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All about the jam band Phish.

Phish Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday, June 22nd 2019

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

Set 1 starts at 7:30pm start

  1. Undermine
  2. Tube
  3. Funky Bitch
  4. Steam >
  5. My Sweet One >
  6. NICU
  7. Friend
  8. No Men In No Man’s Land*
  9. Horse >
  10. Silent in the Morning
  11. David Bowie
  12. Squirming Coil
    Set over at 8:53pm

Set 2 starts at 9:19pm

  1. Ghost >
  2. Axilla >
  3. Set Your Soul Free >
  4. What’s the Use >
  5. Billy Breathes
  6. Death Don’t Hurt Very Long >
  7. Backwards Down the Number Line >
  8. Harry Hood >
  9. Rise/Come Together >
  10. Golgi Apparatus
    Set over at 10:37

Encore starts at 10:40pm

  1. Bug >
  2. Character Zero
    House lights at 10:54

Note:
* with Blister in the Sun tease

Phish Madison Square Garden Saturday, August 5th 2017

Unfortunately I waited to long to get my tickets for Friday and Saturday night. This meant I had to go with after market for my tickets and ended up only getting one for Saturday. This allowed me another day of recovered which was badly needed.

MSG isn’t that far from the house so within a few hours I was in downtown Manhattan walking around the city. Visited Washington Square Park before walking in just in time for the show.

Got a seat right behind the stage and way at the top.  It’s not that bad of a spot honestly and as big as the venue is the lights have a bigger canvas to draw on.

First set ridiculous with the set open of Shakedown Street. I remember that one last time in 2003 at Uniondale, NY which was an awesome show from back in the day. So far this one is not disappointing with the medley of classic rock just blowing the doors off the place. This is now know as the Sunshine of your Feeling for the Boston and Cream song references. Really amazing stuff and worth a listen just on its own. Lots of playful songs in the set. Second set should be even better.

Second started off strong with three songs that don’t reqlly have anything in common. This set they each had a killer jam sandwiched in between each song. After Light the set really went down hill for me. None of the other songs I particularly like and I thought the jams just didn’t make the cut. This show is great on the strength of the first set alone and from the jams in the first three of set two.

A great time and a worthy performance from the band. Finally glad I made an MSG show. It’s been on my lit of venues forever.

Set 1: 8:10pm start
1. Soul Shakedown Party
2. Uncle Pen
3. The Sloth
4. Gotta Jibboo
5. Fuck Your Face
6. Sunshine of Your Feeling[1]
7. Frost
8. Scent of a Mule
9. Fire
10. Alaska
11. Plasma
9:29pm end

Set 2: 10:04pm start
1. Ghost
2. Petrichor
3. Light >
4. The Lizards
5. The Horse >
6. Silent in the Morning >
7. Quinn the Eskimo >
8. Rocky Top
11:20pm end

encore: 11:23pm start
9. Joy
house lights at 11:29pm

Note:
[1] Debut.

Phish October 15th 2016 North Charleston Coliseum

phish-north-charleston-2016-posterI 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.

A small street along Waterfront Park. I wouldn't mind owning one of the homes just off to the left of the street.
A small street along Waterfront Park. I wouldn’t mind owning one of the homes just off to the left of the street.

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.

img_4579As 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.

img_4583One 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.

img_4565Sunday 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[1] >
11. Maze
12. Ass Handed
13. Carini
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[2] >
4. Miss You
5. Fuego >
6. Sand
7. Joy
8. Possum
Set over at 11:08pmEncore (starts at 11:11pm)
9. Good Times Bad Times
House lights at 11:16pm 

 

 

Notes
[1] Sung by Fish over the Maze intro.
[2] Debut.

 

Lockin’ Festival 2016

lockn logoI don’t even remember the last festival I went to, it’s been that long since I have attended one. This years lineup at Lockin’ Festival got me excited to attend. When it was announced that Phish would headline two nights, and the venue is less then three hours from my house, I just had to go. After the last week and a half at work I was certainly ready for a few relaxing days in the woods listening to music.

My camp site was basic but provied everything I needed.
My camp site was basic but provided everything I needed.

This festival started on Thursday and would last through Sunday, longest festival I have ever been to. I arrived on Thursday with plenty of time before the first band. I splurged for the Forrest camping and I am glad I did. There are a ton of people right at the entrance to the Forrest but I managed to find a spot way in the back. Secluded and peaceful which is just the way I like it. From my camp spot I could listen to both the main stage and Blueridge Bowl. It’s hot and humid in the day but at night the weather really cools down and I would fall asleep to music from the Blueridge Bowl.

First band on Thursday didn’t start till 7:30 so I had a ton of time to kill. Having worn myself out setting up camp I actually took a long nap. It felt good sleeping in the middle of the day. As hot as it was it was wise to stick to the forest and the shade it offered. I did finally make it to the main stage to see the end of Vulfpeck, all of Umphrey’s and the headliners Ween. First time seeing Ween and not bad, there style of music is all over the place I must say. They didn’t win me over or anything but it was still a good show. I really wanted to hear Roses are Free and I thought for sure it would be played since Phish was at the same festival but alas, it was not meant to be.

img_4382Friday I got up at a reasonable hour and bummed around the camp site for a long while.  Each morning I would make a cup of coffee and smoke a cigar which was really relaxing. Saturday I left camp early to see the second half of Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass which was great.  Sunday I woke up to Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel, a nice spin on the usual Grateful Dead cover. Most morning I would just be sitting at the camp site and listen to the morning show from the Blue Ridge Bowl.  Much of the bands on Friday I had heard of before and what I would describe as up and coming.  Nothing that blew my doors off but some good stuff by these smaller bands.  Friday’s closer, and the reason I am really here, was Phish.  I thought Friday’s show was great.  Lots of energy and a good set list.

Which way am I going?
Which way am I going?

Saturday was another fantastic day of music.  Many of the bands played two days over the four day weekend which was cool.  I started my day with most of Galactic whom I haven’t seen in a long time.  Hard Working Americans includes the bassist from WSP which was nice and then things just sorta died.  Something happened and Brandi Carlile never played and Phil was late which sucked.  After his set I headed back to the camp site to cool off a little and get some foods.  Saturday’s head liner was My Morning Jacket and I was looking forward to seeing them.  For some strange reason I have never seen them live before so tonight was my first show.  I thought the set and performance where spectacular.  With all the confusion in the show order earlier in the night, they didn’t finish up till 1am which cut into my seeing Lettuce.  After My Morning Jacket I headed to the Blue Ridge Bowl to see Lettuce but they had already started.  I don’t know what time they finished but I left at 2:30 and they were still playing.  That night I went to bed listening to the last songs of Lettuce which was a sweet lullaby as I drifted off to sleep.

img_4375Sunday was the last day of the festival but a long one.  I caught The Wailers and skipped Chris Robinson, I just don’t like that guy.  So back to the tent for a quick nap and food before the long haul as Phil Lesh, Gary Clark Jr. and then Phish to close the night and the festival.  Sunday’s Phish show was ok, I thought Friday’s performance had a better set list and more energy. Gary Clark Jr. was a good change of pace with some blues sandwiched between two jam bands.

To be honest it was two nights of Phish that sold me on buying tickets. After the experience I had over the weekend it was a well put together festival. Arriving and getting to my camp site was a breeze. The offer of forest camping was a dream in the hot and humid August weather too. The food here was also spectacular if not a little pricey. The best place was the Ozark Biscuit Company. I must have eaten there four times over the weekend. Most of the food vendors reminded me of food trucks, great food with a limited menus. Another nice feature was the contactless payment system. Your ticket was a RFID that got you into the venue but could also be used to buy anything, no need to carry a wallet this time around.

I don’t even know how long it has been since I have seen a festival but I quickly realized how much I miss them.  I loved that once I arrived, I was all set.  The other thing I really loved was how long the festival was.  Four night, five days with four jam packed days of music that never overlapped. This is how festivals should all be run.

 

2016 artist lineup

Lockn' Festival  2016 artist lineup

Phish Lakewood Amphitheater August 1st 2015

phish Atlanta summer 2015 PosterAfter fifteen years I find myself headed back to Atlanta to see Phish.  Phish was coming to my area and doing their annual two night weekend run at Merriweather but this year I will be in Alaska on a family vacation.  Not having any other opportunities to see Phish this summer I decided to drive down to Atlanta for a Saturday show and then head back home on Sunday.  I ended up going to Birmingham for business and saw the Phish show in Tuscaloosa, all in all it worked out.

Since moving out to Ashburn I had forgotten what 95 traffic can be like on a Saturday in summer.  Not realizing it is a damn parking lot, I got stuck in traffic from the moment I got onto 95 to till I got off on I-85W past Richmond.  I had timed my trip to leave at 8am and arrive in Atlanta by 6pm.  The show started at 7 and I had a lawn seat so this would afford me enough time to check into the hotel and get to Lakewood.  Traffic totally screwed that plan.

What should have been a great show in Atlanta and a nice welcome back moment, turned into a disaster.  Traffic caused me to miss the entire first set.  The Fairfield Inn was not in the best part of town so that sucked, I couldn’t find a place to park and checking in was a nightmare.  Once I finally got to the venue I forgot you have to pay to park.  I drove around till I found a lot that was cheap enough for the cash I had on hand.  This ended up being on the opposite side of the venue so was a long walk to the front gate.

copyright atlantamusicguide.com
copyright atlantamusicguide.com

When I finally got to the entrance, at least there wasn’t a line waiting to get in.  As I was handing my ticket to the agent, Phish walked on stage and as I made my way up to the lawn with the first notes of Tweezer guiding me to the lawn.  I was already in a bad mood and this really affected how I perceived the show.  All in all I thought it was a weak performance by the band.  Honestly, I was so put off by my trip down that the show could have been stellar and I would still probably hate it.

One thing that really got me was the crowd.  It was your typical crowd but I felt they where not really into the show that night which sucked.  It killed me that during the encore break no one was cheering to get the band back onstage.  It was as if they just expect them to appear for an encore.  While I understand this, we as the audience should at least make an effort to get them back out for one last song.  Honestly I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and fall asleep.  I was so tired and cranky I just wanted to go to bed.

On a more object note, not everything about the show was horrible.  Tweezer was a really good version and a great way to open the second set.  Sand was a great throw back and Tweezer reprise was sorta expected to end the show.  The encore was also good.  On another note the weather was good that night, not hot and rather low humidity.  The night sky was clear which was cool because I got to see a full moon rise above the lawn which was really cool.  Watching the moon with Phish playing in the background was really relaxing.

I have a feeling that in the years to come, I will be skipping Atlanta.  It could be another 10 years before I make it out there again.

Set 1
1. Runaway Jim
2. Undermind
3. Nellie Kane
4. Blaze On
5. Halfway to the Moon
6. Ocelot
7. Heavy Things
8. Theme From the Bottom
9. Run Like an Antelope

Set 2 (starts at 9:25pm)
1. Tweezer
2. Waiting All Night
3. Backwards Down the Number Line
4. Carini
5. Waste
6. Sand
7. Tweezer Reprise
Set over at 10:39

Encore (starts at 10:42pm)
8. Rock and Roll
house lights at 10:50pm

 

Notes: Trey teased Sing (Joe Raposo) in Ocelot and Happy Birthday in Heavy Things. Tweezer included a Mercury tease from Mike and Trey.