Tag Archives: 2012

US Grand Prix November 16-18th 2012 in Austin, TX

For five years Formula 1 has been absent from the United States.  When I started to get into F1, they had a yearly race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  My first race was in 2006 and I went again in 2007.  I will never forget my first experience, seeing the cars race down the front straight of Indy at 200mph, the noise, the smell, how it made my body shack.  My second and the final race in America, I went with my dad and that was an incredible experience we shared together.  So when it was confirmed that F1 would come back to the States, I jumped at the chance to go.

Gate 1, Circuit of the Americas. We finally made it!

I wrangled Jeremy to come along and we planned a road trip to the brand new, purpose built Circuit of the Americas in Austin.  We were trying to do this on the cheap so we decided to drive down and and rent an apartment using Air BnB.  He spent the night at my house on Wednesday and at 6:15am on Thursday, we were on the road towards Austin.  We knew what time we needed to be in Austin, first practice started at 9am.  Google said it would take 26 hours of straight driving, it would be close but we where on a mission and I was determined to let nothing stop us from getting there on time.

Let me tell you, 26 hours in a car and not much happens.  We had tons of music to listen to, lots of Starbucks and the changing countryside to keep us company.  We got to Memphis by dinner time and decided to eat at Corky’s BBQ.  It is a well known BBQ place in the city and was packed when we arrived, on a late Thursday night of all times.  We lucked out and got a spot at the bar and enjoyed some great Memphis style BBQ.  A quick bit to eat and off again on the road.

Friday Practice

Early on Friday morning we both were exhausted and found a Wal-Mart parking lot in Waco to rest for an hour.  It didn’t matter how uncomfortable it was, that quick nap was a much needed break.  As dawn broke on Friday we continued our trip to Austin.  With the sun coming up we made good time down I85 and arrived at the Q parking lot by 7:30am.  We had been up for 26 hours and driven 1500 miles, but we where excited to finally be in Austin.  A quick breakfast and off to the shuttle bus.

Turn 15 in the stadium section. A slower section of the track, great for getting a good look at the cars.

We had assigned seats at turn 1 but we both wanted to check walk around the brand new track.  All day we walked with purpose up to different grand stands to check out practice.  We started by going to the grandstand along the start/finish line.  This was the perfect spot for Jeremy to see the cars for the first time.  Along the straight you get the full speed of the cars and the nose as it reverberates off the grandstand and the paddock.  You can fell their power as they rush pass you at 200mph, engines bouncing off the rev limiter at 18k rpm’s as they climb 133′ to the hairpin turn 1.

This track is pretty amazing when you look at it.  The coolest feature, the climb to turn 1.  133′ doesn’t sound like much but when you see it in person, its an impressive climb the cars make going full throttle.  Later in sector 1 you have the fast chicane which lead to the blind turn 10.  On Friday we got close to this corner and it is crazy to see the cars come out of no where over the crest of the hill as they go to the hairpin turn 11 and the long back straight.  Then comes the slow stadium section where cars will turn around on themselves giving everyone a good look before hitting the three apex turn 16, 17, 18.  Finally turn 19 and 20 before crossing the start finish line.

Starting with the blind turn 10 on the left all the way to the hairpin turn 11.

All day on Friday we walked around the track sitting in different grandstands.  Of course we started on the straight away, then headed to turn the 15 to check out the stadium section.  While you can see a lot of action it is mostly slow turns which is not very exciting.  The best corner will be turn 12 after the back straight where you can get some passing action.  During the lul in driving, we got some lunch and lounged on the hill around turn 18.  I got a breakfast waffle from The Belgian Waffle Company and it was delicious.  We took the opportunity to smoke a cigar and I even took a nap before the vintage cars took the track for practice.

For the inaugural race they managed to get 30 or so vintage F1 cars from the late 60’s to the early 80’s.  When I was in Indianapolis, I saw many of these cars at the museum but there is nothing like seeing them out on the race track.  This was perhaps the coolest thing the entire weekend for me.  We saw vintage Ferrari’s, the Morgan six wheeler, John Player Specials, a Ragno that was quick as shit and many other famous cars.  Hats off to the drivers for putting on a great show all weekend and to the owners for allowing these historical cars to be race like they where meant to be.

From here we cut across the track and headed towards turn 11.  First stop was along the fence at turn 5 and the fast sweeping chicane.  Then to turn 7 which was pretty uneventful.  Turn 10 was really cool as it is a blind left corner.  The drivers come up a slight hill to the blind left hander and onto turn 11.  It was crazy seeing the cars appear out of no where at the top of the hill and down towards 11.  We eventually made it to turn 11 and finished out the second practice from here.  This spot was great as you could see the blind turn 10 and the slow turn 11 right in front of you before they dashed down the 1km back straight.

When practice was finally over we made it back to the car and headed into the city.  It was almost 4 and we still hadn’t been to our rental apartment or even seen the city.  As tired as we were it didn’t stop us from eating a late lunch at Habanero Mexican Cafe before unloading at the apartment.  By now it was about 36 hours since we left home and we both needed a shower.  We wanted to go to Fanfest in downtown but decided to just hang out and smoke a cigar at the apartment.  Saturday was going to be another early morning with the third practice starting at 9am sharp.

Saturday Qualify

Surprisingly, the track on Friday was packed with spectators and Saturday was more so.  Both prior races I went to there were of course people, but not nearly as many as in Austin.  You could tell the fans where here to support Formula 1’s return to the United States and I think we made a good showing after a 5 year absence.  For the first time we sat in our actual seats to catch the final practice and the qualification.  Turn 1 was certainly a great spot to watch the race.  We could see the cars come out of the pit lane and with turn 1 being so sharp, the cars really had to slowdown to make the turn successfully.  During the Ferrari Challenge race that day one of the cars skidded for 100 yards before hitting the barricade.  He just popped it into reverse and rejoined the race.  We saw lots of close call at turn one as well with racers doing their best to overtake but not hit each other.

Red Bull, Ferrari

By late afternoon the Ferrari and vintage F1 races where done for the day and we headed to The Salt Lick for dinner.  I was recommended this place by Tracy for some good BBQ in Texas.  We already had Memphis style and I was looking forward to some Texas BBQ next.  This place is pretty famous for their huge pit where they cook all their meat.  First off this place is in the middle of no where, literally.  It took almost an hour to get there from the track and when we arrived the place was smashed.  There must have been over 100 cars in the parking lot and policy where directing traffic.  The hostess said 40 minutes to get a seat, we had come this far we where going to wait.  The place is a large banquet hall when you walk in, large rooms have been built onto the original structure and it is impressive how many people were in there with just as many waiting to get in.

I got the Thurman’s Choice sampler with sides and for the most part I was not impressed.  The ribs and sausage where ok but I must admit that the beef brisket is possible the best I have ever tasted.  I got the wet version which has more fat on it and it was amazing.  The long slow cooking over the wood fire really makes it tender, juicy and with the perfect amount of smoke flavor.  It was so good in fact I brought some back for Nancy to try along with two bottles of wine from their vineyard.  I even got some peach cobbler with ice cream for dessert.  We where on vacation so I figured what the hell, unfortunately this too was disappointing.  The unique atmosphere and the brisket would certainly make me come back despite most of the food being mediocre at best.

Most of the cars on the grid before the race.

Fat dumb and happy we headed back to the apartment for a cigar and bed.  It was nice sitting outside as the neighbors where all college kids and more than willing to chat with a couple of strange random dudes smoking cigars.  I unfortunately had homework to finish and didn’t get to sleep that night till 2am, 6am was going to come early on race day let me tell you.

Race on Sunday

All weekend the track was pretty packed yet the shuttles worked really well.  The bathroom lines where mostly short but food and drink was always a problem.  Race day we knew things would be busier so we left by 7am to get there long before the crowds showed up.  There was a Ferrari and vintage support race before the 1pm F1 start so we had plenty of things to keep us occupied before the light go out.

Fly over by a great mix of airplanes: two P-51 Mustangs, P-38 Lightning, F16

For the Ferrari race we stood around turn one and smoked a morning cigar with coffee.  Saturday night I stayed up till 2am working on some homework so coffee and nicotine was just what the doctor ordered.  The race was pretty ho hum, it is rich people driving really expensive cars.  We were rooting for “Bob,” that was the nick name we gave to the slowest guy on the track.  All weekend he was dead last and in both races was lapped by several people, pretty amazing when you consider the race was only 10 laps long!

After our morning smoke we settle into our seats for the forthcoming races.  Next up was the Porsche GT3 race.  These guys were much more aggressive around the track with lots of wheel to wheel action, including a few scrapes.  For the most part it was pretty unexciting.

As 11 o’clock rolled around the pageantry that is Formula 1 started.  The pit lane opened for everyone with Paddock tickets to walk around.  Then the pace car and medical car take a few laps to make sure the track is ready to go for the race start.  It sounds stupid, but I love the way that V8 Mercedes SLS AMG sounds.  As it roars down the track it has this awesome low rumble, even the medical car sounds good.  Next was the drivers parade lap which for Austin featured all the drivers on classic American cars.  I have seen at many other tracks they will drive around on a flatbed, the classic cars were a great touch.

Turn 1 of lap one, not one incident. I won the bet.

When the pit lane finally opened things started to get serious.  The teams start releasing their cars onto the track to form up.  Excitement was building in the crowd of 117,000 race fans.  All the grandstands I could see were full and the general admission areas where absolutely smashed with people.  Jeremy had to make a pit stop and I was nervous he wouldn’t make it back in time for the race start.  We had a gentleman’s bet on the first corner.  Yes the drivers had all weekend to learn the track, none of them had been around in race conditions.  Turn 1 would be tricky but I was confident that everyone get through unscathed, Jeremy was not so certain.  My only fear was Grosjean barreling down the track and playing bumper cars with everyone.  Alonso started 7th and Grosjean 8th so I was ultimately worried he would take Alonso out.  To stay in the contention for the drivers championship, Alonso needed to finish as far ahead of Vettel as possible.  With Grosjean’s record of wrecking into people and Alonso not getting past the first corner, I was really concerned.

Fortunately Jeremy made it back with only a minute to spare before the start of the race, running into Governor Rick Perry was no excuse to miss the exciting start of the race.  When the lights went out it was race time and everyone raced up the hill towards the first corner.  There was some great maneuvering by Alonso up to turn 1 to gain three spots and edge closer to Vettel.

Panoramic view of the start/finish to turn 1 from the top row of the bleachers.

As the laps melted away the race progressed nicely with few incidents.  Webber had alternator trouble which let Alonso get another position and finish the race in third.  While Vettel had a better qualifier, Hamilton was challenging after a few laps.  Vettel was never able to gain a substantial lead like in previous races.  Hamilton was able to stay with him and was often fighting for position.  Finally about two thirds the way through the race Hamilton made a pass that stuck on the back straight to take first place.  When he drove pass our grandstand everyone jumped up and cheered.  I couldn’t tell if everyone was happy to see Hamilton leading the race or that Vettel was bumped to second.  I was happy to see Vettel loose points, allowing Alonso stay in the hunt for the drivers championship.

With no other changes in position, this is how the race ended: Hamilton, Vettel, and Alonso.  Both Jeremy and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and can’t wait to come back next year.  We checked out seats higher in turn one and realized the price for these tickets was certainly justified.  It was just a much better view of the track.  You could see further and didn’t have the annoying fence blocking any of our view.  I think next year these are the seats we will try and get.

After the race we walked back to our car. Long shadows from the fall setting sun.

For the award ceremony they opened the gates and allowed people to stream onto the track which was pretty cool.  We watched the ceremony from our seats and I was horrified to see the drivers emerge wearing cowboy hats!  Only in fucking Texas would they do something as stupid as that, they looked ridiculous up there in those hats.  To this day I still can’t believe it.

We waited a good hour before trying to leave and were shocked at the line to get back to parking lot Q.  Eventually we decided to hoof it to our car.  This started the long trip back home that night.  We drove most of the night and only stopped for about 2 hours just outside Arkansas when nether one of us could stay awake any more.  We ran into a little trouble in Round Rock which caused the trip to take 30 hours, getting to my house at midnight on Monday.  We made only one extended stop and that was for hotdogs at Cori’s DogHouse which had some amazing hotdogs.  If you are every passing through Nashville, its worth the stop.

 

Full Results

Pos Driver Constructor Laps Time Grid
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 56 1:35:55.269 2
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 56 +0.675 1
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 56 +39.229 7

 

Phish Saratoga Peforming Arts Center July 8th 2012

SPAC 2012 poster
SPAC 2012 poster

After a scorching show the night before I was looking forward to the last show of my mini vacation and the last show of the summer 2012 leg 1 tour.  I had spent all morning hiking in the beautiful mountains of Vermont and was looking forward to a good meal and lounging on the lawn with several thousand of my closest friends.  Summer tour is a tradition and I look forward to it every year.  There is nothing like spending an evening out under the stars listening to some great music.

Unlike the previous night, I didn’t feel any need to rush to the venue to get my seat.  I wanted to enjoy my kike in the woods and would make it to the venue when I made it.  I probably got a parking spot and made it onto the lawn about 7:30.  The lawn was pretty full but not packed already, many people take their time and know Phish starts late.  I did want to get close tonight so I started following people deep into the lawn.  Eventually I found myself right at the front with only a steel barricade between me and the pavilion.  It was surprising sparse this close and not long after the show started, I think I know why.  While you get a pretty good view of the band and the light show, I kept finding myself looking up at the screens.  Unfortunately the audio was not in sync with the video and this drove me nuts.  This spot is also flat so you don’t get the advantage of the sloped lawn to look over everyone’s head, I was looking right at them.  I is also cramped, with people constantly passing in front or behind you and no room to dance.

copyright Dan Little 2012

As for the set itself, I thought it was great.  The show got going with AC/DC Bag into My Soul, kinda a fun version into a slower tempo My Soul.  Camel Walk was next and something I had not heard since Albany 2003 when Phish was doing their mini 20th anniversary tour.  The Wilson > Party Time was rocking and I love this tune from Fishman.  There are few lyrics, but the guitar rift from Trey is great.  It doesn’t get played much but is certainly a fun song to dance to.  Things started to slow down with Nellie Kane, Driver, Foam, and then If I Could.  I thought the set was lost with all these mellow tunes.  The songs were good but I hate when they play all these slow tempo songs in a row.  For me it just kills the vide of the crowd, the energy is just sucked out of the place.  Thankfully they ended with an 11 minute Split Open and Melt into the bust out of the evening, La Grange.  It had been 301 shows since it was last played, a welcome addition to end the set that was perfect.

During the set break I headed to the top of the lawn.  My water bottle was empty and I needed a place to sit down.  I found a place near the top of the lawn with the family and cooled off for a while, chatted with a few people around me and mentally readied myself for the next set.  I thought about just sitting here to enjoy the rest of the show, these old bones find it hard to stand in one place for so long.  When they started set 2 with Axilla and I couldn’t see the band or the light show, I quickly got off my ass and headed to the lawn.

copyright Dave Vann 2012

I didn’t make it far down the lawn.  Fighting the crowds didn’t appeal to me and I wanted some room to move around.  Second set is generally where the band shines these last few years and they brought the furry with them tonight.  Axilla went into Light which I know some people don’t like, but I love this newer song from them that they jammed for 13 minutes before going into Twist.  The set continued with the high energy, only a few songs slowed things down, but were quickly pull back into full force.  Everything about this set was great, Kill Devil Falls, Piper, Free, Harry Hood > Cavern > David Bowie.  These last three closed the set and are classic Phish tunes.  I know they get played a lot but I love them, especially Harry Hood.  The glow stick war during Harry Hood was HUGE!  In fact all night the crowd was throwing glow sticks at just the right time.  Trey or someone, would hit a note and bam, in unison hundreds of glow sticks would be tossed into the air.  There is no venue like SPAC when it comes to glow sticks.

YEM vocal jam, copyright Dave Vann 2012

By the end of the set I was exhausted from dancing.  I couldn’t believe the set they just played and wondered what was next.  The night before they dedicated Sabotage to MCA, what was tonight going to bring us?  Again I go back to the fact it was the last show of the tour and it was SPAC.  They busted out YEM, something everyone was looking for to all three nights of the run.  Now this song is not something you can just play for 5 minutes and move on.  I settled in for a 20 minute version of this classic Phish jam.  You get the full instrumental jam and crazy lights but quickly the band starts to slow things down and ditch the instruments, going vocal only at the end.  What a perfect song to end a show and tour.  Trey thanked the crowd for a great three nights and just like that the show was over.  I was on cloud nine.  I am not the only one to think this was the best second set of summer 2012 leg 1 tour.

Monday morning and time to drive home.  I took my time in Albany as I got supplies, fueled my car and had a hearty breakfast to get my day going.  The weather was perfect so I drove through New York with the windows down, jamming to some great music and enjoying the country side.  It is hard for me to express sometimes how much I love seeing Phish here.  I have tried numerous times and only hope it comes across in my writing.  Till next time…

 

Set 1
show starts at 8:15pm
01. AD/DC Bag >
02. My Soul
03 Camel Walk
04. Sample in a Jar
05. Wilson >
06. Party Time
07. Gumbo
08. Nellie Kane
09. Driver
10. Foam
11. If I Could
12. Split Open and Melt >
13. La Grange
set ends at 9:37pm

Set 2
set begins at 10:09pm
01. Axilla >
02. Light >
03. Twist[1] >
04. Kill Devil Falls[2] >
05. My Friend, My Friend[3] >
06. Swept Away >
07. Steep >
08. Piper >
09. Free >
10. Kung >
11. Harry Hood[4] >
12. Cavern >
13. David Bowie
set ends at 11:46pm

Encore:
encore beings at 11:48pm
14. You Enjoy Myself[5]
show over at 12:10am

 

Notes:
[1] Brief In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida tease from Trey.
[2] Theme from Jeopardy! tease.
[3] No “Myfe” ending.
[4] Kung quote.
[5] Flash Light tease from Mike; theme from Sanford and Son teases in vocal jam.

Phish Saratoga Performing Arts Center July 7th 2012

SPAC 2012 poster
SPAC 2012 poster

As the years have passed it has become more difficult to tour with Phish. It doesn’t help that they are playing fewer shows each tour and recently have been splitting each tour into two legs. So far for summer 2012 I caught the second night of Portsmouth. Two shows mid-week meant I had to pick only one between the two to see.  When three shows at Saratoga Performing Arts Center were announced, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I was in. I couldn’t make the first night but I wanted to see both weekend shows. This venue is one of my favorites. I love that it is a park and so spread out.

Like usually I didn’t plan to well and only got my hotel room on Friday. I also waited to find a place to hike on Sunday. In fact I finalized the location and directions to the park during the set break on Saturday.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before thanks to the Nats game and got a much later start then I planned. Fortunately I was able to check into the hotel room and still make it to the venue with enough time to enjoy a sandwich before walking the three miles to the entrance. I used the long walk to enjoy a cigar. They even let me walk into the venue still smoking, at one point when going through security, I had it in my mouth.

First night I scored a pavilion ticket and made my way down to my seat. It is very rare that I get a pavilion seat so I was excited about the close view. While I was closer, it was way to the left. By the time the show started, I didn’t even notice. Tonight’s performance was being broadcast on Sirius so I had high hopes for a good show. Kevin Shapiro even did part two of From the Archives as pregame while I was in the lot.  I just had a feeling that tonight’s show was going to be a rager!

I should have noticed the a cappella mics on stage because Phish opened the show with Grind. The first set didn’t contain any long jams and few segues, but the song selection was pretty tight.  The played an excellent Possum and Moma Dance and a newer ones I haven’t heard, Torn and Frayed.  I also got Peaches en Regalia which I have only heard one other time in Raleigh a few years ago but is not played very often.  This went into another one of my favorites, Bathtub Gin.  Good Times, Bad Times closed the first set, usually this is an encore performance but they played it early.

phish_spac_2012-1
an energetic crowd

I took the set break to just sit and relax for a while.  I made friends with a few guys from Canada who came down from Toronto to see the Saturday and Sunday show.  I started to feel old while talking to them, they where headed out west in a few weeks to catch some show and I could only catch three from leg 1.  I told them in my younger days I could have done it, but now that I have responsibilities, it is much harder to tour with Phish.

Second sets this tour have been long jam with song after song being played.  Sometimes the flow is a little off but sometimes they nail it.  I didn’t know it at the time but this evenings was one of those times they nailed it.  They started with DWD but left it unfinished and headed into Blister in the Sun.  I thought I heard the rift start and when they busted out with the song I about shit my pants.  I remember this song from when I was growing up and love it.  They quickly went back to DWD and again left it unfinished as they headed into Boogie on Reggae Woman.  It was played during From the Archives earlier in the day and seemed appropriate.  This classic Stevie Wonder song is a great funk classic that Mike will slap the bass silly when playing.

All through the second set Blister was teased or played on its own.  I loved how the band teased the song through the entire set, going back to this classic song from the Violent Femmes.  I saw them do this once before with I Saw it Again at Merriweather back in 2010.  This circling back is on the same song, peppering it throughout the set, is awesome.  The band really has to think about how to integrate the song into other tunes and segue properly in and out of the tune.  The teased it in Number Lines, Mike’s Song, and Weekapaug.

copyright Dave Vann 2012
copyright Dave Vann 2012

Other highlights were 2001 and the Mike’s > Contact > Weekapauge.  Of course the traditional song in the trio is I am H but I love when they switch it up.  After a short break they came out and dedicated Sabotage to MCA who died earlier this year of cancer.  I heard this song first when they debut back in 1998 at Merriweather.

This show was awesome and one of the best in recent memory.  This is another reason that I love coming to SPAC, the shows rarely if ever disappoint in their energy and song selection.  The crowd is great and I love the close stick wars that happen throughout the show, they are huge and colorful.  Getting out of the venue was a little difficult because I had to walk across the tiny ass bridge that was a choke point.  Other than that getting out of the venue was easy and I headed back to the hotel for a nights rest.  I was not going to get much sleep before getting up and heading to Green Mountain National Forest for a hike, all before heading back to SPAC for my second show in the run and the last one of the tour.

Set 1
Start time 8:25pm
1. Grind *
2. Possum >
3. Golgi Apparatus
4. Moma Dance
5. Torn and Frayed
6. Rift
7. Cities >
8. Maze
9. Lawn Boy
10. Peaches en Regalia >
11. Bathtub Gin
12. Good Times, Bad Times
Set ends at 9:43

Set 2
Start time 10:17pm
1. Down with Disease >
2. Blister in the Sun # >
3. Down with Disease >
4. Boogie on Reggae Woman >
5. Golden Age >
6. 2001 >
7. Backwards Down the Number Line @ >
8. Prince Caspian >
9. Scent of a Mule >
10. Blister in the Sun >
11. Scent of a Mule >
12. Mike’s Song @ >
13. Contact >
14. Weekapauge Groove @
Set ends at 11:34

Encore starts at 11:36
15. Sabotage $
Show ends at 11:40

Notes:
* accapella
# Violent Femmes cover
@ with Blister in the Sun tease
$ Beastie Boys cover

phish_spac_2012-2
end of show, getting ready for Sunday

Phish nTelos Pavilion June 20th 2012

official Portsmouth 2012 poster
official Portsmouth 2012 poster

This years summer tour was broken into two legs again with the first leg being only 20 shows and mostly on the east coast.  Like the last few years it was not long after the first leg was announced that leg 2 was announced with a ton of dates out West and through the South.  None of these I could make, but I was going to make as many of the east coast shows as possible.  The last few tours (2010, 2011)they have played in Portsmouth at the nTelos Pavilion, always one of the if not the smallest venue on the tour.  This time around they decided to play two nights instead of one.  Immediately after going on sale, both nights at nTelos sold out.  Something that was not unexpected for such a small venue.

With the shows happening during the middle of the week I could only make one and decided on the second night.  Some recent shows I have been do that have two night runs, the second nights seamed better from the couch.  Even with some of the Phish shows, second nights usually have a little better set list.  The second night was also going to be the summer solstice so I thought it would add something special to the show.  Who knew that on that day it would be the hottest day of the year so far with temps well into the 90’s and high humidity.

This was almost the show that never was.  Starting on Sunday I got a case of stomach flu and only started to feel better on Wednesday.  I was eying the show date closely to see if I was going to make it.  Early in the week it was a no go but fortunately I was feeling about ninety percent on the show date.  I was looking forward to this show for months so I took the chance and headed south.

nTelos Pavilion
nTelos Pavilion

I tried to leave work early but got delayed, then traffic going south was horrible and I still needed to stop by home for some supplies and gas.  It was not till 5 that I actually left Stafford for Portsmouth.  My GPS said it would take three hours, I was going to be cutting it close if I was to make the show on time.  Fortunately once I got onto the highway in Stafford 95 and 64 were a breeze.  Even as I approached Hampton Roads, which is another notorious traffic nightmare in Virginia, the highway was running at speed.

Despite my best efforts I was a little late.  By the time I got a parking spot and started heading towards the venue I could hear musical notes floating in the humid air.  I could make out Sparkle.  It was almost as if the notes carried further and with more punch in the evening air.  Arriving this late, it was going to be next to impossible to find a good spot on the lawn so I didn’t sweet it.  I went to the top of the lawn and planted myself in a good spot, dead center on the stage.  The nice thing about such a small venue, every seat in the house is good.  If I was feeling brave I could have gone down to the pavilion and fought the crowds for a seat but decided against.  There is just something about the lawn, the communing with fans that I love.  I also didn’t want to be trapped under the giant tent.  I wanted the slight breeze coming off the water to cool me off during the night.

My show actually started with Ha Ha Ha when I found a spot on the lawn.  The crowd was alive despite the heat and humidity.  I looked down into the pit and like in years past, there were a ton of sings requesting songs.  During the first set they play Dog Log, Trey remarked “there’s enough of those damn signs” as he starts the rift.  Back in 2010, they opened the show with a fan request, Tube.  I see a trend here, a unique one that should continue at this venue.

set break

Much of the first set was alright, but uninspiring.  Divided Sky clocked in at just 17 minutes and was the only song over 10 minutes during the set.  Even though they jammed it out, I thought it lacked energy and seemed disjointed.  Even the venerable Mike’s > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug was lackluster and could have used more energy.  Maybe it was the heat that got to the crowd, but they ate it up.  Cities into Ya Mar was a good long transition from Trey, it flowed exceptionally well.  The cover of Bold as Love was a nice touch but could have used a better place in the set.  Thankfully they ended on a high note with Julius.  Trey’s guitar work, even though it was kinda light and airy, dominated the song.  I saw some hope for the second set after they played this one.

Second set started with Rock and Roll, which when starting a set is a good sign.  They often will jam this song out, (6/17/2011, 6/19/2010, 6/26/2010) but I felt that tonight it was cut short.  They just never got into a groove and let loose, it was very controlled and subdued.  On the official release they didn’t even break out the jam like the previously mentioned shows.  Another high energy song was Tweezer and then slowing things down a bit with Free > Guyute.  Then back to high energy with Birds and Harry.  Somehow they managed to segue from Harry Hood into the extremely slow What’s the Use > Wading but in doing so they left Harry Hood unfinished which was unfortunate.  The segue was great, but I felt yet again another poor choice for the set.  This roller coaster ride was getting old and I wanted off.  This is the second set, where is the energy, the solo work, noodling, or playing off each other?

Even the encore was a mix of slow and fast starting with the Sleeping Monkey.  Trey made several comments to Fishman about tucking his dress into his shorts, a reference to the previous nights banter.  Trey actually took Mike’s mic and sang the song directly to Fishman who eventually did come out and tuck in his dress.  Tweezer Reprise was a give considering the previous Tweezer at the start of the set.

I felt the show was not a bad one, but it lacked a lot of energy and creativity that I expect from the band.  It had its moments (Divided Sky, Rock and Roll, Tweezer, and Harry Hood) and the banter was great.  Just not a complete package for me.

After the long show it was two and a half hours trip getting home.  Traffic was open so I just set it to cruise and rolled on down the road.  Thankfully my stomach didn’t bother me and I was even able to eat a little food on the way home.  Finally at almost three o’clock I dragged ass into bed for a few hours sleep before work.

 

Set 1 starts at ? I was late
01. Sparkle
02. Ha Ha Ha
03. AC/DC Bag >
04. Divided Sky
05. Dog Log
06. Undermind >
07. Mike’s Song >
08. I am Hydrogen >
09. Weekapaug Groove
10. Cities >
11. Ya Mar
12. Bold as Love >
13. Julius
Set ends at 9:26 pm

Set 2 starts at 10:02 pm:
01. Rock and Roll >
02. Tweezer >
03. Free >
04. Guyute
05. Birds of a Feather
06. Harry Hood * >
07. What’s the Use? >
08. Wading in the Velvet Sea >
09. Possum
Set ends at 11:22 pm

encore starts at 11:24 pm:
10. Sleeping Monkey >
11. Tweezer reprise #
Show over at 11:35 pm

 

Notes:
* unfinished
# Sleeping Monkey quotes from Fishman.

Widespread Panic Fillmore January 24th 2012

WSP Wood Tour poster

I posted twice about this performance from the show, now I have more time for an in depth review from last night.  The Fillmore in Silver Spring only opened last September and none of their booked acts thus far peaked my interested.  In November it was confirmed that Widespread Panic would be taking a indefinite hiatus starting in 2012.  They would play their already book, and sold out, four nights in Puerto Morelos Mexico and limited engagements in Atlanta, Denver, Aspen, and Silver Spring.  I jumped all over the tickets when they went on sale in middle November.  It could possible be the last chance to see the band for a few years and it was going to be an all acoustic tour which sounded really cool.

The two shows at the Fillmore would kick the tour off and I decided to catch the first of the two shows.  As much as I wanted to see both nights, the high ticket price and distance from my house on a school night precluded me.  I left work at 6pm for an 8pm show time which Widespread is pretty good at keeping.  I knew that traffic would be a little rough, only once I got to the American Legion Bridge did things slow down.  I still managed to make it to the parking garage by 7:30, enough time to find a bit to eat and head into the show.

Just the lobby alone was impressive.  You are given a choice to go upstairs or into the club on the ground floor.  On either side of the floor there is a huge bar that has a good selection of bottle beers.  They do have drafts, but it was limited to only domestics, prices were “ok” at $7 for my bottle of Anchor Steam.  I was impressed they had it however so the price was worth it.  The upstairs has a VIP section with seats along either side of the balcony and on the second level opposite the stage is a tiered VIP section with tables.  Behind all the VIP sections there is space for general admission patron to stand.  You can’t see much of the stage from these spots, but there are tvs hanging from the ceiling that have a feed of the stage.  The live feed, with audio, is piped into a bar and lounge in the basement which is really cool.  The dance floor is made of wood and there are the signature Fillmore hanging chandeliers, four in all, next to a mirror ball.  All in all this is a really nice venue and I can’t wait to get back to the place.  Even the bathrooms are impressive.

jam on guys

As for the performance, it kicked ass.  I have seen acoustic songs before and been to quite venues like the Birchmere and Rams Head Tavern but this was completely different.  The song selection was good, each version was played in a mellow fashion to go along with the acoustic instruments.  John, Dave, and Jimmy all sat in chairs while they played.  One thing I noticed about Jimmy was he didn’t switch his guitar much, if at all.  I am use to seeing him get a new guitar every couple of songs, depending on what sound he is looking for that particular song.  All the band members seem to enjoy the night and really get into the acoustic vibe.

The audience was a typical WSP crowd, a little older and much more mature than some other acts I see.  There was of course lots of drinking, the floor after the show was covered in spilt beer and empty plastic cups.  All in all, they were respectful of the performance and really got into at times.  On several songs, because of the performances quite nature, the audience would sing along with John.  When I was dancing to the music at times I would look up at the balcony and see everyone grooving to the music.  It was also funny to see the audience at the start of each set whip out their cell phones to snap some photos.  Don’t think I am throwing stones, how do you think I got my shots from the night?  Just a funny observation from the night.

Getting home took about 70 minutes cutting through downtown DC.  Unfortunately I can’t make the performance tonight.  I do look forward to going back to the venue sooner rather than later.  I think it is a welcome addition to the live music scene here in Washington DC.  I just hope top caliber acts continue to go to the State Theatre, Birchmere, and 9:30 Club.

Set 1 (8:18pm start)
01. This Part Of Town >
02. Worry
03. Fishing
04. St. Louis >
05. Clinic Cynic >
06. Wondering
07. Free Somehow
08. Genesis >
09. Holden Oversoul
(9:12pm end)

Set 2 (9:55pm start)
01. From The Cradle
02. Can’t Get High
03. Gimme
04. Degenerate >
05. Pilgrims >
06. Travelin’ Man >
07. Saint Ex >
08. jam >
09. Driving Song >
10. jam >
11. Driving Song >
12. Breathing Slow >
13. City of Dreams
(10:56pm end)

encore: (11:00pm start)
14. None of Us Are Free
15. May Your Glass Be Filled
16. Walkin’ (For Your Love)

(11:16pm end)

Notes:
Wood Tour
Last ‘Fishing’ – 11/29/08, 215 shows
Last ‘Free Somehow’ – 10/28/08, 225 shows

time to go home