Shows of the Summer: The Gorge and Bill Graham
Every time Phish goes to the Gorge something special happens. From 1997 through 2011, every visit deep into Washington state has harvested one of the best shows of the summer. One could make a Gorge highlight tape that would go on for hours upon hours upon hours. The band’s history at this venue—especially percentage wise—is outlandish. Their playing slows down and takes on the majesty of the surroundings. They play differently at the Gorge—and who wouldn’t? I predict that this special venue will play host to one of Summer 2013’s most outstanding shows. It’s as much of a guarantee that comes in the Phish world these days.
Additionally, I’m feeling another of this summer’s absolute peaks will take place at Bill Graham. Last year, they had the venue booked at the front of the tour and this year, it represents the final three-night extravaganza before a Monday night, LA afterthought. Things, traditionally, come to a head for Phish at the end of tours—as one can see at Dick’s last year—and I think this venue holds as much magic as any. The polar opposite of the Gorge, a dingy and tiny auditorium that seems almost unfit for Phish were it not for its legacy and legend. But the history of the Bay Area mecca is undeniable and the energy in the room is palpable from every seat in the house. Look for at least one of these three shows to be one of the band’s top efforts of summer.
Breakout Jam Vehicles of the Summer: Hopefully Phish comes out with some new launchpads this summer, but even if they do, it’s time to revitalize some of the latent giants they have in their catalog. Here are my picks.
“Undermind”—First off, someone should bring a sign on the first night of tour that say “Get Undermind in rotation stat!” The couple times they’ve jammed on this song—UIC ’11 and Dick’s ’12—they’ve come up with two of their most successful modern experiments. With the relative stagnancy of their current jam vehicles, the band should get this one into the second set every four shows—the results would speak for themselves.
“A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing”—Enough is enough with this one. Someone close to Trey needs to have a sit down with him and explain that this could be the next massive jam in the Phish universe. The all-time version from SPAC ’04 has sat there teasing us for almost a decade now, with only Superball’s ambient first setter to show for it. If the band went free form on this song every four nights, forget about it. But the burning question is why won’t they? (Or better put, “What the fuck?!”) Shapiro did his part by dropping the SPAC epic on this summer’s Live Bait, who’s next?
“Seven Below”—The cliche pick would be “Scents and Subtle Sounds” here, but fuck it, let’s be realistic, that jam won’t go the places that “Oceans” will, so I’m gonna hedge my bets and not ask for both. I’m asking for a song that was a central jam vehicle of the post hiatus period—”Seven Below.” Some of the jams out of this song were the band’s most impressive of 2.0, and they seem to have no problem playing it, unlike some of the aforementioned post-hiatus songs. So let’s bring it back and expand on it! This one hasn’t seen the light of day since the very avant-garde take at Star Lake ’12. The delicacy of this jam would fuse well with the band’s current playing style.
“Wolfman’s Brother”—Finally, bring back the second set “Wolfman’s Brother.” The band has played this song as a first set rotation song for the past four years, and it’s grown a bit stale. But my call is that MSG’s creative version is a harbinger of things to come this summer. “Wolfman’s” was once more than a pathway to funk, starring as a open jam for many years. I think it could be the perfect piece to showcase whatever sound the band is focusing on this summer. Can you say plinko -> storage jam? It would be perfect.
Bustouts of the Year: “New Age” @ Merriweather & “Whipping Post” (Trey singing) @ Tahoe
Best 3-Night Stands: 1) Bill Graham 2) Dick’s 3) Chicago
Best 2-Night Stands: 1) The Gorge 2) Merriweather 3) Tahoe
Dick’s Friday Night Setlist Prank: The band will spell out “Leave With Us Now” with their setlist, and upon the ending of “Waves”—while layers of loops still emanate from the stage—a space ship will descend and beam us all into another reality, leaving this one behind forever. There is no encore. Dick’s Saturday and Sunday shows will not take place.
I. Light Up or Leave Me Alone, Esther, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Vultures, Emotional Rescue, Waste, Icculus*, Tube
II. Halfway to the Moon -> Undermind -> Simple -> New Age, Once In a Lifetime, Waves
*w/ “soul cluster migration” narration
Jam of the Day:
My favorite jam of the Southern run last year.
SPAC EXHIBITION FROM THE MOTHERSHIP ART COLLECTIVE
Final Lineup of Artists:
AJ Masthay, Nate Duval, Erin Cadigan, Isadora Bullock, Ryan Kerrigan, John Warner, Branden Otto, Bruce Horan, Ed Wilson, TRiPP, Lauren Domsky, Noah Phence, Dave Calarco aka Mr. Miner, Drew Suto, Bill Pompeii, 10 Minute Tube Designs, Party Time Pins, Page Side High, stuPINdous Creations, MYFE. Designs, Ant Pharm Pins, PerPINdicular Pins
When/Where: Saturday July 6 from 10am-3pm at the Saratoga Hilton
Featuring the best Phish inspired art, including limited edition art made specifically for the show.
From The Mothership Art Collective: Rock Art exhibitions have been held since 2003 with great success, as unique posters are made for Phish shows during the poster show weekend, making for a must-attend event during Phish tour, featuring some of the most unique concert art being produced today. ‘Summer in Saratoga: A Rock Art Exhibition” is the first event for 2013 produced by the Mothership Art Collective, a group within the Phish community comprised of artists and organizations who promote the art inspired by the band Phish.
In addition to the artists, non-profits included are The Mockingbird Foundation, which has given grants for music education totaling more than $700,000 over the past 15 years; Screens ‘n’ Suds, which combines craft beers and art to benefit the National MS Society and charities in Richmond, VA and Chicago, IL, raising over $75,000 since 2009; and PhanArt, a book and website created as a way to showcase the art made by Phish fans, raising money for The Mockingbird Foundation through donations from artists and fans, totaling over $10,000 since 2009.
From Miner: The past few events put on The Mothership Collective have been outstanding. I highly reccomend making it down to the show whether you intend on purchasing anything or not. I’ll be down there signing and selling books for most of the time as well, so come by and say hello!