Phish at Northerly Island: A Weekend to Remember, 7/18-7/20

July 22, 2014

Nine blogs over three days or so, that is some kind of record.  Jimmy Greenfield would be so proud.  I had a blast, to say the least.  In part because of the usual suspects, being out and about among my people, soaking in the jammy atmosphere; chatting with my neighbors, talking about what we wanted to see, what we liked from the night before; getting an upgrade for my seats the last two nights.  I can only assume that the security team was aware that the way to one side of the bleachers was open to the floor seating.  Of course none of that matters without the music and the music was something else this weekend.

IMG_2459

I’ve been to a number of two night runs and a few of the festivals over the past twenty years, but the three night run is the most intriguing.  I figure the band can pull it together for two nights, or get up for a festival, but to do three nights is a row is something special.  Two years running we have been treated to three shows in Chicago (though I missed most of last years, due to a vacation) and since I’ve been following Phish I’ve seen two other three night runs in 1998 and 2011 respectively.  It’s a small sample size, but this weekend was best.  As far as runs go, for my personal shows, it is right up there with Alpine Valley in 2010 and Deer Creek in 1997.  Festivals deserve there own consideration and since they are so different from each other it is hard to compare.

Back to Chicago 2014.  Looking back at my quickie blogs and starting to listen to the shows over again, it is amazing how strong Phish sounded, how much energy they had through most of the shows.  The set where I thought there was a lack of energy was the first set on the first night.  The band just didn’t come out blazing.  It really was the outlier of the weekend.  The remaining 5 sets were just sizzling.  What’s even more amazing is that the last set on the third night, was for me, the best set of the weekend.  A must have is the Mike’s->Wedge, Ghost ->Weekapaug.

I often see people comment on who was the “MVP” of a night or a run or a tour, but I can’t really pick out one of the four over this stretch.  The band just seems to be really listening and working off one another.  If there is one element I’ve really enjoyed the past two tours is that while Trey is still the leader, in some ways still the driver, he has really be ready to take a step back and allow Page to thrive.  Combined with the Mike and Fish the melodies that the band has been coming up with have been truly extraordinary.

A couple more thoughts.  The new album seems to have rejuvenated the band.  If 2013 was a celebration of the past, 2014 is a celebration of the future.  The best single set may have been set two from 7/20/14, but so much of the music is worth your time if  you are a fan of Phish.  The first sets (minus night one) were well constructed and while the second set is generally the province  of the more exploratory, lengthy material, the first sets from nights two and three are great pieces in there own right.  I can see those sets making for some good running soundtracks over the next months and years.  Phish, they keep me rolling.

IMG_2457

Phish at Northerly Island Night Three, Set Two 7/20/14: Ka-Wedge!

July 21, 2014

So to answer my own question of “what can be left?” the answer is, “a lot! A whole flipping lot!” Set two of the third night was the best set of the weekend.  I’m still on kind of a buzz from last night so I don’t want to think about the whole run just yet.  I know I need to get to it before the band performs again.  The internet does not rest.

Down With Disease, a big ticket number if there ever was one, started the set out and pretty much let us know that we were in for something special.  It was a pretty steady jam and the segue into Winterqueen felt natural, not forced.  With Winterqueen nine of the ten songs from Fuego were played over the weekend.  As it stands, Fuego and Wingsuit are my favorites and I appreciate The Line.

After a nice musical sorbet of Theme from the Bottom, the main entree of the set came in the form of Mike’s Song.  When Mike’s starts, it’s just a given that we are in for a run of songs that may or may not have been linked in the past, ultimately ending in a Weekapaug.  For most of us, we’ve seen some good Mike’s, some bad ones too (bad being a relative term.)  This was definitely a good one.  Mike’s Song was pretty straight-forward, booming its way until the next, improbable song, The Wedge.  At this point there has already been quite a bit written about this Wedge, and it is pretty much true.  It was magnificent, breaking aware from its normal bonds and going into strong Type II jamming.  The chord progressions that Trey explored were just beautiful, one of those moments where I realize, again, why I love this band.  Watching, listening to Phish explore something new, yet familiar (folks were comparing it to Paradise City) is what drew me in from the beginning.

To the delight of the crowd, Ghost started, though I was kind of hoping for a “Wedgiepaug.” Though The Ghost was up to the task of keeping the strong set going.  Hearing almost all of the Fuego songs along side the songs from Story of the Ghost really brings home some of the comparisons between the two records.  It isn’t a perfect match, but there is a certain mood in the music that works well together.  More pairings between the two will be fun to see explored.

The Ghost moved perfectly into Weekapaug and it is a great way to close a the set, except that it wasn’t.  After a deliriously fantastic Weekapaug, the band launched into First Tube that was as close to the spike of the ball as you will ever get.  It was pushing the envelope and it was another unsuspected, yet somehow, perfect moment.  I still can’t get over how good Phish is still at more often than not, making the right choice when it comes to that next song.

I stayed for the encore, a rare choice for me.  I’ll get into that later, but it was fun to walk out with everybody for a change.  I actually saw some folks selling their wares toward the parking lot which was also fun to see.  There was a day I’d pick up a few extra shirts, probably a grilled cheese, not last night.  I probably need another Phish shirt (after the tour shirt, I’m not a monster) like I need another hole in the head and a tour grilled cheese even less.

Phish at Northerly Island Night Three, Set One 7/20/14: What Can Be Left?

July 20, 2014

Maybe because I’m running on fumes, but this set just blew me away. Things started off innocuously enough with a smooth, groovy Gumbo, but then Runaway Jim just took over and set us on a course for some hard rock and groove. I still haven’t seen My Sweet One, but I did see Tela for the first time since 1994, so that is pretty cool. There are people here who weren’t even born the last time I saw that song!

The Line came next and it has a nice build up feel to it, a natural song for tension, seeing how it is about personal tension. What came next was one of the craziest rides I’ve seen at a Phish show, that’s saying something.

The Scent of a Mule started out normal enough, enough for a song about a mule and laser beams anyway. Then in the breakaway segment, things got weird. Fish started playing some weird vibraphone kinda thing, then Trey and Mike started playing on the cymbals and drums. I have no idea what Page was doing, but everyone was around the drum kit. It was the closest thing to a Drums/Space I’ve ever seen Phish play.

The energy stayed up, way up with a raging Bathtub Gin. Quite frankly I don’t know where that Gin goes in the pantheon of Gins I’ve seen. All I know is that I’ve been spoiled to see so many. We finally got to cool down with a Silent in the Morning, but were brought right back into it with Maze. Confession, it took a while to get into Maze for me. Whenever I heard it I was hoping for a Bowie. Now I’m older, wiser, happier with whatever comes.

In keeping with the well constructed sets that we’ve gotten this weekend, the Ocelot/ Walls of the Cave closer was just perfect. Not exactly the Antelope from last night, but hot nonetheless.

Speaking of hot, first time all weekend I have the Phish sweats. Talk about some summer time memories. Also, and I’ll get into it a little more later, but I’m going to do something crazy tonight. I’m staying for the encore. If three nights in a row has taught me anything, it’s that this is tiring and special. I won’t see any more shows this year, and depending on the timing, maybe none next year. This is to be savored.

I finally got an opener right! DWD just kicked in, see you later.

Phish night three: 10 minute preview!

July 20, 2014

Not much time l’ll reflect more later. Tired as hell though, two nights then a day at the pool for my daughter’s birthday. Daddy is beat, but answering the bell. Speaking of: any second the lights are going down. So, got my two from Fuego, but little else. I’m not disappointed though. If Phish can pull off a three show run without any staples, that is something to see in and of itself. Even so Mikes makes the Kaufmak dance! How wrong can I be part three: PYITE.

Phish at Northerly Island Day Two Set Two 7/19/14: We Keep It Rolling

July 20, 2014

I was wrong on this set opener too, but at least I was standing next to a guy who called Carini. I’ll admit, before Carini became a slightly to great exploratory tune I wasn’t the biggest fan, kind of found it to he a bit gimmicky.

No gimmicks now, Carini got us started in a spacy/jammy place with Waves taking over and leading to the other new song I’ve been pining for, Fuego. It only disappointed in the fact that it was too short. In a year or two this is going to be a tent pole of a set. Twist held its own and I also like the direction Light is taking.

Another prize shorter/breather song in Twenty Years Later was next. I’m not sure where this song is in the popularity of Phish songs, for me it’s a favorite. The lyrics speak to me more than most Phish songs. While I love the music and playing of the band, I would never argue they are great song writers. For me anyway, this song touches me. Perhaps it’s the reflective tone, the memory inherent in the words. I can relate.

Next came Hood. Seeing some buzz about Hood, something about its best year since 1994. I don’t know about all that and considering my favorite Hood is Vegas 1996, I’ll leave that discussion to the literati.

It was a good version to be sure. A very playful intro with just an inspiring finishing crescendo. I was shocked that a Cavern followed to close the set. I made my way out at that point.

I didn’t stick for the encores, in part because I had a long-ass walk back to my car. Also I wanted to see on my long-ass walk how the sound was toward the remote parking. Not bad. I also wanted to see if I could get a cool shot across the water. No such luck, too many mosquitoes.

As sets go, I put the first night second set a little higher, but not by much. After repeated listening the final tally might be different. We’ll see tomorrow.

Phish at Northerly Island 7/19/14 Day Two Set One: Getting Us Going

July 19, 2014

Quite a difference a day makes. Where yesterday started on with a slow trend, tonight was funky to upbeat to rocking. Throw in a couple of bona fide ballads and it is hard to come up with a more balanced set.

The funk: Moma Dance opened followed by a very groovy Wolfman’s Brother. Another newbie, Devotion to a Dream was followed by:

The Rock: 46 Days was pretty hot. I still get a kick out of Trey jumping up and down. It won’t go down as legendary 46 Days, but fun. Yarmouth Road created a great start to an incline culminating in one of my favorites, Brian and Robert.

It’s been said that a set of Phish music is like a suite, following it’s own path, but connected. Wingsuit felt like taking flight, like the turn in a symphony, moving the story to the conclusion. Tube and Free brought an even greater sense of rock, of power.

A short respite with Roggae, to get our breath for the last kick. First one of the most poppy songs in the Phish arsenal, Heavy Things, an appetizer. Then the release to all of that tension that was working since Tube: Run Like An Antelope. There might not be a better set finisher than Antelope. Maybe it’s because I finish so many long runs with this song, but the energy is just amazing. The hotter and sweatier the better.

I’m back I. The bleachers, but the path is still open. It is the best of both worlds: go to the floor, get the groove on, come here to write and chill.

How wrong can I be: no Jim, let’s say DWD to open the second set. Got to go!

Phish at Northerly Island 7/19/14: Night Two Preview: An Interesting Development

July 19, 2014

So, I was on my way to section 312, being the law-abiding citizen that I am, when I notice that no one is monitoring the BIG GAP leading to the floor. So, I took a right turn and here I am, working my way Page side almost to the front. Seriously, they can’t think that I wouldn’t take such an opportunity? It would have been wrong not to! (I’ll tweet a pic in a minute.)

After last night, especially set two, I’m trying to temper my expectations. It was that good; lots of segues, good jams and my personal weakness a fair amount of space. Now, is it 6/20/95? Well no, but that was 1995, Phish is on to something new, with enough of what works to keep me coming back.

Thus far, I’m 0 for 5 on things I was hoping for; no Fuego, no Wingsuit, no Mike’s, no DWD and sadly now show 51 and hoping for a My Sweet One. Another night, another chance.

One last thing. Let’s see how wrong I can be part 1: show opener: Runaway Jim. See you at set break!

Phish at Northerly Island, 7/18/14, Set Two: Doors. Off.

July 18, 2014

Wow.  That about sums it up.  If the first set was mellow, slow, low energy, then the second was it’s evil twin.  From the start with Golden Age (a cover in this rare cover year!) until the final ebb of Slave to the Traffic Light, Phish just kept on coming and coming.  When the Mango Song is the other “downshift” song, that pretty much explains how charged this set was.  I’ll leave it to the set list experts on what was and what wasn’t a segue but it sure felt like it went pretty seamless from Sand ->Piper->Halley’s Comet -> Wombat ->Chalk Dust Torture.

I also realize I’m on a bit of a post-show high, but I got a feeling repeated listens are going to be in order for this set as well.  If I had to point you in any direction I would say give a listen to the Piper-> Halley’s -> Wombat segment, especially the Wombat just a great groove.  I would say start with Sand, but I felt that the move into Piper was a bit too ripcordy.  It wasn’t horrible, but I was just really getting into the Sand when it felt like the rug was pulled out from under me.

Two sets into sitting in the strange box seats at Northerly Island and I can say that they are pleasant.  It kind of reminds me of going to some of the theaters in Chicago where the balconies have seats where the floor does not.  A little further away, but a nice place to sit if you are feeling tired.  Of course this set didn’t offer much time for a break.

One last thing: I get the no vending thing, I really do, but is a guy selling bottled water really a threat to the merchants of Chicago?  Saw a couple getting ticketed (I really hope not arrested, that just seems too aggressive) who had three or four cases of Gatorade and water, ready to sell, probably post-show when all of the cotton mouths come out.  I know on my walk back to the parking lot I could have used that ice cold water.  Alas, no such luck.  In the rankings, set 2 night one is your leader in the clubhouse.  See you tomorrow night.

Phish at Northerly Island Night One, Set One: Easy Does It.

July 18, 2014

Ok. That about sums it up. Not any great high notes, though I’m anxious to hear that Reba again, maybe the Stash, definitely the Coil. I still remember when I heard the live version of Squirming Coil. It was from Halloween 1994, still my favorite version. Ending a set or show with that song is the perfect placement, bonus points for that.

After that though…new school meh mixed with old school meh. Bouncing Around the Room and Sample in a Jar in the same set? Back in the 1.0 era, rec.music.phish would have exploded with ire. The new songs? Ok, nothing great. Half Way to the Moon might be something after a while, but 555 and Waiting All Night aren’t going to make a show a must hear.

As far as other things: my seats are ok. I like being up and not terribly far away, but compared to the floor, I’m far away. At least I’m not one of those poor schmucks on the lawn. Also it’s nice to have a place to sit during the slow songs and set break. Now if only a water vendor would come by.

Phish at northerly island night one: preview

July 18, 2014

I’m excited for this tour. OK not a big surprise, I’m excited for every tour. But I’m particularly excited for this one. Ever since Trey said the focus is on new material original material, I’ve been ticking off the days until now. Seeing how I only had one set last year, it only adds to the jones.

Back to the new stuff. I like the new album, Fuego. It’s a decent record, one of the better Phish studio efforts. But like most studio records from Phish, the question is more about what song will be the new jam? The leader out of the gate is Fuego and I hope I get to see it this weekend.

Odds are good for Fuego as is a steady diet of the new songs. Along with the title track, I hope to get a Wingsuit. Of the other new bits, I’ll be happy with most anything, or finding a new sit break song.

As far as older stuff: love a Mike’s, a Jibbo, a Disease. Assorted goodies and surprises are welcome, though I don’t need the gimmicks of last year. No Second City appearance. Oh, and I’d love to get a My Sweet One. Tonight marks 50 shows and I’ve never caught a Sweet One yet.

One last thing: A new thing. I am live blogging from my seat. I’ll bang out a quickie at set break, then get home and do the same. I will probably tweet some too, but not only is that distracting, it’s not enough space. Gotta go they are on!


teachersandtrees

4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site

FiveThirtyEight

FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s newly launched website at ESPN, uses statistical analysis — hard numbers — to tell compelling stories about politics, science, economics, lifestyle, and sports.

Inside the White Sox

Thoughts, comments and observations about the Chicago White Sox from Scott Reifert, the club's vice president of communications.

Running to Greatness

the quest to a 253.4km running week ......100m at a time

Kaufmak's Lazy Blog

An occasional blog on Phish, Wellness, and whatever comes to mind.

The Chicago Homer

Where sports in the Second City come first

RageSide

Whatever you do, take care of your shoes.

Fit for 365

Year three, building consistency

Purely Nutritious

Let Food be Thy Medicine and Medicine be Thy Food

tackle & lines

a Phish blog

Thinking Through History

& Beer, Catholicism, Education, Great Books, Philosophy, Politics, & Pop Culture

Outlaw Mama

My rules. My transgressions. My stories.

Fun girls live better!

The world can be amazing when you are slightly … strange!

stillness of heart

MUSINGS : CRITICISM : HISTORY : PASSION

The Sloping Companion

Listen...Read...Rage

"You Jivin' Me, Turkey?"

***"Maybe this World is Another Planet's HELL." - Aldous Huxley***

Zazen Life

A Self-Development Blogging Community of Higher Awareness

Walkoff Woodward

Detroit Tigers baseball with equal parts of sabermetrics and mass hysteria mixed in.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 612 other followers