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.
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
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 >
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.