Tag Archives: 2009

Phish John Paul Jones Arena December 5th 2009

copyright: UVA
copyright: UVA

The very weekend after I got back from Panama, I was traveling again. Staying home and getting things done around the house would have been nice, but I had a concert to see. Heck I needed to unpack my suite case and do a mound of laundry. But that didn’t matter, Phish was on their winter tour. Every time they tour I try to catch as many shows as possible. For winter the closest show to my house, and the tour closer, was happening at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. I have seen several tour closers by Phish and they are always good, in fact this past summer I saw the summer closer in Saratoga Springs and it was fantastic.

The night before was spent at Nancy’s house so it would be a slightly longer drive to get to the stadium. I was giving myself what I thought was plenty of time because of the pretty heavy snow all morning long. When I actually left Nancy’s house there were a couple inches on the road already and very slow going to my house. Once at my house I got a few things done and headed out about 4 hours before the show for what is normally a 2 hour drive. Leaving from my house I cut through the state on a route I have never taken. The whole time I was driving it was snowing, thankfully it got lighter the further south I got, but that didn’t make traffic any easier.

After getting lost in Charlottesville, I was coming from a different direction than normally, I found the arena and it was smashed. Fans littered the streets and where slowly filtering in past security. Some hard core people where tailgating, I just wanted to find a place to park and get to my seat. I skipped the $20 cash lot next to the stadium and instead parked in a garage right next door for half price.

snowy_road, creative commons
it snowed most of the way to Charlottesville

When I got through security and to my seat it was about 7:30pm so I could relax for a few minutes before the show started. My seat was stage right, almost parallel to the band. Not the best seat in the house, but it was a different view, allowed me to get a good view of the arena. My seat was the first row behind handicap seating which was nice. If my ankle started to bother me I could always sit down and still see.

When the show started the set started off pretty good with a few standards and Stealing Time from their new album. When Ya Mar started I quickly looked down at my iPod to scribble the song tittle. (As an aside, I remember writing set lists by hand many years ago.) All of a sudden I hear the crowd start to cheer, nothing to unusual, but it only gets louder. When I look up to my surprise I see a naked guy running around the stage. First time I have seen someone rush the stage at a Phish show. The crowd loved it and the band didn’t seem to phased by the act. All through the night they made references to the naked guy.

Other set 1 highlights included Divided Sky (because of the snow) with a super long break in the middle. Trey is just looking around the arena and the crowd volume went up and down, building to a crescendo when they finally started the song back up again. A good bluesy version of Sneakin’, something I don’t think I have heard since my first show over 10 years ago at Merriweather. Cavern, David Bowie with a mighty jam, and the Wedge were all great versions. I thought the closers of Bold as Love was lame. I hate it when they close a set with slow and melancholy songs. Set closers should be upbeat, leaving the audience wanting more.

Intermission was a time to rest and get off my ankle. I was standing for the entire first set and I could use the break. As the crowd around me thinned out I also spread out some. I always look around at every show during the set break. You see nothing but tired, yet happy people milling around. They might be headed to the restroom, talking with friends, smoking, what ever. But they all have smiles on their faces and are just having a great time.

Set two was much more of a jam session with the first four songs flowing one after another. Tweezer was a great start and jammed for a long time. When it lead into Light I could tell the song changed, but I didn’t know what it was. The guy next to me provided the song title. We actually traded songs a few times, he was really good with the new stuff and I was nailing the old stuff. Near the end of Light the jam turned very dark and cosmic. It just blew my mind away, especially with the transition into Piper, I was floored. The guy next to me also caught the transition too and we both agreed it was stellar.

Once you build it you must sometimes destroy what you love and start all over. That’s what I thought of Sweet Virginia. Yeah it was great to have a song reference the state, but I thought it completely killed the mood by slowing things down. Moving on. Harry Hood had a pretty decent glow stick war and Golgi was good but way to short. By the end of the show Antelope was a great choice. When they eventually walked off the stage the crowd went nuts. After what seemed like an eternity they came back for Loving Cup (bah) and a Tweezer Reprise (no surprise there). All things considered it was a very memorable night, lest of all because of the naked guy.

I was not planning on staying the night in Charlottesville so that meant a 3 hour drive home. Because of the snow on the way down I decided to stick to the highways. Longer distance but safety out weighted the extra time I would spend driving. Bleary eyed, I arrived home well after 3am and went straight to bed with visions of naked woman dancing on stage.

Set 1: 7:58pm start
01. AC/DC Bag
02. Chalk Dust Torture
03. Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan
04. The Divided Sky
05. Ya Mar
06. Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley
07. The Old Home Place
08. Cavern
09. Funky Bitch
10. David Bowie
11. The Wedge
12. Bold as Love

set 1 ends at 9:24pm

Set 2: 10:00pm start
01. Tweezer >
02. Light >
03. Piper >
04. Free
05. Sweet Virginia
06. Harry Hood >
07. Suzy Greenberg
08. Golgi Apparatus
09. Run Like an Antelope

set 2 ends at 11:18pm

encore: 11:20 start
10. Loving Cup >
11. Tweezer Reprise

show ends at 11:31pm

• At the start of Ya Mar, a naked guy jumped onstage and ran around for a bit before being rounded up by security, prompting Trey to observe that “Naked Guy’s” antics “took a lot of balls.” During Ya Mar, Mike changed the lyrics to “he was a naked pa.”
• Sneakin’ Sally contained a vocal jam.
• Trey sang the verses to Light out of order.
• The sound for Mike’s bass dropped out during Golgi leading Trey to label it the “trio version.”
• During the ensuing Antelope, Mike took a bass solo to make up for the bass everyone missed in Golgi.
• Antelope also contained several lyric changes referencing the naked stage crasher.

Congratulations! scored my fall Phish ticket


Well after the initial three show home coming in Hampton and the first part of summer tour, getting tickets to Phish was difficult to put it mildly. Years ago I always got my tickets via mail order. Back in the day you had to send money orders for each venue and I loved that method. Then they turned to the web and were one of the first to do so, I was always able to get tickets.   I never saved money by doing this, but it was a good feeling knowing I wouldn’t have to jump through hopes with Ticket Master to get tickets. So for the second half of the summer tour, and now the fall tour, I didn’t have any problems getting tickets via pre-order.

After looking at the schedule only one show was in my neighborhood, Jone Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. I was hoping to attend the second night in Albany, but I will be in Panama that weekend.

Nice thing about the Charlottesville show is again I will be seeing a tour closer. I have seen several of these over the years and they are usually pretty damn good. SPAC summer 2009, Tweeter Center summer 2004, and Greensboro Coliseum winter 2003 just to name a few.  They are always full of energy and something different and unusual is always thrown in for good measure.  I look forward to making a long weekend out of the trip and do a little hiking in south west Virginia on Sunday before heading home.

See you all on tour!

Rosslyn Jazz Festival 2009

Rosslyn Jazz Festival

The Rosslyn Jazz Festival has been running for nineteen years now and surprisingly this is the first time I have been to it.  I tried to go last year but they canceled it because of sever weather from tropical storm Hanna.  It is held in Gateway Park which is a tiny little park.  It is a little island oasis in a jungle of concrete and steel.  You can even see the Washington Monument from here, it is only the top and it is far away, but you can still see it.  As I approached the park the police closed several of the roads to allow vendors to setup and to let the mass of people ebb and flow from the park throughout the day.

When I arrived about noon the place was pretty empty, I actually didn’t think it would fill in much.  The weather was cool with a slight breeze rustling the leaves.  The sky was cloudy but with a zero chance of rain and little humidity to make things uncomfortable.  Other than the cloudy skies all day it was a perfect Saturday afternoon in September.  It should have been much hotter and definitely more humid than it was, but I wasn’t complaining.  While the park was empty I took the time to finish my coffee and smoke a cigar before the show started.  I was still trying to recover from Friday night, worked till 2:30am before going home.  I needed all the help I could get to stay awake and for me there is nothing better than caffeine and nicotine.

By the time 12:30 rolled around and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra took the stage the little park really started to fill in.  Some people brought chairs and others, like myself, just sat on the lawn.  Near the front however not many people were sitting, most were standing.  I understood why when they took the stage, people started dancing salsa, mambo and other forms of Spanish dance.  Such an energetic band that infected the crowd and got many people on their feet.  That’s just what the music wanted you to do, get up and dance.  For me the rhythmic beats of Latin swing/samba/mambo/jazz invigorated me more than the caffeine and nicotine, it awoke the music lover inside me.

lots of dancing

For the first half of the set I mostly walked around taking a ton of pictures.  Not only of the band, but all the people that eventually filled the park.  I love to see smiles on peoples faces, especially at concerts.  I bet most people there didn’t speak Spanish, but they didn’t have to to understand what good music is.  It reminds me of math, math is universal and people from different countries know how to “speak” it.  Music has the same quality, it transcends boundaries and cultures to bring people together no matter what language they speak.

After getting a lot of great shots I moved close to the stage to relax and just enjoy the rest of the show.  The music was great and I kept tapping my foot to the beat.  I couldn’t understand the words, but I understood their meaning.  It was such a great show I was glad they opened the festival.  When their set ended at 2pm I had to start making my way to Greg’s house.  I was going to the Toby Keith concert at Nissan Pavilion with a bunch of people later that night.  I wish I could have stated to listened to the other artists.  At least I was able to listen to the festival on my way to Greg’s house.  The radio sponsors, WPFW, was broadcasting the whole festival which was really cool.

more revelers

Because I was hungry I took the opportunity to stop by the Lost Dog Cafe in Arlington for a sandwich and beer.  I don’t get over to this part of town much so when I do I like to hit this place up.  They have some unique sandwiches and a great selection of bottle beers, the place is hard to beat.  When I arrived the place was closed for remodeling, my heart sank.  I was so looking forward to a good lunch, fortunately their sister cafe is four doors down so I ate their.  It is the Stray Cat Cafe and is pretty much the same menu, just has a cat theme instead of dogs.  I can’t wait to see the Lost Dog when they have finished remodeling.  I hope they expand the seating area because it has always been full when I go.

Now full, I finished my journey to meet everyone at Greg’s house so we could car pool to the Toby Keith show.  I am not a fan, but I did have a good time.  Check out my next post of a review of that show.

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

Phish Merriweather Post Pavilion August 15th 2009

I was able to catch two shows on the reunion tour early in the summer, Knoxville and Pittsburgh.  After they announced a second leg of their summer tour I of course wanted to score some tickets.  I was hoping to do a four show run, but decided on a more reasonable Merriweather and SPAC.  These two shows happened on a Saturday and Sunday, so less time off from work and were the last two shows of the tour.  Fortunately I lucked out and scored my tickets via mail order so I didn’t have to mess around with getting my tickets via TicketBastard.

copyright: Dave Vann
copyright: Dave Vann

Merriweather was the place I saw my first Phish show back in 1998 and I have always had great shows here, I was excited they were coming back to this great venue.  Jeremy and I planned on tailgating so I purchased a mini grill to cook up some great tailgate food.  We arrived to late to get a spot in the lot and were forced to park in an over flow parking garage near Columbia Mall.  This meant we were not allowed to tailgate as security came around several times telling us we couldn’t tailgate, finally the cops came around and forced everyone out.  We couldn’t even sit in chairs.  We had all this time to kill and some great food to cook but were stuck doing nothing.

As the show time approached we made our way to the venue entrance to grab a good spot on the lawn.  Security was a none issue getting in, however later I read that 31 were arrested for various offenses.  Non of which made the front page like they did with the three night reunion show in Hampton.  The weather was hot but with the quickly setting sun things were starting to cool off, if we could only get ride of the humidity things would have been perfect for a concert on the lawn.

When the show started both of us were pumped!  It was great to finally have my boy out on the road with me and our hopes where high.  Memories of Sabotage (8/8/1998), Harry Hood (8/8/1998, 7/9/1999), glow stick wars, 2001 (8/8/1998), Fluffhead (9/17/2000), Rock and Roll (9/17/2000), the list goes on and on.  One of the best shows in my life was my first Phish show at Merriweather 8/8/1998.  The boys always crush it when they play here, so my hopes where very high for this show.

copyright: Dave Vann
copyright: Dave Vann

After giving this show such a huge buildup, now it’s time for the actual show.  In short I was very disappointed with the performance.  I had heard that the night before in Hartford was off the hook and I was expecting a similar performance tonight.  Not only because the band should have been running on a high but the pedigree the venue brings to Phish shows.  Looking back the performance was a solid one, but I was expected a more upbeat show then what was delievered.  They played a ton of new songs, some of which I am a fan, others I am not.  There was just a lack of energy that night and Trey was also pretty horrible on the guitar.  Both Jeremy and I noted off key playing, missed notes, simply sloppy playing in songs like HA HA HA and Party Time.  I guess they were saving themselves for the tour closers in Saratoga.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some great highlights including another great version of Foam that was jammed out again, HA HA HA I had not heard live, a new Fishman song called Party Time (crazy vocals, the man just can NOT sing), a version of Tube which was good but waaay to short.  The second set opened strong with Tweezer that lead into Taste, I don’t get that combo.  A long version of 46 Days which was played well and a long running Merriweather staple, Harry Hood as the set closers.  That was the song I wanted to hear, at least I got that.  Jeremy was hoping for a Down with Disease, but we later found out they played that in Hartford so there was no chance of it at Merriweather.  The encore was decent, they played Tweezer Reprise, which was a surprise because of my short memory I forgot they played that as the set opener so it is always a safe bet to get the reprise some time later in the set.

copyright: Steve Moyles
copyright: Steve Moyles

On the long drive home we reflected on the performance and although we were not that satisfied with the song selection and the lack of tailgating, we agreed it was still a great trip.  Even the worst Phish show beats any other day.  I was just hoping for a killer set Sunday night in Saratoga to make up for this poor performance.

Set 1: 7:38pm start
1. Crowd Control
2. Kill Devil Falls
3. The Sloth
4. Beauty Of A Broken Heart
5. Axilla I
6. Foam
7. Esther
8. Ha Ha Ha
9. Party Time*
10. Tube
11. Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan
12. Strange Design
13. Time Turns Elastic

set 1 ends at 9:02pm

Set 2: 9:31pm start
1. Tweezer >
2. Taste
3. Alaska
4. Let Me Lie
5. 46 Days
6. Oh! Sweet Nuthin’
7. Harry Hood

set 2 ends at 10:44pm

encore: 10:46pm start
8. Good Times Bad Times
9. Tweezer Reprise

show ends at 10:55pm

*first time played

Good Times Bad Times, Tweezer Reprise