Before the world went to shit this is how things should have worked out. Phish announced the release of their new album Sigma Oasis. A few months later Sigma Oasis would be released and then kick off summer tour 2020. This summer tour would open with two nights at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. I was stocked to have the tour opener in my back yard and for two nights no less. Not my first time seeing Phish here either so I was looking forward to getting back.
This was originally schedule for July 14th and 15th 2020 but due to covid-19 it was schedule for the following year on July 13th and 14th 2021. As the year went on and the new date came near, things didn’t improve with covid so it was reschedule a second time for fall tour 2021. This time the show proceed and I was grateful to have Phish touring again. With such a long gap between tours staying in town and making this a mini vacation was an easy choice.
It was back in the spring of 1999 that Trey did hist last acoustic tour that I remember. He has toured extensively outside of Phish but I can’t remember the last time he did an acoustic set. In 1999 Trey was touring with a trio. He would play two sets, first was all acoustic and the second was with his trio. Unfortunately I missed this show when he came to the 9:30 Club that May.
That show I was really excited to see and disappointed I missed. That entire tour has gone down in the book of legends because of what it was. Being almost 20 years that I know of since he last did this I wasn’t as excited the second time around. It would be great to see him perform live but the novelty of an acoustic show wore off. He did it before and in much smaller venues. This time around his fame and popularity allow him to upgrade the tour. He even referenced playing at the Hilton Ballroom in Eugene and staying at the hotel that night. Now he is playing the Hult Center for the Performing Arts down in Eugene. Quite a step up from the 9:30 Club.
I took a half day to make sure I could get down to Eugene in time for the performance. It is only 2 hours from my house so theoretically I could have left work and made the show but I thought better to not risk it. The half day allowed me to run a few errands and arrive in Eugene with plenty of time before the show.
First stop was some food and beer at Falling Sky Brewing. A nice brewery that honestly is hard to find. I walked around the entire block looking for it. It is actually down the alley that splits the block. A small place. Lots of long benches and a few high top tables. Brewing operations are off to the right. They where definitely brewing beer that night. The whole place smelled of malt
A well rounded brewery but they certainly specialize in malt forward beers. They actually have a list of all the beers they have brewed each year, the batch number and totals for ingredients used. You can see the trend towards more hop and then a switch to more malts in the past couple of years. Balanced selection of beers but again, mostly favoring malts. They offer food as well but a limited menu. Its a seasonal menu and the burger I got that night was good. It went well with my brown ale.
After some food and beer sampling it was just a short walk to the venue. A large crowd had formed outside the venue and in the lobby. Phish fans had descended on the Hult Center and were taking it over. A really nice venue with comfortable seats and not a bad view in the house. Just a really beautiful space for a performance. It was a huge stage with just a single rug, chair, side table and two guitars.
The song selection was what I would call “typical” for an acoustic show. See Trey’s early ’99 work and the performance he and Mike did in 2010 in Broomfield, CO for the Fourmile Canyon fire relief fund. Not all songs will fit the acoustic formula so in actuality the song selection is pretty limited. Still a good performance and song selection with interesting takes.
One thing that I really enjoyed with this show was the intimacy and the banter. Since it was just Trey on stage he was relatively chatty compared to a typical Phish show. We got some insight into the songs or how they came to be or where they where created. Trey told a story from I believe it was from back in 1993 at the Hilton Ballroom. Apparently it was a good show and Trey made an announcement about an after party in Jon’s room 637. Jon was a good sport about it and they had a good after party that night. This kinda of banter you just don’t get with Phish in a large arena.
A great trip down to Eugene to see Trey. I wish the crowd was a little more respectful of the venue. They also talked constantly and everyone kept taking flash photos. But the beer was cold and the food good. The Hult Center is a great place to see a performance and I look forward to Phish coming back to Eugene one day….really anywhere in Oregon would be fine.
Set 1 (start time 8:57pm) 1. Waste 2. We are Come to Outlive our Brains 3. Limb by Limb 4. Brian and Robert 5. Lifeboy 6. Farmhouse 7. The Inlaw Josie Wales 8. Bliss 9. Billy Breaths 10. Sample in a Jar 11. The Wedge 12. Mercury 13. Mountains in the Mist 14. Cool Amber and Mercury 15. Back on the Train 16. Water in the Sky 17. Joy 18. Strange Design 19. Steam > 20. Backwards Down the Number Line > 21. Blaze On 22. Down with Disease 23. Chalkdust Torture > 24. Say it to Me S.A.N.T.O.S. > 25. Chalkdust Torture set over at 9:44pm
Encore (starts at 9:46pm) 26. All of These Dreams 27. If I Could 28. Talk 29. The Horse > 30. Silent in the Morning 31. More house lights at 10:05pm
I was very excited about this trip. Phish just released a new album Big Boat the week before and the North Charleston shows were the fall tour opener. I originally planned on seeing just the Saturday show but said fuck it and got tickets for Friday as well. I have seen Phish here several times before and they are pretty freaking amazing performances.
Friday morning I left work at 11:30, a little later then I wanted but still with plenty of time to get to the North Charleston Coliseum. While it was a Friday and I would be heading south, Labor Day had come and gone so I was fairly confident it would not be bumper to bumper on 95 south all the way past Fredericksburg. While I didn’t hit much traffic, hurricane Matthew the week before caused all sorts of damage to the highway as I had two detours in North Carolina! I couldn’t believe my luck. I kept watching my estimated arrival time slip further and further. No longer would I make it by 7:30, it was now 8:30…..no problem, they will only be a few songs into the first set. Then it went to just past 9, ok still fine. I will have missed the first set entirely but could rock out to the second set, second set is generally better anyhow. I didn’t arrive to the hotel till just past 10:30 and by then I had been on the road for 11 hours and just didn’t have the energy to drag myself to the venue to catch the last 15 to 20 minutes of the show.
What an awful start to a great weekend. Good thing is my personality doesn’t allow me to get upset, Saturday was a new day and what a day it turned out to be. One thing I love about the weekends is sleeping till I want to get up, which I did. Then it was straight to Charlestowne Tobacco & Wine in downtown to smoke and drink. The laws here allow me to grab a cigar, beer and just relax which is nice. I spent several hours at the cigar shop catching up on a few things and just enjoying the downtime.
It also allowed me to plot my next move. I already planned on going to Holy City Brewing to sample some beer but it was to early to leave. I get real sleepy if I drink beer for to long, hops has sleepy time properties to it. I did find the Charleston Beer Exchange which was a highly rated local bottle shop. Unfortunately they were moving and had nothing on the shelves. The place looked like a bomb went off on the inside, couldn’t tell if was Matthew or just them moving. No worries, off to Carmella’s for some lunch.
All this activity and I still had plenty of time to walk around downtown. I spent a lot of time at Waterfront Park. The weather was perfect on Saturday and everyone was out enjoying themselves. A cruise ship was docked, getting ready to leave and there was a military shipped docked as well. The sky was clear and a nice breeze kept things cool. Now and again you would smell rotting vegetation but the salt air would come right back and remind me where I was. It was fantastic smoking a cigar sitting on the bench beneath the tree overlooking the water.
As my time in downtown came to an end it was time to head to Holy City for some beer. If you know me even a little you know I love beer and when I travel I look for breweries to visit. Holy City is in the back of a small industrial park. The first time I actually drove past it so have your eyes open when visiting this place. They had over 20 beer of tap with all major styles represented and a few lesser known ones as well. I managed to have four beers and was pleasantly surprised by their taste and quality. The place itself is rather large and a great place to hang out with friends. The patio outside is huge and has umbrellas for those hot summer afternoons. Definitely kid friendly and they allow dogs on the patio too. I highly recommend Holy City if you are in North Charleston looking to drink beer. I have now been to the mountain and now the city. Gotta research my next papal visit.
Notice how little time I have spent talking about the show and more about my activities in Charleston. The short answer is Saturday nights performance was disappointing. I saw the set list from the Friday and it was good, talking to fans it got many high remarks. I just thought Saturday was rather boring and the song selection/order to be off. The one song highlight was Wolfman’s Brother. I was jamming the shit out of that song when someone grabbed my head. The guy complimented me saying “sometimes you just need a good Wolfman’s.” How true my friend, how true.
One thing I like about this venue is it is entirely general admission. Some places have only floor designated as GA but here it is the seats as well. Since I get to pick my seat I always choose directly behind the band here. All other shows I feel like they are projecting towards me. At Charleston I get to see the show from the bands perspective. I love watching the show of lights as it plays off the crowd. It shows me how much the fans love their music. I could see it on their faces and as they danced. The first set I sat the entire time. I would argue I was the most relaxed person there. Second set I got up a few times but with no one in front of me it’s like watching a live concert from the comfort of my couch.
The show ended just paste 11, way to early in my opinion but I don’t make the rules. I got to see the band shuffle past me very quickly as they headed to their buses and for me it was a short walk back to the hotel. Again, not the best performance I have seen from Phish but then again it’s always a gamble at a live show. This is part of the reason I keep going to see live music.
Sunday I planned to leave around noon, taking the back roads to get home. This worked out because I started seeing signs that 95N was closed in North Carolina from exit 19 to 56 or something crazy like that. I found Mixson Market for some coffee and a bit to eat. A cool little cafe and market that offered some specialty foods and drinks (read: beer). I sat here for a long while writing all my letters and notes to family. I wished the place did a little more business but the peace and quite was nice before my long drive home.
I saw way more of the North Carolina country side then I ever imagined. I was just not prepared for the drive south and all the detours. You know what they say when life gives you lemons. My time in Charleston was great despite Saturday’s show being sub-par and missing Friday entirely. This is still a great place to see Phish and I will certainly come back if they announce another show here.
Set 1 (start time at 8:01pm)
1. Blaze On
2. What’s the Use?
3. Martian Monster
4. Devotion To a Dream
5. Waking Up Dead >
6. Timber (Jerry)
7. Things People Do
8. Let Me Lie
9. Maze >
10. Lengthwise >
12. Ass Handed
14. Wolfman’s Brother
Set over at 9:20pm
Set 2 (start time at 9:53pm)
1. Mercury >
2. Twist >
3. I Always Wanted It This Way >
4. Miss You
5. Fuego >
Set over at 11:08pmEncore (starts at 11:11pm)
9. Good Times Bad Times
House lights at 11:16pm
 Sung by Fish over the Maze intro.
Big plans always start out with a good idea. Case in point, moe. announced a three night run in DC to start their fall tour which is part of their 25th anniversary. Jeremy and I looked to get tickets but the only way to get all three nights was with a pass. This pass was the only way to get tickets to The Hamilton for an intimate show. The remaining two shows were at the 9:30 Club just down the road. It didn’t take much convincing but we both bought passes. Unfortunately I hadn’t yet sign up for fall classes and wouldn’t you know it, I had a class on Thursday night prevent me from seeing moe. at The Hamilton. Ah well, can’t win them all. Jeremy did attend and said it was a great show.
It is hard to visit the 9:30 Club and not walk down U Street. We arrived with plenty of time before doors for Fridays show so we took some time to walk around till we found The Prospect. A nice sports bar where we got some wings and I had a couple beers. I was surprised to see they had Ballast Point Sculpin IPA on tap. As soon as I saw that it didn’t even checkout the rest of the menu. The atmosphere was good and the beer cold. After a few drinks we headed back to the club to enjoy the show.
We already had our tickets so walked right up to the front door. Even though it was a Friday night the show was not sold out which was really nice actually. It allowed everyone plenty of room to dance around and not step on each other. We got ourselves a good spot on the second floor along the rail and settled in for a good night of music.
The entire show was filled with energy. The band did one hell of a job on Friday and Saturday night in fact. Both shows included some incredible jams and plenty of segues. It felt like the second sets of each night never stopped, they just kept rolling on. Even got a cover of House of the Rising Sun and Time on Saturdays show. If memory serves me they have covered the entire Dark Side of the Moon album which itself is a really good show.
Friday we headed to Shelly’s Backroom for some food and smokes before the show. It is always great to sit and relax for a while smoking a cigar in a friendly environment. Saturdays show was also not sold out but no less energetic from the band. We bellied up to the second floor railing, this time on the opposite side as Friday. moe. once again put on a great show and played their hearts out.
They play Washington DC regularly and I think they enjoy coming to this area. The crowds are great and support the band every time they pass through town. Jeremy and I see them irregularly but when I do get the opportunity to see them locally, I have never been disappointed by the performance. Here is to another 25 years of moe.!
Nancy and I took a trip out west to visit family, this trip just happened to coincide with the start of Phish’s fall tour. While Nancy was not thrilled, she said I could go, she knows how much of a fan I am. I took a few hours out of our trip to head down to the Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene to see the show. Like always there was traffic getting to the venue and this turned what should have been a 3 hour trip into 4. I was pissed but there wasn’t much I could do about it. Once I finally got to the venue it took forever to find my seat but let me tell you, once I sat down it felt good to see Phish again.
I am not even sure how much of the first set I missed but once I was sitting down it didn’t much matter. The place was not sold out but it certainly was packed. I purchased my seat rather late so it was on the back of the stage which was perfect for me. I moved to a more center position and settled in for the remainder of the show. At pavilions you can only sit directly in front of the stage but at arena’s there is a little more freedom. I like the change of perspective that comes with sitting directly behind the stage. I feel like a part of the band, gazing out towards the grow getting the same view as the band. The lights dance around the arena, its just a totally different experience.
Pretty standard fair would be my opinion of the show. The one thing that did stick out with this show was the crowd. While there are usually a lot of hippies, here in Oregon there seemed to be a crap ton more than usually. In fact I have never seen so many dreadlocks on white people in my life. Song highlights included Reba and The Squirming Coil from set one. Coil ended the set and it was again perfect, all the band members leave the stage except for Page who finishes off the song with some great solo piano work. Before he leaves he thanks the crowd and mentions they love this place but don’t get out here enough. Living on the east coast I don’t have this problem, I am able to see a ton of shows every year.
Second set was better than the first, standard fair again. Plasma was a debut for the band so that was cool, traditional a Trey song Phish played it for the first time that night. Crosseyed and Painless > Harry Hood was a good one. This Talking Heads cover has certainly been played in the past but not with any regularity. When it does make its appearance it is a treat. The lead into Hood Hood which was certainly an above average jam. Not sure what sparked the band but the jam was great. For the encore they played Sleeping Monkey along with two others. Trey remarked that this is Page’s most requested song when they do encores but rarely gets played. This night it was dedicated to Page with Trey and Page singing duet on the song. Even the crowd go into the fun and sang a verse.
First west coast Phish and I was not disappointed. Honestly I think the worst Phish show still beats any day not seeing them. Yes the show was pretty much the same with only the crowd being a little more hippie then usually. I can at least check the box for seeing a Phish show on the west coast. Now they just have to tour Europe again so I can see them play there and check that box as well.
01. Waiting All Night
02. Free >
03. Poor Heart >
04. Sample in a Jar
05. Strange Design
07. Bouncing Around the Room >
10. Simple >
12. The Squirming Coil
Set over at 9:34pm
Starts at 10:04pm
01. Carini >
04. Halfway to the Moon >
06. Crosseyed and Painless >
07. Harry Hood >
08. Rocky Top
Set over at 11:22pm
Starts at 11:25pm
10. Sleeping Monkey >
11. Quinn the Eskimo
House lights at 11:44pm