Thursday, August 19, 2010

2010 Jones Beach #2: The Last Grope

http://www.phish.com/from-the-road (photo by Dave Vann © Phish 2010)


"Where does all this molly come from?" asked a curious friend.

"The aliens obviously," I blurted out before I realized that I unwittingly revealed an untold secret. It's been urban legend in the lot since the Year of the Funk -- that an elite group of aliens, aka the Moon Wooks, are the ones responsible for the manufacturing, processing, and distribution of the beloved molecule.

I said too much and glanced over my shoulder to make sure no galactic agents were on my tail. I quickly changed the subject... "Oooh! look at the pretty rainbow!"

If you don't believe in life on other planets and never smoked enough DMT to see the aliens, then you might be skeptical of the link between Phish, life from other galaxies, and the vortex of energy released by 2012. However, if you caught a couple of Phish shows this summer, then you probably saw many extraterrestrial references sprinkled throughout the show. Chris Kuroda's lighting display is the most obvious indication that something not-of-this-world is going on, and that the music Phish performs is indirectly involved in communicating with the beings occupying the celestial heavens. Trey didn't hide his agenda when was noodling the notes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind during the Alpine Valley Piper. No coincidence that strange lights lit of the Wisconsin sky on the same night with hundreds of unidentified flying objects reports flooded 9-1-1.

Phish completed their second leg of summer tour, 11 shows in all spread out coast to coast over 14 days with a mere three travel days in between. You could not have done this tour in a vehicle. You needed a spacecraft or enough cash to fly to a few shows. If you did the entire tour in car, then you definitely earned your stripes. I have no clue how I was able to survive the entire tour considering I let it all hang out in Telluride when I actually had a conversation with myself when I said, "This is not such a bad place to die." That's when you peer into the darkened abyss, hear the never ending echo, then jump anyway. I was on vapors once Alpine Valley rolled around, and barely had any energy for the Jones Beach shows. But I dug deep and rallied. Phish is magical that way -- the love of the music makes you do things that make most Americans shake their heads in utter disgust. That's when I know I'm doing the right thing. As the anthem goes, "Can't I live while I'm young?"


* * *

I woke up on Bruce's couch in Brooklyn and rushed outside to re-park my car after being unable to find a proper spot at 2:30am a few hours earlier. I was five minutes late to the metered spot and penalized with a parking ticket and an annoying fluorescent green sanitation stickers that one of the surly douchenozzles in the Sanitation Department attached to one of the windows. I spent most of my morning scrapping off minuscule pieces of the sticker while humming Carini. The parking citation and the cleaning supplies I had to buy to remove the sticker are just more miscellaneous expenses that I incurred on summer Phish tour. I'm eventually going to write a book about my Phishy experiences spanning 200+ shows. I wonder if I can write off the ticket as a legit business expense?

I escaped the city and drove out to the Island with Bruce trying to beat the rush hour traffic, when I got a text from Jesse in the lot. He overheard the soundcheck and sent me a text: "You Can't Always Get What You Want." He also informed me that the rest of the soundcheck included Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe." So the boys are dicking around with the Stones, but where's my Torn and Frayed?

We drove up to the parking lots and heads wandered up and down the road with their index fingers pointed to the skies. When we pulled into the lot, we were greeted by hundreds of ticketless fans seeking out the toughest ticket on the tour since Telluride. Extras for tour closers are never easy. Alpine Valley's massive lawn meant that those shows were not sold out. Lawns to Deer Creek were available for face with some legwork. But I didn't see too many extras at the beach for either night. It was a hot ticket and fans stood at the entrance to the parking lot and praying for a miracle. Some held out cash ($20s will never suffice, you gotta flash a few Benjamins to get someone's attention) while few amateur artists whipped up snazzy signs hoping to catch someone's eye. A few hopeless heads scribbled their pitch with a sharpie on the back of an empty beer box. I doubt any of them got inside.

Upon my arrival in the lot, I attempted to repair the damage that the mini-flood had caused after the top of our cooler popped off on the drive to the show. A few inches of standing ice water in the trunk had seeped into the floorboards. At least Bruce's beers was still cold. I went to work selling the last of the Dharma patches, while Bruce had leftover t-shirts that he designed from 2004 summer tour. I can't believe we both still had stuff left over. I wandered through densely packed Shakedown and unloaded the last of the patches. Bruce traded for a Led Zeppelin shirt. Significantly more illicit wares were being hawked than food stuffs. The thirty-yard stretch of parking lot transformed into a bazaar of dope pushers dangling old-fashioned rolls, overpriced and under-weighed grams of molly, dried-out headies, and shrooms. It was a virtual fire sale of all products because it's the end of tour. Every other person who whispered the druggie passwords to me were sketched out -- either a tough-guy shyster, shady informant, undercover officer, and/or tweaker. I got a mixed vibe from the lot on Wednesday. It was a festive yet tense scene with state police busting random tards for being stupid. Sometimes I wonder how many people show up just for the party favors?

I made my way to the other side of the lot, where Phan Art had set up shop for an "everything must go" sale on all of his posters and t-shirts. I ran into the Phishy Twitter Mafia including a few familiar faces (UNOolker and Mountain Laura) slinging beers to help pay for tour. The Dharma patches don't really fund my adventures. That's why you have to buy my book, Lost Vegas. Anyway, I also ran into a few familiar names in the twitterverse that I was meeting for the first time IRL: EricWyman, AdamIcculus, tmwsiy, and TenaciousTJ. Even though we've been raging at the same shows the last year or so -- we never actually got to meet prior to the Jones Beach lot. Ah, the magic of Twitter. And yes, those folks on Twitter are some good people. They were all asking about the Joker's disco ball helmet. That kid is a rock star.

Matt hooked me up with tickets to both nights and he arrived in time for a beer or two before we prepped for the potential wet show. Scattered showers were in the forecast as a light drizzle began around 7pm. Last summer, we experienced some of the worst weather I had ever seen on tour including the monsoon that struck Jones Beach. I brought my rain gear and an empty plastic baggie -- a safe and dry refuge for my CrackBerry if the skies opened up and pissed on us. My phone got toast last summer during the lightning barrage at Deer Creek. I vowed never to make a rookie mistake like that again.

It took several minutes and discussions with three different ushers to figure out where our seats were in 7L. Very confusing considering that I was having a second sober show in a row. Anything I had ingested in the weeks before was flushed out of my system, yet, I still struggled to make sense of the unusual seating arrangements. I wonder how spun out heads expected to find their seats under duress?

And that's when the rainbow appeared. Everyone hoisted their cellphone cameras while the guys behind us were mocking the now infamous YouTube video of the wook who discovered the double rainbow. And yes, for a while we got two rainbows. Supposedly there were rainbows at Jones Beach last year, which I don't recall. However, one rainbow that will always stand out for me happened during the 2000 Japan tour. It was the only outdoor show in Japan, located in Hibiya Park in Tokyo on an afternoon. It had been raining all day, but stopped before Phish took the stage in the first set. A rainbow appeared at the end of the second set. The locals called it "niji" as I quickly learned the Japanese word for rainbow. This rainbow appeared moments before the encore. The crowd went nuts because they don't get to see too many rainbows. As Phish re-took the stage, a few band members looked up to see what all the fuss was as they launched into a sensational Character Zero. The Niji Zero.

The (dual) rainbow over Jones Beach dissipated and the late-arriving crowd made their way into the theatre while a few Draconian security guards heavily policed the rows in front of us bouncing the few wook seat jumpers who invaded the section. We actually had row T or the last possible row in the first section off the floor. A small stone wall separated us from the walkway. As soon as the lights went down, a dozen people hopped up on the wall and danced to the Down with Disease opener.

I've been critical of the throw-away openers that's why I don't mind the standard Jim or Bag opener to shake off the rust and get the party started. The Telluride DWD opener was wasteful because everyone was too busy gawking at the surrounding mountains and snapping pictures rather than getting down and dirty. I prefer my DWD as a set 2 opener where they can open it up and let it rip. The Jones Beach show opener was by no means a throw-away; it was tight, powerful, and concise. It was definitely short, clocking in at eight minutes. I called it the "Hemingway of DWDs" in my notes.

A couple of cute Phishy chicks danced on the wall behind us and they happily joined in the sing-a-long for Sample in a Jar. The schwilly girl hovering over my right shoulder was out of tune, but she nailed the first verse. In a drunken howl, she butchered the second verse. Normally, singing incorrect lyrics out loud is a violation and warrants a wook ticket, but since she got a pass because she was adorable and braless.

The funny spastic leg dance in Guelah Papyrus always makes me chuckle. The heads with the cannonfetti were back in position along the rail and let the canon rip. Poor Heart gives me flashbacks of popping Picture of Nectar into my CD player in my fraternity house. The album came out in 1991, when I was starting college. I was still a few steps removed from methheads in the early 90s in the wake of the crack epidemic and on the cusp of the heroin-chic grunge era. We called song like Poor Heart "cocaine-bluegrass" in those days, but shit, these days Poor Heart is easily labeled as tweaker-bluegrass.

I wore my green ocelot shirt yesterday and waited a day to play my favorite song off the new album. They jammed out Ocelot longer than DWD and it's become a rare jamming vehicle in set 1s. I'm digging the slowed-down faded-start as Ocelot builds to a frenetic jam. Hey, any song about Oxy abuse is something I can wrap my mind around.

Chalkdust Torture wasn't anything out of the ordinary. As a thirty-something with a watchful eye on my 40s around the bend, I always shout along with "Can't I live while I'm young?" The older I get, the more that lyric gives me goosebumps. When we were chilling out at Iggy's baller suite in Indiana, someone in our group looked up my PT stats and noticed that I had seen at least four songs 50 times or more. Chalkdust topped the list.

I usually love "people watching" during Bathtub Gin and take note of everyone in my vicinity who is grooving and singing along during different intervals of the song. For this show, I focused on the lights. Never underestimate the importance of a single white light. Kuroda knows how transform something so basic into a showstopper.

Everyone knows I'm a funk guy and want to hear Tube at every show. I got three this tour and only expected to hear it once, so many thanks to Phish. Tube openers are fun (that definitely set the tone for the monumental Alpine Valley show), but openers don't get as funky as they can get cooking later in the set. In this instance, Tube was well-placed but we were served up a super-abbreviated version coming in at barely four minutes. What happened to the elongated stretched-out, dance your ass off, Tube-funk jam a la the historical Dayton show?

The guy next to me from Rochester was an old head and racked up most of his shows in the late 90s. He had never seen Destiny Unbound. "This is my first," he gleefully admitted with his jaw on the ground while dirty-dancing with his girlfriend. Shit, the boys only played it seven times in Phishtory. I missed the first one in 1990 (I was only 18), but I caught the bustout in 2003 at the Nassau show. I was there with my groovy friend Molly from Texas and she was only 8 when they first played Destiny. I missed the Fenway version last summer, but caught versions at the Gorge, Alpharetta, and in Telluride. I'm a lucky duck -- I witnessed five of the seven times Destiny got played. It gets better every time. The Jones Beach version was highlighted by Gordo's scintillating throw down on the bass during the purple pants/light jam. Seems as though whenever Gordo gives us a clinic, Kuroda illuminates the stage and crowd with purple lights.

Matt has an amazing ear and can pick up a Phish song before they even begin the first note. He had to piss for most of the first set, but since the boys were keeping up a frantic pace, he was unable to leave without any lulls. Alas, he knew Joy was coming before Trey plucked the first note and he hopped over the back wall and bolted down the stairs to the pisser. If I had to pee, it would have been a "Pauly Takes a Piss Song." Alas, this instance it was a "Matt Takes a Piss Song." I engaged in paraphernalia maintenance and putzed around with my one-hitter. I successfully cleaned out the congestion with a paper clip and the end of my shoelace. I smoked tough the rest of Joy and can't recall smoking more herb at a show that I did NOT see with DJ Ocean. When you see a show with DJ Ocean, you're in for a Cheech and Chong smokeout. He's constantly rolling blunts, packing finger hash on bowls, and puffing nonstop -- which means so are you if you're within in a ten foot radius. DJ Ocean was only at the Greek shows, but I was holding the torch for him at Jones Beach with my own version of a beachy smokeout.

"The Antelopes have been amazing this tour," said the guy next to me as the boys invigorated the somnolent crowd after being put to sleep with Joy.

I caught four versions of Antelope this summer and they all passed the litmus test. The Tellur-a-lope was epic until I was floored by the intricately layered Alpine-a-lope. The Beach-a-lope was a bit formulaic but until the monster crescendo. Trey gave a shout out to "Mike-O Esquandoles." Antelope ended the 76 minute set. I vaguely recall last summer's Ghost-a-lope being one of the standouts from the Jones Beach run.

A scary scene unfolded during setbreak. Within moments of the house lights coming up, everyone was turned around and looking at the far section on Fishman side. Whispers flew around that apparently someone fell off the upper deck at the end of Antelope. Security and paramedics carrying a stretcher raced down the walkway behind me. The crew from This Week on the Lot found out from a security guard that supposedly the guy jumped from the upper deck. The guy next to me told his girlfriend not to look. In one way, it's natural to rubberneck at horrific accidents, however, no one wants to ruin a good buzz by focusing in on the stupidity of others. Who knows what happened for sure, but when in doubt, you should always follow my basic principles for drug/psychedelic usage...
Dr. Pauly's Rules of Tripping:
1. No one knows you are tripping until you actually tell them.
2. It's cold outside -- bring a hoodie.
3. No matter what you think, you CANNOT fly.
If you stick to those rules in life, you should have a safe show/trip.

The guy was alive and got carried out on a stretcher, as the crowd gave him a warm applause. Just before the second set began, someone launched fireworks in the lot as Phish unleashed a hard-rocking Axilla set 2 opener, which came out of left field. During setbreak, Matt and I joked around about the impending setlist: Tweezer opener with Light up second not to mention 46 Days and a YEM wedged in there. Light has become the consummate "second set second song" jamming vehicle. In this instance, the coaches bumped Light down in the batting order. Whoever bats third in baseball is the best hitter... and that distinction went to Light for the tour closer. The second song was Timber Ho or as the guy from Boston in front of me pronounced "Tim-baaaaaaaaaaaaah Ho!" It was a quickie and Phish opted to wait until Light to let loose and drag us down the rabbit hole.

Kuroda's cones and funnels of light during Light were tripping me out -- and I was sober. I'm not that much of a fan of the first few minutes of Light, but as soon as they are done with the semi-ghey lyrics, I hitched up my belt and prepped for a mental journey. The Light jam at the Gorge is still one of my favorites in the 3.0 era (along with the Albany Seven Below > Ghost). The pulsating UFO ring of lights returned, a hearty reminder that the Mothership was due to pick up all of the freaks, spacekids, and other curious souls after the show. The jam morphed into a helicopter jam with blades/propeller-type bluish lights whipping around. The seg wasn't pretty as they hobbled into 46 Days. I was impressed with the Berkeley version as 46 Days has become a go-to song for some heavy lifting. I'm digging how they stretched out and explored different corners of the universe with 46. They eventually headed into murky territory as a veil of darkness descended upon us with a transition into My Friend My Friend. As per usual, it was a haunting, spooky, cooky version. I circled it in my notes, so it must have really struck a nerve.

Gordo tore it up with a bong-rattling bass intro to Hood. Most of the jam was soothing as they down-shifted a gear before revving it back up. Tweezer was a surprise because I never thought they'd toss it into the mix at the end of the second set. The UFO lights returned during yet another attempt at contacting the Mothership. The Close Encounter lights flashed continuously and I finally figured out those were signals to the aliens in the crowd to pack up their mobile molly labs and head to lot 3 after the show for immediate extraction. Yeah, the aliens have been cooking up batches of molly all summer in the back of a beat-up RV.

I had mixed emotions about Horse > Silent in the Morning, but they won me over by the end of Silent. YEM ended the set. Not as incendiary as Alpine or as funkified as Telluride, but they brought a beachy version of the heat. The vocal jam no longer features those white lights twirling around which often made me nauseous. Kuroda has been going to the UFO lights all tour. He's in on the conspiracy. If you're a fan of the X-Files, then Kuroda is the proverbial "Cigarette Smoking Man."

I have a theory about the vocal jam out of YEM -- Phish pre-records excerpts and embeds subliminal messages. No wonder why we're so hooked, because the band has been brainwashing us for years. To go a step further, the CIA or other alphabet intelligence agencies are also using the Phish's YEM vocal jam as a weapon of mass destruction to program us. I have no idea what their messages are, but we'll soon find out. And lastly, most of the aliens speak Mayan, so I'm fairly certain a few Mayan chants are often included in the vocal jam to pay homage to the ETs who fly the friendly skies above Phish shows.

The encore was predictable Suzy Greenberg > Tweeprize. The Suzy funk jam at Berkeley still holds up as one of my favorite bits from this tour. Trey was jumping up and down as per usual at the end of Tweeprise, and that song is fucking loud. They really crank it up to end the show... and the tour.

And just like that, the fab four took a bow and exited the stage. They rushed to their individual tour buses and got the fuck out of dodge. The rest of us wandered out into the lots gossiping about the stops on fall tour. Phish achieved the most basic rule in show business -- leave the audience wanting more. I dunno about you, but I can't wait until the announcement about fall tour.

Yep, 11 shows and an entire tour in the books. This has been a remarkable run for me starting out in Berkeley and then being a part of the magical Telluride destination shows with Joker, Jonas and all of my Colorado crew, before the boys scorched the Earth in Deer Creek and Alpine Valley, before ending the tour with a double-dip at Jones Beach. Thanks to everyone who hooked me up with tickets (especially the Joker for Telluride, not to mention Kari for Alpine Valley #2 and Matt for both Jones Beach shows). And thanks to the folks who acted as designated drivers on a few nights including Mr. Fabulous, Iggy, and especially my girlfriend Nicky.

The party is over and the psychedelic circus has come to a close. Go home hippies and spacekids. See ya in a few months.

* * *

You can read my recap of Jones Beach #1: It's No Easy Road.

Also, Alpine Valley recaps are here: Night #1: The Circus Comes to Wisconsin and Night #2: The Return of the Mothership.

Deer Creek recaps: Night #1: Redemption and Make Up Sex and Night #2: Phish Recovers from Hangover; Smokes the Shit Out of Deer Creek.

Telluride recap: The Invasion.

The Greek recaps: #1 Mellow Thursday and #2 Friday Rager.

13 comments:

the joker said...

great job on all the recaps pauly! it was an amazing tour, see you after you get out of rehab! :)

Trent said...

thank-you for the great reviews :)

Ruben Bailey said...

ok, now that that is over.... no Vegas in Oct. as originally, STRONGLY thought...but Halloween in AC? Thoughts?

Thanks for all the updates and stories!

mikey freshh said...

amazing write up! i really enjoyed reading it. thank you!

such a great summer! wow!

robert said...

I like what Bill Hicks said about tripping kids trying to fly: "Don't be an asshole, if can fly try it out on the ground first." or something like that.

jesse said...

thanks to Pauly and the entire Coventry crew for another round of great commentary on another great tour!

Rueben...what's that, no Vegas?? I hope that's not true, i was already looking forward to it.

DudeMG said...

Thanks for the great recaps and setlists this tour!
Oh and joker I think i saw you at shakedown after the show, I was like, "Disco Ball Helmet, nice!"

Daddy said...

Good stuff, sir.
Good fucking stuff.

Parker said...

great re-cap, well done, well done indeed.

kuroda will always be the 'cigarette smoking man' now in my eyes. perfect analogy.

@tmwsiy

David said...

Thank you so much for your amazing recaps all tour long, I looked forward to reading them after every show. I'm going to order Lost Vegas, and can't wait to read it.

gatorphish said...

gracias!

jonas0tt0 said...

BRAVO!!!!

Thank you, Dr. Pauly!

See you in October!

Liza Jenifer said...

I think the vocal jam no longer features those white lights twirling around which often made me nauseous. Kuroda has been going to the UFO lights all tour. He's in on the conspiracy. It's superb blog which i really like it.
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