Monday, March 16, 2009

Review - Night Three

03/08/09 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA

Set I: Sanity, Wilson, Foam, Bathtub Gin, Undermind, AC/DC Bag, My Friend My Friend, Scent of a Mule, All of These Dreams, Maze, She Thinks I Still Care, Army of One, Tube, Cars Trucks Buses, Free, Frankenstein

Set II: Down With Disease, Seven Below, The Horse> Silent in the Morning, Twist, Also Sprach Zarathustra, The Moma Dance, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Slave to the Traffic Light

Encore: Contact, Bug, Tweezer Reprise

"Can you still have fun?"

So the final day of Hampton 09 was upon us and though we were a little nauseous (thank you Denny's) and tired (ever been in a hotel where they go around knocking on doors at check out time? neither had I...)

But we were on our way to pick up AMY! YAY!!! Amy's first Phish show!

One more stop at Sonic, a detour to Krispy Kreme and we were on our way back to the lot.

We had lots of time to relax this day and we took full advantage.

Once we made our way toward the entrance mob, we saw maybe the funniest thing of the entire weekend.

For this final night of phishery the local cops had decided to line the entrance way with German Shepards. The dogs were freaking out. Barking nonstop and being held back with choke collars by their handlers.

An artist i may be, a genius i am not, but i bet putting drug sniffing dogs next to the line of people going into a PHISH show is bound to set them off.

My guess is they were looking for the morons who decided to flip a bitch once they saw the dogs, but c'mon, was that really necessary? The poor dogs were like "DRUGS! DRUGS! Don't you see them?!?!?!" Laughable.

We made it in with ease once again, though got patted down more intensely than any other night.

Found our usual seats and got settled in. Each night we seemed to get to our seats earlier and earlier. Amy was pretty much in awe.

Lights down. Body up. Phinal show of the run.

Oh, my Sanity. "I've lost my mind just a couple of times..." How many people in the audience knew this? I feel like this was a great WTF moment from the band to those waiting for some high powered opener. Like the old days of the secret language. If you knew, you knew.

One of the great moments of the weekend was up next. I was hoping that they would play something Amy recognized early in the set to get her engaged and what better way than to revisit our old friend WILLLLLLLLLSOOON. Duh duh. Duh duh.

As Amy knows from when we tried to name our newest little pup (Sawyer), Wilson is a bad, bad man.

Sick version, and Beth turns to me and goes, "Hey i think Trey looks fucked up tonight." True or not, that usually makes for good music.

Years ago i was not a big Foam fan, but I've actually come to love hearing this live. Great interplay between all four and as i noted on my re listen post, this was great.

Part of me spent this entire weekend listening to the composed songs and just waiting for the flub or mistake to bring the energy down. The first night they surprised me (for the most part) and the second night let me down a drop on these sections, but on this night (other than a brief flub on Maze) they nailed it all.

Great Bathtub (another one Amy knew) led me to believe that this could finally be the night where they really took the jams someplace. They seemed relaxed and patient and it was coming out in the music.

Undermind completely threw me. Real funky...never appreciated (or heard) this song. I'd place it sort of in the same category as GBOTT or Jiboo/Twist (without the jam potential). Def a good song live as a break from some of the madness....which was soon on its way.

Best song of the set: AC/DC Bag...sick glowstick war (youtube link coming), great energy.

My Friend, Scent and Maze were allgreat old school tunes. Good soloing on Scent and Maze was TIGHT.

Not a huge fan of the slower countryish songs, but i guess its not bluegrass so whatever.

Tube, Cars Trucks Buses, Free, Frankenstein

Finally the asshole in front of me could stop yelling for Tube. According to people listening to the soundboards from Sat night he was standing right there. Maybe they could play Slave next so the other douchebag behind me could stop yelling it after every single song.

Loved the jam section and was hoping they'd go for an extended jam ala Hershey 2000. No such luck.

CTB was great and i always love Free. Gordon dropping the bombs as usual. Decent jam, nothing crazy though.

But then Page comes out from behind the boards and HOLY FUCK its the KEYTAR! That's right, i said KEYTAR. And he sure does play a mean keytar. (buh dum cha). Just nasty version of frankenstein...Flawless.

So GREAT first set...At one point Amy turns to me and goes, "Are all the sets this long?" No of course not sweetie, only the great ones!

Though it had some low points in the middle, this set started hot and ended hotter. Best set of the weekend so far (little did i know...). The sentimentallity of Set I friday night automatically makes it the most memorable set, but musically, this had been the best so far.

After the greatest Snickers bar i have ever known, the lights dim and that would be the last time i was in my seat until they left the stage for good.

Ambient noise to open up the second? Check.
Gordon dropping those sweet, sweet opening notes of Disease. Check.
Best improvisation of the weekend? You betcha.

I've said a few times (many times) in the past week, but this set was THE reason we will still pay to go see this band.

Creative, playful, thoughtful and just a joy to listen to.

Some of the "new" songs from 2.0 that have actually grown on me:

Seven Below
Pebbles and Marbles
Walls of the Cave

As DWD transitioned beautifully into Seven Below (never thought i'd say that) i was becoming truly excited for this set.

Not only was it the last set of music we'd hear for a few months, but it was all clicking. They were having fun and they were past the jitters of the first time playing together live again. The music was bursting towards the audience through dam that just couldnt hold the waterback anymore.

Good jam in 7 below and then a great highlight of the weekend for me with The Horse -> Silent In the Morning.

One of the most touching compositions written by this band, I've only heard it live once before (at Vegas, and honestly who even remembers Vegas?), never pre-hiatus, so it was a real treat for me. Nailed the ending after a tiny flub on the break.

Twist has absolutely become a monster jam vehicle and this was a sort of jazzy/funky version with ambience toward the end. And as the jam started to decline that signature Fishman beat of 2001 kicked in and the place went absolutely nuts!

As the completed a fairly short version, all i was thinking about was, "please don't let the energy fall out of this place with some country song!"

Ye ask and ye shall receive.

Splash! And we were groovin' to the Moma Dance. EXACTLY what we needed. Short but solid version.

WMGGW, Velvet Sea

After all that jamming who could blame them for a few straight forward but extremely sick songs. Trey's soloing on the Beatles classic was legendary.

Velvet Sea from Coventry is one of those moments i will always remember (even though i was watching in the theater). It was extremely sad to see them finally realize that it could be the last time they ever played together. I seriously doubted whether they would play it upon returning to the stage.

But it was monumental and *happy*! Unbelievable how music can be that way. 5 years ago this was the saddest moment of a show and this time it was a renewing experience.

As the song ended, our friend "Slave...Play Slave!!!!!" sitting behind us finally got his wish.

And we knew that this was it. The set closer for a weekend of incredible times.

They built this jam note by note, line by line and soaring melody over incredible harmony. It was the good old days again and by listening alone you couldn't tell if it was 1989, 1999 or 2009.

The peak was incredible and as they left the stage, the feeling I'd forgot came upon me once again. Smiles all around.

When they came back for the encore and Trey finally spoke to the audience (since the YEM restart) they seemed truly happy to be back, truly happy that we were all there and sincerely dedicated to playing great music once again.

Preceded by Happy Birthday to Fish's dad (the trombone player), the fan favorite Contact got everyone standing and waving their arms. But that couldn't be the end...

Bug? Ok...and as i noted, i'm continually surprised by this version and how much i actually enjoyed it. But that couldn't be the last notes these guys played...

After Bug:

Amy: What's the song you said they'd probably play during the encore tonight?
Alan: Tweeprise, its like Tweezer but shorter and more energetic.
Amy: Doesn't look like they're going to play it.
Alan: Give them a moment.


Now that's how you end a fucking comeback weekend!

I'm more excited to hear new music from these guys than ever. Summer should be amazing and they've recently announced shows at some of the most incredible venues in the nation (SPAC, Merriweather, Gorge, Darien, RED FUCKING ROCKS).

This band is worth listening to now more than ever, if only because of what appears to be a completely refreshed sense of what they want to accomplish with each and every time they step on stage together.

I'm so glad and lucky to have been there for this incredible weekend, and i look forward to many more.


Friday, March 13, 2009

From the Archives: Review of Merriweather Sept 2000

Thought i would post this for comparison. Trying to find
other reviews i wrote from

I've read the reviews already posted and i'm pretty surprised...i got to the scene a bit later, like 6,
and parked in the parking garage down the road on the other side of the pavillion. After sitting in
tons of traffic we parked the car with no problem. In this parking garage there was a decent
scene..some bbq's...a few people selling things...a couple of nitrous
tanks...and NO COPS AT ALL. After leaving the lot i walked to another lot in
what seemed to be a field with trees...shakedown was nothing..i walked up to
the guy holding my ticket and he said take off your hat...i was
all other venues they pat me down..(i always wear cargos and a hooded
sweatshirt)...this time they did nothing...oh i made my way into the
pavillion and found some good thing that i do agree with one of the
other reviewers is that the older phans are not appreciating the fact that
younger phans have the same love for the music and band as they do...i met a
guy who claimed to have been to over 200 shows who was the biggest asshole i
met that night...i was dancing and i accidently moved 2 inches into his space
and he started yelling at me about how much he payed for these tickets, and
how kids are ruining the shows...he was clearly drunk and was taking bong hits
the entire show and talked through most of it to his girlfriend...i dont
understand how he could say something like that to me when all i was doing was
dancing and enjoying the music??? anyway, on to the doesnt really
need more explanation than has already been given but i will describe some of
the high points for me...i was at the 7/3 show for that amazing bathtub and
this one equalled it if not surpassed it...the jam went from fast to ambient
to fast again with trey ripping it up and mike grabbing every note to the
fullest...limb x limb is a personal favorite of mine, the 12/29/98 version
being my favorite version that i've seen...this one was good, pretty basic
jamming though...when trey started fluffhead i thought to myslef "wow a great
first set, what a closer" soon as they dropped the last line on us though
he started the Curtain With...BLOWN AWAY cannot describe how i felt upon
hearing this...and then trey smiles ( i was 5th row so i saw) and starts
chalkdust, he was having sooo much fun up there...short break then on to one
of the best sets i have ever seen...Rock and roll was standard right up until
the jam which was tight, long, and beautiful...they went from rock to space,
and all over the place on this one...when it died down fishman kicked in
repetative short staccato hits on the high hat and i couldnt really tell what
was next...when page started Theme i was defintly happy...some of my friends
have been waiting lifetimes to hear this and i heard 2 this year, always a
great song...when trey started the reggae beat, i knew the song was
unfinished an dthough it was just jamming but then mike looked over and they
both smiled...MY FIRST DOG LOG!!! blown away again...these guys are
amazing...great mango song with amazing jam similar to 6/30 in Hartford...then
one of my all time favorites...since i was so close i saw trey start the
opening chords of FREE early on and flipped was such a great free,
just great, and a great way to end the set cuase that's the exact way i felt,
free, after this show i had no worries at all!!! Now i lost my shit when they
came out and played was perfect...just shows how much fun they
were having that night...and rocky top is always a great closer...that was my
last show for the time being...and to top it off i got a great veggie burito
in the lot after the show...damn wookies really know how to cook!!! peace,

Review - Night Two

03/07/09 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA

Set I: Back On The Train, Runaway Jim, Brian and Robert, Split Open and Melt, Heavy Things, Punch You in the Eye, Gumbo, Reba, Mexican Cousin, It's Ice, Halley's Comet, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Guelah Papyrus, Lawn Boy, Run Like An Antelope

Set II: Rock and Roll, Limb By Limb, Ghost, Piper, Birds of a Feather, Wolfman's Brother, Prince Caspian, Mike's Song> I am Hydrogen> Weekapaug Groove, Character Zero

Encore: A Day in the Life

After maybe the best meal of my life around 1AM at Denny's in VA Beach and a refreshing rest Beth and I headed to our little Mecca for the weekend....SONIC.

I'd never been to a Sonic before and I was, well...full and amused.

We had two Sonic experiences this weekend and the second was far superior. I choose to remember the latter and pretend that that's the only time i've eaten at a Sonic. My stomach is currently reminding me of the damage i've done.

Mini Post: The food we ate since leaving DC:

1. Popeye's
2. Cookies
3. The Soft Pretzel that Saved My Life
4. Denny's
5. Sonic
6. Cookies
7. The Soft Pretzel that Saved My Life
8. The Great Denny's Mistake
9. Sonic
9b. Krispy Kreme
10. The Soft Pretzel that Saved My Life
11. The Greatest Snickers Bar EVER
12. Pilot Gas Subway Sandwich

So we make our way to the lot with plenty of time to chill and start our sign creation process.

It's too bad i don't have pics, because they were pathetic.

In any case, I did not find a trade for my Deer Creek tix (i need jones beach if anyone cares) but we did sell some cookies ("How long do you think the little Asian girl and her friend debated before coming over and asking us for cookies?") and chatted with some new "friends."

With good timing once again we waited on a bathroom line and joined the mob to get in.

Once inside we went back to our "spot" but soon got in touch with "New York Scott" as our friend Vegas Mike likes to call him, and got some good seats with a front view of the stage.

Nerves were doing a bit better this night, but not much. The feeling you get when those house lights go down is still incredible every time.

The first set on this night had highs and lows and left me a bit unsettled. Luckily the second set made up for that, but it was just a weird first set. Lets use that as the word of the night WEIRD.

GBOTT was funky and tight...great opener. I love Runaway Jim (see: Eric diving through Alan's car window and waving his legs circa Summer 2000) but this version was lacking...good energy, but i was hoping the they'd "take off" during the jam, but it never happened.

Sloppy Brian and Robert led to Split the time it also seemed unfulfilling, but upon the relisten was really tight.

A standard, but tight Heavy Things brings us to one of the best moments of the weekend. You can't hear it on the MP3's, but the "Hey!" during PYITE was one of the most powerful communal singing/shouting experiences i've ever been a part of. It's almost like everyone was waiting for a great high energy song to really take the set in another direction and we got it!

Well...sort of...Trey butchered the beginning of Landlady. They recovered well, but it brought the energy down significantly.

However, this led to a GREAT string of songs. Gumbo (yea beth!), Reba (sickeningly tight upon relisten), Mexican Cousin i can do without, but apparently the crowd was into it. Any song with a tequilla refrain i guess...

It's Ice was OK, good to hear, but not an incredible version.

But then they kicked it into "high gear."

The Halley's was amazing, Page's "Beauty of a Broken Heart" was a tad awkward at first, but i love Phish playing it. They sounded real good on it.

Guelah Papyrus was NAILED, Lawn Boy with Page up front was pure fun and then we got our antelope fix.

It may have been a little sloppy, but the "run run" section (again, you can't hear this on the MP3's) had the place literally ROCKING.

It was a fine recovery for a somewhat sketchy set.

Then we had the best set yet of the weekend...I love Rock and Roll set openers. Heard one at Merriweather back in 2000. Good but short jam led to one of my favs from the weekend, Limb by Limb. Again short jam, but tight.

A rockesque Ghost (not quite as rocky as Vegas 04, but not the spacey cow-funk i was hoping for...) petered out into what could have been a weekend highlight...our red red worm, Piper.

The build up was good, but what the heck was Trey doing when he started singing? No one else was ready...and that jam went nowhere fast, which led to Trey forcing BOAF onto us. This was surprisingly good though.

A comforting Wolfman's gave way to again, a suprisingly good Prince Caspian. I've never been a huge fan of this song (except for the album version strangely enough) but it was good.


Always a highlight of any set, but i was left wanting. The build up for the Mike's transition was sloppy, the hydrogen was flubbed, but the weekapaug was tight as all fucking hell.

Gordon's solos all wekeend were a great highlight (see: YEM, Weekapaug).

The encore, again, provided some weirdness. An amazing Day in the Life ended and we thought we'd get another song or two, but the band sort of just shrugged and left the stage.

And that's sort of how we left the venue that night...just shrugging, looking forward to a redeeming show the next night.

Was this the Phish we came back for?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Review - Night One

03/06/09 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA

Set I: Fluffhead, The Divided Sky, Chalkdust Torture, Sample in a Jar, Stash, I Didn't Know, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony, Suzy Greenberg, Farmhouse, NICU, Horn, Rift, Train Song, Water in the Sky, The Squirming Coil, David Bowie

Set II: Backwards Down The Number Line, Tweezer, Taste, Possum, Theme from the Bottom, First Tube, Harry Hood, Waste, You Enjoy Myself

Encore: Grind, Bouncing Around the Room, Loving Cup was the word of the weekend and holy shit was there ever energy down in Hampton!

There's nothing to describe the "buzz," almost a literal humming of excitement that could be felt all around for three solid days.

After making our way to Hampton around 4pm with very little traffic, we continued to VA Beach to check into our hotel...BIG MISTAKE. As the desk clerk said after checking in, dropping our stuff off and running back out the door, "you shouldn't have left after 2pm." It was 5:30.

Who knew there was a bridge/tunnel combo that for no explicable reason gets backed up for over 10 miles? Apparently everyone else but us. Note for future Hampton shows...STAY NORTH OF HAMPTON.

So once our mini (or not so mini) panic attacks subsided as traffic began to move after the tunnel we pulled in easily to the lot, jumped out of the car and joined the mob around the fountain waiting to get in.

Now, there's always a little bit of butterflies in my stomach before a big show, ball game or election day, but this was a fucking swarm of cicadas or something. Beth knows what I'm talking about.

So the event staff got a little smarter each day, but on the first night here was how you got inside the venue:

1. Get in back of the "line" (see post below).

2. Make sure you don't cut your feet on the glass bottles strewn everywhere...i thought hippies recycled?

3. As your mob started moving toward checkpoint 1, take your ticket out of your pocket and hold it as high in the air as possible.

4. Use your remaining free arm to lock arms with your group to make sure you don't get separated in the next rush towards the doors.

5. Once inside the "pen" rush the door. Remember to keep your ticket high in the air.

6. As you approach an actual door to the venue shove that ticket hand towards the beeping sound.

7. Once your ticket is scanned, be prepared to be grabbed by the wrist and thrown inside the venue by a cop.

8. Once all of your group has made it inside...CHEER!!!!!!!!!

Ok, now that we're all inside. Let's try and find some seats.

Beth and i had previously agreed that our "spot" for Phish shows is up and slightly behind the band, so we got inside the bowl and found seats rather easily.

The room was decorated with giant balloons illuminated brightly. One thing i loved about Hampton was that there were no "house lights" to speak of. The pre-show and set break bright lights were the yellow stage lights shining on the balloons.

As you can imagine, the anticipation at this point is uncontrollable. I was just rocking back and forth holding my stomach and i'm pretty sure beth was doing the same.

At almost 8pm the moment we'd been waiting for happened. Other than the final applause on Sunday night, I've never EVER heard anything louder than the uproar that occurred as they took the stage.

Of course, the question on everyone's mind was WHAT WILL THEY OPEN WITH?

And they couldn't have made us happier...***FLUFFY FLUFFY HEAD***

Really? Fluffhead...i thought it could be a joke at first and after the first few lines they would start playing something else, but sure enough we were treated to the first Fluffhead since 2000.

It was maybe the happiest music I've ever heard. Just unbelievable to be listening to this band again live, and even more unbelievable that they choose to play Fluff and get it out of the way. Honestly, great choice, because we would have just spent the whole weekend waiting for it, and with Fluff out of the way, we could move on to bigger and better things.

Like D. Sky, Chalkdust, Sample, Stash. By time I took a breath during IDK I realized that the "statement" we were all looking for from the opening song and first set had been made.

"We practiced, we rehearsed the vocals, we're back and we're gonna have alot of fun."

From Fluff through Stash our fearsome foursome tore through what many would consider some of their "hits" with a lack of inhibition and torrid playfulness not often seen in post-hiatus phish. There were flubs, mistakes and miscues, but WHO THE HELL CARES?!?!?!

That's not why we saw shows 10 years ago so why should it be a problem now? In 1999 Trey was forgetting lyrics and flubbing songs for reasons that we all know of, but we still came back for more...and in 2000 we saw many unbelievable sets (Japan, Darien etc)

This is a different band than the one that left the stage sadly in 2004. And we didn't know the half of it yet...

"I didn't know that i was that far gone," was applicable to every person standing inside the venue at this point. In our altered states we just weren't yet aware that after what we could have considered a set closing OKP->Suzy was only the segue into basically another full set of music.

A mellow (but incredibly soloed) Farmhouse gave way to a pumped up (if sloppy) NICU.

It was hard NOT to look back on those days when our lives were a haze glaring out at 14,000 people all singing the same words at the same time with the most incredible look of bliss across their faces. Our vantage point allowed us to see not just the band, but the entire light show spread along the floor. Kuroda was on FIRE this entire weekend (see: Hood, Maze, AC/DC Bag, 2001).

Horn, Rift, Train Song, Water in the Sky (country version).

Mostly composed songs that were a nice break in the constant movement (barring Rift).

And then we thought we were getting our set closer, the fan favorite Squirming Coil. But wait a second...that was a really short Page solo section...and they're not leaving the stage...OH SNAP...its BOWIE!

Untouchable. The climax was amazing and when the last notes were played we were exhausted and exhilarated. The set lasted two hours. It was basically two sets in one (we didn't know this would become the standard for the weekend). We just sat down and stared ahead for a moment taking it all in...and then ran to get into the bathroom and water lines (a constant theme of the weekend).

Phish was back. We were there and there was still 5 sets to go in what was fast becoming an incredible weekend.

Quick note on Page...he was completely bonkers all weekend. Best individual performance out of the four. Hands down.

As noted in my "Surprising Songs" post Backwards Down the Number Line didn't sound great at the time, but upon the relisten, sounds great. Good song, that i think there's alot of promise for.

Then came more ENERGY. Noodled Tweezer->Taste was rockin'. Possum, standard and fun. Theme and First Tube just brought the house down. There was a "zone" at this point that couldn't be broken. Everyone was lifted to a higher place.

A soulful Waste led to the best song of the night...restart or not. Flubs or not. Shit...

Best jam of the night, sick Gordon solo, crazy vocal was all there.

A pretty straightforward encore of Grind, Bouncin' (with the giant balloons falling from the ceiling) and Lovin Cup left us the most beautiful buzz we'd felt in years. Seriously. I could have been stone cold sober and I would have left that night walking on air.

Not only was Phish back, but there was immense promise for the next few nights.

This show read like a Greatest Hits of Phish with a couple of hints at what was to come.

Trey's sound was no longer the garage-rock superstar of 2002-2004 (thank god for Ross compressors), Fishman and Gordon held down the rythym like they'd never stopped playing together and Page...ahhhh Page.

More to come...

Suprisingly Good Songs from the Re-Listen

In order of appearance:

1. Farmhouse
2. Backwards Down the Number Line
3. YEM - nasty after the restart
4. Split Open and Melt
5. Guelah Papyrus
6. Limb by Limb
7. Prince Caspian
8. Undermind - liked this at the time, but was still surprised.
9. All of These Dreams
10. Birds of A Feather
11. Foam
12. Undermind
13. Bug

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Top Moments

Full reviews coming soon, but for now:

1. Fluffhead. Period.
3. DWD Jam...they're BACK.
4. Velvet Sea (if you knew, you knew)
5. Run run run run run run (it was literally shaking)
6. 2001->Moma Dance (see: they're back)
7. Bowie Climax
8. HEY!!!!!!!
9. Gumbo (for beth)
10. Halley's Jam
11. Maze climax
12. Look back on those days when my life was a haze.
13. Slave Jam
14. ....can you still have fun?
15. I've lost my mind just a couple of times.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Set two

Seven below
The horse
Silent in the morning
Moma dance
While my guitar gently weeps
Velvet sea



Set one

Bathtub gin
Ac dc bag
My friend my friend
All of these dreams
She thinks I still care
Army of one
Cars trucks and buses

Let's get it started...


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Amy in the lot


A day in the life

Set two

Rock and roll
L x l
Prince caspian
Char zero

Set one

Runaway jim
Brian and robert
Heavy things
Mexican cousin
Its ice
Haleys comet
Beauty of a broken heart
Guehlah papyrus
Lawn boy

Friday, March 6, 2009


Grind - apparently i've been at both performances of this song (12/30/98)
Lovin cup

Second set

Backwards Down The Number Line - 1st time
First tube
YEM restart

First set

D sky
I didn't know with vacuum and trey on drums
Oh kee pa
Train song
Water in the sky
Squirming coil



The "line"


Thursday, March 5, 2009


I'll be posting updates LIVE from Hampton Phish 2009. Check back for pics, setlists and stories.