Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Halloween

Well it was as epic as I had hoped and then some. Here is how Rolling Stone described it,

Under pristine conditions at the Empire Polo Field and in front of a devoted Phish crowd of 40,000 fans, the Vermont foursome rollicked in Exile’s swamp blues and roadhouse country, extending several songs with their own jams, highlighted by a spacey interlude between “Ventilator Blues” into the gospel-esque “I Just Want to See His Face.” Special guests Sharon Jones and three horn players (one, trumpeter David Guy is a Dap King) added their own flourishes (horns to “Sweet Black Angel”), and each band member took lead vocal turns. Incredibly, four of the double album’s songs made their big-stage live debut —”Soul Survivor,” a scorching “Casino Boogie,” “Turd On the Run” and the flickering ballad “Let It Loose” — having never been performed by the Stones themselves. The set clocked in at nearly a 100 minutes, 33 more than the actual album.

The band played eight sets over three days, each better than the next. The weather was stunningly beautiful all weekend highs in the upper 80s everyday and a nice desert cool down in the evenings. The Phish crowd has grown up and matured since 2004 when the band broke up. No spun dread-locked hippies passed out in the road this weekend... okay maybe one or two. People are clearly partying and enjoying themselves but it's not a neo-hippie traveling Cancun Spring Break scene anymore.

Musically the band will never be what they were in 1997, 1994, 1993 or whatever year it is that fans believe was the epitome of Phish. That's ok though, so long as they are clearly rehearsing, creating interesting new music and (perhaps most importantly) having fun together on stage it will still be a worthwhile musical experience. They are creating very good and very worthwhile music every single night. The baseline is back up a respectable level - when they have an off night, and they have always had off nights, it will still be a good and mostly well-played show. Based on what I saw this weekend when they are on they can play as well as they ever have.

I won't do a blow by blow of every night but the highlights for me included,
  • "Stash" from set I on 10/30
  • "Wolfman's Brother"->"Piper" from Set II on 10/30
  • "Runaway Jim"->"Possum", "Run Like an Antelope" from Set I on 10/31
  • All of the Stones set on 10/31
  • All of Set III on 10/31, even the slow "When the Circus Comes to Town" was well placed
  • All of the acoustic first set on 11/1
  • "Rift", "Guelah Papyrus" and "Split Open and Melt" from set II on 11/1
  • "Tweezer"->"Maze", "Mike's Song"->"2001"->"Light"->"Slave To the Traffic Light" from set III on 11/1
I really have very, very few musical complaints about the show. There were a few flubs and a couple of songs I could have done without but when they band plays 96 songs in 3 days it's hard to complain too much.

Here's some video from the weekend. Even if you reflexively think you don't like Phish I encourage you to watch these - you might just change your mind,

Stones covers...

Halloween encore with the special guests from the Stones set joining the band...

Some from the acoustic set from noon on 11/1

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