Lots of excitement surrounded Phish’s show last night in Georgia. It was their last show of the tour (not including the Dick’s run coming up in a few weeks), it was on the heels of two shows that didn’t live up to the standard they’d created for themselves this year, it was a Sunday, the venue is a great one to see a show in, and the webcast was free for everyone. Lots of rumors that they would use this high-profile concert to announce a NYE run or perhaps festival in Florida swirled. Despite no announcement being made, the band wove a show together than nearly everyone could enjoy.
The first set had great energy (as usual). Trey came out in a button down shirt and what seemed to be khaki pants–not normal for a tour he’d been dressing rather comfortably (and I think beneficial to his playing). The choice of clothing proved to matter little, especially when he took off his collared shirt halfway through the set and played topless. Just kidding, he had a t-shirt on under it. After a bluesy My Soul, the band launched into an explosive Gin. The Gin featured a visibly excited Trey playing a series of fast licks cleanly over the band, bringing the jam to a head be for going into the final riffs way too soon.
Pebbles and Marbles would be the first of two fan-favorite 2.0 songs last night. The song came after being shelved for almost exactly a year. Unfortunately the song didn’t have the momentum to keep going at the end and gave way to The Line before Vultures. The first set highlight however would have to be the jammy Gumbo.
Gumbo, clocking in at about eight minutes, felt like it lasted a lot longer in the moment. Trey smiled and nodded to his bandmates before what would be the normal end to the song. With that the song kept moving forward with some funky work from the guitar on top of the funky layers the rest of the band laid down. Suzy Greenberg closed the set with a Stealing Time quote from Trey.
Obviously everyone was excited the moment CDT rang through the rafters to open the second act of the night. All but one second-set CDT since last year’s New Year’s run have been jammed out, and every second-set-opening Chalk Dust was extended. Most people were ready for a musical experience and our predictions proved to be correct when the band took it to about 14 minutes. The jam never loses its muster, moving through different sections of rock the entire time. Unlike the last extended CDT which featured more contemplative and most quiet sections, this was more balls-to-the-wall improv before slipping nicely into the first Scents and Subtle Sounds since the “S” Show at Dick’s in 2011–it’s longest gap to date with 109 shows in between. The S&SS served strictly as a landing pad, not drawing further attention to itself with any sort of jam. Instead the band moved into a Twist that started swanky but perhaps the meat of the jam didn’t match up with what Trey had in his head.
Trey slowed the jam way down to an almost awkward tempo and did some back-and-forth with Fishman before just deciding to play the Twist riff and go back into the end. After a standard Fuego to pop Georgia’s Fuego cherry, The Wedge started.
With Chicago’s Atomic Wedgie still fresh in everyone’s mind, the placement of this one later in the second set got people excited. Alas, Wedge was instead similar to the 73 other times the song was played and Light started. Light included a tight, groove-led pockets of different jams. The tightly-wound 3.0 juggernaut left us with the hi-hat beginning of Hood.
The Hood was another unique version to add to 2014′s list of above-average takes on the song. This jam sunk pretty low and quiet and Trey walked over to his pal on bass for some beautiful interplay that was pretty fun. I wouldn’t call it a “duel” like some people are dubbing it but rather a duet. Mike was even smiling during this (which almost NEVER happens!). The scene of them looking at each other, a foot away, silhouettes moving back and forth and hearing the two guitars put out those unique-sounding notes we’ve all fallen in love with over the years was touching. It was a great Phish moment. Trey moved over to Fishman, who was nearly laughing, and went back and forth with him before moving onto Page. After all that, Trey kicked it up a few notches with what sounded like they were going to launch into another huge Hood rock jam but it quickly went into the energetic end before closing with a high-octane First Tube and encoring with an unexpected Fluffhead.
Where do we stand after this year’s summer tour? Well, I think things are better than ever. Trey is fully invested in Phish once again. The entire band is healthy and seemingly happy. We have new material that everyone seems to enjoy. We have improvisation happening in places we never expected. We have all the elements that make Phish…Phish. I never thought Phish could be this good again during the 2009 and 2010 tours. I’m so glad they’ve proved me wrong once again.