Despite the non-stop highlight reel went down in Denver to close Leg Two, the single, most powerful moment of the entire summer took place two weeks earlier in San Francisco. As the band sat smack dab in the middle of their best set in ages, something special happened in Bill Graham Civic Center. A friend described the moment that Trey peaked August 19’s “Light” as 7,004 people reaching orgasm at once. At first, his description seemed like a crude metaphor for such a metaphysical occurrence, but on second thought, it accurately conveyed the intensity and mind-blowing nature of an indescribable experience. When thought of in such terms, the preceding thirty minutes of “Crosseyed > Light” had been most provocative foreplay of the year, and the band had us in quite a compromising position.
Settling “Light’s” airtight jam—momentarily—onto a quieter plane, the guys subtly started a “Tweezer Reprise” progression. They had dropped a gem of a “Tweezer” on Friday night, but its “Reprise” had yet to appear. It felt incredibly appropriate for the band to punctuate this monumental jam sequence an unexpected, mid-set “Tweezer Reprise!” Page punched at his organ as Phish moved into a high-speed “Reprise” jam. As they smoothly increased the tempo, skillfully pushing the drama of the moment, one could feel the energy build and build and build—not only within oneself, but throughout the entire building—dominating the collective mind. Devilish rhythms framed the sounds that kept building and building and building…Was this happening?!
Page manically clobbered his organ in stride with his mates as they sat on the brink of detonation. But! Instead of cranking into “Tweezer Reprise’s” signature riff, Trey tore into a free form, hard rock lead that poured gasoline on a concert hall packed with blazing embers! The. Place. Fucking. Exploded. Riding this transcendent tsunami, Trey took one breath and sparked the year’s most powerful segue–a musical uppercut into “Sneakin’ Sally.”
Though I have been present for more than a few energetic zeniths in my time at Phish, I cannot recall an instance of communal eruption like “Light -> Sally.” Four improvisational Jedis, their spontaneous creativity, and the vitality of 7,000 dialed-in fans converged in a moment unparalleled in recent history. As the band pulled off this staggering maneuver, amazement, excitement, and sheer exultation grabbed my soul and gave it a sturdy shaking. Ages had passed since Phish touched me like this, and I’m fairly sure everyone in the building felt the same. Although the band, arguably, eclipsed their Bay Area performance in Commerce City, no moment of the last decade can match the magic deep within Bill Graham’s finale.
Jam of the Day:
The jam sequence of the year and beyond.
Tags: 2012, Jams, Summer 2012, The Moment