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. sumodie Says:

    BGCA3 is def not best of all time

    Who knows if it’s best of 3.0 or even 2012

    But at the least it’s top shelf phish

    Still can’t bring myself to replay it yet, will work thru the first 3 leg2s first

    and yes, I’m tempted to cu$tycast Pelham

  2. MiA Says:

    Tzara’s I get in on Friday morning, pretty early … like 10 AM.

    Held onto the Syrah so far. Will open before the end of the weekend. We were pretty toasty, didn’t want to go that one bottle to far.

  3. Mr. Palmer Says:

    The picture if Robear turning in his credentials post show Sat has me cracking up. I need to hear this whole story , in detail, one day.

  4. kayatosh Says:

    he was robummin on post simple set II. said he was done busting his ass for phish, or something to that effect. come sunday night, robobear was all smiles and slick dance moves.

  5. BingosBrother Says:

    Robear is powerful. Band needed him back. Please quit again before St. Louis. Gracias Huggie Boo Boo.

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    We just can’t tour like we used to…that’s basically what’s been bothering @robear since Hampton. if you’re seeing tons youre
    Getting tons of goodness.

    But the GD axiom applied in SF and I’m bummed @robear hasn’t given me proper credit. ::winks::

  7. MiA Says:

    BGCA was a great time all in all. Just what I needed.

    Today I was like a space cadet all day. Afterglow’d but now sure where I was supposed to be in the Universe.


  8. thedayman Says:

    new troy song is really cool, different. cool beats throughout track. can hear a lot of trey’s prior work in the beginning, with some latin beats and jazzier piano/guitar. a little fugue thrown in for good measure. but the last 2 and a half minutes are a combo of radiohead and the national sounding stuff, lots of arpeggiated chording. can def hear the hipster influence on troy. outro is very pretty. song really hits on all types of styles.


    glad everyone had a blast in SF! BGCA 3 is still leaving my mind totally just blown. i can’t even comprehend being in the building, so happy for all of you who were there. pulled the trigger on St. louis, and couldn’t be happier. have a great night bb massive.

  9. DukeOfLizards Says:

    I don’t care what anyone says, real humans did not play the SF Light.

  10. garretc Says:

    some more great zzyzx (from FB):

    Frank: if there’s one thing that the past decade has proved, it can take a lot more than just talent to make it. Phish made it look so easy, but they also had a lot of luck with timing. 10 years either way and they never make it big.

  11. jtran Says:

    whoops – that was me^^^

  12. Phishm0610 Says:

    I’m running up to the store to get a few brews then I’m headed for my 1st listen since Sunday. I actually have a giddy feeling about listening to a show I witnessed in high def just 2 nights ago.

  13. litteringand Says:

    Leave it to Phish to make you forget they played a 25 min Rock and Roll 5 days ago.

  14. BingosBrother Says:

    That Rock and Roll is so unbelievable. Thanks for the reminder. What if the next shows make us forget Sunday? I just blew my mind.

  15. Phishm0610 Says:

    and why does this zzyzx individual even listen to Phish?

  16. William H. Bonney Says:

    He is a big Phish fan, just does not enjoy the same Phish we do. Quit the board in a huff awhile ago. His does the Phish stats page or some such non-sense….

  17. kayatosh Says:

    spinning sat set I. enjoyed this set a lot.

  18. voopa Says:

    Certainly not the best show they’ve ever done, but Sunday was one of the best I’ve seen for sure. And it was right up my alley: Solid 1st set, all tunes I either like or love, played well; set up for a high energy second where the band was completely locked in and harnessing the crowd energy. And shredding. Can’t ask for much more than that.

  19. voopa Says:

    Dug Saturday’s 1st too, thought Trey was doing some great stuff. I liked the overall song choices of Sunday’s 1st better, but 8/18 is very well done, and that Wolfman’s jam is great.

  20. xpun Says:

    iriewalton’s granddad with great advice

    reverse panic attack – awesome thought

    that tease reprise->sally crowd build up and eruption will be etched in my memory. so fn unbelievably good.

    silly – youre a great guy. i can relate to a lot of what youre saying in regards to anxiety, and have always found your smile to be very comforting. blows me away to think perhaps there is anxiety behind that effortless grin. seems very comfortable

    i live i my head constantly and feel trapped in there at times, some nice advice on here today. personally soloing it out to the city and meeting many “strangers” was probably the most uncomfortable position i have put myself in possible ever. and was rewarded beyond my wildest dreams. not a down minute outside of the shows, constantly meeting or building friendships.

    using the spacey cymbal section at the start of YEM to align my body with kaya’s perfectly calming voice in my head and as soon as it all came together fish hits the woodblocks perfectly synchronized

    robears hug and huge smile when ride capt ride started up. he was on cloud nine

    mia’s high five after the show, which if you’ve ever seen him and seen me he had to hold it out low for me. kind of wish he’d stuck it way up there and i could’ve run and jumped and tecmo bowl’d that shit

  21. xpun Says:

    listening to some highlight’s today and love that we got a reprisesque jam in set 1 – walk away, set 2 – light and then the goods for the encore.

    set 1 from reba on was amazing, felt everything had the extra sauce as they say around here. jiboo is very familiar but very original at the same time, trey really approaches this one slowly and ends up slaying it.

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    ” kind of wish he’d stuck it way up there and i could’ve run and jumped and tecmo bowl’d that shit”


  23. MiA Says:

    Ha ha Xpun. I’m glad I high fived. I was ready to high five e very single individual in the room.

    I’m pretty sure they were ready to high five me back.

    Drinks with Hazel Mango. Good times.

  24. kayatosh Says:

    right on, xpun. you’re a good guy and a fine roommate. was out of my comfort zone as well. i think everyone is to an extent. that’s when we grow. peace to you, my friend.

  25. kayatosh Says:

    robear hug smiles – FTW.

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