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. xpun Says:

    left hotel at 1115am pst got home at 130am est tuesday morning

    into bed, awoken by my wife at 230am bitching cause i reeked of smoke and i realized god i smell like absolute shit. i couldn’t believe i sat on a plane smelling that bad. then suddenly she says “wait i think the house is on fire” holy fuck!!

    ends up the 15 yr old had burnt the shit out of popcorn, and thrown it in the trash, shit smoked up and smell got in the AC blowing it throughout the house. still airing out

  2. MiA Says:

    Ha. MrsMiA said to me “you smell like smoke !”

    I said “No I do not. I smell like chronic. Big difference.”

  3. kayatosh Says:

    mia: give my regards to HM.

    Is that my burnt stank or is the house on fire?

  4. xpun Says:

    kaya – i think our friday beers set the tone, read any kids books lately?

  5. kayatosh Says:

    that was nice, xpun. you hand selected a fine brew — Big Daddy IPA by Speakeasy. Trouble is i’m still partying like I’m hanging out w/ the SF get down crew.

    have not read any children’s books lately, but i may look into that gig. got a lot of interesting career tips form the BB. good stuff.

  6. kayatosh Says:

    these SF LivePh sbd’s are sounding super sweet.

  7. kayatosh Says:

    cracking another brewsky. not sleepy. west coast’d

  8. MiA Says:

    Ha. MrsMiA noted that my placement of said procured jar of underdog made her dress slacks smell like … Well underdog.

    She took them and sprayed some Chanel #5 directly on them to cover up the smell.

    MrsMia – “so what do you think? Does it still smell?
    Mia – “(sniff sniff) OMG!I want to take your slacks out behind the middle school and get them pregnant! This smells like high school!”

  9. kayatosh Says:


  10. Phishm0610 Says:

    I just can’t sleep and not west coast’d. At the Jiboo so far. What delicate playing.

  11. MiA Says:

    Chaneldog. Love it.

  12. dognamedwilson Says:

    Slicksasquatch Says:
    August 21st, 2012 at 5:05 pm
    We missed you mr C


  13. tela'smuff Says:

    damn. got through 7 pages of love and positivity. excellent work BB. in reflection, that was a pretty fin 4 show run for Cali. BGCC3 was as good as any Phsih show in recent memory. amazing listen driving through the mountains. very happy you all had a great time, the vibe feels much like i felt after the midwest run. Denver awaits.

  14. MiA Says:

    I love 7:39 PST. Feel like I’ve got more stamina to stay up late.

  15. Phishm0610 Says:

    OK, this Roggae is sublime.

  16. kayatosh Says:

    yep. that roggae is the full melt.

  17. Phishm0610 Says:

    Memories coming back and I was sitting in the exact spot that I’m at now. It’s a well used spot. What an amazing vibe. I can feel the glow with the music in the background and browsing 5 different sites, including still working as I was useless today. Just have to shake my head and enjoy. MLB jam right now. Awesome.

  18. Phishm0610 Says:

    Even the composed parts have that extra zest. Where is that coming from. Did they learn to transfer energy into the replay. Not sure how that is even possible.

  19. litteringand Says:

    need some waves,scents,asihtos,undermind,steam,p&b to get in the mix on this leg.

  20. Phishm0610 Says:

    holy Bowie. I feel the feeling I forgot. WOW

  21. BingosBrother Says:

    My dad after a few minutes of cap “holy shit is fishman on fire! ”

    Biebs gave him a few drumming tips.

  22. kayatosh Says:

    i would have welcomed any of those, littering, but sunday taught me it’s not song selection that makes for a great show. flow, band balance, execution, and uninhibited improv.

    bingos: “a few minutes of cap” — ??? agree that fishman is on fire. he’s sounding big on the sbds

    just finished GA — $$. liked it, even it didn’t fully gel.

  23. churdslick Says:

    Does anyone have an extra pair for the show tomorrow? Me and a buddy are considering waking up early and driving out from Denver. We won’t have time to mess around with too much shit in the lot.

  24. kayatosh Says:

    wow. piper got horsed or should I say miked. shame that was starting to get really cool.

  25. Iriewalton Says:

    Strawberry diesel, and a kief cap kick down, showed up this afternoon to accompany another Sally spin through.

    I love when that happens.

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