We re-energized at a nearby Greek diner and the waitress was older than my 90+ year old dead granny. Mr. Fabulous was in charge of navigating the van from Cleveland to Cincinnati in his ship -- a van so large it could fit the entire Uruguayan national soccer team. After a quick gas up and a supply run, we were back on the road. As the gang swapped stories from the previous night and jammed out Dead on the stereo, I pecked away on my laptop in the back writing a half-baked recap while fighting against time because my laptop battery was slowly slowly dying. Less than an hour outside of Ciny, the battery was dunzo.
Iggy scored us a hotel across the Ohio River in Convington, KY, mainly because that side of the river had a more of a late night scene. We checked in and heads were crawling around our hotel lobby and milling around the parking lot. We partied it up in our room with a magnificent view of downtown Cincy and waited for our ride. Here's where I gush about the awesomeness of Josh, who drove us from Covington to Riverbend (and back) to see the show. Never underestimate the coolness of designated drivers (or at the least, the one person who hold back on the partying and lets his/her friends rage it up without worries b/c you know you have a safe ride back int he lot when the show is over). Responsible drivers are so clutch on Phish tour -- you really have no idea how vital their existence is until you have to stay sober and cart around your schwasted friends to the show. Kudos to Mr. Fabulous in Cleveland and Josh in Cincy.
The Cincy crew knew a back road to the show and a free place to park near Shakedown. The first thing I spotted as we're pulling in? Whiskey Tango local in her 20s, wearing tight jean shorts and a wife-beater tank top, which exposed a hastily-crafted sleeve tattoo and her swollen belly (she was 5 or 6-months pregnant). WT lot girl was slinging waters and we caught her digging for gold -- her hand dug deep into the crevice of her ass and removed a wedgie as everyone in our vehicle burst out laughing.
"Welcome to Cincinnati, Pauly," Iggy snarked.
Shakedown's main drag was dense and rather impressive as cut across a diagonal across the street from the venue. I had one lawn to sell and I dumped it for $30 -- or a good $10 more than market value -- on a frat boy wearing an Ohio State hat.
We wandered the lot and one of my buddies was shocked because someone offered him ketamine.
"My wife works on a farm. Those horse tranquilizers fuck up horses, I can only imagine what it does to your head."
Wandering the lot can charm or harm the ego. No one wants to look square enough on lot that no one will whisper ____ (insert drug name here) as you walk by. Then again, you want to fit in but not look to sketched out that you're getting offered the hard drugs. My bud was worried he resembled a haggard K-freak, which was understandable considering he was on tour for a third day in a row and started to develop the lot understench (patchouli and sweaty feet) and the zombie-like thirty-yard "lot stare" where you look right through wooks and puppy pullers.
GMoney and I scored Section 500 seats and had no idea they were 15th row center until we walked inside and the ushers pointed out the swank section. The cell reception was spotty which sucked up all of my CrackBerry's juice. I couldn't upload any twit pics and UberTwitter ate half my tweets -- but I didn't allow the tech tilt to bother me because as much as I wanted to keep friends in the loop about the show -- I was at Riverbend to have fun consider this was only going to be the only other show I saw before Superball IX.
Standard AC/DC Bag opener. GMoney called it and I didn't want to bet him because it was an obvious opener choice. PYITE popped up second, much to the delight of the crowd, and myself because PYITE-openers lack the same bite as if they appear second or third in the lineup. I got stuck next to the drunk guy who yelled "Hey!" one second to short. Yep, a premature Hey-yeller. May you never have to deal with one of those out of time drunks at your next show.
One of the guys in our section was flabbergasted by Gin. He could only describe it in one word: nasty. He repeated the word over and over in groups of three or four... "Nasty! Nasty! Nasty!" Gin was a short, tight version compared to some of the monster gins of yesteryear. "Nasty! Nasty! Nasty! Nasty!" I thought it was worthy of 2.5 Nastys on the Nasty Meter.
View from the Riverbend Lawn
A kid walked around in front of us with a sign -- TASTE of Cincinnati -- and sure enough they served up Taste. GMoney approved and was dancing so hard that he began sweating profusely. The Niagara Falls of sweat tumbled off his face and head. Imagine Cookie Monster grooving out at a show and spraying sweat everywhere -- that's GMoney -- and he felt embarrassed when the woman next to him asked to switch places with her boyfriend. GMoney usually finds a spot on the lawn or in a walkway to get down and dirty, but since the seats were so good, he wanted to stay close, but had to give up proper groove space as a sacrifice.
Page's fingers tickled the ivory and I was floored by Page who had more than stepped up his game the last few shows. He had a rigorous challenge -- to outgun Trey. Big Red unleashed superfluous UFO notes in the Taste jam, but Page was one or two moves ahead of him.
Page stepped out from behind the keys to croon the audience (and lawn) with a wet deck inducing Lawn Boy. As per usual, Page was guaranteed to get laid post-show with his Holiday Inn-esque lounge act. The women in the crowd swooned, especially my friend Kentucky Lori, who has been in Love with Page for as long as I've known her.
"I almost died," she texted me moments after Lawn Boy finished.
Mound came out of nowhere, but Digg Dugg hinted it was coming. Cincy is the city of seven hills, just like Rome, so mounds and hills are around every corner. I kept thinking about Digg Dugg's buddy who created the Mound poster "The Last Rewind" specifically for this weekend. Oh, I almost forgot I ran into Digg Dugg and Dirty Hogg before the show. Always good to cross paths with the Kentucky boys at the Phish!
Jibboo had a few savory moments and a couple of juicy licks from Trey with sleeveless Gordo leading the way. It was during Jibboo when I noticed Fishman has been super tight the last few shows and when it's no coincidence that Phish almost always has a killer show when Fishman is on his A+ game.
My favorite moment of the Ohio run occurred during Jibboo. GMoney was smoking and a security guard came up to him and before she opened her mouth he waved her off like a Jedi -- "I'm not the wook you're looking for" -- and she whirled around and walked away. Behold the power of G-Money! With one wave of the hand, she buggered off. He's my hero.
The boys threw us a huge bone with Reba and the crowd reacted like starving pigeons in the park. Anyone who left for a beer run or piss break bolted back to their seats for Reba. The band milked the crowd out of nearly every bit of dancing fuel during the peak Reba jam. Page was en fuego at that point and I kept wondering what the hell was Phish doing in their down time? Because they're jamming in another echelon. I mentioned via Twitter how we need to drug test Page (aka Bro Fro) for steroids because he's playing like he used to in the late 90s. Balco McConnell is on the Clear and Kush.
Fee was another nipple-related song, which made the guy carry the nipple sign very happy. The last bit of Fee jam was super smooth and silky as it quickly made a turn into a set-ending Backwards as the sun ducked behind the rolling hills and made the sun look like a strawberry-orange smoothie.
One of my favorite parts of summer Phish is meeting up with friends at setbreak up on the lawn and burning one down. It's a perfect secondary or backup meeting spot and a chance to discuss the madness of the first set. I got caught up on the lawn when the lights went down and spent half of a hard-rocking Carini grooving up there before I got back to my seat at the end of the song. An invading army of glowsticks infiltrated the pavilion at the start of Tweezer. I need to hear that Tweezer jam again because it had a couple of dark, jagged edges (which I dig, so leave the fluffy happy jamming to Backwards or Light). CK5 unveiled the Mothership "close encounters" lights while spunions scurried around on the ground in the walkway gobbling up fallen glowsticks.
A reeling Free followed up Tweezer to complete the triumvirate of Carini > Tweezer > Free. I scribbled down in my notes: Phish ain't fucking around. So how do you top that smoking start? With Crosseyed and Painless > Light > Boogie On Reggae Woman, of course.
It looked like Trey called an audible and whispered something into Gordo's ear before Gordo rushed over to Fishman's kit and Trey bounced over to Page to let them know it was time for another cover -- Crosseyed and Painless. I still think Charleston's C & P was the best version I heard in 3.0 (at least that I saw live), even though Riverbend's version was much tighter and more powerful. It packed a wallop. The boys took a couple of chances in the Light jam and it personally didn't quite mesh with me but I appreciate they took a chance than playing it safe.
The purple vertical lights went berserk at end of the Light jam and a fatty, juice Gordo bass intro to Boogie On ensured. Sleeveless Gordo flexed his big guns during Boogie jam. Maybe we should piss test him too? Gordo has been juicing since Bethel.
I felt like GMoney during Boogie On because I was sweating like Cookie Monster from dancing furiously to cap off another trifecta of songs.
A pulsating Juilis popped up next instead of killing the intensity with a slow song. The canonfetti unleashed at start of Julius and Trey noodled excessively during a wide mouth drooling jam.
They played the YEM I was waiting for. Judging the reaction of everyone around me -- they were just as floored. An overzealous Trey almost slipped on the tramp, but he recovered and tore the shit out of his solo before one of those quick, but haunting vocal jams that made me wish I was on acid.
My only gripe about the show? I was yearning for a Torn and Frayed encore, but the boys went with the typical Exile on Main Street cover of Loving Cup. Hey, it was Page's night and the band let him top off the show with his own luscious cherry. I almost forgot about Tweeprise for a moment (too distracted by viciously delicious Loving Cup ending) but as soon as the first note was played, I'd be jumping up and down for the next three minutes and hoped I didn't crush the foot of the girl with flipflops next to me.
Taking a bow after Tweeprise
End of set. End of show. End of the Ohio run. My two-show bender was complete. I walked out of the show bummed because I had to go back to work on Monday and couldn't wait for Superball IX.
First rule of show business? Always leave the audience wanting more. Phish is fucking spectacular at that aspect, which is why I often drop everything I'm doing to see as many Phish shows as possible. Yeah, the 3.0 honeymoon has been long over, but now they boys have put all of that begin them and are stepping onstage every night with the sincere expectation that they're gonna smoke the shit out of wherever they are playing. I'm glad I saw these two shows with the Cincy Crew.
See y'all in Watkins Glen.