Where Dreams Can Take Flight

8.2.13 (Jeremy Renda)

8.2.13 (Jeremy Renda)

Improvising with a liquid fluidity while crafting a totally unique setlist, Phish dropped a high-quality, first-set heavy performance at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Friday Night to kick off tour’s final four-night run. Two outstanding excursions in “Down With Disease” and “Seven Below” anchored the second set, though the first set possessed a more fluid contour and better start to finish consistency in song choice. The band has reached a level of playing where everything seems effortless, and their level of communication is at a level we’ve never seen before. Since the Gorge, their reaction time has been negligible whereas someone need only suggest an idea and the other three members are on it immediately—inhuman skills that only come after thirty years of jamming together. Whether amidst a 37 minute “Tweezer” or second-set “Farmhouse,” the band’s attention to detail and intent to bring new ideas to the table is undeniable, and the result is nothing but the best Phish we’ve ever heard.

BGCA (AJ Masthay)

BGCA (AJ Masthay)

Bursting out of the gates in their first San Francisco set, Phish stoked an early fire with a rare “Free” opener and then with “Meat,” they started rolling out the rarities—but unlike in the past few years, the guys really got into things in each and every piece. “Vultures” popped with energy and precise interplay; Trey evoked the spirit of Jerry Garcia, one day after his birthday, in a cerebral, standout “Roggae;” the first “Sand” since Holmdel got into a jazz-fusion groove; “Mike’s rarity “Babylon Baby” added spice to an already kicked up scene; and the band finally slayed “Halfway the Moon” with improvisational beef. Basically, any guitar solo Trey takes these days—in any song—seems to have a thoughtful roadmap, adding infinite amounts of artistry to shows where wankery recently dominated.

The gem of the opening frame, however, was “Reba,” whose jam possessed a driving tempo, kicked up a notch by Jon Fishman. In this era, “Reba” jams have been lackluster, while generally characterizable as noodly, mellow and uninspired, but throw any jam into 2013 and things get serious! It felt like heaven to dance to a fast, purposeful “Reba” jam last night. This version sounds like a throwback to an earlier year but with a modern smoothness. If you’re reading this in the morning, start your Saturday with this “Reba”—you’ll be glad you did.

8.2.13 (Jeremy Renda)

8.2.13 (Jeremy Renda)

The centerpieces of the second set—“Disease and Seven Below”—possessed vastly different jamscapes, but each popped original ideas and liquid fluidity. “Disease’s” jam contained thematic fallout from the Tahoe “Tweezer,” especially from Page who suggested a main piano melody from the epic piece. The band’s jamming was just as wide open and smooth as well, illustrating a comfort and confidence that could only come with three decades of playing. The level the band has reached at this point—in my opinion—is untouchable. They are simply better than ever. One may prefer a different style or era, but the band is peaking. Not for 3.0—for their career.

In fact, Phish is playing so well that they can control the entire room with “Prince Caspian” and “Farmhouse” in the two and thee slots of the second set. Though less than 1% of fans would have written this setlist, 99% of the audience was focused and engaged throughout the mellow, entrancing segment. Both versions stood out immediately, as Trey held a near minute-long note in tour’s first “Caspian,” while the entire band gave “Farmhouse” the patient, royal treatment.

The second main dish of the set—and the jam of the show—came unexpectedly in “Seven Below.” Migrating from the song’s thematic jam into a robotic, quasi-plinko realm, Phish then swam into segment of percussion-laced improv that carried over the deliberate breaks of Tahoe’s “Tweezer, ”though this time, the crowd’s “Woos”—a forced recurrence throughout the night—felt a bit contrived. When the guys dove back into the fray, however, the music took on a heavy, groovier feel, remaining that way for the duration. Another standout in a mind-bending list of Summer ’13 jams.

8.2.13 (Brian Thomas)

8.2.13 (Brian Thomas)

The show kind of took a setlist nosedive from here. An inspired “Harry Hood” weighted the final quarter of the show, but despite a loose, jammy version of “Stealing Time,” the set undeniably fizzled. The unique setlist construction of last night’s show, however, continued through the “Walls of a Cave” encore, and for the second consecutive version, the jam showed hints of being cut loose.

I’d imagine that we’ll look back at Friday’s show as the “weakest” of the Bill Graham run, and it was by no means a weak show. On the contrary, it was quite good. But due the second set’s choppiness and lack of flow, the evening didn’t truly elevate in full. It felt like we were primed for a scorching second set after a ballistic first, but the band choose the mellow route while still kicking down plenty of Grade-A improvisational meat. What a joy to be indoors for three of Summer’s final four nights, and this run is just heating up.

I: Free, Meat, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > AC/DC Bag, Vultures, Roggae, Sand, When the Circus Comes, Babylon Baby, Reba, Halfway to the Moon, Golgi Apparatus

II: Punch You In the Eye > Down with Disease > Prince Caspian, Farmhouse, Seven Below, Theme From the Bottom, Harry Hood > Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Squirming Coil

E: Walls of the Cave

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565 Responses to “Where Dreams Can Take Flight”

  1. RoosterPizza Says:

    Calm down woopa. Congrats on the staples coming out. I had 8 one time, so I can’t imagine what you had going on. Vibes and woos your way.

  2. sumodie Says:

    Rooster, booked since April. Love that venue; wish the east coast had some new soccer stadiums like Dick’s instead of so many covered sheds

  3. avila Says:

    Very Phishy 2 nights after the epic throwdown in the Sierra. Now it’s holy day.

  4. sumodie Says:

    Keep forgetting the fall tour onsale bloodbath is less than a week away

  5. BrandonKayda Says:

    Listening back to the Hampton Fluffhead.

    What a statement that was. We’ve come a long way…

  6. RoosterPizza Says:

    Sumodie

    I was reading that Glens Falls with have an in person, glens falls website, and glens falls telephone on sale date. You know anything more about this than that?

  7. RoosterPizza Says:

    Good luck parsing that conglomerate of words.

  8. JMelby Says:

    Anyone else hear Trey tease Apostrophe during Mikes? Could have sworn.

  9. sumodie Says:

    Rooster, not till you mentioned it. Venue website says they sell tix onsite but will have to dig up more info. Worcester is the only other onsale for this Friday, I’m wondering if I’ll be able to drive over to the Glens Falls venue….

  10. RoosterPizza Says:

    That means we should be hearing pretty soon on the lottery. Is it possible that they do on sales before lottery results in GF? That would be pretty whacky.

  11. sumodie Says:

    Nah, lotto results out by wednesday. Onsales kickoff 10am thurs with hampton

  12. Stoney Case Says:

    Fantastic RnR. Really new sounding. Steam and Paug the other highlights with Slave for me.

    Pretty rockin show overall. I thought much stronger than sat last year.

  13. Stoney Case Says:

    JMelby,

    Right after you come up, RnR>Steam>WTF??

    Nice to see you again.

  14. RoosterPizza Says:

    I am just in the good stuff with RnR right now. Wowwwwwww

  15. Stoney Case Says:

    First Alumni!

    Trey called Weigh with hand signals.

  16. voopa Says:

    Cool It Now
    You got to cool it now
    Ooooooh watch out
    You’re gonna loose control

  17. sumodie Says:

    Heard the same from home, Stoney. Have fun out there 😉

  18. Stoney Case Says:

    Also met the kid who started the Driver campaign for his brother. Got a photo with him and his sign.

    What a room. So small. Like a 94 show. So loud.

  19. voopa Says:

    ^^Oh, the horrible error I made by not proofreading that lyric site.

    Obviously it should read “lose control”.

  20. RoosterPizza Says:

    It’s not right that I caught a First Alumni before Stoney. I also caught Curtis Loew in 2 out of my first three shows. Odd Phish stats

  21. RoosterPizza Says:

    Or Alumni Blues…whichever

  22. Stoney Case Says:

    I don’t think this was the strongest Alumni > Jimmy Page > Alumni, yet still fun.

  23. voopa Says:

    Ah, these would have been my first Lowe and Alumna, but fortunately stats like that don’t bother me as much these days. After the year I’ve had so far, I’m grateful for every breathing second. Happy to have witnessed in relative comfort instead, and glad my tickets found good souls.

    Watched tonight’s show with the people I care most about, and finishing the evening with some new varieties, including a friend’s home brewed vanilla mead. It’s all the best ever. Cheers!

  24. RoosterPizza Says:

    ^This

  25. Stoney Case Says:

    Voopstar

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