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:

    he thinks it’s cute Palmer. ha ha so funny.

    it tastes like shit and has no function but aren’t I ironic?

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Billy B rolls hard into shows with the giant bubbler. Still don’t know how you get that monstrosity into shows..

  3. bobby weird Says:

    old school tobacco pipes are freaking cool. my grandpop had many of them as well. love the smell, to this day.

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    oh god.

    the jordan’s chick.

    almost went a whole day without thinking about her.

  5. kayatosh Says:

    just catching up w/ the BB. took off for the beach on wednesday morn and my dumbphone doesn’t do BB.

    you folks are awesome. really enjoyed aw’s SF pics. hilarious.

  6. albert walker Says:

    haven’t had the pleasure of puffin the billy b bubbler

    played phone tag at UIC. hopefully soon.

  7. kayatosh Says:

    you may not want to puff it after you find out how he smuggles it in. j/k

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    haha…good point kaya…

  9. MiA Says:

    I agree AW, Trey got totally untethered in the split.

    Keep that shit up.

  10. kayatosh Says:

    I never saw here shoes. but i had to pinch myself a few times. she was hump dancin.

  11. SillyWilly Says:

    the billy b bubbler

    a faithful show companion

    a BB talisman

    just a good fucking piece.

  12. kayatosh Says:

    her shoes

  13. albert walker Says:

    chick in sick kicks. damn. ex pole worker dancin in sick kicks. damn.

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    AW cracked me up that night. I hadn’t even said anything about her. Just looked over while he was talking to me. Didn’t realize he knew where I was looking

    and he dropped, mid convo:

    Yeah, she’s danced before.

  15. albert walker Says:

    pretty good fuckin show last night off the tapes. def on the mellow side. but everything well played for the most part and good flow.

    great tweez. hot stash. funky jammy week. not bad.

  16. kayatosh Says:

    spinning starlight tweezer for the first time. lovin IT and only 7 mins in. sickness

  17. albert walker Says:

    chalkdust is slow too. what’s with the tempos Troy?

    is everything slowed down at this show. feel like I’m in a K hole or some shti spinnin this shit

  18. kayatosh Says:

    tweezer jam is laid back, like a simple jam.

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    the ‘roo tweezer had a slow tempo also.

  20. kayatosh Says:

    this starlight aud. is quite good

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    Open air theatre leads to slower playing…love that style…

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    it was pretty hot and humid in MO yesterday. after SF, they may have been keeping things in check.

  23. albert walker Says:

    used to have the long jam no we have the slow jam

    I’m all in on the slow jams. alpine fee. BGCA Simple. second jam in crosseyed BGCA. lats night’s tweez.

    good stuff.

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    but yeah, open air v. hot stank ass room plays a big part too

  25. albert walker Says:

    spinnin BGCA DWD

    this shits is a fuckin beast. holy fuck. played properly on the home stereo for the first time. mike and fish just swingin

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