A Fox Fantasy

The Fox (@rstrauss)

6.16.09 The Fox (@rstrauss)

Stepping from the summer’s biggest stage to its smallest, Phish entered St. Louis’ Fabulous Fox Theatre Tuesday night, in a show that was circled since the tour’s announcement as the night of the summer. Ironically, for the performance that people flew across the country for and paid upwards of $400 get into, Phish played an underwhelming show that stood out as the least engaging of the Southern Run.  While nothing was played poorly, the band played a straight-ahead rocker that featured little improvisation in a show that couldn’t possibly live up to its hype.  The theatre was beautiful, it sounded great, and the lights looked spectacular with the full-rig contained in such at tiny space.  The stage was set for Phish to blow up- but they didn’t.  Nonetheless, the experience was of Phish at the Fox was certainly unique and we were left with a few musical highlights from a mid-week stop in the “Gateway to the West.”

"Slave" 6.16.09 (@yemblog)

"Slave" 6.16.09 (@yemblog)

In a first set that many contained many classic songs, the two improvisational highlights lied in the second-song “Ocelot” and the set-closing “Slave.”  The playful “Ocelot” stretched into its most interesting rendition yet, as Trey’s solo led the band in what might be considered the songs first “jam.”  Phish’s songs sounded pristine, crisp, and loud in The Fox, bringing a special appreciation for songs like “Brian & Robert,” “Rift,” and “Horn,” and a short, but very sweet “Reba.”  My group of friends all laughed in jest as the band busted into yet another “Possum” to end the first set.  But instead of stopping there, the band dropped the tour’s second “Slave,” and it was stunning.  A jam that built with utmost delicacy resonated through the theatre, seeming like the song was made for the environment.  A piece of Phish beauty, this was a throwback to the theatre days of ’93 and ’94 as Phish crafted a tightly woven tale of pure magic.  Though as the band was in the middle of peaking the jam, someone (Fishman, from memory), abruptly moved into the closing segment, causing a more-than-awkward ending to an otherwise gorgeous version.

As the lights dropped for set two, it certainly felt like the band was going to throw down the gauntlet, and with a “Halley’s”opener, the course was set.  Entering some rock grooves right out of the gate, it was evident we were finally seeing the band improvise on the rarity once again, and that mere fact was great.  In the clear highlight of the show, the band creatively drove the jam within the lines for quite a while before eventually segueing into an ambient segment that seemed to point towards something huge.  Emerging out of the murkiness came a surprise second-set “Runaway Jim” that received more intense treatment than its first-set summer counterparts, creating a searing cap to the set-highlight amidst the regal surroundings.

"Reba" 6.16.09 (@yemblog)

"Reba" 6.16.09 (@yemblog)

What came next was the slowest portion of any second-set in recent memory.  Beginning interestingly with the tour’s first “Frankie Says” (aka “Relax”), the band included some brief improv to the song, adding a bit of intrigue to the second-set bust out whose music seemed appropriately placed in The Fox.  However, after relaxing, the band again centered the slow, fifteen-minute composed “Time Turns Elastic” squarely in the second set.  Even the ornate surroundings couldn’t justify the song’s placement in a set which never truly recovered.  Following, “Time Turns Elastic,” the band inexplicably selected “Sleep” to complete the nearly jam-less half-hour. “Relax > Elastic > Sleep.” Hmmm.

The band obviously had to drop something significant at this point in the set, and they went with “Mike’s Groove.”  The “Mike’s” bounced off the walls, creating a larger-than-life feel in the tiny theatre- a certain experiential highlight- though the song’s improv remained standard.  A brief run through “Weekapaug’s” composed jam capped any sort of full-band improv of the night, as Phish closed the set with “Booogie On” and “Charater Zero.” Many will say “Boogie On” was a highlight, but in reality, all they did was spotlight Page’s outstanding clav solo amidst some pedestrian funk- great for some, boring for others.

Getting Into The Fox (@yemblog)

Getting Into The Fox (@yemblog)

Experientially, the show at The Fox was no doubt something special, but musically- it honestly wasn’t.  The “Slave” and the “Halley’s > Jim” will find their way onto end-of-tour compilations, but everything else was pretty much straight ahead playing.  The band never got the improvisational itch during a show that follwed Bonnaroo’s blowout with some of the best jamming of the tour.  Maybe that wasn’t the point of last night, but the show sure felt far lighter than any show since Great Woods.  Looking towards the last four nights of leg one- the return to the Phishy haunts of Star Lake, Deer Creek, and Alpine- all seem to be no-brainers.  Three venues, highlights on the map of any summer tour, mean even more on this first run through in 2009.  As we leave the mid-week hype behind us, we are about to enter the land of plentiful under-face tickets, and enough room for everyone, as Phish will conclude their early-summer tour with a four-night run that is sure to produce plenty of Midwestern music for our listening and dancing pleasure.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Ocelot, Brian & Robert, Sample in a Jar, Rift, Ya Mar, Reba, Train Song, Horn, Possum, Slave to the Traffic Light

II: Halley’s Comet > Runaway Jim, Frankie Says, Time Turns Elastic, Sleep, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Character Zero

E: Star Spangled Banner, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, While My Guitar Gently Weaps

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596 Responses to “A Fox Fantasy”

  1. Summer98 Says:

    @leo
    Another 32 year old civil engineer here, this one resides in the Pacific NW – Seattle. I also have two extras for the Gorge, and I’m bringing a Newbie to the Gorge, another civil engineer. We should design a bridge for the place or something…

    Re Whale: See end of Knoxville Hood. Major waaaaahhh waaaahhhh whaaaale.

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    If you get to alpine, you’ll get in, based on everything I hear so far. Just use basic caution in terms of vibe on the person you’re getting a ticket from. Generally speaking, there are a lot fewer fakes around for shows (like alpine) where there are lots of legit extras – it’s not worth the work to make the fakies if you’re getting $15-20 a ticket

    @sniggle has great point too

  3. Mugician Says:

    Anybody *here* have extras for this Saturday and Sunday?

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Summer98, sell me a Gorge extra for 2nd night? Please?

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    @El Dude – Nawf Cakalaka -> Dead tour all across the promised land -> Eugene -> Portland

  6. Mugician Says:

    @Completely: the problem is that as much as I’d like to, I can’t just pick up and leave for four days from Colorado without a little more than hopes of finding extras there… I’d rather have something set in stone before I spend however much on gas and 14 hours of driving. Unless somebody here has extras and/or is headed to Alpine from Colorado or near it???

  7. Summer98 Says:

    @Mr C
    I was hoping not to break the pairs, only because I thought they would be easier to get rid of. If nothing happens with them over the next week or two, a second night Gorge is yours (face of course).

    I’ll keep you posted.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Summer98 – understandable! that’s actually the issue, I only need 1 that I know of for sure, and everywhere I look peeps want to sell 2.

  9. Summer98 Says:

    Someone mentioned Miner had put together summer 98 compilations. I don’t see them in the Miner’s Picks. Any info on where those might be??

  10. chitownshanty Says:

    @kevin…the ‘endings’ of those 2 particuliar songs (Slave & McGrupp) hold the keys to the Ferrari, my friend.

    without the keys….you ain’t goin’ nowhere.

  11. fromthetub Says:

    @Mugician – have you checked out Miner’s ticket board spreadsheet on this site? We had some luck using that. Also, there’s the site cashortradeforyourextra(dot com) and of course Craigslist. Like Mr. Completely said, just make sure the vibe of the person that you are dealing with seems good. Try to talk on the phone and meet up in person.

    You should definitely do this. You will not regret it. Somehow these things always work out. If I remember correctly, you are a youngin’ and the time is now, son. 🙂

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Summer98 – and: thanks!

    It’s under “laid back funk” in miners picks

    @chitown – word – composed sections are just revving the engine IMO

  13. Icculus503 Says:

    @Summer98 was that an extra for Sat and one extra for Sun. at the Gorge. Or is that two tickets for each night. Either way I am in deep need of two for each night. My wife and I already have camping at Wild Horse booked we are heading there regardless, but it would be great to have peace of mind and tickets in hand.
    Think there will be tix @ gorge at face? Anyone?

  14. Mugician Says:

    Heh.. Yeah, I’ve been emailing people on the ticket exchange board and cashforyourextra. So far, I haven’t gotten any replies. Also, I’d have to leave tomorrow in order for this to work out. If only, if only.

    Email me at devon.dejohn at gmail if you’ve got extras!

  15. Leo Weaver Says:

    @nono…you gotta get your girl trained if she doesn’t get it. My wife went to a few good shows back in the late 90s, but just never got IT. I quit asking her to join me back in 99 for Big Cypress. I tend to enjoy the shows more…she’d be miserable after about 2 songs nowadays. I just tell her I’m headed to a show (try to give her a week or so notice…then I suggest she do something with her mom or her friends, you know, things that work BETTER sans-Leo, that she’d enjoy. It works…she now knows that Phish time is Leo-time. And encourages me to have a good time.

    @ tub…me and one of my buddies had a long talk (one of those post-show-chill-out-but-your-head’s-still-on-a-swivel moments) “theorizing” that phish appeals more to design-oriented folks than others. Think about the design process…typically not a linear process. Think about Phish’s defining music…tpyically not a linear process (could be argued the rock part is). I think designer’s minds are maybe more pre-programmed to enjoy and get it. And design elements are basically the same as musical elements…you can explain both with the same terms. Again, just a random thought from way long ago…and from a designer’s perspective.

    @ Summer98…if I end up going to the Gorge, I’ll have to find you…we’ll figure out that bridge! Actually, I’m the LA/planner in the shop…my partners are the PEs. But I’m seriously considering getting my PE…after working very closely with civils thru my career, I get it…the LA part doesn’t work without the civil part, we might as well work together for better integration. Would love to work in Seattle…I guess muni’s make things a little easier re: sustainable design – most things I want to do here are still “against the law”…terrible ordinance vs. eng design standards.

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Mug – we are not just goading you, and your restraint is admirable. I actually *don’t* recommend throwing away *too* much in order to get to a few shows. I did that a few times – I’d blow money I didn’t have to go to a couple shows NOW when if I had held back and built my cashflow I could have done the whole next tour.

    Of course 2 of the tours I missed that way were not that great in retrospect. But still! They COULD have been epic – the point remains! Don’t sacrifice 10 shows in the fall (or whatever) for 2 now.

    So: if you can go without sacrificing the possibility of more shows later – without burning bridges, quitting a good job (bad jobs should always be quit in favor of shows), etc – then go for it. I am sure you’ll find a ticket. Ahead of time if possible, but in the lots if not. Bring something heady to trade if you have it.

  17. Twiggy Says:

    @Mugician

    Check your mail.

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Icculus – tix were hovering around $75 on stubhub last I looked. You can only buy them in pairs which is why I haven’t pulled the trigger on that yet.

    I think they’ll be in the lot for face-ish. But who knows. I’m not going without, it’s worth a small premium to me to have them in hand.

    Depending on how things work out with a buddy of mine I may end up with one extra for each night, which I would sell for cost – that is, face for Sat, Stubhub price for Sun.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    Twiggy rules.

  20. fromthetub Says:

    Well said, Mr. C.

    I’m coming from a place where I took all of ’95-’96 off to be responsible and work like crazy. I’m still working like crazy in ’09 and I totally regret missing some amazing years. I think I’ve found a good balance now, though…

  21. fromthetub Says:

    This is hysterical:
    (bad jobs should always be quit in favor of shows) – Mr. C.

    Signing off to get to work now, so I can go to shows later.
    Happy day, everyone!!!

  22. BC Says:

    Will tonight’s show be streamed? If so, anyone have a link to a good site for this? I read there were issues with phishtube.

  23. Icculus503 Says:

    @Mr. yeah ticket luck has first night upper fifties and second night mid $60. So about $300 for two pairs with fees and mailings. I have been following the trend on the price, but can hold out a little longer for face if someone wants to hook it up. I don’t think I’ll go without tickets either, the little extra is worth it. It is a long drive for anyone.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    taking off whole years is for when you’re at least 30. I’m just saying don’t blow a chance to do a tour (or big block) for a couple shows now.

    I got real lucky. I blew off college completely for touring and the outlaw life, which should have meant that I wrote off any professional future. But I was using Photoshop 2.0 to do poster design and was a very early internet user, just for fun. I remember the day the Web as we think of it now came into existence, with the release of Mosaic, the first graphical browser. And I realized “holy shit, people will be paying money for this SOON.” So I got in at the very ground floor of web design.

    So I got to blow off school, roll around the country partying like a fool and going to shows, and then ended up with a respectable career anyway.

    This is NOT a replicable career path, so I never recommend blowing off your life completely to anyone, regardless of how much fun I had.

  25. Mugician Says:

    Hey Completely, I hear ya.

    I’ve got two for the Gorge and one for Shoreline, and it’s pretty guaranteed for me. I don’t think I’m gonna have a problem getting out there, I just can’t wait till August to see my band!

    Twiggy does rule!

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