Phish played to a sweaty crowd last night at the Austin360 Amp–well, the crowd that wasn’t on couch tour which is air conditioned. With temperatures in the 90’s at the open-aired venue, it begs the question, why was Trey wearing jeans, a long sleeved shirt and an undershirt? Bust out the jorts and cut-off shirts for crying out loud! The band hasn’t played the state of Texas since the ACL Fest in 2010 and Trey apologized for not making it around there more often adding that it is the state he was born in.
The Phish nerds in the crowd and on couch tour were buzzing over the fact that Trey plugged in with his original blonde Languedoc guitar that was debuted in ’87 and was played more recently at the Fare Thee Well concerts. When the band opened the night around 8:30 with Party Time, we were wondering just what sort of party they had planned. Unfortunately, perhaps because of the heat, the concert never truly achieved lift off. The first set was a very song-driven affair, lacking any real of creativity beyond the cookie cutter versions of songs.
While Trey’s old Langudeoc (“Old Reliable”) worked well in songs like Wolfman’s Brother and Devotion to a Dream, the older guitar is no doubt far less forgiving than the Koa (1997-2004, 2012-present). Trey simply doesn’t always have the same command over the instrument as he once did and in some songs the origninal guitar produced twangy or empty-sounding notes, notable in Sugar Shack (although I think he always plays this song poorly) and David Bowie. I suppose the guitar fared better on the songs where chords were more prominent.
46 Days got the second-set treatment last night and it extended beyond its typically structured rock jam that it has been confined to since 2010. The jam moved through a “The Dogs” segment before finding itself back in the 46 Days jam. Piper had a decent build before yielding to Ghost. The best playing of the night can be found in this relatively short version. The jam reaches a point of bliss before finding its end. The rest of the set is largely forgettable unfortunately.
Phish’s new song, Shade, provided the landing pad out of the Ghost jam. I enjoyed the song a bit more this time than I did the first time it was played but Trey sure seems to struggle singing it. A stand-alone Jibbo, Waiting All Night, and Blaze On and Wading in the Velvet Sea all helped run out the clock in the second set before a Bowie that had nearly no intro, no jam, and a cringe-inducing ending. I really don’t get why they play David Bowie anymore. The song used to stand as a giant, shoulder-to-shoulder only with the likes of Tweezer, Ghost, and Down with Disease. It’s now almost just a novelty. Intros lack any sort of effort or creativity. The jams are nearly exclusively type-I and never go beyond a few minutes. And the endings are often a sloppy display of unprepared fretwork. The band managed to turn around Harry Hood, Slave, and Reba in 3.0, time to do it with Bowie.
The missing Tweezer Reprise from L.A. surfaced as the set closer.
There’s not much else to say about last night’s concert. Here’s to hoping the music tonight is able to capture some of the heat in the air.