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”

  1. IrieWalton Says:

    Why am I not surprised to learn that Bieber brought a 1,000 glow sticks with him.

  2. amazin1986 Says:

    This show is far from perfect. Miner needs to get his ears checked.

  3. Multibeast Says:

    BIG thanks for that GA floor heads up. That saved me…I had to hook up my sis in law so this was huge. Cheers!

  4. Phishm0610 Says:

    Which show you referring to amazin. If it was Sunday, then I am of the opinion that it was a perfect show and then some. My opinion of course, but come on man. Did you not catch the vibe?

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    SF 8/17-8/19 through the eyes of Silly/Serious/Willy/William:

    first smell of ocean breeze coming off BART at Colma, seeing Jtran and Tori adding cash to their ticket, realizing two of my favorite worlds were colliding, strawberry margarita at GarretC’s favorite burrito place, walking through the Tenderloin going to Hotel Monaco, stopping at the convenience store where “I’m doin’ business here,” hanging out with Gdad and Boz, learning that this scene will never leave me, ever, heading up to AW’s room, realizing that I’m better friends with the all the kids in the room than I am with most if not all of my other friends, soaking up the depth of that statement, being a little nervous about the strength of any tube offered my by AW, the walk down to BGCA on Friday, chilling on the lawn in front of BGCA, falling asleep on the BART ride back to garretc’s, bagels with garret, jtran, and tori, exploring the park a little bit, some awesome bbq at memphis minis, the crazy lady at Toronado, seeing Gdad in Toronado for the first time in 19 years, the crazy lady at Tornonado round 2, wondering what I would need to do if the crazy lady punched Tori in the bar, tasting Pliny the Elder for the very first time, having my second Pliny the Elder for the very first time, coffee, remembered Jtran’s but didn’t get my own girlfriend one, thinking I was about to get in trouble with the GF, only to learn for the 459th time that she’s cool and not needy and independent as shit, learning for the 458th time to remember that she’s not needy and to chill, Tori’s face when Wolfman’s started (her fav tune), Tori’s face after the Split jam, being a little giggly and telling her that we should be scared for the second set, second set falls a little flat but whatever we still got tomorrow, falling asleep in Garret’s car on the way back, realizing I always fall asleep after shows no matter what, Tahoe pics to prove it (Alf), Sunday morning surprising my parents on their backporch, chilling with them all day, thinking this has to be good karma, striding it out to meet Jtran, Garret, and DF at this really cool bar, heading into the show, getting ready to say farewell to the run, BIG ROBEAR HUG and acknowledgment that he wasn’t pissed at me for my political ramblings, the balcony…the show…wow, the show…

    dancing next to my girlfriend (I date a girl into Phish!?) her sweaty face, afterwards, saying: WHOA, stumbling out of BGCA all muddled up, DF’s coming to the BART station with us, holy shit that says “Silly”.

    and if the universe wasn’t telling me that despite my head being a little off, I really did experience a truly magic run.

    (maybe all I needed to do was write this out to get it) (valuable lesson)

  6. kayatosh Says:

    my goodness, this CEP is hot. was karl eprrazzo sitting in w/ them? sounds like at least 2 drummers. way to go, fish.

  7. Gavinsdad Says:

    Sharin in the groove sounds like SW. And I don’t quote the Phish that often

    @mr c – Skye was singing your encyclopedic GD chops over the weekend. I didn’t argue *smile*

  8. kayatosh Says:

    The sounds composed mellow section of CEP — wow!!?!! this CEP gets the elusive fourth $. what got into those boys? this is dreamland phish.

  9. SillyWilly Says:


    I’ll be at Sat/Sun Denver.


    Will you be there? Hoping to meet you! I haven’t finalized (or really started looking…) my sleeping sitch, so I’ve been shy about making any plans.

  10. kayatosh Says:

    nice recap, silly. good stuff.

  11. Kaveh Says:

    @multi: that was all @snow…I got the message out after him.

    But either way, glad you got taken care of…

  12. SillyWilly Says:


    I think you gotta rock the blue socks at all the shows you’re at.

    they’re clearly good luck.

  13. kayatosh Says:

    silly: funny you should mention the socks — baby blue calf socks with stealie red lightning bolts. I bought them from a fellow PA phan pre-show on friday. wore them again on sat. and skipped em for sunday. so can’t attribute anything to the socks other than they are supportive and colorful.

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    I must have just been baked.

    Hearing the Tweezer Reprise and then Sally drop is crystal clear in my memory

    I remember grinning at Jtran right when Sally dropped.

  15. Multibeast Says:

    Gotcha….thanks @Snow!

  16. kayatosh Says:

    Light from 8 min. mark on = phish at their best x 2. psychedelic calypso. sickness. wow. wow. wow.

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    You’re the man, Kaya.

    And you’ve got some great hair, bro. Tori wanted me to make sure you didn’t sell yourself short on the hair. She loves it – and she thought that was an awesome conversation about your hair on the way into BGCA one of those nights.

  18. kayatosh Says:

    hair kinkier than Rick James

  19. kayatosh Says:

    few minutes before sally and then into sally = jaw dropper.

  20. IrieWalton Says:

    Agreed, Kaya.

    I just got through listening to that portion myself and while the SBDs are nice I look forward to hearing the AUDs when I can clearly hear your “Yeah!”‘s.

  21. kayatosh Says:

    could not get the name Heady Brosevelt out of my brosevelt all weekend. kept pondering which one of the array of heady folk was the real Heady.

  22. kayatosh Says:

    sally is dancealicious. doing the running man.

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    This is the view from our balcony on Sunday


    and the grinning girl in the bottom left is Tori. I dig it because she’s so happy in the picture.

  24. kayatosh Says:

    end of Sally into Theme — $$$. wow. smooth.

  25. Jtran Says:

    I’d love to see voopa’s picture of df, mia, silly and myself (I think that was who) at the end of set 2, though prob. not online

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