Phish Saratoga Performing Arts Center August 16th 2009

Day two of my mini run and the last show of the summer tour.  My day started early because of the long drive I needed to make to Saratoga Springs, NY.  I booked a camp site at Schroon River Resort which was about 45 minutes north of the venue.  It was not the closest campsite to the venue, but it was the only one with spots available.  Again I waited to the last minute, Saturday morning in fact, to start calling around for a spot.  Some of the closer campsites posted on their website they were booked for the weekend and others simply didn’t answer the phone.

copyright: Mike Wren
copyright: Mike Wren

I was hoping to leave by 8 but didn’t hit the road till almost 9am.  The traffic was light for a Sunday and what little there was was headed south.  Actually the drive all the way up was pretty easy, never really hit any heavy traffic, even around New York.  But as I got closers to the venue I started to realize that once again, I would not be able to make it to the campsite and back to the venue before the show started.  So I skipped the campsite and drove straight to the venue down the center of town.  Arriving when I did, did not afford me enough time to fire up the grill for some burgers.  But I did get some time to relax and enjoy the scene in the over flow lot before heading into the venue.  I would have to wait till I got home before I could test out my new grill.

As show time approached I started to get a little concerned about the weather.  Ominous clouds started rolling in from the east and they looked angry.  While at one of the rest stops in New York I jumped on their free wi-fi network and checked the weather, “cloudy” is what is said.  I messaged Jeremy to have him check the weather and he reported back with “cloudy.”  Nothing said rain so I assumed I would be safe, but you know what they say about assuming.  When I got about halfway to the venue entrance, and it’s a long walk across the golf course, it started to drizzle.  No biggy, I decided to take some shelter under the trees for a while and wait for it to pass.  I know it’s a bad idea, but it was just a little rain not a thunder storm.  As I sat there with other Phisheads the rain got heavier and heavier till it as a full on down pour.  I tried to hug a tree for a while but it was fruitless, I was soaked.  At that point I decided to walk towards the venue in the rain.  Every where I walked there were puddles of water with rain coming down in buckets.  I was doing everything I could to protect my ticket.  When I reached the venue they had some covered areas that were packed with people trying to dry out before the show.

copyright: Brian Sherman
copyright: Brian Sherman

Now when I got in line to get in I was thrown back to when I first started seeing tickets.  For years now when you walk into the venue the ticket taker has some type of scanner that reads your ticket, making sure it is valid and has not been used already to enter the venue.  Because it was still raining the ticket takers couldn’t use the scanners and they had to resort to tearing off the stub to signify the ticket was used.  It was crazy seeing all these people holding out their wet tickets and the takers ripping off the stub.  Some people had print-at-home tickets that were bleeding ink all over the place and ticket takers did their best to tear off the bar code.  It is amazing how quickly things can break down when you don’t have the computers you rely on to do your job.

About the time I made it to the lawn the rain stop but dark clouds always loomed in the distance.  It already rained when it was not suppose to, so what was to prevent it from raining again.  The rain delayed the band from their usual start time and I was hoping it would lead to a better show.  Maybe get a Divided Sky or something like that.  Or hear a little banter about the rain and everyone getting soaked.  Those of us on the lawn were definitely in high spirits.  We might have been soaked but the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits.

When the show finally started the first set was peppered with great tunes, no Divided Sky however or any mention of the rain.  But the opener of Llama was a great choice and the crowd was full of energy.  Moma Dance was alright at best, they have not been hitting it like years past, just to short.  When they got into jamming the song, it’s already over.  Other set one highlights include Cars, Trucks, Buses, Chalk Dust and a mighty David Bowie.  For the closer they played one of my personal favorites, Antelope.  Throughout the first set there must have been no less than 4 glow stick wars.  The middle section of the lawn was filled with glowing pieces of plastic flying through the air.  It was so great to see the crowd getting into the spirit of the show and having some fun despite the rain, wet conditions, and thick humidity.

copyright: Brian Sherman
copyright: Brian Sherman

After the set was over I walked to the top of the lawn to stretch my legs.  The wet ground made it impossible to sit so I walked around instead.  I also just wanted to be amongst the people.  The crowd was dense but it was great rubbing shoulders with other fans in such close quarters.  Everyone was smiling and mingling with those around them.  I walked aimlessly for a while just enjoying the vibe, eventually settled down in the middle of the lawn.  If there was going to be another glow stick war, and I had little doubt, I wanted to be in the middle of it.  It is so cool to look up towards the stars when glow sticks are flying overhead with Phish playing in the background.  Surreal almost.

By the time the houselights lowered for the second set everyone was ready for a killer performance.  The first set was pretty good and now it was time to do a little jamming and exploring a deeper selection of tracks.  Set opener Number Lines was played for 20 minutes before it lead into Twenty Years.  After Halley’s Comet they played Rock & Roll by the Velvet Underground, one of many covers during the night.  When it was finished things slowed down for a minute before they busted out Harpua.  Jeremy and I talked about this at the Merriweather show and how great it would be if they busted it out.  Again Jeremy lucked out and they played it tonight, so something special was about to happened.

What followed was some crazy stuff on the part of the band.  Trey sat down at the drums and Jon took the mic to sing a song.  The night before Jon debuted a new song of his called Party Time, so I couldn’t wait to hear what was going to be playe.  The first few lines that Jon sung didn’t register, nor did the accompanying music.  But when he sang the line “I kissed a girl and I liked it” I realized what song it was.  Definitely a new interpretation of the  song, I would even say that Jon butchered it.  But covers, and new ones at that, are always cool to witness.  Next up was HYHU and back into Harpua to close this portion of the set.  Next up was YEM that dropped like a bomb on the crowd and closed out the set, a solid 20 minute performance.

copyright: Mike Wren
copyright: Mike Wren

So here we are at the end of the set for the last show of the tour till Halloween and Festival 8.  The band walks off stage and the crowd just goes silent.  This has happened every show I went to over the summer tour, the band walks off stage and there is no cheering or clapping, nothing to bring the band back out.  At least with tonights performance there was a proper glow stick war, but when it comes to encores the audience just expects it now.  They don’t cheer or clap and with all the lights people have, they don’t even raise those.  If I was Phish I wouldn’t come back on stage unless the crowd really got into it, but that’s just me.  After a short time they walk back on stage, with not much fan fair, for the encore.

The encore included an accapella Grind, lame, and another new song, I Been Around.  It was the last song to be performed from their forth coming album and prominently featured Page on keys and vocals.  It was alright, nothing special.  The final song was yet another cover and I thought an appropriate way to end the show/tour, Highway to Hell.

With the show over it was time to head back to my car and get out of Dodge.  This time I took the road back instead of cutting across the golf course.  The sprinklers were on and I decided I didn’t want to get soaked again.  When I left it was off to a rest stop a few miles down the road.  Since I never checked into the campsite I had to settle for sleeping in my car.  But the cool air that night made for a rather comfortable nights rest.  Like always I was joined by several other car loads of fans headed home from the show making a stop to rest from the party we all just left in Saratoga Springs.

Set 1:
1. Llama
2. Moma Dance
3. Guyute
4. Anything But Me
5. Cars, Trucks, Buses
6. Chalk Dust Torture
7. Golgi Apparatus
8. David Bowie
9. Cavern >
10. Possum
11. Ocelot
12. Run Like an Antelope

Set 2:
1. Backwards Down the Number Line >
2. Twenty Years Later
3. Halley’s Comet >
4. Rock & Roll
5. Harpua >
6. I Kissed a Girl* >
7. Hold Your Head Up >
8. Harpua
9. You Enjoy Myself

10. Grind
11. I Been Around*
12. Highway to Hell

*First time played

1 thought on “Phish Saratoga Performing Arts Center August 16th 2009

  1. Pingback: Phish | 08.16.09 | Harpua→I Kissed a Girl→HYHU→Harpua part 1 | SPAC – Saratoga Springs, NY | Acting Lessons & News

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