, attached to 2021-09-25

Review by Phluffhead1988

Phluffhead1988 TAB in Charlotte tonight was insane. Despite the lack of Jenn, Natalie, and James, tonight truly felt like an Phish show. 5 song first set, 6 song second set, and a 5 song encore that started off with 4 solo acoustic songs. Trey Anastasio is truly one special human being that continues to exceed all of our expections time after time. Download this show! Also, I took my dad tonight for his 2nd TAB show. He truthfully called the Sand closer though, which made for a special night for us!
, attached to 2021-08-31

Review by heathen

heathen Set 1: Trey was really out to lunch during Forbin! He got a little bit better in Mockingbird, but was still a ways off much of the time. He got back on track in Wolfman's, which is an enjoyable version though not necessarily an all-time great version. Stash was pretty good, with moments of delightful weirdness. Weigh was fun, and fun is all it ever needs to be. They probably could've stretched out Gotta Jibboo if they had time but they obviously didn't, and it didn't seem to be headed to any new territory so I don't mind the short version. Moonage Daydream was a bit rough around the edges. It's a bold choice of covers. Altogether the first set was okay. It got off to a rocky start, but they definitely redeemed themselves with the Stash at least. Set 2/e: Soul Planet itself is a bad song IMO. Musically boring, and the lyrics are just one cliche after another. With that out of the way, let's talk about the jam. Luckily, the song itself was out of the way by the 5 minute mark. They jump with both feet into the jam, and I really like the reverse delay or whatever it is that Trey (I think) loops at the very beginning of the jam. Fish does some really interesting rhythmic stuff as they step off the cliff and unequivocally enter Type II territory (in the neighborhood of the 8:30 mark). Trey seems to be committed to plunging into the abyss in this jam, rather than pulling the ripcord and getting on to the next Dad Rock song. As I type that, though, he tries to bring them back to Soul Planet at about the 21-ish minute mark. Dude can be a pain. Then he starts noodling towards a predictable 3.0 crescendo. If I was hearing this live, without the benefit of knowing it goes for another 20+ minutes, I'd think this jam is nearing conclusion. At about 25 minutes in Trey once again brings them back to Soul Planet, which is a shame because for a while there earlier they had some interesting stuff happening. Just when they're threatening to go into the boring "cow funk" (ugh) things get spacey again. After some more interesting stuff, things stagnate a bit and then they go into The Final Hurrah which is a lame song. Theme From the Bottom is a great song. Why can't Theme get the 40+ minute jam treatment? Axilla was notable as not having been played in a while, but the actual performance wasn't anything to write home about. Tela is a great song, and this is a pretty average version (but an average Tela is better than a lot of other songs in the current rotation). Trey flubbed the ending of Tela, for those keeping score. When, oh when, will people stop with the "Hood" response? Probably never, unfortunately. Harry Hood was sloppy at times and ultimately unremarkable. Not much to say about Fee and Wilson. I need to listen to the Soul Planet jam at least one more time to fully form an opinion about it. As of now I can say there were some great parts, and some meh parts. How it rates as a whole is a question I don't want to rush to answer. Stash was good, and there were some decent versions of other songs. This show is going to live and die by that Soul Planet jam though, because there wasn't really anything else in the show that's memorable. A lot of the songs were just average, and some were below average.
, attached to 2021-08-11

Review by heathen

heathen Set 1: The brief jam in A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing stays in Type 1 territory, but has some enjoyable moments nonetheless. The Halley's Comet jam reminds me that Trey seems to be particularly in love with delay these days. (He seems to go through phases with effects. I remember when he was using the hell out of that Leslie effect in the mid-to-late-90s which got old pretty fast.) Meat was fun (which is exactly what one hopes for with that song...at its best it's fun). Overall a decent first set, though nothing mind-blowing. Pretty standard first set type of stuff. Set 2/e: I love Theme From the Bottom. There's no two ways about it. This was a routine Theme, which is still enjoyable for me. Birds was pretty good. Of Trey's "serious" songs, Bug might be the best. He's made a lot of attempts at writing "serious" material, and most of those attempts are pretty bad. I think Bug is a downright good song though. It doesn't hurt that I have memories like Big Cypress tied to that song. The Ruby Waves jam had some good moments. Chalk Dust was fun. Altogether a decent second set that was mostly pretty good but not remarkable. Maybe slightly above average. Not much to say about the encore. A slightly above average show because of the fun factor, but nothing to write home about.
, attached to 2021-08-08

Review by heathen

heathen Set 1: Really interesting Mike's Song. Page steps up to great effect in the latter third of the song while Trey holds back. The way they transition from the dark feel of Mike's, to the more major scale sound of the jam, then back into the darkness of Mike's is really good. My Soul and Weekapaug, by contrast, were unremarkable. Casual Enlightenment is boring. Not much more to be said. The beginning of David Bowie is tough to hear. Even by 3.0 standards Trey is really sloppy. The rest of this version is unredeeming. Overall a substandard first set with Mike's Song being the only high point. Set 2/e: This is the first set of the tour I got excited about after seeing the setlist. That said, I'm judging by what I hear and not what's written on the setlist. Bathtub Gin was nothing special. Things don't get interesting until Ghost, which is good though brief. Jarring transition to Sneaking Sally. Unfortunately Sneaking Sally doesn't really amount to much, and Twenty Years Later feels like it kills any momentum they may have had. Waste feels like filler. The whole Twist/Makisupa sequence is fun, with some good musical moments as well. But then we get thrown into the paint by numbers dad rock of Most Events Aren't Planned and More. This set is a great example of the schizophrenia of 3.0 Phish. As a whole this set isn't all that great. There weren't quite enough great moments to make up for all the meh moments. The Twist/Makisupa sequence was definitely the best part. Nice old school encore with Contact (always fun to hear) and Slave. Pretty standard versions though. Altogether I'd say this is an average show at best. It had some definite high points (Mike's Song and the Twist/Makisupa sequence) but the majority of the show is meh at best (poor song selection and I badly botched Bowie being definite low points). On balance it adds up to a so-so show overall.
, attached to 2021-08-07

Review by heathen

heathen Set 1: Fun, tight Poor Heart. Roggae isn't a song I'm particularly fond of, but this version is pretty nice. A Wave of Hope is yet another lame new song. Trite lyrics, and nothing interesting musically. This is simply not why I listen to Phish. Struggling to find something redeeming in this crap Trey churns out gets really tiring. The Stash jam has some interesting moments, but nothing earth shattering. Overall a fairly standard first set. Set 2/e: From now on when Everything's Right comes on I think I should just automatically skip to the 6 minute mark because I'm never going to like the song itself. Like the Stash jam, the Everything's Right jam has some interesting moments but nothing incredible. What's the Use is a relatively recent song that I enjoy a lot. This version is no exception. Crosseyed and Painless is one of those covers that Phish has really made its own (not necessarily in the sense of having a unique take on the original, but rather in the sense that it blends right into their shows and fits their style well). This is a fine, albeit unspectacular, version of Crosseyed. The way they bring it back to What's the Use is nice. After going through the motions of a standard Type 1 DWD jam, the band settles into a mellower exploratory mood about halfway into this version of DWD. They don't end up going too far out with it, but it's an enjoyable enough jam. Overall an okay second set. Drift While You're Sleeping as an encore is a good excuse to beat the crowds to the exit. Altogether this is a slightly below average show. Not much stands out. It's kinda' just meh overall.
, attached to 2021-08-06

Review by heathen

heathen Set 1: They bust out of the gates with a lot of energy in Carini...except for Fishman, who plays the same thing for the entire jam (with a few of the most basic fills thrown in here and there). More of the same with Sand. Nice version of Tube. Overall a fairly standard first set that showed potential to be better. Set 2/e: There were some good moments in the Blaze On jam. The jam is decent overall but nothing special. It ends with the typical Phish 3.0 crescendo before they transition back to Blaze On. Simple is another story. The Simple jam has a lot of interesting ideas going on, and the band really steps off the cliff (Fish included). I've definitely heard better performances of the song itself, but this is one of the more exploratory Simple jams I've heard. Even though I loved the exploration, I don't hate how they brought it back to the song at the end of the jam. I'd rather be left wanting for more than feeling like the band was beating a dead horse. Maybe not the all-time best Simple, but definitely a version that needs to be heard. There's nothing noteworthy about the rest of set 2. The encore is also unremarkable, other than Sanity always being fun to hear. Overall an average show that would've been below average without the Simple. This version of Simple is the first thing I've heard from this tour (and I haven't heard 8/4 yet) that I'd tell someone they need to at least check out. Everything else has been, in the grand scheme of all the decades of Phish music that exists, unremarkable. I'm not saying this Simple is necessarily an all-time great, but it's definitely noteworthy.
, attached to 2021-08-04

Review by heathen

heathen Set 1: Well, Evolve is yet another lame new song. Putting up with this lame dad rock is really getting tiresome. Halfway to the Moon isn't terrible. Maybe it's just the change of hearing Page singing and taking the lead, but this song is way more tolerable than pretty much every other 3.0 song. It's not amazing, but when put in the same set as crap like Ocelot and Water in the Sky it sure sounds good. I don't remember hearing this song before so I don't have a point of reference, but this version was thoroughly enjoyable. Theme is a fantastic song, but this version is a bit rough around the edges in the composed section. The Type 1 jam is enjoyable enough, though it doesn't cover any ground that hasn't already been covered in the past with this song. By 3.0 standards the Fluffhead was pretty well executed. They definitely didn't nail it though. For better or worse, these days we just can't expect them to nail Fluffhead like they used to. At least they didn't totally botch it though. Overall, I'd say this is a slightly above average first set. There's nothing essential though. Set 2/e: Though I am not a fan of the song itself, I enjoyed the Mr. Completely jam here. Birds was a little bit sloppy at times. The Ghost jam was really cool, including the weird (in a good way) transition into Bathtub Gin. The weirdness of the Ghost jam carried over nicely into the Gin (listen to Page!). Even though they got quite a head of steam going in the jam I don't mind that Trey brought it back to Gin. They could've been headed to a cookie-cutter 3.0 crescendo, and bringing back the weird Gin vibe that carried over from Ghost was fine by me. 2001 was fine but nothing special. The Split Open and Melt jam takes a very intriguing turn into spaciness right from the start. This Split Open and Melt jam is something special. This set is the first "must hear" of the tour (I've listened through 8/7 as of this writing). It's the first stuff I've heard that I'll definitely listen to again in the future. Overall, this is probably the best show so far (again, through the 8/7 show at least). The first set is nothing spectacular, but the second set is legitimately good with moments of greatness. This second set (and in particular the Ghost > Gin and SOAM) is what keeps me coming back to the band. Anyone who hasn't heard this second set yet, listen to it now!
, attached to 2021-08-03

Review by heathen

heathen Set 1: Mull is not a good song. A pretty mundane first set. Not much to say really...not bad but also not great. Meh. Set 2/e: Nothing stood out to me until the Ruby Waves jam (the last five or so minutes, specifically). Trey obviously got bored with it, though, and decided to take a sharp turn into Possum. I can't necessarily say I fault him because while it was interesting at times, the Ruby Waves jam also didn't seem to have a lot of momentum at that point. The Light jam is kind of a snoozer. It feels like the band was searching for something to happen and it never did. But hey, I'd rather have them trying than have them just sit back and play it safe. Not much to say about this YEM other than it's 2021 and they're still doing vocal jams? I've listened to a lot of vocal jams, from every era of Phish, and I've never heard one and thought "that was great!" As for the encore, Loving Cup is a great song and Phish typically does a great version of it. This one is a bit too sloppy though. It's one thing to play a jammed out song sloppily, but it's another to play a straight ahead rocker like this one sloppily. If you're going to play a song like Loving Cup, you have to nail it. Overall the best description for this show is "meh." I'd rank this one above 7/28, but definitely below 7/30, 7/31, and 8/1.
, attached to 2021-08-01

Review by heathen

heathen Set 1: Set Your Soul Free, while a terrible song, had some good moments in the Type 1 jam part. I'm a sucker for Reba. I named one of my cats Reba. The composed section of this Reba is sloppy and uninspired. Once they drop into that mellow blissful jam part, though, I find that I'm usually on board. This version is no exception in that respect. There's nothing special about this version, but it's a typically satisfying (albeit brief) jam portion of the song. This version of 555 has me wondering if Mike has gotten worse as a singer. Overall this set wasn't anything special. It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't rate it anything more than mediocre. Set 2/e: The Tweezer jam starts to get interesting about halfway in. Before that, it's nothing all that compelling. After the mini-crescendo they mellow out again and the jam threatens to stagnate. Just when I'm worried they're in a rut, though, some new ideas arise. Towards the end it gets a bit generic and is not aided by the samples. All in all I'd say this Tweezer is decent with some flashes of greatness, but nothing spectacular. Twist is a song I've never had a strong opinion about one way or the other. It's by no means their worst song, but I also wouldn't be up in arms if it disappeared from the rotation. This version has some good moments, though. Trey does a great job of leading the band in an interesting direction with the Piper jam, but ultimately it kind of peters out. Overall this set is decent but does not live up to the hype of seeing a 33 minute Tweezer on paper. Altogether I'd say this was an okay show. Nothing special. For what I feel it's reasonable to expect from 3.0 Phish, I'd call this average.
, attached to 2021-07-31

Review by heathen

heathen 7/31/2021 Alpharetta Set 1: Sand was thoroughly decent but not a "can't miss" version. Everything's Right is a terrible song. Just awful. Corny, cliche lyrics and nothing interesting musically. Just when you think it can't be more cliche, they throw in a bunch of "yeah na na na" refrains. Punctuate that with the awful new samples and this song has gone from barely tolerable to downright despicable. The jam in this version, though, is pretty great. It's not enough for me to listen to the song itself though...I'd more likely fade it in after the song proper ends. This jam is an example of how Fish can really contribute to a great group improvisation (ignoring the terrible samples though). It's a shame Trey pulled the ripcord on this jam because I would've liked to hear them develop it for at least another 10 minutes or so. Thoroughly decent version of Maze here. Nice version of Stash. All in all this is a solid first set. No all-time great versions of any of the songs, but pretty much every song was performed well. The Everything's Right jam (not the song itself, obviously) was probably the highlight of the set. Set 2/e: It's still weird to me that Chalkdust has become a jam vehicle. Not weird in a bad way, just something that never ceases to surprise me. Around 12 minutes in I could swear Trey was on the verge of an I Know You Rider tease. They spend a lot of time just spinning their wheels during this Chalkdust jam. Towards the end Trey seems to try to bring it to a typical MDMA crescendo, but then he backs off that line and it gets interesting. The last four minutes or so are the best part of the Chalkdust jam IMO. The rest of the second set is unremarkable, other than noting that the annoying new samples are enough to take an otherwise okay version of a song and make it something to be avoided (the Weekapaug in this set is a perfect example). I feel like a broken record ragging on these samples, but they're that bad. The fact that people are cheering it in Cavern is not a good sign. Overall I'd say the second set didn't live up to the promise of the first set. The highlight of the show is definitely the Everything's Right jam (avoid the song itself though at all costs). The Chalkdust jam did get interesting for a little while at the end, but the bulk of it isn't anything to write home about.
, attached to 2021-07-30

Review by heathen

heathen Set 1: The first time I'm really perking up in this set is the Ghost jam. Fish is much more creative than he was on 7/28 (that sampler has got to go though). The jam got into some interesting places and I could've used it going longer. Not a Ghost for the ages, but a fairly enjoyable version. This set was overall tighter and higher energy than 7/28, but nevertheless nothing remarkable. Overall a huge improvement from 7/28's first set. Walls of the Cave is still an awful song, by the way. This version is high energy, but even that isn't enough to redeem the song itself. Set 2/e: I like the song Carini, and as soon as I hear Page busting out the Rhodes sound I'm on board. Even when he switches over to the piano here he's still killing it. He kills it through this entire jam. The crescendo at the end of the Carini jam is a bit predictable, but also satisfying. Other than some occasional splashes of creativity, for the most part it feels like Fish has been on autopilot for the entire Carini jam. Even when it's reaching its peak it feels like he's playing the same pattern he has been for the last 10 minutes, only faster. The way they ease off the gas at the end is really interesting. Overall I'd say this Carini was very good, but nothing mindblowing. The rest of Set 2 was unremarkable, other than it being worth repeating that the new sampler is just awful. Yarmouth Road is not great...it sounds like a modern day country singer tried to make a reggae song. Mike taking a solo is pretty much always enjoyable though, so it's got that going for it (which is nice). The rest of the encore is fine but not noteworthy. Overall, 7/30 is a huge improvement over 7/28. Highlights are Ghost and Carini, though neither are essential (other than the novelty factor of a jammed out Carini). Altogether, and taking into consideration that this is 3.0 Phish we're talking about and not 1.0, I'd say this show puts them on a good trajectory and I'm looking forward to the next one.
, attached to 2021-07-28

Review by heathen

heathen Set 1: Sloppy and boring. The new song they debut, I Never Needed You Like This Before, is lame. They play NICU slow, with more of a reggae feel. I hope this isn't going to be a permanent change to the arrangement for that song. I suppose it's expected that they'll need to shake off the cobwebs so it shouldn't be surprising that this set is so mundane. Set 2/e: DWD starts to get into some interesting territory about halfway in, but Fish isn't really keeping up. He seems to be phoning it in while the other guys are being more adventurous. I hope this turns around, but given his playing in recent years this seems to be the norm for him. Sure enough, Fish plays basically the same pattern for all of this DWD. Sad. Simple is more of the same, but with less energy. This version of the song itself feels slow and understated, and as they go into the jam Fish is once again just laying back on one drum pattern. At least this time he starts to change it up a bit about halfway into the jam, but he doesn't change it much. Again, we've got the other guys charting a course for outer space while Fish is just strolling in the park. He does start to wake up in the last few minutes of the jam though. The transition into Fuego is great, and I'm not even a fan of Fuego. At least it brings the energy up though. Not much to say about the rest of the second set. Sloppy and low energy for the most part. The Slave isn't anything special, but that "oooh ooh ooh" sample that gets dropped several times is absolutely awful. That's something I'd expect to hear coming from Future Man's "drumitar" circa 1996. Say it to me SANTOS is yet another lame song. I'm trying to think of the last time they wrote a song I really enjoy, and I think it hasn't been since Farmhouse (the album, not that song in particular) unfortunately. It's the first show back in a while so one can't expect too much, so I'm trying to not dwell on this one. There were some good moments (second half of the Simple jam and the transition into Fuego), but overall a sloppy and low energy affair.
, attached to 1988-07-24

Review by thelot

thelot The SBD recording for this one is decent. The source info says it’s from a Master Cassette but it sounds like there’s at least a couple generations. This was another fine show at Nectar’s! The show kicked off with the newly added Walk Away. This version ended somewhat abruptly. It should also be noted that there’s a Moby Dick tease preceding Golgi as well. Mike was in a particularly spunky mood this evening. During Bitch Mike switches out the verse “cause I’m alone down here” to “cause I’m an uptown white shit!”. Mike’s Song differed from the previous nights extended vocal jam intro. This version had the intro “Call it what you will, but you know it’s his song” lyrics to start. Weekapaug had a rippin’ solo from Trey. Mike shouted out “Take it to Rhode Island!” a couple of times. Set 2 kicked off with a fantastic version of Light Up! Alumni Blues was killer as well. Great flow throughout. TMWSIY started off set 3. The transition from Alvenu into Peaches worked really well! Moving forward it’ll be interesting to see if they pair these two up again. Lord oh lord Jesus was hotter than the coals of hell! Smokin’ version! Antelope also brought the heat…unfortunately the Marco section cuts on the recording… Great show overall! Makes me wish I owned a time machine! ????
, attached to 1991-11-14

Review by Xpanding_Man

Xpanding_Man This is a (typically) solid show from 1991, when the band was really starting to outgrow venues like this, even in remote areas like Chapel Hill. I was a freshman at Duke (don't hate me, I didn't like it either) at the time, and have often wondered, "what if"? What if I had somehow made it to this show, as we used to go to Franklin street to meet NC girls and try to get served. What if I had discovered this band the way they were intended to be discovered, in person, listening to the best musicians in the country tear it up in a small club? Oh well...my first show would have to wait a couple years for the Cameo in miami beach. I would like to think I would have been smitten and immediately started collecting tapes etc., but I probably wasn't ready. Listening back to this show now, it's hard to believe that they brought this level of quality to the state nearly every night. I'm sure there were a lot of people there just to do something on a Thursday, and I bet most had no idea the band would eventually sell out places like MSG. Oh well...
, attached to 2021-09-21

Review by CForbin

CForbin A wise and handsome man once told me "any song w/ a la la la or a na na na is a good song" - this checks out w ER. There's a lot more I could say about this show, but I will just say A FIVE SONG ENCORE!!! OMG. THANK YOU TAB. * The Met is one of the best venues in the US... I will die on this hill or at least lay here for a very long time looking up at the pretty clouds in a post show bliss #LoveAndLight
, attached to 2021-09-21

Review by radiator9987

radiator9987 They came out swinging with the 3 song whirlwind of Corona, Moz and Cayman, which set the tone for the night. Next up was 46 Days and the sideway peak jams from Phish Summer 2020 reared it's head. Valentine was nice. Lonely Trip reminds me of Slip Away by Clarence Carter and is a nice change of pace with Trey doing a bit of that 60s soul singer with the vocals. Evolve made it's TAB debut (in front of an aud) and seemed, for me, to have held up better as a Phish song. Once we passed the vocals (yes they nah nah na'd) the 2nd set really takes off with the ER jam and then the tour debut of Simple Twist Up that stretched its legs for a bit before we found ourselves at the precipice of the sets strongest run. Spin> GOTF was the real highlight for me, Spin had some extra blues licks ala Hendrix or Albert King and maybe the longest version of the song to date. TAB debut of GOTF was a lot stronger than the PItt Phish debut in 2019, probably because most of this band played on the original GOTF tour. The other notable thing was the mini-set as an encore with Trey going solo for the Gilmour/Waters flavored When World's Go Away and Trey's workhorse More. Heavy Things with a flute solo, yes please, and enough to send off happy, but, no, we are going full on let's highlight the horns with Magilla. Not to be outdone they throw down one more in Push On Til The Day and send us out into the Philly night.
, attached to 2019-12-04

Review by radiator9987

radiator9987 Magical night. Went up to celebrate 30 years of seeing Phish and was rewarded with a retrospective of their career. 3 songs they played at my first show (ACDC, Antelope, YEM), some classics (CTB, Haley's), a Cavern opener for set 02, some choice covers, some new songs, and to top it all off Fish sang Terrapin in response to a sign that said "I really love you and I mean you" Page and Trey play around with GOTF a bit toward the end of Jim. The debut of GOTF was a little rough and they seemed to be trying to run Trey's voice thru some effect. I couldn't have asked for more if I had written the setlist myself. It was a beautiful train wreck, where chaos resolves into melody of love and life where for a few hours everything was right in the world..
, attached to 2021-09-19

Review by yankeephan

yankeephan Superb TAB show on a beautiful late summer/early fall evening, in a very small intimate outdoor venue, full moon in view. It was a magical night indeed. The entire second set is really the highlight, with all songs played exceptionally well. The bust-out of Quantegy was a nice treat, but prize of the evening was Sand, which absolutely hypnotized everyone lucky enough to be there to bear witness. The Sand alone is worth the download.
, attached to 1988-07-23

Review by thelot

thelot This show is mixed well but suffers in quality due to high cassette generations. This would make for an excellent release someday if Mr. Shapiro is sitting on the masters. Could this possibly be considered Phish’s first unophishial fest? It’s impossible to tell how many people were in attendance as there isn’t much audience in the mix. Hard to believe that just 8 short years later they’d be headlining their own festival in front of 70,000 people! Solid show all the way through with a great unknown percussionist that sat in for nearly the entire show! The jam that kicks off the show cuts in on the recording. Very reminiscent of a Bowie jam which wasn’t played at this show.????. First time the Mike’s Groove trifecta made it’s appearance on stage. Bag featured the opening segment where the last two versions played did not. There’s been a handful of nice segues from AC/DC into Possum leading up to this show, unfortunately that didn’t happen with this pairing. Set 1 featured three Page covers, the debut of Walk Away and two recent additions, On Your Way Down and Bold as Love. No Dogs Allowed made its debut even though somebody apparently requested it? This version is followed by what would eventually become the second half of Divided Sky. Alumni has a great intro, solid version all around! Curtain With got chaotic to start set 2 segueing into Dave’s Energy Guide and back into “With”. Wilson was enjoyable and had an extended vocal drum roll from Trey. Blue Bossa was fantastic with the horns, percussion and even whistle! Good stuff! YEM, Hood and Slave were the highlights of set 3. All and all a good listen. Hopefully we’ll see an official release of this at some point…
, attached to 1998-08-02

Review by Logan

Logan This was my first Phish concert and I had no idea how great the show was that I was seeing at the time. I remember being slightly bummed that they opened with Roggae, a slow song I didn't know back then, but now it's one of my favorites. THIS circus is the place for me... My first Divided Sky is still the best version I've heard in person, but it's certainly nowhere near contention for one of the greatest ever. Still, it's special to me. I also remember being excited to hear Weigh and David Bowie at my first show. Besides the song selection and excellent all around playing from the band, I remember that my friends and I rode in the bed of a pickup truck before the show. We caught a hitch near the farm where we were camping down the road to Deer Creek (back when Deer Creek was still surrounded by cornfields on all sides). Actually, a lot of fans were catching rides in pickups that day, but I bet the local farmers liked helping all the hippies. Also, one of my neighbors at the show had duct taped a glass pipe to his leg beneath his patchwork pants to get it inside the venue. He was slightly perturbed that he wasn't patted down by security but only because he then had to unnecessarily rip off a ton of his leg hair on the lawn. Well, that's the gist of what I remember from 23 years ago. Ah, I miss 90's Deer Creek.
, attached to 1995-12-12

Review by ander420

ander420 I do not remember a fight, but I was near the soundboard and saw a kid (looked like he was 15 or so) falling and hitting his head on one of the seats and splitting his head open. It was a few rows in front of me and he was covered in blood and really struggling. Security and folks came over after a bit and helped him out. It stuck with me all this time as I was stuck in a loop thinking I am too old for this with all these little kids here and what has happened to the scene etc throughout the show. It kind of spun me in a different direction for the night.
, attached to 2021-08-07

Review by CarrotEyes

CarrotEyes In a review of Alpharetta 1 I said that show should be in the running for best of tour. I stand by this thought but would now slightly amend the list of other shows. Since it is not possible to edit reviews after posting, here is the revised Top 5 shows of Summer Tour 2021, in chronological order: Alpharetta 1, Deer Creek 2, Hershey 2, Shoreline 2, and Dick’s 3. Now, on to a review of this show. Here is the second installment of a three-night Deer Creek run, coming after a two-night run in suburban Atlanta, and then another two-night run in downtown Nashville. It’s interesting how the first two Deer Creek shows can be viewed as mirroring the Atlanta shows. While the first night in Atlanta sees the band taking advantage of the first and second sets to explore pacing, dynamics, energy, and sound, the second night’s first set is devoted more to building momentum for an explosive second set. At Deer Creek, the opposite is the case, as the first night is all about the second set Blaze and Simple. Set One Night two begins with the relatively uncommon appearance of Crowd Control. It’s a solid rock tune featuring Who-like riffs and an anthemic chorus, but not much distinguishes one version from the next. In fact, nearly every performance of this song since 2009 has opened a first set, the one exception being Maple Night of The Baker’s Dozen when O Canada took the number one slot. Thus, while it could very well be overstating the case to say that it is significant this show’s opener is Crowd Control, lyrical elements of the song are nevertheless later echoed in Army of One, and then once more in A Wave of Hope, the second track off Trey’s Lonely Trip. “Do something, or we will.” Is this a provocation, a threat, or simply a statement of fact? While Crowd Control dissolves into a crackling mess of half-strummed guitar chords, the question is answered as soon as asked. Here comes Poor Heart, and it’s thumping. Although not the fieriest version of all time, Mike is forced to squeeze in a quick solo before Page completely steals the show. Mere seconds later, it’s on to The Moma Dance, and it slays. Three minutes in, before a word has been sung, this version is already bursting at the seams. Later, Trey manages serve up a thick-sliced slab of guitar solo just in time for BOTT to take over where Moma left off. Another cooking Trey solo, and out of it emerges a lengthy sustained note more typical of a second set jam, but it’s only five and a half minutes into a seven-minute song and this note alone lasts almost thirty seconds. BOTT wraps, and a flurry of piano notes signals that Page wants to sing. It’s Army of One, but a deeply felt version of this second cut of the night from Undermind. Like the earlier Crowd Control, Army of One is a relatively rarely played song, and almost always shows up in the first set. In fact, four of the last six sets featuring the latter has also featured the former, going all the way back to Summer 2016. Following his turn in the spotlight, Page takes a moment to address the crowd, and says how happy the band is to be back at Deer Creek. It might be argued that the band has a somewhat ironic way of expressing appreciation to its fans considering the rather low opinion most have of the next tune. Still, even Bouncing has its place at the setlist table, serving here perhaps as a sort of amuse bouche before the next course of songs, much the same as Poor Heart before it. Mike and Fish take turns leading the charge as Ya Mar gets the party started up again. “Play it, play it, play it for us, Leo,” warbles Trey, and the casual lyricism of his sing-song delivery is reflective of this rather soulful take on a cover that has over time become as much a part of the Phish canon as any of their own songs. Page responds with what seems a relatively quick run through his traditional solo organ spot. Then, following a return to the chorus Trey takes his turn spreading the good cheer, playfully soloing this summertime classic out to its end. It can be interesting sometimes to observe how the band changes their approach to a song from tour to tour. The last time a performance of Roggae crossed the nine-minute mark was on November 3, 2018, and before that on August 7, 2018. On both occasions the tempo was faster than in the version under consideration here, and on both occasions Trey’s solo built to a (for Phish) straightforward big rock peak. This Roggae starts the like all the others, with the same base song structure, but even leaving aside the slightly slower tempo there remains something different about it. From the beginning Mike and Fish are more present, as was also the case in the preceding Ya Mar, but about a minute into the jam they get locked in tight with each other. Then, echoing each other, back and forth, bit by bit the jam is pulled just enough off its standard course so that Trey must build his solo to a different, much more psychedelic sort of peak. It’s a spellbinding performance. Out of Roggae’s ending comes an unfamiliar chord progression. Well, for anyone not yet conversant with Lonely Trip the first Phish performance of A Wave of Hope is certainly something novel, if not necessarily unfamiliar. A single live version of the song had been performed by TAB in October 2020 as part of one of the Beacon Jams. It’s an interesting song, featuring a single verse of irregular line lengths and a repeating chorus, and it will also be interesting to see if the band takes future versions farther out. Stash is up next. Trey’s vocal delivery is pretty much standard this time, but the jam after is most certainly not. No sooner has the final “maybe so, maybe not” been left behind than the rest of the song has been left behind, too, and the band is already venturing out toward new territory. Seven never to be repeated, brilliantly inventive minutes of group improvisation later, suddenly out of a fast-decomposing peak there arrives a fully developed groove recalling the beat of Jibboo to bring the refrain of Stash around. While the preceding jam has little in common with the precision tension and release playing of the canonical version of Stash from A Live One, there is evidence in it of a different sort of precision, of each band member’s careful attention to the shifting dynamics of their shared musical space from one moment to the next. Call it the sound of precision listening. Stash ends, and Cavern begins, for only something like the eighth time ever. This is a somewhat surprising statistic, considering how many times both songs have been played over the years, and continue to be played. Cavern, of course, can appear at any time in a show, but unlike Chalk Dust, for example, it is usually performed the same way, excepting the very rare slow and funky version. Nevertheless, Cavern seems always to be welcome anywhere it appears, and it is a fine way to arrive at a rousing sing-along conclusion. Says Trey, “We’ll see you in fifteen minutes.” Alone, none of the songs from this first set are likely to be considered among their best versions, except for Stash, perhaps. At the same time, each one is in its own way quite a bit better than average, especially Roggae. Does a combination of above-average performances add up to an above-average set? Certainly, but it could be there is more to it, or at least not just that. More on this after the second set. Second Set Everything’s Right seems to have acquired new status as a favored second set opener following its call-up to that slot on the first night of the 2019 Dick’s run. However, it was the exploratory first set performance at Barcelona Maya in 2020 that revealed new improvisatory dimensions of this song. Now, the band returns to the stage and launches into a version that sees them breaking even more ground. As in Mexico, the lately added “Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na” refrain continues to develop, but with the singing done there is very little left over to recall previous performances of Everything’s Right. In a sense the jam simply picks up where it left off before Stash ended. Each band member’s playing is full of care, sensitivity, and emotion, while the music itself is all patterns of light and shade, constantly shifting and changing like the sky reflected in a mountain stream. Bob Dylan surely had something different in mind when he said it, but this might be Phish discovering their own “thin, wild mercury sound.” Perhaps thin seems an odd choice of word here, but this sound is not packed down, it is opened wide. There’s so much space, and in that space is room for the music to find its own way. It’s over sixteen minutes later, and a seemingly random squiggle of feedback flickers out as Trey strikes the first chiming note of What’s the Use? Mike and Fish jump on the beat, while Page begins adding sweeping synth tones behind. At a little over eight minutes, this is one of the longest versions in recent years, and the first since Summer 2018 to appear as the second song of the second set. While most recent performances have been relatively straightforward, the band here stretches out and takes advantage of the extra room to explore. Fish and Page, especially, find fresh corners to color with rhythmic washes of sound, and Trey uncovers hidden resonance in the song’s lead. Crosseyed & Painless now makes its first appearance in a second set since Fall 2019. Although shorter than most other recent performances, the band takes this one at a quicker pace. Fish attacks the beat with the same intensity he has brought to nearly every song so far this tour, while Trey ramps up the intensity at the first instrumental break by using a reverse pedal during his solo. At about the nine-minute mark the jam begins to peak on the back of some riffing somewhat in the vein of Can’t You Hear Me Knocking. Peak now in the rear view, Fish deploys a snare roll to reign in the tempo, almost as if he is signaling for BOAF, except the beat continues to break down. A quick outro to What’s the Use? then emerges from the ambient stew left in the wake of this high-energy version of a Talking Heads classic. Meanwhile, Mike triggers a couple effect pedals, and from the rumbling sounds being made by his bass everyone knows it’s time for DWD. This version covers some of the same ground in the first six minutes as the one that launched the second set of the tour-opening show on July 28. There’s even a note Trey hits at roughly the same time in both, at 6:22 on 7/28 and 6:25 on 8/7, but here it leads to a C & P tease which sets things up for the jam that follows. Or, rather, here it serves as a pivot point, for the jam that follows quickly shifts toward brighter territory, Trey and Page playing off one another to great effect over the course of several summery minutes. Then, a bit past the eleven-minute mark Trey hammers down on a single high note and refuses to let go of it. It’s a very interesting, even perhaps confrontational choice, as it induces a radical shift of tone. Whether or not one calls it a peak, this sustained note effectively demarcates a point from which something like the standard DWD jam cannot return, so with nowhere else to go but outward the jam gradually flows into a more ambient zone before resolving into Wading in the Velvet Sea. Velvet Sea is a lovely song, and an always welcome return to the spotlight for Page. Having said that, most performances in recent years have not featured the complex Trey solo that some probably have a hard time hearing the song without (two exceptions being second set ending versions from 1/14/17 and 7/23/17). This version, while it does include a brief solo from Trey, returns to the chorus on the back of a watery-sounding guitar part that repeats in a way somehow suggestive of rolling ocean swells. Possum gets off to a quick start, but the abbreviated intro isn’t indicative of what comes next. Page takes the reigns following the first chorus, and at about the three-minute mark he teases Long Tall Glasses, a Top 10 hit for Leo Sayer in 1974. It isn’t the first time the band has teased this song, but there’s something about it that captures very well the spirit of the moment. Page plays the tune of a line from the song’s chorus, in which the narrator of the song might be singing, depending on the line, “I know I can dance,” or perhaps “Of course I can dance.” Trey immediately picks up the reference and repeats the tune of the line. It’s almost like Page signals “Hey, I’m ready, let me run,” and Trey responds, “Right on, man, we got you.” Regardless, Page’s solo is great, and builds to a double-handed key-pounding crescendo. After Trey’s solo reaches its own screaming machine gun peak, Mike brings back the chorus so that all might joyfully sing the possum’s demise one more time. The band returns to the stage for an encore and launches into Drift While You’re Sleeping. It’s a song with multiple parts, and in this way is quite like classic Phish tunes such as Fluffhead and Divided Sky. Also like these songs, Drift features a concluding section structured in such a way that it can accommodate some improvisation. This section builds to a soaring peak and sends the crowd home on a high note. Someone, possibly Trey, even exclaims something like, “Whoa,” at the very end, as if to say, “That was great!” In fact, it was great. Final Thoughts What if a show, or the flow of a show, is conceptualized as a series of waves? Energy builds from song to song, and then it crashes, or it dissipates, and the cycle is repeated. However, there are moments when the energy can be channeled into a performance, and it is these moments that a band like Phish exists to fully capture, as a surfer dropping into the curve of a great wave rides across its face from the peak to the trough. This show is a demonstration of how Phish goes about bringing those moments to expression in and through music. From Poor Heart to Moma Dance to BOTT, and from Bouncing to Ya Mar to Roggae, the first set rises from one peak to another before the bottom drops out of Stash and all the energy that had been building up flows out and into the jam. Conversely, the second set, following the ER that picks up where Stash left off, goes about gathering up the energy that has so far been released, as Crosseyed, DWD, and Possum reverse the path laid down by BOTT, Roggae, and Stash. Finally, Drift completes a separate series of songs, beginning with Crowd Control, but that also includes Army of One, A Wave of Hope, and Velvet Sea. Perhaps in the lyrics of these songs there are something like various perspectives on a wave, snapshots of points in time isolated from this wave in which the wave’s shape becomes visible. Maybe so, maybe not.
, attached to 1988-07-12

Review by thelot

thelot The SBD recording for this night is better than night 1. Decent overall but unfortunately the instruments are low in the mix. The show itself is fantastic! If you were somebody seeing Phish for the first time you probably would’ve walked out after set 1. Vocal jam heavy during the first half with an extended VJ during Sally! I Didn’t Know even had some vocal interplay during Fish’s trombone solo. GXBX is awesome! Fun version of Peaches! YEM had a jam reminiscent of something we’d hear 9 years later with some cool little stop/start action. Second set was a bit mellower but still great! Highlights include Blue Bossa, Timber, Jesus Left, Slave and Roll Like a Cataloupe.
, attached to 2021-09-04

Review by HeadyBrosevelt

HeadyBrosevelt First set is stellar. Top to bottom. Spin it. … Personally, I think the second set is beautiful. The Farmhouse is absolutely gorgeous. The Everything’s Right is a tour highlight. I don’t think the set was derailed- I think it was emotive and lovely. Looking at these reviews it seems like a lot of Phish fans like saying, “Surrender to the flow” but have a hard time actually Surrendering to the flow. Was the show a heavy hitting 5 star rocker or mind fuck? Absolutely not. Is their beautiful space and reflective qualities to bask in? Absolutely
, attached to 2014-10-24

Review by WeWantYouToBeHappy

WeWantYouToBeHappy This was my very first Phish show. It was all very spontaneous and I was very fortunate to catch this. The Forum interior had recently been remodeled and it is a great venue to catch anyone there. Highlights were the epic, rocking, middle part of the jam during "Down with Disease". "The Train Song" was really pretty. A dreamy "Divided Sky". "David Bowie" was my favorite Phish song growing up so was very stoked to catch this jam out. "Kill Devil Falls" became a quick favorite. The crowd gave a warm cheer at the "freeway in Los Angeles" mention during "Tube" and Trey responded with a nice chuckle. Everything flowed, nothing felt out of place. Very memorable.
, attached to 2021-09-05

Review by itsice88

itsice88 I don't typically write too many show reviews, but I've had some scattered thoughts about this tour and this show in particular for the last week. We are so lucky to have the band playing at the level they are at right now. This year has given me a new appreciation for the depth of the Phish catalog...which was explored with precision over this summer tour. Trey seemingly made a conscious effort to play a very different show every night. This of course is always the case on some level...but this year felt different. "I Never Needed You Like This Before" rang so painfully and cathartically true from both the band's perspective and ours. On to this show. This show feels like quintessential Summer 2021 show in its unrelenting and supremely confident unpredictability. There were a few song choices from this night that raised my eyebrows a bit...but not in a cynical "Oh no, what are they doing?" sort of way. My reaction was more that of curiosity and in those moments at the show that night...I realized that I fully trusted the band's judgement perhaps since the first time since Magnaball. Take Sand>Sigma Oasis for example. The Sand busts out as an early night Type 2 highlight and while the segue into Sigma Oasis is excellent, at the show I expected Sigma to be a standard reading...but this is 2021 Phish. The danger, the risk...it's back. Sigma becomes an incredible jam and winds down into one of my favorite Phish ballads in All of These Dreams. The lyrics to this song hit me particularly hard. This past year and a half has had me alternating between deep anxiety, depression, fear and it caused me to retreat into myself and my own fears all too often. I adopted a sense of complacency in this fear...but while listening to the lyrics to All of These Dreams it hit me. I was living again. I was taking in an incredible Phish show yet again, and my sense of gratitude essentially overwhelmed me. As for the music from the rest of this night, it was just perfect. The band deftly moved vastly across their catalog...giving us excellent Type 2 throughout the entire show, great and atypical song selection, some of the most unique music I've heard from this band in years in Simple->Catapult>Meatstick. This show really had it all, and I'm so incredibly grateful we got to experience it and the rest of this amazing tour. As to my earlier point of feeling alive again, these lyrics from All of These Dreams hit me like a ton of bricks at the show. Such is the promise, such is the curse You could just live your life, better or worse Knowing the cache of dreams up on that hill Beckons and sways but won't bend to your will And if you go there, and after you do All of these dreams would be yours to purse The rest of your lifetime, devoid of a care If you keep your eyes open, you may find yourself there. Thanks for helping us feel alive again Phish. I'm eternally grateful for your presence in my life as it has enriched basically every aspect of it. I hope everyone who has suffered from the fear and anxiety of this nightmare year+ can feel the reprieve I felt this night. Seeya in the Fall.
, attached to 1988-07-11

Review by thelot

thelot The Soundboard recording for this one is a bit high in cassette generations. This took away from the overall enjoyment of the performance. With that said, what’s available from this night is pretty straightforward for the time. A few highlights worth noting. Funny banter from Trey following Curtain With (fans these days would pay top dollar to witness/experience that “living nightmare” in real time!) Funky Bitch featured a nice solo from Mike. Back to back Jimi tracks…First recorded version of Bold as love, inspired Alumni following Trey’s graduation. LTJP featured another solo from Fish like the version for Del on 5/21. Not for everyone but I enjoyed this version of McGrupp with a little Moses!
, attached to 2021-09-04

Review by DreadBeast

DreadBeast We love Dick's! The first set had tremendous energy, including an excellent Blaze On and a casual, mid-first set Ghost followed by a very welcome Ya Mar. The buzz as they teased us at the beginning of Bowie was palpable, and everyone seemed pretty happy at setbreak. Set 2 continued where the guys left off, with a tight Everything's Right that was fun for every single one of its 25 minutes. Fuego followed (with what seemed at the time like an epic glo stick war) and was going well, but was cut short so Trey could play the slowest, saddest Farmhouse of all time. Mercury was fine (anything would have been after that Farmhouse) but they tripped into Seven Below and kept us confused with Drift. Finally, to close the set we were rewarded with a 20-minute YEM that had all the same energy as S1 and the first two songs of S2. There was also a top-tier glo stick war during YEM that was truly a sight to behold. Bold As Love was a good closer to a good, not great, show. I try not to be too harsh of a critic and I am appreciative for any opportunity to see Phish play. This show had 5-star potential before Trey derailed basically half of the second set.
, attached to 2021-08-06

Review by Midcoaster

Midcoaster It is pointless to provide analytics on a show that has a blow by blow by @waxbanks. Thus, these comments are a bit more personal. Having been out of the live music thing since March of 2020, and having waded through a host of personal (in the dome and heart) challenges in the months preceding this gig, I was walking in with no musical expectations. One thing was certain, however: a little tour magic was beginning to rear its head before I even connected with my intended posse. Being on that grassy camping lot was like coming home. A good start to the day. What the music did on this day was to grab me by the scruff of the neck, and say, “Wake up! Snap out of it! Re-engage mf’er!” And so I did, dancing like a fool. What this did do was begin clearing long locked cobwebs from my heart. By Saturday, I was the universe’s open book, and the crust was cleared from my cosmic radar. I could hear it by the end. This is the show where replay evokes deep emotions, of all stripes, reminding me that “ There is a road, no simple highway / Between the dawn and the dark of night / And if you go, no one may follow / That path is for your steps alone.” They’ve walked that path as musicians and humans; they’ve inspired me to step out again. I’ve never needed them like this before!
, attached to 2021-09-05

Review by neal_nugget

neal_nugget If I were looking at setlists, I might be underwhelmed (although a 7-song first set is always something to behold): SYSF, Lonely Trip, and Ruby Waves were songs I actively hoped to avoid. Catapult and MEAP weren’t on my radar, Bliss and Billy breathes seemed out of the realm of possibility, All of these Dreams was a song I forgot I loved, and a third-quarter Meatstick normally seems to portend bad things. But damn, it all came together perfectly. The fact that such a seemingly incongruous set of songs converged so seamlessly tells the whole story. Phish knew what they were doing last night—just as they have all summer, even if I didn't realize it (see my thread lamenting a lack of peaks). Syunda night, Phish totally surprised me in the best possible way, and it’s the way that that unpredictability pays off that makes this the most compelling band I'll ever have the immense pleasure of engaging with. I talked a lot in the “Do you miss the peaks?” thread about how I felt they were missing a sense of cohesiveness this summer, maybe a price for all the exciting exploration that was happening. Last night, as well as set 2 on Friday, it felt like it all came together. Set one was one of the rarities that felt fully complete—everything purposeful, zero filler. Moma and McGrupp were great calls to get started. Sand in the third slot indicated we might be in for one of those special nights, and Sigma Oasis made good on that promise. Sigma was another song I was not looking forward to hearing, but damn, what a fun, feel-good song—one of Trey's rare new ones that, IMHO, manages to tastefully balance the love and light positivity with some nuance and grace. But the composed section of Sigma was just the start: following some triumphant bends after the vocals finished, we suddenly steered into the darkness. My friend Nate (who was decidedly anti-Phish until the pandemic, fell deeply in love during our year of isolation, and enjoyed his first ever shows at Dicks this weekend) and I looked over at each other excitedly: back-to-back type II jams straddling Q1 and 2? It was [i]one[/i] of those nights. Sigma explored similar terrain as Sand, with no complaints here, before sliding nicely into All of These Dreams, making only its...13th... appearance ever. I was not expecting or thinking of this song before this show, and it’s this kind of micro-bustout (if you will, per se, some call it, but actually no one calls it) that speaks to me: it’s just a subtle enough of a nod to Phish’s incomparable magnitude, and how many points of connection I have with this band, that reminds me of the sheer vastness of this whole thing. Making me fall in love once again with a song I didn't even know I had forgotten—one that will be but a footnote on a stellar weekend run—is something I can't imagine many other bands doing to me. Reba was a winner (any time Trey nails the composed section, the call-waiting/dentists office smooth jazz jam that follows is all butter) and Gin provided the glorious, triumphant closer that I love so much. My best friend Aaron, who has been marooned in Germany since before the pandemic, called it "overwhelmingly optimistic." Going into the third winter of this neverending pandemic, I'll bottle up this shining light of positivity for the darkness that surely lies ahead. After such a promising first set—and the fewest songs played in a Sunday at Dicks as far as I can remember (too tired to research now)—I had no idea what to expect for the second set. Nor did I really care. I was ready to follow wherever the night might go. Where we went was so much richer than the mountain range of blissful peaks I thought I'd wanted all summer. SYSF is perhaps the song of the soul suite I've hated most, thanks to its atrociously unacceptable lyrics, until I got tired of fighting it all this summer. Trey loves this song, clearly. I can block out the lyrics enough to appreciate that the vocal buildup right before the jam is undeniably fun, and the band clearly cares about going deep into the ensuing jam. This version proved true: the jam started with darkness, crossed into the light, then built to a shreddy electrical inferno, complete with shrieks that felt like the far off, slightly more concentrated echoes of the 9/2/16 Dicks NMINL. Not an intentional callback, I'm sure, and a technique Trey has used much in recent years (especially 2017), but I couldn't help but gratefully connect it back to Dicks Night 1 in 2016, one of my favorite shows for personal, sentimental reasons. Lonely Trip was a heartfelt and reassuring comedown. This song, as intended, is now burned into my soul as a marker of these goddamn weird and disconnected times we live in. Despite being vaccinated and returning to some sense of normalcy over the summer, and then spending my weekend with 75,000 people the past three nights. I’ve been feeling the isolation lately. Lonely Trip spoke to that, and it will forever be a vessel to how I feel right now. Simple was the party starter we all needed, and the fact that Nate called it as Lonely Trip gently wound up made it all the more special. Simple sinisterly devolved into a malfunction at the robot factory with Catapult, setting the stage for another goofily feel-good, come-together-and-sing-a-song-about-nonsense arty anthem with Meatstick. Back-to-back party classics, sandwiched around a weirdo semi-bustout morphed into a barely recognizable format? This was the second set I didn't know I needed. We soon enough found ourselves back in the short-circuiting robot factory with the Catapult callback (a place I was happy to return to even if I never expected wanting to go in the first place), then onto Ruby Waves, which surprisingly cut me deep. I know that’s what it’s intended to do, but it’s usually too saccharine to get past my guarded, skeptical brain. But this was a night of feels for me, and Ruby Waves easily slid into my heart that had already been plowed open by 2+ hours of immaculate song choices, "trust-me-you'll-like-it" setlist construction, and inspired playing. This version of Ruby Waves, charging hard out of the gate thanks to Fishman, built to a chaotic and intense peak before beautifully evaporating into...BLISS? Yes. Whoa. Bliss! What a treat for me to hear. Billy Breathes is my favorite album, the one that got me into the band when I was in 5th grade, forever ag. To bridge that time in my life to today, nearly 25 years later, where I’m ostensibly an adult but still carry the same childlike wonder and playfulness that Phish so perfectly taps into, was so special. The Billy Breathes that followed wasn’t an all-time version, especially after I’ve listened to the Hampton Winston Salem standout so many times. But the vocal section was performed well enough. And choice to play it felt like a nod to someone like me—as if saying, “We’re light years away from the era in which we wrote the songs you grew up on, but we’re still the same band that wrote them.” A validating and special moment, an amazing connector of the dots between the past and present. Most Events Aren’t Planned is one of the coolest new songs the band has introduced in recent years. Conventional wisdom probably called for 2001, Possum, or maybe even that long-clambered for Tweezer. But the band’s decision to buck expectations during the waning moments on the last night of tour paid off, at least to this guy—and proved that sticking to the script denies us the opportunity to keep writing new chapters of this weird, rarely boring, never-ending book. Sure, Trey could have pushed the solo section deeper, but I didn’t care. MEAP was plenty supercharged, setting the stage for a Hood that was as good as Hood will get these days—the perfect call to end such a wild, exploratory night and tour altogether. As surprising as MEAP might have been in the penultimate slot, Hood was the obvious call for closer, and proof that sometimes sticking to the script is the right call. Overall, though, it was the lack of sticking to the script that made this night—and tour—so special. I’ve found the last few Sunday nights at Dicks to be a bit deflating. Ever since the THANKYOU show*, Dicks Sunday shows have felt like a greatest hits collection on a CD you’d find in the bargain bin of Walmart—all the songs you love, but packaged in an unforgettable, if not altogether uninspiring way (listen to the fourth quarter Chalkdust from 2019 and tell me the band sounds excited at all to be there). Tonight, and this whole summer, was the opposite. Sunday night’s second set was a complete musical journey, one that went horizontal, vertical, into the darkness and back toward the light, straddling tones and textures and terrains I didn't even know existed. Last night, Phish balanced familiarity with something weird and excitingly exploratory in the most Phish-like way possible—in the way that only this band, with its 35+ year repertoire of songs that, at their best, resemble their former selves enough to keep the thread connected between all our yesterdays and our current reality while simutaleously breaking free from the past enough to keep us all guessing, trying to find the end of the never-ending maze, and always coming back for more. Who knows where it’ll all end up? That’s a question I hope we don’t have the answer to any time soon. I’m not ready to see where the rainbow of infinity ends. After this tour and tour finale, it’s beyond encouraging to know that our favorite band feels the same way. (*I have a huge soft spot for 2016, what with the huge peaks and all).
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