So much for warming up. In one of the most surreal evenings in history, Phish came shooting back into our lives at a million miles per hour. Transcending anyone’s wildest imagination, the band leapt to life with a a sacred party that was a virtual antithesis of their their previous comeback in 2002. Words could never quite express the myriad emotions and feelings that painted the masterpiece that was last night, but one can only attempt. Clearly practiced and coming out to prove so, the band played a show that exceeded any possible expectations from anyone in attendance. A showcase of their intention, the band ran through sixteen first-set songs in most impressive fashion, proving a two-hour welcome home soundtrack. Tackling expectations right out of the gate, Phish came out and slaughtered “Fluffhead” in a statement that conveyed not only enthusiasm and preparedness, but a reconnection to the spirit of old-school Phish. In what was certainly one of the most dreamlike moments in the band’s history, the entire crowd was whisked away within two notes. After ignoring the “Fluffhead” for the entire 2.0 period, opening the next phase of their career with the song couldn’t have meant more. And if that statement wasn’t enough, they came right back with another one of their most difficult and cathartic songs in “Divided Sky.” Every selection throughout the extensive two hour set was played precisely and emphatically, but it wasn’t until “Stash” that the band took their first dive into improvisational territory. In a jam that slid into play under the watchful command of Mike and Page, the band created a contoured passage that moved from dark psychedelia through several minutes of bliss, and back into an exciting peak of the song.
The entire night felt like an out-of-body experience, as if we were watching something out of a dream- and it couldn’t have been more real. Every song played with precision and emotion, the band took a ride through many early ’90s classics before landing in “David Bowie” to end the set. With a concise, yet ripping version, Phish punctuated a marathon return. At set break the overwhelming feeling was that of awe. People spent the entire time catching their breaths, legs, and minds from the inconceivable. Almost unable to think, and absolutely speechless, many basked in the feeling that had been absent for so long, and came back into our lives like an anvil. Catching me off guard, the lights were all of a sudden out again, but everything seemed a little bit more normal this time through.
As the band stood on the precipice of their first second set, they decided to bring a taste of what is to come with the first new Phish song, “Backwards Down the Number Line.” Staying within the template of the song played on Trey tour, the band busted out what is sure to be a huge new jam, and a song whose lyrics couldn’t be more appropriate for the occasion. The new quickly merged with the old as the playful song poured into the opening of “Tweezer.” The first licks of the haloed song brought everything back again. Like a shaft of light poured into The Mothership, every note sounded better than the next as the band set up their first dive into off of their deepest platform. With intricate and massive dance grooves that brought echoes of the raunchiest funk of yesteryear from the rafters of the Coliseum, the band doused us with some of the best feelings that any of us had felt in years. The path of the jam turned from an experiment in excessively gooey funk into some stunning improv from the band that reminded each and every one of us why we love being alive. Bringing the jam to a plane of majesty, Phish took their time building down from this phenomenal section of jamming and settling to the melodies of “Taste,” completing the connection of the symbiotic pieces.
Channeling every bit of emotion into a soaring “Tatse,” the band crafted one of the most intricate and exclamatory jams of the night. Collectively killing the polyrhythmic improv, the band was off and running into the next phase of their lives with all the intensity and potency possible. Yet, the most sublime moment of the show came after Phish had blasted their way through one of the most energetic “Possums” in recent memory, taken a blissful sail on the oceans of “Theme,” and shredded a “First Tube” to bits, when they dropped into “Harry Hood.” Like a rebirth for all of us, as individuals and as a community, the unveiling the epic piece crystallized the entire evening with a tidal wave of emotion and amazingly interlocked improvisation. If this entire experience wasn’t overwhelming enough, Kuroda broke out a disco ball effect during the climactic jam creating a blissful mash-up of aural and visual pleasure. The sheer power of “Harry Hood” showered us tonight, as its revelation was an reminding affirmation of all that is beautiful out life; this was the ultimate.
In a quintessential moment of reflection, Phish spun a gorgeous, seemingly set-ending “Waste,” allowing us to think about the flood of magnificence we that had absolutely washed us under. But they weren’t quite over. As if springing from some fantasy setlist, the band dropped right into the beginning of “YEM.” Making fun of their last, not-so-hot, comeback shows at Hampton, the band intentionally botched the opening much like did circa ’03. Yet after their joke, the band restarted the opus with ferocity, and delivered us to the promised land ,while providing the most up tempo dance music of the night.
A welcomed “Bouncin’” encore, saw the large balls that had decorated the top of The Mothership drop and begin to- in fact- bounce around the room! What seemed set up for a classic “Bouncin,” “Reprise” encore was diverted into a celebratory romp through “Loving Cup” to the delight of all. Bringing the heat far more than anyone could of imagined, the entire experience was like being shot directly back into the middle of a raging Phish with no time to acclimate to the surroundings. Thinking of the future is now dizzying, let alone tonight! Taking the music deeper and deeper as the show moved on, one can only imagine what they have in store for the next two. We are living the dream, folks- welcome home.
NO SPOILERS UPDATE
WE ARE SET FOR TONIGHT!!
The first No Spoilers is in the bag! Set one was up at 1:30 am, 90 minutes after the show ended, and set two followed two and a half hours later, at 4 am (mind you the show ended around 12:30.) Thanks if you participated – we hope you enjoyed them! We learned some lessons – the main one being that decent bandwidth (in The Mothership and in nearby hotels) is very hard to come by in Hampton! We’ll try have it go a little faster for Saturday night.
Big thanks to:
Jamie L aka Jerryfreak (for crazy service way above and beyond the call of duty Friday night)
The crew that brought you set 2:
And all the other tapers at the show.