Sunday, June 05, 2011

Phish 6/4/11 Recap: Cleveland Steamer and Dali Blossoms

I eagerly waited four excruciating hours in Cleveland airport (the third that day including Las Vegas' McCarran and Chicago's O'Hare) to get picked up by the Cincy crew (Mr Fabulous, Iggy and GMoney). They hopped on tour in Detroit and caught a thunderous second set at old Gobller's Knob or Pine Knob which had kicked their ass so much they were slow to get out of the Big D before they swung by the airport to pick me up. At that point, I had been up for 24 straight hours and put in a 10-hour work day covering the World Series of Poker. I was operating on vapors but once the van rolled up to the curb at the airport, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning who just got molly sprinkled on his corn flakes.

GMoney grew up in Cleveland so he took us on a quick tour of his old neighborhood including a beach/park along side Lake Erie where he smoked doobies as a high school Deadhead. We grabbed lunch at the dive bar where GMoney's old man used to drink. Herb's Tavern served us kick ass burgers and a heart-attack inducing bacon cheese fries.


We headed to the lot and Mr. Fabulous (an awesome and responsible captain of our van) knew a back road in so we didn't have to sit in long-ass traffic. I gave GMoney shit for playing Phish as we drove into the lot, specifically YEM, because we could be getting it in Ohio and I didn't want to shoot my load pre-show. As I told the boys, listening to a Phish bootleg before a live show is like jerking off before doing the humpty dance with a supermodel.

We parked near a Cleveland Browns VW bus -- a clutch landmark to tell friends where to find us. I had a couple of extra lawns and tried to avoid a loss and dump them as quickly as possible before prices plummeted shortly before show time and I had to eat $100. We were in the lot for three minutes when someone offered me pharmies for my ticket, but not weak-ass Xannies -- we were talking a much stiffer synthetic --- oxys. Man, I missed being on Phish tour.

We made a quick stroll down Shakedown because although my buddies are veterans from many Dead and Phish tours, they were too hungover and forgot to buy beer. What a rube mistake and I gave them guff for it. Our new the mission was to find a kid slinging cheap beer and buy out his inventory. All of it.


While they searched for beer, I priced out the local produce. A flat-billed wigga thought he could pull a fast one on me and sell an 1/8 of something he dubbed "diesel" for $80, but it was really dried out Afgahni. I'm not a pot snob (like my girlfriend who has one of those coveted California medicinal cards), but I knew I could do better. Fifty yards later, I found a kid selling Blueberry Kush. Score.

GMoney and Iggy hauled a dozen PBRs back to our base camp. I was giving off one of those vibes again where everyone was asking me for molly as I snaked in and out of Shakedown. I guess it was Pep's Slave hat that I was wearing, but at that section of the lot was rather dry. Plenty of nugs, but not much in the powdery department.

It's never easy to coordinate multiple groups of people finding your camp in the lot, but somehow both groups of friends found us at roughly the same time so we had more time to pre-party. Rach showed off Molly the Fish, which was autographed by Gordo himself.


One girl passing by offered us strawberry moonshine. I cherish my eyesight so I politely declined. I don't want to black out; I wanted to see moonbeams and unicorns. Instead of homemade fire water, I opted for an old hippie recipe of shrooms and honey.

Ohio heat. Nothing like being sweaty balls hot in the lot, so we decided to head inside. We crisscrossed Shakedown one last time and I scored a disposable one-hitter. I also sold my last extra ticket to a wook who gave me the old "I just got married" line. Of course, he didn't have much cash, nor did he have any quality pharmies to trade. I could've fucked with him and made him do push-ups or jumping jacks for the ticket, but I wanted to get into the show. His friend pulled out a crumpled $20 bill and a mason jar of clear liquid. More Wookshine. Fucking kids today. Spend a few dollars and buy some proper malt liquor, man! Since I had a free swig of wookshine coming to me, I called GMoney over to take over for me.

"It took my breath away. My entire mouth exploded with fire," explained GMoney.

I wiped off the $20 bill and gave the wook my ticket. He jumped into my arms and burst into tears. My man has been drinking too much wookshine and it messed with his emotions.

Lines were backed up to get inside, but we didn't have a patdown. Super light security. Mr. Fabulous scored us Page-side pavs and we headed into the barn-like structure at the bottom of the hill.


Blossom was my first show this summer and the first of two this weekend before I flew back to Vegas on Monday. I was a weekend warrior for these shows and simply "happy to be here." I listened to the Bethel Woods live stream and bought the LivePhish download for Pine Knob before I left Vegas. The boys have been bringing the heat in a combination of sheer confidence with a bit a salesmanship (trying to sell more Superball tickets). I knew the band was operating on a much higher level, but I didn't want to go into the show with lofty expectations, especially after that sickly DWD from the previous show still fresh on everyone's mind.

Whenever Mr. Fabulous goes to a show with me, they play Kill Devil Falls. I anticipated a standard vanilla opener in which I spend most of the song blazing nugs, but the jamfest from Pine Knob spilled over into the first set with a stretch out KDF. Speaking of spilled -- poor Iggy got a beer and a capless bottle of water got knocked over by a young noob and his clueless girlfriend.

"There goes $20 down the drain."

The slope of the pav meant any liquids were going to run down and the dance floor would be super slippery by the end of the first set.

Guyute batting second was a curveball. The fans lapped it up, but the hardcore acid heads were not ready for it -- too early in the set and too early in their trip to get spooked by evil pigs. I thought Gordo was not loud enough, but that was corrected with a ear-drum thumping Fuck Your Face, followed up by Foam. I caught that FYF in Alpine last year with Iggy and I'm glad it's getting played once or twice a tour, whereas Foam seems to be popping up more than I'd like, especially when it's a bit on the sloppy side.

I had my Ocelot lot shirt with me, but didn't wear it, instead going with my green Hartford Whalers t-shirt. A couple of our readers, Terry and his girlfriend (I forgot her name, sorry!), saw me from a few rows back and Terry came up to see if I was wearing the Ocleot shirt when they played Ocelot. Ocelot is one of the 3.0-era songs that can be played in a variety of styles, but I prefer the slow-plodding, faded, warm fuzzy opiated beginnings that build to a psychedelic maddening mind-fuck -- like what we got served up in Blossom.

I was wondering which songs from Waiting for Columbus were going to be integrated into Phish's rotation and we got treated with Page leading the assault with Rocket in My Pocket. Page always shines on cover songs and Leo didn't let me down. Next up was a greasy fried-funk and compact Back on the Train. Smooth and effortless.

I caught a rather unique Guleah Papyrus. It's a song that appeared frequently when I saw Phish a lot in college in the early 90s, but has since fallen to the back of the pack in the 2.0 and 3.0 eras. Instead of playing it safe, I felt it was a lot more looser and daring in some sections. The band rode a streak of confidence from the first week of tour and as a result they took more risks which birthed the epic Pine Knob show. Some of that creative fluidity continued to flow at Blossom. My favorite part during the pause was Trey catching-releasing glowsticks that phans hurled at him.

One of the greatest versions of Tube occurred at Dayton 97 -- a night when Phish achieved perfection and a show considered by many Phishistorians to be the band's version of "Barton Hall". Once you set a high-water mark, it's impossible to replicate or even surpass it. I appreciate the fact they gave it a shot. I'd rather see Phish take a chance and miss then play it safe and stick with a greatest hits repertoire. They brought the heavy funk for Tube with Page's funk machine -- the clavinet.

The set ended with a crowd favorite and Phishead anthem Antelope. It wasn't as smooth as the rest of the set and had its choppy moments, but the Streets of Cairo tease in the intro was one of those spooky and unexpected moments that will make this Antelope identifiable. "Esquondoles" was a word that Trey loved so much, he kept belting it out at the fervent frequency of a crooked preacher -- just replace "Esquondoles" with "Praise Jesus!" After Phish's show in Michigan, no matter what they did it would've been impossible to top their performance, but the 80+ minute opening set in Blossom was a sincere effort. It's hard to compare it to any of the other shows this tour because Blossom was my first one this summer.

At setbreak I ran into my buddy J, who took his son to his third ever show. My friends are at the age when they're making the tough decision to bring their children with them -- or leave them at home with the sitters. Ah, this is a new problem heads are having in the 3.0 era -- what do you do with the kids?

Second set opened up with Birds of a Feather, which fit in with the animals theme for the entire evening (after Guyute, Antelope, and Ocelot in the first set...and later Possum, Lizards and the zoo reference in Slave). The Birds jam was rather short compared to the last jam-centric second set from Pine Knob. Quickie Birds were followed up by what Mr. Fabulous dubbed the "Dali melt" version of Possum. If you were tripping balls in the second set, the slowed down vocals would have freaked me out.

The first new song of the summer was Steam, which accompanied weird sound effects. The song had an infectious groove, but the sound effects were too loud and kinda cheesy. Hopefully, they will eliminate the effects and stick with the groove. Maybe I have a twisted soul, but the boys have a demented sense of humor by debuting Steam in Cleveland. If you don't know, look up "Cleveland Steamer" on Google, and be prepared to get grossed out. I've paid good money to get my ears pissed in by Trey, so why not a Cleveland Steamer.

Piper had a couple of exploratory moments and I really need to listen to it again. Felt as though CK5 was using the lights to call out the Mothership. A 40-year old woman in the row in front of us lost her cookies and mud and everything she ate/drank that day because she hurled during Piper as a spacekid with an inflatable cactus in front of her didn't even know he was dancing on top of puke. By the time Lizards began, a gold cart arrived and carted her off. Three maintained guys with mops came over and argued during the Lizards jam about which one of them would clean it up.

Sneaking Sally was my personal highlight of the set. Searing vocal jam. High-octane funk. Delicious for sure. The Hood > Have Mercy > Hood was a second highlight only because I never expected the deviation from the Hood jam into Mercy. Soothing to the soul considering how Phish was kicking my ass all show.

A rocking Zero ended the set. Sometimes it gets cheesed out, but this everyone in the Pav was getting down and shaking their asses. As I wrote on Twitter: "Orgasm-peak of Zero...my knees shook....boys friggin nailed it like the trannie hooker scene in Hangover 2."

Slave is my favorite song. I see a lot of Phish shows, but they don't play Slave very often, which makes it even more special. Everyone makes sacrifices to see Phish -- whether it's driving long distances to get to a show, or skipping out on other luxuries so you can afford a run of shows, or calling in favors with the spouse, or begging your own parents to baby sit their grandkids while you go see the boys from Vermont melt your face. That's why the payoff -- seeing a live Phish show -- is so magical and nothing really compares to that sacrifice-reward relationship. By the time Slave started, I had been awake for 36 hours and took two flights to get to Cleveland to see the show. I was drained across the board but hearing Trey's playing recharged my soul. I needed that. Many thanks.

I lost some of the Cincy crew during the show, but we regrouped on the lawn. Iggy had a little too much to drink and I had to make sure he didn't fall into any ditches on the way out. A lil adorable girl in butterfly wings turned to me and screamed "White girl wasted!" I nearly pissed myself it was so fucking unexpected.

We wandered down Shakedown, raged on some lot food ($5 chipolte chicken burritos), finished the rest of the beer in the cooler, lost my one-hitter, issued myself a wook ticket, GMoney went on tilt because Iggy ate his burrito, and we jammed out a Dead bootleg and waited for the traffic jam to die down. I could hear the faint echos and menacing hissing of N20 tanks across the way. Prices have gone up since I was a young tour rat. $10 a balloon? The methhead running the tank bragged it was high-quality dental grade gas.

Mr. Fabulous gets a big shout out for getting us back to Cleveland safely. I didn't last very long in the post-party because once I reached my 40-hour mark for being awake, I passed out. Cold. I used up every ounce of energy to get to the lot, party it down, dance my ass off, and when the music stopped... it was time to turn out the lights.

One Ohio show down. One more to go. And as the saying goes... never miss a Cincinnati show!

5 comments:

Irongirl01 said...

Great recap as usual. Im listening to the second set now. Love the scat/rap in Sneakin Sally.

A big hello to Iggy, Gmoney & MrFab.

Im now beginning to think and expecting YEM to be shelved until SUPERBALLIX. Maybe an hour long YEM to blow the 59 minute Jim out of the water.

Dominc Cilli said...

A really great review Pauly

Kid Dynamite said...

wait - they played YEM @ PNC.. i was there.. please tell me I didn't imagine that.

Irongirl01 said...

Dang KD you're right. For some reason I thought they ended with Alaska. Bummer that blows my YEM is shelved conspiracy theory out the window.

Theyll probably do it tonight then to close

Gordon said...

Great review...wrong date.

All that travel banged up your calendar.

It's 6/4/11 in Cleveland.