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


Tags: , ,

605 Responses to “A Night for the Ages”

  1. poop goblin Says:

    After the show Vegas I was thinkin this was MY utica

    More jamming. Less Rawker. Great flow. Hot set 1.

    Not that utica isn’t great. Just this show is much more my style. More open and flowing

    Plus crosseyed and late just destroy any single jam from utica


  2. poop goblin Says:

    Light not late

  3. BingosBrother Says:

    I could read about this shit all day. When shit like Sunday goes down, the BB puts a fuckin prism on positivity. Shootin me straight in the heart. wish I was there, but you guys make it feel better. My soul will gladly steal your experiences. Bang, shootin right back at y’all.

  4. vegas wolfmans Says:

    No question this is a far superior show to Utica. Just similar for me in the sense that I had to listen a second and third time in full without pause. Next level shit. Such interesting listens. Top tier for any era. Hope they have something left in the tank for Dicks.

  5. joe Says:

    I know it’s a cliche around here, but the words are true regarding this show, “IF you didn’t dig this one (even on playback only), then you just don’t dig Phish anymore.

  6. tzara's Says:

    Damn, just caught up with y’all. Listened to the whole run on ALAC before coming back to the BB. Loved Sunday’s show, and after reading all the glow, better put it on again. Save some for Denver, boys.

  7. tzara's Says:

    For the record, I did NOT webcast the shows. So don’t hate me.

  8. Phishm0610 Says:

    I never blog. I’m sure none of you have seen me on this blog all that often. I normally don’t blog because I don’t know the people I’m blogging with and would rather talk to a friend.
    I’ve always felt more comfortable at a Phish show then anywhere else. I don’t go to many shows due to job, family, money etc. Attended about 35 shows since 94 and streamed every one that has been available. My favorite thing to do besides be with my kids is watch a phish show on youtube and read the review of the show I’m watching. I have over 50 cd’s in my car and 48 of them are Phish and 2 are the dead. Hard for me to still listen to Jerry after his death.
    After Sunday I get IT more then before. We were all on the same vision quest that exploded on Sunday. Every fucking person that listened, streamed, attended, re listened, is hosed to the core of human existance. Sunday was supposed to happen. This tour is just getting started and will blow the rest of the minds that weren’t there for some reason. We are all in on the new joke and damn it’s funny. Never laughed so hard or felt so good in my life. Love. What a word.

  9. tzara's Says:

    And welcome, @phishm. I’ve just been catching up, and only post occasionally too. Great thoughts, stick around. And meet as many BBers as you can. I got to meet quite a few last year, and it was truly a pleasure. Looking forward to the Denver massive.

  10. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    VW, have faith, hombre!

  11. snow Says:

    The thing is Joe that my BFF, whom I never got to introduce to any BB crew, said Saturday night was one of the top ten he had seen.
    He has seen so many shows that he actually walked Trey’s dog during a show in the late ’80’s.
    He also didn’t like Friday cause the setlist was too boring and was giving me stats about last time the songs were played.
    We are like a married couple that can’t talk politics with each other.

    The point being that Phish is still playing shows that the rawkers and songists like. But for our segment, the BB, Sunday night was gold. It’s not that we all eat at the feet of Miner. It’s that there is a semi-objective thing we are looking for in a show… and it’s something more like an audio adventure than a huge tension and release jam.

  12. Slicksasquatch Says:

    Silly sounds to me like you just need to surrender to the flow. Once I did that my whole world changed for the better. Listen to frankly sez.

  13. Phishm0610 Says:

    Awesome call on Frankie

  14. snow Says:

    Welcome PhishM!

  15. poop goblin Says:

    My only goal for Sunday was to dejade robear.

    Hearing a grumpy bear throw in the towel on the run post show sat was some funny shit.

    90% was troy

    But pretty sure totally dejaded now

    Dwd from Fri is Fuckin brilliant

  16. Slicksasquatch Says:

    We missed you mr C

  17. joe Says:

    but did he like Sunday too, Snow? I get the subjective parts of some shows like Saturday and that people, myself included, enjoy some of the rawkers and the antics.

  18. poop goblin Says:

    This whole time slick I didn’t know you posting was that irie east coast norcal transplant I kicked with at Greek

    Stoney cased.

  19. Phunky58 Says:

    Article is a bit over the top in praise of this show imo. along with everyone saying this is one of the best shows they ever saw. IMO is was a great show but definitely not in the conversation for best show ever played. Lets be realistic here pholks.. to be honest i wont be relistening to ne of set 1. it only picked up bott thru bowie and nothing ever left the theme of the song. 2nd set was a whole different story great set but give me some shows from the island tour or falll 97 anyday over this. even drum logos. This may not even be the best show of 2012 as I feel star lake may have a slight edge on it. great show no doubt, perfection no imo, best of all time no way imo. overall love leg1 and leg2 this tour def best of 3.0 imo. i thnk the best is yet to come……..

  20. Phishm0610 Says:

    Thanks tzara’s. Good people are definately among us here.

  21. tzara's Says:

    Wait a minute, AW is de-jading Robear? What the hell is going on in the universe? Soon as you guys are done fixing Silly, we got to get to work on HuggieBear.

  22. MiA Says:

    Thanks Tzara’s. Your juice is fantastic!

  23. MiA Says:

    Slick’s avatar now comes to me with a bahston accent.

  24. joe Says:

    and for clarity, I wasn’t saying if you didn’t think it was the best show ever, you didn’t like phish anymore.

  25. tzara's Says:

    Thanks @MiA! Happened to see a post you did on the sauvignon blanc. Get to try the syrah? I’ll bring a couple surprises to Denver, we should set something up. When are you getting in?

Leave a Reply