song chasing. My main motivation to see shows is to catch a show like Long Beach, Bill Graham III (night one as well), Kansas City and Charlotte – a show with interesting and free flowing improv. These shows sound tight, cohesive, and have some real jamming-not to mention the real solid reviews and positive reactions on twitter.
Phish seems to have hit an improvisational stride which is relieving and encouraging. The band is locked in and hopefully this summer will just be another stepping stone for the band; a band that is constantly evolving. Although I am already set to see Trey in October and Page with the Meters in the beginning of November, I am looking forward to New Years Eve-given that the chatter holds some weight. But for those of you going to St. Louis, OKC, or Denver, enjoy because those shows will likely be a treat. I will be at home sharing in the groove, suffering from afar, and loving every minute of it.