A Night for the Ages

8.19.12 – BGCA (Michael Stein)

Perfection is elusive in the realm of improvisational music; a shining light in darkness deep that is strived for but seldom reached. An infinite number of variables must go right within a group dynamic, let alone individual performances, to attain the sacred stride that envelops the consciousness of an entire room. Four minds—rather 7,004 minds—become one, harnessing a power far greater than any of them, speaking to the divine in human existence. Although Phish has played so many shows in their career, only the best of them have rolled off the stage as flawlessly as last night’s performance in The City By the Bay.

Sunday night’s show made me feel like a kid again; like a noob being blown away by four larger-than–life superheroes who could do no wrong. The emotion that shook my being as the band entered “Tweezer Reprise” to close their best show in god knows how many years, was one that I haven’t felt in just as long. It was a cocktail of celebration, exaltation, sheer disbelief, and a deep pride in the band and everyone of us who believes in them with all of our soul. IT was a triumph of incomprehensible proportions.

8.19.12 (Michael Stein)

Over the first two nights in the historic hall of Bill Graham, it felt like Phish had yet to drop a top-tier effort, despite playing three spectacular jams—”Disease,”Tweezer” and “Simple.” But the guys couldn’t leave the intimate Bay Area room without upping things to a level that would have made any of the city’s psychedelic pioneers smile from ear to ear. After a high-energy beginning, the band stepped things up quite a bit with the last three songs of the first set—“Jibboo,” “Roggae,” and “David Bowie.” The band pushed each beyond convention, infusing each with an enhanced creativity. And when the guys pick up momentum in such fashion before the break, it always is a good  omen. But who could possibly have known what lurked around the corner?

At setbreak, a buddy and I left our post upstairs to rejoin our friends in the back of the floor. As fate would have it, for the set of sets, almost all of our friends—30 plus—were together with plenty of dance space in what became a musical sacrament. After such a cathartic live experience, I’m taking a day or so to distance myself before listening back—the memories are just too rich. In short, the band played nearly an hour of seamless, free-form improvisation of which the wildest dreams are made. With the all-time sequence of “Crosseyed > Light -> Sneaking Sally -> Crosseyed > Theme” Phish blew the minds of every person I’ve talked to in attendance. Every. Single. One. Undertaking a musical trek like none we’ve heard in this era, the band left a spiritual legacy in the hallowed concert hall of San Francisco. Original and experimental, cohesive and subconscious, with nuanced peaks and valleys featuring a segue that will make you scream—this was Phish at their absolute finest.

8.19.12 (M.Stein)

The guys dropped a couple of Phishy maneuvers within the second set as well. Punctuating the next-level suite with a blistering run through “Rocky Top” out of the farthest reaches of left field, the band somehow made the Tennessee anthem feel just perfect. How could it not? In addition, they carefully penned their signature on a night of instant legend with the most original “YEM” we’ve heard in eons. Trey didn’t even take a guitar solo in favor of the most lampin’ lounge funk you’ll ever hear, seducing the audience with sultry grooves amidst a minimalist wonderland. A song that represents a celebration of everything Phish each time played, “YEM,” on this night, was a collaboration to behold.

When Phish walked off stage, fans shared hugs and looks of disbelief. Had that just happened? The memory of everyone’s greatest post-show feeling, all of a sudden, had a brand new contender. I had fallen head over heels in love with Phish again, all in the course of a single evening. The knowledge that “Tweezer Reprise”—a build that was teased during the height of “Light’s” drama—waited in the wings sent surges of adrenaline through my veins. Before jumping into the final climax, however,the band gave a musical nod to The City with the bustout of “Ride, Captain, Ride,” a song whose first line references San Francisco Bay. It was the perfect encore to the perfect show, because nobody who made the trip to Bill Graham will ever forget their August weekend in Fog City.

I: Crowd Control, Party Time, Axilla, Reba, Free, Mound, Walk Away, NICU, Back on the Train, Gotta Jibboo, Roggae, David Bowie

II: Crosseyed and Painless > Light -> Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley -> Crosseyed and Painless > Theme From the Bottom, Rocky Top, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Meatstick, Bug, You Enjoy Myself

E: Ride Captain Ride > Tweezer Reprise

 

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605 Responses to “A Night for the Ages”

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  1. Oldskool Says:

    Speachless. Incredible post…

  2. tela'smuff Says:

    it really was a perfect Rocky Top wasn’t it!

    great piece Miner.

  3. Randomposter...nutbag Says:

    Well said sir….

  4. sumodie Says:

    YES!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Perfection.

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Left in the now with a wondrous glow…

    Taking set 2 to the dome via headphones.

  7. verno329 Says:

    That review was worth the wait

  8. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Really happy for everyone there last night, and way to show respect to the magnitude of your reactions, Miner – great writeup

    Still haven’t heard a note. If anyone has a link or something, email me or point out orangeness…

  9. sumodie Says:

    As the night unfolded i kept involuntarily thinking the boys were gonna nail the entire show, then I’d immediately wipe that thought from my mind so i wouldn’t jinx it

    Liquid flow last night

    Still higher than high, so grateful

    Transcendent playing from all 4

    In SFO dling the show for the red eye home

  10. revise your despise Says:

    Awesome write up!

    Congrats west coasters, you deserve it.

  11. revise your despise Says:

    @dr

    crunchygroove.com

  12. Taylor Says:

    UNREAL SHOW!!!! And a very nice writeup as well (both gave me goosebumps). Everyone in disbelief, I can confirm that one for sure. THANK YOU PHISH!!!

  13. revise your despise Says:

    @verno

    Did you ever find out about the oak mtn extra?

  14. joe Says:

    great write up, Mr. Miner. Can feel the love on the other end of the country.

  15. joe Says:

    I may have to make my first livephish purchase ever, unless someone has a code

    joeblackboard at yahoo

  16. PigSong Says:

    fantastic review, last night feels sacred, and I’ve only heard tapes/webcast. I’ve had a few hours to try to calm down from my frantic posting on the previous page. I haven’t settled at all.

    I feel like I must be over reacting.

    Saturday is coming.

  17. Dr Pronoia Says:

    thanks for the tip on DLing from crunchy Yematt – it worked great

    think I’ll save this listen for proper timing, solitude, headspace

  18. PigSong Says:

    What was the ticket situation at Dicks last year? The missus will be 32 weeks at that point, which might make this out of the question as far as flying. (no way I’d leave her home)

    Concocting a last minute plan.

  19. MiA Says:

    Great review Miner.

  20. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Safe Travels, Sumo!

    See you in D-town.

  21. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Pig, asking about last year when phish was tentative for each performance is world’s away from this year.

    Could still be a easy ticket. Still on sale but we are only 4 shows in. The wave has not crested.

    Do not miss CO phish!

  22. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Señor Miner, this is an eloquent representation of your experience, something virtually mirrored by everyone else in attendance.

    Thank you for sharing I everyone. I am pleased you enjoyed it.

  23. kayatosh Says:

    mid miner post (rayon vert in hand, spinning party time — $$$, and reconnecting w/ my girl kingkush), but had to jump in here and say:

    YES! praise Jah and the good people of the BB.

    SF was the best time I’ve had in many, many moons w/ sunday being a bent dick (ya can’t beat it) kind of day from top to bottom. last night’s show was a major treat, the f’in holy grail.

    from note one until note last, i was locked in. The entire concert flew by like a dream. danced and let loose among some extremely high qual folk.

    one love

  24. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Fuck yes.

  25. MiA Says:

    Off to Gary Danko. Hopefully I don’t have too high of expectations.

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