Somethings just have a crazy way of working out. When Phish announced this years summer tour it was a typical east coast only summer tour. I like the new format of hitting one city but doing two or three shows in a row. When it was announced they would play Merriweather again over a weekend I thought about it but in the end decided to skip it because it was to close to my Montreal trip and I just wouldn’t have the money. Well I switched jobs and guess what, they flew me out to Fairfax, VA for two weeks which coincided with Phish playing Merriweather Post Pavilion. My home venue on a show I wanted to see but couldn’t initially and with a little luck I was now going to see.
Saturday morning I headed down to Fredericksburg to visit my mother and her husband. It took forever getting south so I left with what I thought was plenty of time to get to the venue. Traffic was a little better then I thought but it still took a while to get there. In the end I think it took just over 3 hours to arrive. By the time I parked and got through security it was only a few minutes before lights out. With such a long trip I hit the restroom first and wouldn’t you know it they came out while I was waiting.
To me I didn’t miss the start of the show but it made getting a spot on the lawn difficult. I ended up way in the back but at least I made it in time to hear the first notes. The venue has been improving since the last time I was hear. The wings are now complete and people are occupying all levels of the redesigned seating areas. I remember seeing my first show in ’98 and how low the ceiling was and how awful the view from the lawn was. The acoustics have also improved all over. You can actually hear what is going on from the lawn now. It doesn’t sound all muddled and distant.
The weather that night was hot and humid. It was not till the sun started to set that thing event began to cool off. While the show might not have been sold out, it was pretty damn close. That meant a lot of hot sweaty bodies on the lawn. All dancing around going crazy during the show.
As for the music it was a decent show. Honestly nothing in the setlist really blew me away. It was a rather predicable setlist with some classics and a few new songs. No bust outs or anything that hasn’t been played in a long time, nothing like that. While the show might have lacked a really good setlist the version played of all the songs where pretty damn good.
I found things to be much deeper and groovier if that makes sense. They took traditional songs from this tour but turned it up a notch on the jams. As a long time fan the actual setlist has become less and less important to me. Even for me the sets are generally the same after all these years. What I love now are the people, the scene, and the jams. They played some really kick ass jams that night that blew me away.
First set overall was pretty decent. A good mix with some good jams, typical. Second set was a little disappointing with the song selection but again they played some really good versions of those songs. Highlight for me was getting a Harry Hood. I don’t know the exact number but I have seen this song done here numerous times. Even the encore was honestly a no-brainier kinda thing. Still well done but no thought into what to play.
Even the worst day seeing Phish bets any other day hands down. Missing a show is better then not having the opportunity to go. It was great coming back home and seeing them play on Saturday. I had a ticket for Sunday but skipped it to hangout with a friend. Looking over Sunday’s setlist it was a little better but I don’t regret skipping Sunday. I know, never miss a Sunday but still…..
Phish Saturday, June 22nd 2019 Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD
My first year living on the west coast and I was excited when Phish announced their summer tour. They have not been touring nearly as long as past tours but they are hitting bigger cities for longer stints which is nice. Over the last few years it has not been so much about the quantity of shows as the quality of shows. When they said three shows at The Gorge I was so excited. Unfortunately this conflicted with a company event and there was just no way I could swing seeing even one show at The Gorge.
Not being deterred I decided to hit three shows on the east coast. If I could not see them in my adopted home I would see them in my real home. This actually worked out for the best. While disappointed to not see them at The Gorge I was excited to see my family. I would see Phish for three straight nights to close the summer tour out. One more time at Walnut Creek and then two nights at Merriweather. The final show of the tour would be Sunday and never miss a Sunday show. It was also just after the 20th anniversary of me seeing Phish live. In fact my first show was their first time at Merriweather so this was a home coming for many reasons.
As the trip grew closer I gotta be honest, I checked out at work. I was so excited for what was about to come. SiriusXM just switched their Jam_On channel to Phish Radio which was awesome. I was going to see my family, and Phish, oh man so excited.
The entire trip didn’t disappoint at all. In fact it went well above my expectations. If there was anything to complain about it was the lack of any real down time. As soon as I landed till the time I took off the tarmac on a delayed flight, I was non-stop go go go. It was exhausting but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It does remind me that I am getting older however.
First thing after landing was picking up the rental car. I needed to make it to Craft House in Fairfax Corner for a drink with my old boss. That guy is great, taught me a lot and it was great catching up with him. He just had his third kid so I was happy he got a kitchen pass for the night to have a couple of drinks. That night I went to my brother’s house. That turned into a disaster, he’s an asshole.
Not letting it ruin my trip the next morning I was up pretty early for being on vacation. It was a five hour drive to Raleigh and I wanted to stop by Old Virginia Tobacco in Woodbridge to hangout and have a cigar. I was not sure who I would run into but I ended up seeing a shit ton of people.
The coolest thing was catching up with CJ. Last I heard he was getting out of OVTC and moving onto a better job. Well come to find out that fell through so he is now running the Woodbridge shop while he looks for a better paying job. Working at OVTC has its benefits but money is not one of them. I ran into a lot of customers including Ed, Sal, John, Baker, Clive, and Ben. Probably forgetting one or two people. For a Friday morning I was happy to run into so many familiar faces as I did.
The drive south to Raleigh was shit. I haven’t been on the east coast in a year and even longer since I have driven 95 during the summer months. I didn’t leave Woodbridge till after noon and it took me about 6 hours to make it down to Raleigh. Unfortunately this put a damper on doing any actives in Raleigh before the show. I had just enough time to check into the hotel and then I was off to the venue.
Despite being a Friday it was not sold out. I arrived about thirty minutes before the show and the lawn was not packed at all. What I couldn’t wait for was the sun to set. It is the south in August so needless to say it was hot and muggy that night. Finally when the sun went down things cooled off a little.
First show of summer tour for me and I was rather disappointed in the performance. All during the first set Trey kept screwing up his guitar work and the lyrics. To me it was so obvious. They would have this groove going and all of a sudden Trey would miss a note and it was like dragging fingers across the chalk board to me.
Thankfully the second set pulled it out and helped save the night. Still not a stellar performance from the band but it brought it up to an average rating. The Runaway > Antelope > Runaway > Antelope > Makisupa is what saved the night in my opinion. That little medley was awesome. By the second set I had moved further back and to the left so I wasn’t so crowded. Plus I was further away from all the smokers who where ridiculous.
Having missed dinner and not getting anything at the venue I was hungry for some food. Thankfully Raleigh is a larger city so it was easy to find something that was open late on a Friday night. Virgil’s Original Taqueria which was pretty good. I got three tacos and some chips which all was good but my eyes where bigger then my stomach. A great way to cap off the night.
The next morning I couldn’t sleep in as I needed to head north to Columbia for the show Saturday night. I made a long stop in Fredericksburg to see my mother and her husband at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. It was a already a long day of driving but thankfully only a little traffic. My mother actually had to kick me out so I wouldn’t be late for the show that night. It was so great catching up for them even if it was only for a few hours.
Similar to Raleigh I was able to check into the hotel, catch a quick nap and then head to the venue. It has been several years since I was last at Merriweather and it has changed a lot since that time. The area around the venue is now well developed with lots of new apartment buildings and retail locations. This changed the parking situation which is now a little confusing if you are not prepared. You can get tickets for parking ahead in numbered lots or just show up and they will guide you to the right lots in the back.
First night I had a lawn seat and tried to get there at a reasonable time. Parking ended up taking longer then I wanted so by the time I got onsite the lawn was already packed. Tonights show was sold out for months so it was going to be a packed house. I noticed that they redesigned the wings on either side of the stage to adjust the seating and have a new roof covering the area instead of those stupid canvas tents. They have also redesigned some of the concessions and looks like they will start doing a true VIP area soon.
First set really started off strong with Blaze On > Party Time. After that it just turned for a much slower pace of show. Blah…get over it. Set ended on a good high of Stash and 46 Days. Second set was constant flip flopping of old school, new school, repeat till the encore. Sand and Ghost had good jams and they rocked Fuego.
The encore was four songs. I over heard someone say this was the first time this tour that happened. Set two was barely over an hour long. They seemed to struggle to play during the second set. To me the crowd just wasn’t into the show. It started with such promise but failed to live up to the hype in a way. A failure of its own success you could say. So even a four set encore wasn’t anything to write home about.
Sunday was the first day I didn’t have to get up and travel some place. It was one day but a well deserved break. I got a casual start before meeting Nancy early for drinks. We were going to get together with others for brunch at Earls Kitchen + Bar. I got a simple eggs Benedict and it was pretty amazing. The Hollanda sauce had the right amount of tang and creamy richness.
After that most of us headed to Bungalow Lakehouse for cigars in the gazebo. Here I meet up with Jaye and Ed. The weather was finally starting to break. The humidity level was dropping along with the temperatures. This just meant that a weather front was moving in and it would rain. I smoked two cigars before I had to leave for Merriweather. Just before I left it started to rain and that meant the highways would be filled with idiots that don’t know how to drive.
After saying my goodbyes and filling up the tank it didn’t take long to make it to the venue. The whole way up it rained but I still made pretty good time. I was able to stop and get a sandwich before the show in fact. I had a pavilion seat so didn’t care if it rained or not.
I got to the venue with plenty of time before the show. As I showed my ticket and walked toward my seat I was shocked at just how closed it was. My seat ended up being the first row of seats, right behind the pit and eye level with the stage. This is the best seat I have ever had seeing Phish or probably any major band ever. One or twice I might have been closer from behind the stage but never this close from the front.
The entire second night kicked ass. Having such a good seat certainly made it a little more enjoyable but the setlist and the energy were all from the band. The rain stopped a little after 7pm and never returned. It cooled everything off quite a lot which was a welcome comfort.
The show got off to a rocking start and the jams throughout the songs kicked ass. Upbeat toons like Llama and BBFCFM are a good way to start things. Lots of these slow laid back kinda jams thrown in all throughout the show. I just couldn’t believe how good the first set was. The end was of the set was just flowed from song to song with a good selection of Tweezer > Bathtub > The Curtain With > Chalk Dust.
I was hoping for as close to the original 8/8/1998 show as possible so during the second set I got a Piper and then a really really good 2001 > Harry Hood to close the set, close the show, close the tour. What a groovy second set they played I was completely blown away by it.
Encore was a mix of typical encore slow jams. Not bad but not really great either. The second Tweezer Reprise certainly was a change of pace and not expected. They opened set two with the reprise so this came completely out of left field.
Just a great show and the perfect way to end the day. It was a short ride back to the hotel and a well deserved nights sleep. The next morning I planed on getting up and out at a reasonable hour. I had a late flight so took the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art in the morning. Here I browsed and took some time to do a little writing. Eventually I meet Nancy for lunch at Plan B Burger Bar. I was still on vacation so we started the afternoon off with a couple of beers. After lunch we headed to Ocelot for some more beer before she dropped me off at the airport.
I think going west is easier because you gain all your time back. It does make for a long day but I think its easier getting home and adjusting to the difference. The weather at IAD ended up not playing well and delayed my flight by over an hour. Whats worst was the hour or so lost on the tarmac just sitting there. This just made for a long day of travel getting home. The seats are not the most comfortable so my ass was already hurting before I even left the ground
Once I got home I took the Max home. It felt so good to get home that night. I dropped my bags on the floor and crawled right into bed. This trip was a lot of fun. Not a lot of time to stop and smell the roses but I was able to accomplish a lot of what I wanted. I saw three shows of Phish with the Sunday show completely blowing my mind. I also managed to see a lot of friends and family so it was awesome catching up with them. This was a trip when I really did need a day to recover from my trip. Next year I hope that I can make The Gorge shows. But if they play Merriweather again it is worth it going home to catch them at my home venue. Always a blast.
Phish Friday, August 10th 2018 Walnut Creek – Raleigh, NC
Set 1 starts at 7:33pm 1. Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan 2. Funky Bitch 3. Ocelot > 4. The Wedge 5. Wombat 6. Guelah Papyrus 7. Birds of a Feather > 8. Saw It Again > 9. Timber (Jerry The Mule) > 10. Limb By Limb > 11. Farmhouse > 12. More set over at 8:49pm
Set 2 starts at 9:35pm 1. Meatstick* > 2. Drowned > 3. NICU > 4. Thread > 5. Runaway Jim > 6. Run Like an Antelope > 7. Runaway Jim > 8. Run Like an Antelope > 9. Makisupa Policeman > 10. Run Like an Antelope > 11. You Enjoy Myself set over at 10:38pm
Encore starts at 10:40pm 12. A Day in the Life house lights at 10:46pm
Notes * Trey did a dance associated with In My Feelings. Page teased the theme from Barney Miller after Wombat. Trey quoted Clowny Clown Clown in Saw It Again. Saw It Again was teased and quoted in Timber. Trey quoted In My Feelings and did a dance associated with the song during Meatstick. The first Runaway Jim and the second Run Like an Antelope contained Thread quotes.
Phish Saturday, August 11th 2018 Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD
Set 1 starts at 7:38pm 1. Blaze On > 2. Party Time 3. Breath and Burning 4. Sugar Shack 5. Home 6. Joy 7. Stash 8. 46 Days set over at 8:46pm
Set 2 starts at 9:19pm 1. Sand > 2. Mercury > 3. Ghost > 4. Fuego > 5. Slave to the Traffic Light set over at 10:23pm
Encore starts at 10:26pm 6. Twenty Years Later > 7. Martian Monster > 8. Rocky Top > 9. Golgi Apparatus house lights at 10:46pm
Notes Trey teased Wingsuit in 46 Days.
Phish Sunday, August 12th 2018 Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD
Set 1 starts at 7:36pm 1. Llama 2. Big Black Furry Creature from Mars 3. Meat 4. Alaska 5. Tweezer > 6. Bathtub Gin > 7. The Curtain With > 8. Chalk Dust Torture set over at 8:50pm
Set 2 starts at 9:24pm 1. Tweezer Reprise > 2. No Men In No Man’s Land > 3. Twist > 4. Prince Caspian > 5. Piper > 6. Backwards Down the Number Line > 7. Also Sprach Zarathustra > 8. Harry Hood set over at 10:37pm
Encore starts at 10:39pm 9. Heavy Things 10. Bug > 11. Tweezer Reprise 12. house lights at 10:54pm
Notes Trey teased Streets of Cairo during Meat. Trey teased L.A. Woman during Tweezer. Trey teased San-Ho-Zay in No Men in No Man’s Land. Page teased In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida in Twist. Piper contained a Tweezer Reprise jam and quotes. Also Sprach Zarathustra included Martian Monster teases.
Spring tour was announced many months ago so I have had lots of time to prepare for Widespread Panic coming to the region for a good week of shows. I didn’t pre purchase any tickets because I was not 100% on my schedule or if I could find anyone that wanted to go with me. As the shows go closer I could see that work and school would take up my time not allowing me to see a show during the week.
The last show in this area was at Pier Six in Baltimore. From my new house it is about 1:30 hours, a huge time saving compared to living in Stafford. The one good thing about the Sunday night show was that traffic is not yet that bad. Once summer hits, 95 will be a mess on the weekends and everyone is either heading to or from the beach by car. This allowed me to take a nap and get well rested for the show to come.
For a late April show the weather was very chilli. Everyone was wearing jackets and preparing for the mid-50’s that it would get down to. Being on the water lowers the temperature that much more. Another weird thing about the water was the number of boats I saw in the harbor. In fact people where sitting on each flanking pier to watch and hear the show.
The show itself was a good one. One of the other fans had a t-shirt that said “Never Miss a Sunday Show” and let me tell you that was some sound advice. There was one slow spot in the first set and around the drums of set 2 was weird. But all in a all worthy performance by the guys with Duane Trucks still sitting in on drums.
One of the highlights from this show was all the covers. They have certainly been played before but I thought the selection and shear number played made this show spectacular. Standouts included Pusherman and the show stopping Ballad of John and Yoko. A few years ago when I saw them at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, they played this the second night of the run. I could only see one show and I picked the night before. I kinda thought I got some vindication when they played that the other night.It was a great performance and I am glad I went. The show ended just before 11pm but I didn’t manage to make it home till 1am. 250th show by my count as well so that makes it a little more memorable. See you all on the road.
Set 1 starts at 7:41pm
01. Holden Oversoul
03. Tickle the Truth
05. The Poorhouse of Positive Thinking
09. Blackout Blues
set over at 8:46pm
Set 2 start at 9:17pm
02. Mercy >
03. Jam >
04. Big Wooly Mammoth
05. Chainsaw City (Little Women cover)
06. Blight (brute. cover) >
07. jam >
08. drums >
09. Pusherman (Curtis Mayfield cover)
10. May Your Glass Be Filled
11. No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature (The Guess Who cover)
walk off stage at 10:38pm
Encore starts at 10:41pm
12. Dream Song
13. The Ballad of John and Yoko (The Beatles cover)
house lights at 10:54pm
Waking up in the same city as that nights show felt great, I had all day to kill. Generally I like to hike on days like this but today I decided to relax first at the hotel with coffee and the Post. Then around lunch I headed to a restaurant Nancy and I found while seeing The Killers the year before, the Frisco Taphouse. I spent all afternoon here eating and more importantly drinking beer. Like always when sampling new beers, it was not all good but I certainly had a great time doing it.
Today I arrived early to the venue and was able to score a spot in the lot near the entrance. I forgot my lawn chair so instead I just sat in the trunk of my car. I smoke a cigar and people watched. There was this constant stream of cars coming into the venue and going in the opposite direction were people headed to shakedown street. The cast of characters is wide and varied at a Phish show which is something I love about them.
After the previous night I had even higher hopes for tonight’s show. Again it was being broadcast to the interwebs and it was a Merriweather show, come on guys rock this show. Fee started the show and it was a weird version. Trey used the megaphone but the song was played differently, the order was all wrong and it appeared to end abruptly yet Trey said it was all there. The rest of the set was really good as well. A good mix of songs and all played very well. I love hearing Fuego being jammed out and ending the set with YEM was a killer choice.
Second set got off to an average start with Wilson. The sun had set and the stage lights came up, the crowd was excited, throw in a good crowd interactive song and they ate it up. Wilson segued into Tweezer and for the rest of the night the set revolved around Tweezer. I have seen this done once before with Saw It Again at Merriweather in fact. Almost every other song segued into Tweezer and then into another song before going back to Tweezer. When Phish does this I love the playfulness from the band.
People ask me all the time if I get bored going to so many shows, aren’t they all just the same they ask. I happen to completely disagree to both statements. When they do things like this it just makes me love seeing the band in person. You often get special one of a kind shows that make it all worth while. All the teases during their normal songs were great, you never knew if they would find just one more sample before the show ended.
Most of the second set felt like it was the final song of the set and couldn’t get any better. Then all of a sudden they would squeeze another song in. At one point they played Jennifer Dance for the first time just short of 15 years since the last time. This continued till they finally walked off after Page’s I’ve Been Around.
This show quickly became a memorable show and near the top of my favorites list. This is why I still see them after all these many years. Musically they might not always play perfectly, but they will pull out some really great shows now and again. Besides a little drizzly rain and the second set, I won’t forget this show for a long while. Reason I keep coming back to this venue every time to see Phish perform.
Set 1 7:35pm
02. The Curtain With
03. 46 Days
05. My Sweet One
07. Bouncing Around the Room
08. Saw It Again >
10. You Enjoy Myself
set over at 8:56pm
Set 2 9:25pm
01. Wilson >
02. Tweezer >
03. Back on the Train >
04. Tweezer >
05. Back on the Train >
06. Tweezer >
07. Waiting All Night >
08. Free >
09. Tweezer >
10. Simple >
11. Tweezer >
12. Free >
13. Catapult >
14. Slave to the Traffic Light >
15. Down with Disease >
16. NICU >
17. Hold Your Head Up >
18. Jennifer Dances >
19. Hold Your Head Up
20. I Been Around
set over at 10:43pm
21. Boogie On Reggae Woman >
22. Tweezer Reprise
show over at 10:55pm
 With Trey waving his megaphone and using its siren.
 Fishman on vocals.
This show was webcast via LivePhish. YEM included Flash Light teases and featured Trey waving his megaphone and using its siren. The first Tweezer contained Back on the Train teasing from Fish. The third Tweezer included Page teasing Manteca. Simple included a Magilla tease from Page. Catapult was played for the first time since August 14, 2009 (206 shows). DWD was unfinished. NICU contained Under Pressure teases. Tweezer was teased after the first HYHU and in I Been Around. Jennifer Dances was performed at Trey’s request for the first time since December 17, 1999 (352 shows), featured Fishman attempting to sing the song but not knowing the lyrics, and was quoted at the end of the second HYHU. I Been Around was last played October 16, 2010 (149 shows) and while the band was walking off the stage in synchronized steps.
Having woken up in Charlotte, I had a long drive ahead of me to get to Columbia. I had to drive all the way back to my house and then continue another 1.5 to 2 hours further to get to Merriweather. I was not to concerned about the 8 hour drive, what worried me was the summer traffic around DC on a Saturday. It can take a one hour drive and quickly turn it into three.
I decided to leave rather early and take mostly back roads to get to Columbia. I choose a route that took me north to Greensboro, through Danville and then out towards Richmond. I took this route to get to Charlotte and found it to be a nice peaceful drive through the country. Once I got around Richmond I detoured and headed out 301 and up through Maryland. This allowed me to avoid all of 95 around northern Virginia and the beltway too. While it was a little longer in terms of distance, I think I made better time than the more direct route.
Checking into the hotel first I didn’t have much time to make it to the venue. If you arrive late parking can be a real bear. There is not enough parking, especially for a sold out show like Saturday night was. As I only had a lawn ticket I also wanted to arrive somewhat early to get a good spot. Merriweather is know for how bad the lawn seats are, not only for sight line but acoustics as well. This was unavoidable because of my travel time but in the end I wasn’t to bothered by it. I was really just hoping it wouldn’t rain like the year before.
First set was a decent one. I always have high expectations from a Merriweather show and at least it didn’t disappoint. Both shows were broadcast and that was another reason to have high expectations from this show. It was good but didn’t live up to the hype I was hoping for. Opening night set one contained just one new songs and some good classics as well. It also seemed to run longer than usual, clocking in at nearly 90 minutes. Generally speaking the first set is always shorter than the second but tonight’s performance was split evenly between the two.
Second set started off on fire with Carini > Ghost which had a sick jam in it. Ghost was a totally different version then ones I have heard in the past, the uniqueness of it made this song a good one. The set flowed rather well from song to song with only a few abrupt changes in tone. 2001 > Harry Hood was a great way to end this better than average second set. I always think of Merriweather and Harry Hood. For me there is a special connection between the two so when I am able to hear this song here it gives me goose bumps.
On a whole just an average show I will confess. What makes it special is the venue and the tour. As the saying goes, the worst performance by Phish beats the best day of work anytime.
Set 1 (show starts at 7:35pm)
01. Sample in a Jar
02. The Moma Dance
04. Backwards Down the Number Line
06. The Wedge
07. Wolfman’s Brother
08. Nellie Kane
09. Lawn Boy
10. The Line
12. Suzy Greenberg
set over at 9:00pm
Set 2 (starts at 9:28pm)
01. Carini >
02. Ghost >
03. Steam >
04. The Mango Song >
05. Sing Monica >
06. Light >
07. 2001 >
08. Harry Hood
set over at 10:43pm
Encore (starts at 10:46pm)
house lights at 10:53pm