Friday, January 16, 2015

Shakedown Street: Phil Lesh and Friends with Trey and Page

Phil Lesh and Friends played three shows in April 1999 at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. Lesh invited both Trey and Page to join his band for that run. I went to the shows and they were among my all-time favorite musical experiences. As my bud Senor put it best, "Grateful Dead and Phish are my two favorite bands and it was awesome to see members of each band come together to rock out Dead songs."

Here's Trey on lead vocals for Shakedown Street....


Trey will be a part of the Dead's 50th anniversary. Pretty cool to see Trey return to the mix.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Tiny Desk Concert: Trey Anastasio

Trey stopped by the NPR offices and performed a three-song acoustic set... Summer of 89, Backwards, and Sleep Again.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Phish Miami Run Recap: Sunshine Supermen

By Pauly (@taopauly)

Prelude

Phish ran the gamut this year in Miami. Depending on whom you interacted with, in the same breath the quartet from Vermont were equally washed up and equally blazing new trails. Phish extremes. The band has always been polarizing, which is what makes it so much fun because you never know what you are going to get on any given night. Like Hunter Thompson said, "Buy the ticket, take the ride."

I attended the last ten NYE shows (dating as far back as MSG 1998 when Phish kicked off the show with Prince's 1999) and caught all of the SoFla NYE runs (Miami 2003, 2009, and 2014, plus Big Cypress 1999). Back in the hazy days of 1.0 when Trey was off the wagon, South Florida was an ideal locale with an abundance in opiates (I miss all those pill mills from the 90s and 00s) and cheap, high-octane cocaine. These days, it's a new world order Trey; Big Red is clean and healthy in 3.0. Miami's balmy climate was a welcomed change of pace and the local cops are easily bought off, whereas MSG had become stale and NYC is patrolled by a militarized police. Phish just isn't in this for the love of the game. Four nights of Phish anywhere generates an influx of cash. LeBron James returned to Cleveland and the are Miami Heat floundering, so the AA Arena was in need of a dire economic boost. Enter Phish and the psychedelic circus.

With nine previous Phishy NYE runs under my belt, I had a good gauge on what to expect and what not to expect. By definition in layman's terms, New Year's Eve is amateur night. For the average non-Phishy civilian, NYE is a shitshow and the over-the-top hype is insufferable, which is why NYE is often one giant let down. That's why I prefer a concert setting on NYE instead of a lame house party or a douchey club with a terrible DJ. Very few bands can throws a raging party like Phish, especially on a random Wednesday night, but no one can throw a festive NYE bash like Phish. At this juncture, I have low expectations any earth-shattering music on NYE and it's one of the rare times I'm at Phish for the social/party aspect. In an optimal setting, the universe aligns to bring together friends, face-melting music, and a bacchanalian evening. Perfection by the band is near impossible with immense pressure due to our insatiable appetites and lofty expectations. I arrived in Miami with a Zen mentality to be in the moment and truly relax after a strenuous 2014. That was the theme of the Miami run. Relax and reset and cherish the "now."

My French friend Benjo is begging for an European run, but Miami is the closest any of us will come to an international Phish show. Miami is not America. Call it New Cuba or Los Miami or whatever you want, but it's not the good old US of A. I was bombarded by a Latin vibe the moment I stepped off the plane. I reminded myself, "You're the gringo, so try to blend in and speak Spanish." My last regular beat as a poker journalist was covering the Latin America Poker Tour in Central or South America, so Miami felt like I was overseas. Without fail, every fucking country I visited inquired about my ties to the CIA (the scariest was being grilled by immigration in Uruguay when they insisted I was a CIA operative). Between my girlfriend and myself, we covered events in Costa Rica, Peru, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and the Bahamas. I spoke more Spanglish in the last week than I have in the last year... and I live in Los Angeles. Even though my girlfriend/tour wife is straight-up the whitest white blonde girl you'll meet, she grew up in L.A. and speaks fluent Spanish, so much so, she freaks out the locals when they try to pull a fast one on us and she calls them out in their native tongue and I'm staring them down with the NYC stink eye.


12/31/14 NYE

Small crew. Elite special forces. Professional ragers. The couples crew. Wildo and Piper got engaged on Christmas morning, meanwhile my common-law wife Nicky aka @Change100 celebrated our 9th NYE together (including 6 Phishy NYE and 2 MMJ). Wildo strategically booked a hotel 10 blocks from the venue. AAA was visible from our 27th floor balcony including the Fishman donuts splashed on the outside of the venue and the infamous causeway where the jacked up bath salts dude devoured a naked guy's face.

The NYE's run was flipped; NYE commenced the four-show run instead of ending it. Similar to Halloween 2014, the big show in Miami occurred on the opening night. Phish got all that stress of NYE gag out of the way early, but then again, there was no slow build up to the defining moment.  Give and take. NYE first night meant that 1/1/15 was the hangover show, but then again, if NYE was scheduled last, then there would be no way we'd get a scorcher like 1/3/15.

Despite the heavy patdown, I smuggled in bottle of champagne and Colorado's finest herbage. We scored PTBM 100-level right behind the soundboard about 10 rows up. Small floor with the soundboard against the back wall (versus ample room behind SBD at the LA Forum or MSG). The only clue to the NYE gag was a zipline that ran from the back of the stage to the top of the arena behind us. Was the band going to zipline onto the stage at Midnight? Or was the Iron Sheik and other masked wrestlers going to fly down to wrestle Fish in a cage match?

I sprinted out of the gate by getting "beam me to another planet" spun for NYE. I was excited with Train Song and hoped for more bustouts, but as per usual, Miami featured the usual suspects and similar batch of 70 songs spread out over a four-show run. During an uber-mellow Waiting All Night, "there was someone in my head and it's not me." Dosed to the gills! I immediately surrendered to the flow and got sucked down the rabbit hole for Axilla and rocketed back out. I emerged a new man. Rebirth. When the lights became sentient during Ocean, I knew I was proper fucked and it was going to be a rough, long-ass setbreak. The lights were alive and could hear all our thoughts. The machines controlled us, man, and not the other way around. Kuroda was their puppet and the lights are the ones that play Phish. Considering my ethereal and conspiratorial headspace, I prayed no one would talk to me at setbreak, drenched in my own sweat and drooling with bizarre, guttural sounds tumbling out of my mouth... "ZGZGYYYGZG AUUTTT AHHHAH GEEELAHHH KAKKAK MMMITTZZTU KKSJOLPWPPP JSHSHHXK ZHGTTN HEEHYHHWUZZZ."

Set 2 was the apex of NYE. Floor shaking. Asses grooving. To quote G-Rob, "The boys were playing to my buzz!" As expected Phish snuck in some Halloween stuff with a Martian Monster set closer. Ghost haunted by a Spooky teases. The innocuous jam was cruising along slowly before shit got "bitches be crazy" amped up it escalated from a 3 to a 9 on the jamming meter. Theme > Cities stood out the most, which made sense because 2014 was a banner year for Theme from the Bottom. Sometimes an older song goes through a renaissance and the boys fall back in love with it again, so it sounds fresh and they can't wait to play it every night. Saw a similar rebirth happen with Roggae at the Gorge a few years back. Theme got Page involved early before Trey took the opportunity to wank his heart out during the jam out. The pulsating Miami Theme bled into noteworthy Cities. Although Chalkdust also underwent a metamorphosis in 2014 as a reliable Set 2 launching pad, this one was short and sweet in comparison.

Set 3 is always a blur. The 2014 gag was centered around Fish getting the vacuum stuck to his face. The zipline was utilized to launch a gigantic inflatable Fishman blow-up doll, which flew right over my head and I swear the face looked like a cross between Hitler and Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs. The low frills gag seemed kind of cheesy, but Phish outdid themselves between Halloween and NYE stunts over the years. The minimalist approach worked in my eyes, but it's the laser show from Kuroda that was the LULZ. How cheesy could things get in Miami? Add lasers.   The Dogs (more Halloween stuff) got unleashed before the standard NYE Tweezer. The only thing that stood out was the Manteca licks, or maybe I was hearing things. Oh, and I almost forgot about the two furry, burner girls rubbing each other in a seductive way that gives me a full-blown chubby just thinking about it. I didn't know two women could do those stimulating things to each other... while standing up.


1/1/15

Hangover show. Anything on January 1st is rough. Even in the cocaine capital of the world, a show on 1/1 was still problematic. I'm hoping they will end this 1/1 experiment after this year's sluggish performance. After all, NYE is a guaranteed late night. Plus, several friends never went to bed and played through to rage it up for 45-48 hours. Somewhere around 4am on the morning of the 1st, a wook stole one of Wildo's bananas. I took a nap around sunrise but woke up to re-join the party on Wildo's balcony that never ended. It was a boozy morning that morphed into a pre-party for college football games. Even Shakedown was a bit weary. If the band feeds off the crowd's energy, then that can certainly explain the mellowness of 1.1.15 because everyone was dragging ass. Result? A quickie show. One of the shortest shows I every saw. Reminded me of the meh Grateful Dead shows in 94-95 when the Dead phoned in a 50-minute first set before an accelerated greatest hits in the second set.

Got off to an auspicious start with Tube and Gumbo, both are among my Top 10 desert island songs. Seemed like Trey was trying to get everyone else involved with other songs like Lawn Boy/Page, Undermind/Fish, and Yarmouth/Gordo. After dishing the rock for three songs, an antsy Trey was ready to do some serious wanking. He picked Wingsuit which starts out slow yet builds up to a massive self-indulgent guitar solo. Full-blown Big Red wankage. Gin ended the erratic set and it's always bittersweet to hear Gin without the Joker in attendance. Aside from Gin, the other notable moment on 1.1 was a short-sweet-savory Piper. Trey took off most of the show and engaged the auto-pilot aka Troy the Hologram for a 30-minute hole of mellowness that plagued the second set (Caspian, 20 Years, Winterqueen and Velvet). Trey reset the manual controls for Antelope and a rare Rock and Roll set closer. Since both sets were barely an hour, Change100 assumed YEM was coming as the encore. Nope. We got Meatstick. Yeah, Meatstick'd up the chimney instead. The band rushed off the stage, which convinced me that Big Red had bet heavily on the Alabama/Ohio State game and he wanted to sweat the end of the game. We walked back to our hotel in time to watch the entire 4th quarter if that's an indication of how early the show ended.

We had 300 level near the back for the second night. We had a couple of chatty SouthBeach hipster-type girls doing key bumps all night behind us. But the Shit Bag of the Show was the drunk-ass annoying bro who tried to hit on a couple of cute Phishy girls at setbreak. They ignored him, but the persistent bro kept sweating them in the second set. To make a bad situation even worse, drunk bro thought he could woo the girls by singing both Caspian and Velvet Sea at the top of his lungs. One of the girls grew so miserable that she finally took off and danced in the aisle by herself, just to get away from the bro. Same bro screamed "MARCO!" every few seconds during Antelope. I nearly punched him in the nuts. It only takes one schwasted bro in your section to ruin a show.


1/2/15

A step in the right direction. It was @change100's 88th show. The numeral 8 is good luck in many Asian cultures. We had double luck, eh? Had floor the last two nights. Spacious. 90% full? Plenty of room to groove. The first set got stronger as it went along, but any momentum dissipated when the band constantly huddled to figure out what to play. Songs by committee, art by committee is never the best. Trey made a shooting a basketball motion to Fish to signal The Line. He looked baffled when Gordo ripped into Sugar Shack instead. After the Cactus Cock Block, Trey waited a song to get to The Line, which is a song about being anti-clutch and blowing a huge moment. Set 1 ended on a strong note with Coil. You know it has that line "Satan standing on the beach" but the best moment is when Coil ends with a Page solo with the rest of band exiting the stage to leave Leo up there by himself, so he gets to feel what it's like to be a major solo artists like Elton John or Billy Fucking Joel.

Someone behind us ripped deemsters during the second set. I dunno why anyone would do such a sacred psychedelic gift in that manner, especially during 46 Days. The second set was anchored by Mike's Groove with 46 Days lunch meat. The Weekapaug is what everyone is still talking about. Even this jaded vet was impressed. My biggest problem with 3.0 Mike's Groove has been the lack of substance in the Weekapaugs. Saw it happen all too frequently... Phish shoots their load with the lunch meat(s), or a piping hot Mike's Song... and they run out of steam by the time Weekapaug came around. Not in Miami. You've probably seen the video already and re-listened to it a dozen times. Weekpaug still holds up after multiple replays. Miami Weekapaug included rotation jam hijinks with Trey jumping on Fishman's kit to play around with the marimba, while Gordo picked up Trey's guitar, and Leo was whooping it up with some bong-rattling bass grooves (but using his own gear). Gordo played a few scratching Johnny Greenwood riffs before they resumed Weekapaug with gusto. At the conclusion of Weekapaug, the crowd showered the band its loudest applause of the Miami run (it'd make Bill Nershi extremely jealous), and one of the loudest reactions I heard in the 20+ shows I caught in 2014.

Nicky and I got our favorite songs back-to-back. The boys can never do any wrong in a show they play Slave, which I thought was being saved for late set 2 on the final night. And we also thought 2001 was being held off for Saturday Night dance party. Alas, both popped up the day before we expected, which was our own personal curveball. It wasn't on my radar, which made both a little extra special. Phish finally woke up from its New Year's Day nap. Everyone (band included) knew 1/1 was a lackadaisical evening, but 1/2 had a few glimpses of greatness. Sometimes you have to bottom out in the valley to appreciate a highest peak in the mountains. The encore was a little cheesy, but Fishman was the MVP of 2014 and he's the Sleeping Monkey afterall. But at least it was a two songer that ended with Rocky Top. Tennessee had won their bowl game earlier in the day and Rocky Top kangfirmed my suspicions that Big Red had bet heavily on Tennessee (-3 favorites and they won by 17). Senor's brother Javier had a theory about Rocky Top in 1.0, "If Phish played Rocky Top as an encore, then that's them acknowledging they played an awesome show." I dunno if that's legit, but to quote Hemingway "isn't it lovely to think so?"


1/3/15

Faith restored. I caught the Randall's Island NYC run, which included one of my favorite second sets from 2014. The final night in Miami included another monstrous second set that will go down as one of the notables the 3.0 era. As the saying goes... all killer, no filler.

Floor seats again. LA reunion. We spotted different LA friends in the back of the floor. Jovial, juiced up crowd for the final night, despite the fact everyone was spent. It was the "do all your drugs show because you have to go home tomorrow show." Plus, there was a noticeable influx of professional party peops and music enthusiasts with Jam Cruisers popping in for a single show before they embarked on their floating festival. Plus, the night was also @PeteLikesPhish birthday, who was rocking it NOLA style with dollar bills pinned to his chest. BTW... Phortin can be on my pickup basketball team any time. He was boogieing down hard and in the process boxed out a trio of drunk-ass bros who wandered over and a flailing Phortin cleaned out enough dance space for our ladies.

Always a special night when the boys kick off a show with Maze. First four songs felt like a mid-90s gig... Maze, Bag, Divided Sky, and Cavern. That TAB tune Plasma got called up from the minors in 2014 and appears to be in the Phish starting rotation. Devotion was the obvious weak point and the crowd was giddy for the Everglades name check during Water in the Sky. I planned on a sober show (lot was dry, WTF?) until a Colorado friend handed me a happy pill during Mule. I doubted it would have any effect on me after four shows in four nights, but at the least, it perked me up a bit.

Split Open and Melt could have gotten really dark and devious, but it stayed somewhat sane. Melt is the frantic off-the-rails song that can best be described as the scene from Boogie Nights when Dirk Diggler goes to rob the coke dealer (Alfred Molina in a robe) and there's the Japanese boy toy in his undies throwing lit fire crackers while the coke dealer dances to Sister Christian and Jesse's Girl. That pretty much sums up the craziest Melt moments in my life. Luckily, Melt one barely scratched the surface.

Stealing Time opener was the only low point for set 2. I had a bad feel that we'd get Joy'd at some point, but we dodged that bullet. The DWD > Light > Sneaking Sally > Sand > Hood is why I chase Phish. DWD delivered. But you already know this. I'm partial to funkified Sally, so anytime that harlot is running around in back alleys it's going to a Filthy McNasty night. Good Times Bad Times gave Trey one last chance to pull out his willie and wank it while the band smoked the shit out of a bong-rattling Zeppelin cover. The second set helped etched the Miami run into the record books. Dare I say, it saved the run and made the trip to Miami worth while for all parties. Sure, even if 1/3/15 ended up a snoozer, I still had a blast with friends and doing cool stuff like going on an art walk through Wynwood with Wildo, Piper, and Nicky. But the last set was the exclamation point. The 26-minute DWD is the pure dope that lifelong Phish addictions are made of.

Miami dunzo. See ya in the lot this summer.


Pauly is a writer who currently lives in Los Angeles. His new novel, Fried Peaches, comes out later this year. Buy his other books on Amazon.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Phish Miami Setlist: 1/3/15 - AA Arena, Miami, FL


The final show of a four night Miami run. Last bit of Phish in a while, so soak up every drop.

Here's what you missed...

Phish Setlist, 1/3/15 AAA, Miami, FL

Set 1: Maze, Bag, Divided Sky, Cavern, Mule, Plasma, Devition, Water in the Sky, Melt, Zero

Set 2: Stealing Time > DWD > Light > SALLY > Sand > Hood, Suzy

E: Good Times Bad Times


*** Previous Miami setlists: 12.31.14 NYE - 1.1.15 - 1.2.15

Phish Miami Videos: Weekapaug 1.2.15

Here's the Weekapaug that everyone is talking about with Trey jumping on the Marimba and Gordo picking up Trey's axe...

Friday, January 02, 2015

Phish Setlist: 1/2/15 Miami, FL


It's the third of four nights in Miami. A rager is imminent.

Here's what you missed...
Le Phish Setlist, 1/2/15 Miami, FL

Set 1: Free, MOMA, Possum, Roggae, Stash, Back on the Train, Sugar Shack, The Line, Ocelot, Coil

Set 2: Mikes > 46 > Weekapaug, Fuego, Slave  > 2001, Walls of the Cave

E: Sleeping Monkey, Rocky Top
*** Previous Miami setlists: 12.31.14 NYE -- 1.1.15

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Phish Setlist: 1/1/15 Miami, FL


The first show of 2015! We shook off the NYE hangover for the second of four shows in Miami...
Phish, 1/1/15 AAA, Miami, FL

Set 1: Tube, Gumbo, Bowie, Lawn Boy, Undermind, Yarmouth Rd, Wingsuit, Poor Heart, GIN

Set 2: Twist > Piper > Caspian, 20 Years, Winterqueen, Velvet Sea, Antelope, Rock & Roll

E: Meatstick

Previous Miami setlists: 12.31.14 NYE
More Setlists: All 2014