Starlight Express

8.22.12 – Starlight Theatre (Ryan MacNeill)

Phish entered the Heartland, hot off a spectacular run in the Bay, and kept things chugging right along with a smoking two setter in one of the coolest venues they have ever visited. Starlight Theatre carries a distinctly medieval vibe, crafted in brick with castle-like towers on each side of the stage. And between those two towers, Phish did work last night, throwing down two beefy sets of music with highlights galore.

Official KC Print (S.R.Ho/Us & Them)

From the show-opening “Chalk Dust”—a jam that got far more intense than most recent lead-offs—it was clear that the band meant business, and when they followed it up with the return of “Skin It Back” for the first time since Jones Beach, they left little doubt. Passing through “Moma” and “Rift,” the first set came to an undeniable peak with the pairing of “Bathtub Gin” and “Stash.” Trey got loose in “Bathtub,” showcasing licks of delicacy and fire while the band built a climbing canvas around him. Remaining within the confines of the song, the guys sculpted a blistering rendition that brought all four players fully into the mix. And if “Gin” brought the upbeat vibe to the first set pairing, “Stash” most definitely brought the darkness. Flipping the demonic jam on end, Trey, Page and Mike converged on a harmonic shift, bringing “Stash” into major-key wonderland while remaining charted for the jam’s peak. Dipping in and out of this feel a couple times, the band built a uniquely contoured jam that popped off the stage with a zest rarely seen from the first set staple. Dropping a must-hear excursion before halftime, the band raised the ante of an increasingly engaging first set plot line. The summer debut of “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” came in a perfectly slot, backing up a slew of improv. Punchy versions of “Kill Devil Falls” and “Funky Bitch” set up a notably laid-back, full-band “Antelope” that finished a stellar frame in style.

8.22.12 (R.MacNeill)

“Tweezer” has been an enigma for much of this year, as Phish has kept their classic launchpad, more or less, inside the box. But that all changed in colossal fashion last night, as they graced the evening with an exploratory escapade steeped in bliss and majesty. In the Phish universe, there’s nothing quite like a second-set-opening “Tweezer” and last night, the band unveiled their most prolific of this era. The guys spent no time in conventional territory, exiting stage left immediately into a floating, melody-anchored experimental tale. Taking things slow and methodically, the band instantly stepped into paradise, and proceeded down that path for the duration, sinfully dropping in and out of “Tweezer’s” groove like bandits. Trey laid way back, playing only the most tasteful notes, as Mike offered super creative leads that dictated the tone for much of the piece. Sailing on a magic carpet ride through jaw-dropping planes of euphoric melody, the band flowed effortlessly while exploring transcendent music for an extended period of time. And as they reached the top, Trey brought it home with a soul-crushing peak that will leave anyone blithering in joy. Climbing down the backside of the jam with a more ambient-laced sequence, the guys dripped right into “Piper.”

8.22.12 (R.MacNeill)

Combining two of their most significant vehicles, the band soared into a locked and intense “Piper” jam that provided a dark juxtaposition to “Tweezer’s” magnificent light. Shredding a high-octane collaboration, Phish broke things down into furious percussive textures before dripping into spacier, though still directed playing.  This jam covered an immense amount of musical ground with airtight interplay, though it seemed to end a bit suddenly for “Mike’s Song.” The second rousing rendition of “Mike’s” in a row opened the door for the first mellower combo of the set in “Bouncin’” and a well-played “Number Line.” It seemed that “Heavy Things” might continue this trend, but the piece possessed additional vigor as Page took an extended solo while Trey comped him with uncharacteristic rhythm chops. Gracefully taking the reins, Red then took his solo, bringing the song back around and landing in a heart-wrenching version of “If I Could.”

8.22.12 (R.MacNeill)

Just as the set needed another dose of action, Mike started up a ridiculous version of “Weekapaug” that sounded plucked from the depths of Fall ’97. Hard funk was the name of the game in this outstanding jam that certainly deserves a nod as a show highlight. Riding the crest of “Weekapaug,” Phish dropped a second-straight standout “Harry Hood” that starting in a quasi-plinko realm and migrated into an intense, old-school feel with Trey playing for keeps. “Suzy” stamped the set complete, and the second show in a row ended with “Tweezer Reprise!”

Phish left their mark on Starlight Amphithetre, playing a  in their first visit to Kansas City area since 2000. Every single song seemed to include something special last night, with barely a lull in the show. And as we look ahead to a hotly anticipated run through the deep South, things couldn’t look better in the world of Phish. See ya’ll in Alabama!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Skin It Back, The Moma Dance, Rift, Bathtub Gin, Stash, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Kill Devil Falls, Funky Bitch, Run Like an Antelope

II: Tweezer > Piper > Mike’s Song, Bouncing Around the Room, Backwards Down the Number Line, Heavy Things, If I Could, Weekapaug Groove, Harry Hood > Suzy Greenberg

E: Loving Cup > Tweezer Reprise

8.22.12 (Ryan MacNeill)

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496 Responses to “Starlight Express”

  1. albert walker Says:

    tweez is disgusting man.

    troy removed the first half that Robear doesn’t like.

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    in Bama….what uup?

  3. SillyWilly Says:


    Seriously, PhamB?

    Is there room for my girl, too?

    She’s cooler than me.

    I don’t mean to come late and wook my way into your friends’ place.

  4. albert walker Says:

    trying out my new quartz nail miner. thanks for the knowledge. midwesterners are behind.

    gonna bring some of this OG I made to Denver man. shit is tasty.

  5. albert walker Says:

    on hood now. def well played set other than the strangely sloppy bouncin.

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Gin, Stash is a gnarly paring in the first set.

    Spun that Split from Sf earlier. Weird. I loved it on one hand but then it was all over the place and sloppy as fuck also. I guess that’s Split for you. Kinda a disjointed song to begin with. Maybe just needed to be a little more cohesive in it’s craziness..if that makes sense.

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    Listening to Augustus Pablo but was convinced I was hearing a Secret Chiefs 3 song

    cool track – Drums to the King Augustus Pablo.

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Heard Oak Mountain had under covers inside the venue.. Sound like fun..

    Be careful kids.

  9. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Split needs works on its re-entry.

    love its insanity though

  10. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    I’ll ask Silly. not likely a problem.

    how comfortable are you with inflatable mattress as the option?

    PRe-show mobility an outstanding issue one car, caveat emptor

  11. SillyWilly Says:

    The Split scared me in person.

    my girl was laughing out loud and I was thinking I was on a roller coaster (I hate roller coasters, but not Splits)

    closing my eyes instinctively dropping a hail mary (just in case she really was assumed into heaven body and soul)


  12. SillyWilly Says:

    Air mattresses are totally cool!

    In fact, I was sleeping on one for the last 6 weeks because I couldn’t afford a bed, yet. Haha.

    And maybe we can rent a car to take some transportation pressure off.

  13. poop goblin Says:

    Huge SF split

    No chance it was comin home though. Got way to out. LOVe that jam. That entire set is fire imo. Troy was crushin it

    Wolfmans just crushed

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    And, Pham B

    my email address is falkwilt

    at gmail

    if it is ok with your friend, please let me know if there’s anything I can bring or do to help out.

    it’d be really cool to get to stay with you and get a chance to spend some time talking with you.

  15. kayatosh Says:

    bouncin fan Says:
    August 22nd, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Garrett did puff a corn cob pipe in my hotie.

    that shit was fucked up. not sure what to say or do when that happens.

    ^^^ funny shit. I saw that too and didn’t know what to make of it either. hilarious

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    I thought the corn cob thing was so funny.

    Garret is a great dude. And he wasn’t going to be denied his americana.

    If it makes the story more funny, we stopped at three or four headshops on Friday afternoon trying to corner the ever-elusive Corn Cob Pipe.

  17. William H. Bonney Says:

    @Mr. P

    Yup, same number, sounds good hit me up…will be into the Atl. around 2 p.m, hotel out by airport…

  18. poop goblin Says:

    Puffin out of something no real puffer would ever want to smoke out of just seems like rockin a cape at shows

    Just seems silly. Kinda offensive.

  19. William H. Bonney Says:

    corn cob pipe??? why not just use a soda can…..funny shit

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    corn cob? you guys are funny. It wasn’t real , was it?

  21. poop goblin Says:

    Him and metal pipe girl should go bowling

  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    wait…you aren’t kidding?

  23. SillyWilly Says:


    totally real.

    kid wanted a corn cob pipe.

    he had an explanation, but I can’t remember what it was.

  24. Mr. Palmer Says:

    My grandfather used to smoke some real bad ass wooden pipes. All carved up and shit. He had about 60 of them.

  25. kayatosh Says:

    Boss Indian food upon arrival in SF
    that’s some shit that i like

    summoned to rm. 718
    that’s some shit that i like

    seeing that twinkle in gdad’s eyes
    that’s some shit that i like

    chick in micro mini getting down on the balcony rail
    that’s some shit that i like

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