"Phish is gonna kick off Saturday's show with a couple of C-songs just to fuck with us," I said. "Or worse, they'll play the rest of their S-repertoire and shoot their complete S-load in the first set."
We all appreciated Phish's execution of a well-crafted gimmick, but were ready for an ass-kicking show, hoping for one of those nights when Phish blows the roof of the venue (if Dick's had one). But since we were at an outdoor show, we fully expected the band to summons the Mothership. Yeah, the Whale Call has a whole other celestial meaning aside from Trey's usual wankery.
We pre-partied for Saturday's show at Dusty's crib in Capitol Hill before the Party Bus arrived. The Joker went to Bisco Inferno earlier this summer and saw a kick ass bus in the Red Rocks lot. He chatted with the driver and inquired about booking the pimped-out vehicle for Phish Dick's. Jonas sealed the deal and arranged the Party Bus for Saturday and Sunday shows. All we had to do was show up. Thirty of us. We all got on the bus...with a shit ton of booze, party favors, and wearing our favorite disco-themed costumes. Saturday's theme for our crew was Dick's Phish Disco.
Jonas jumped on his laptop and spun songs while our driver safely navigated us to beautiful Commerce City, otherwise known as the armpit of Colorado.
The Party Bus had one rule -- do not shit in the toilet -- otherwise, Jonas was going to lose his deposit. Usually the Wook Patrol roams the lot keeping everyone safe from the wookification of the scene, but in this instance, we were all on vigilant "Don't shit on the Bus" duty.
We set up shop behind Shakedown (which was moved to the back of the front lot). We made the rounds and stopped by the Wook Store. Those guys have it going on right and are not just a store, but a piece of performance art. I also noticed one guy selling an autographed Hannah Montana chair for the amazing price of $75. It was a bargain.
"$75 for Hannah Montana's chair!" screamed the vendor on Shakedown. "It's even signed by her...at least...someone who looked like her...hard to tell because we were all on drugs."
Jonas and the Joker cruise Shakedown
We headed back to the bus and our driver put aside his chauffeur's cap to don a chef's hat. Yeah, our bus driver was also a BBQ master. The bus had a slide out grill stashed in one of the storage compartments. He fired up the grill and we slammed beers while awaiting tasty grilled meat products.
I scored some Pez and was ready to get jiggy with it. My journey was slow at the onset but when it picked up, I got thrusted into the outer cosmos. I'm always eager for the second night of a multi-night run (especially night 2 of 3) because the band doesn't have any travel exhaustion to negatively affect their "creativity" and woke up in the same city they were playing. Plus, whatever tech and sound issues they encounter on the first night were cleaned up by the second soundcheck.
Standard formulaic Possum opener. I wonder if Gordo is blackmailing Trey (with compromising photos and/or a bottle of 30 OCs) and making them open with Possum again and again. Last summer, Possum was an anchor for the end of the first set, but this year, it flip-flopped.
The boys brought the funk with Moma Dance. Sure, it was a tad sloppy, but pure fun funk. The ass-shaking grinding morphed into The Wedge, which seems to be a Colorado anthem. I always have flashbacks to Phish shows in Colorado whenever they play that song.
I was not wearing the Ocelot shirt, but definitely had the noon slouch most of the day and everything "kicked in" by the 4:20 point of the song. The rest of the set picked up by that point. A few drunks in our row were super schwilly during Divided Sky and I closed my eyes to tune them out and listened to the music play. Phish had me hanging on every note after the "pause" segment. Trey made his presence known in the first set.
The next three songs were a turbo boost of high-energy songs -- Gordo belting out Funky Bitch, Trey's heavy metal head-banging version of Axilla, and a Llama to die for. I've caught 4 of the 5 Llama in 3.0 (the Manchester one shines in its own way), but Dick's Llama bottled up the most energy compared to the other versions.
I wanted the band to maintain their frenzied pace, but they downshifted to a slow tune to cool down Fishman before one final surge with Wolfman's. If I had to pick out three moments from the first set, it would include the Ocelot jam, Llama's energy, and all of Wolfman's. Sometimes the band finds a groove and it sticks with them the remainder of the show -- that happened during Wolfman's and it carried over into the second set.
Setbreak was a little rough -- the lights were too bright, I was spun out and still climbing and climbing and climbing and waiting to peak out, meanwhile my girlfriend was fighting her own internal struggle and bogged down in the middle of a minor panic attack, which can be insanely claustrophobic at a Phish show. We both knew we'd be better as soon as the lights went down and could start dancing again.
I told the Joker at setbreak that we felt a DWD and 2001 coming. He had the disco ball helmet and was primed for a 2001 dance party. We put the vibe out (along with thousands of other souls) and Phish snatched it right up.
DWD > Tweezer is a perfect example of the types of second sets I prefer -- intense jamming for thirty minutes to kick off the set. They opted to co-join two of their heaviest jamming vehicles into a double decker bus that was speeding 140mph in the wrong direction on a packed freeway. That's what it felt like. My buddy G-Money used to play in a Dead cover band and he loves to talk about Mickey Hart's "bring out the dragon" reference during some of the Dead's craziest jams. I liken some Phish jams to a giant sea-monster or Godzilla-like beast that rises out of the ocean to wreck havoc on confused Japanese people.
Phish unleashed the dragon at the set of start two with Diseasetweeze and everyone at Dick's chased that fucking lizard on steroids for the next 90+ minutes. The end of DWD was peppered with Tweezer teases. I thought it was going to be just that -- a total cock tease with them leaving us with blue balls until Sunday -- but after a stumbling seg, they ripped right into Tweezer. The crowd reacted with a thunderous cheer -- 53% utter joy, 26% orgasms, 17% sheer terror, 2% funky stuff.
Trey is desperately trying to maintain his indie street cred which is why they keep playing Golden Age. Ah, I'm just kidding -- last thing I need is getting more hate mail written in blood from emo-kids telling me to stop making fun of TV on the Radio. I'll stop poking fun at y'all if you promise to stop cutting yourself, m'ok?
The Joker approved of the Dick's Tweezer.
"It reminded me of the 2/28/03," the Joker explained. "(Page, Fish, Gordo) played a funk jam and Trey was playing long notes and letting it reverb."
If I had to pick a low point of the second set, all fingers would point to Limb by Limb. I'm not saying it was bad, just that it was the weakest link of a strong set. Fishman ramped up his Afro-beats but the song seemed misplaced when it sounded Golden Age had opportunities to morph into other tunes like Piper or Caspian, but they bled into Limb instead.
Kill Devil Falls is typically your early first set fodder, but they gave us a KDF curveball with a little extra spicy "up the ladder" jam, which reminded me of the chasing the dragon jams in Maze. After returning to the chorus, Trey decided he liked the Maze-like jam so much that he dragged us back down the rabbit hole with him.
CK5 added the UFO lights to the mix and within moments Phish called out to the Mothership. A 2001 dance party ensued. It's always a sensational moment to look out into the crowd and see everyone dancing during 2001. You rarely see that sort of collective grooving at concerts (that's not a DJ rave-fest).
The second set menu also included a delicious Light jam before they noodled back into DWD territory. Julius is a crowd pleaser. If anyone was sitting down, they were all up and dancing by the start of the song. A rocking Cavern could have been a set closer, but instead, they snuck one more song in -- a vociferous and searing Antelope.
So we missed Sleeping Monkey by one night. It was the odds on favorite to be an encore in the S show, but they saved it for Saturday as a launching pad for Tweezer Reprise. I guess when Gordo dropped a bomb one of the drunks behind us lost his cookies and puked. Poor guy held it in for 97% of the show and then lost his mud during the pinnacle of Saturday's fiesta. Fucking rookies.
We headed back to the Party Bus and everyone in our group (all 30) magically found their way back to the bus -- a feat for sure considering everyone's chemical intake. The driver successfully navigated us to Capitol Hill for the after party. Jonas once again took on DJ duties as a few spun out girls referred to him as "The Space Man DJ."
The hissing sounded began from a darkened corner of the massive house party. Someone brought a tank to the party, which accompanied a couple of kegs. That's when I heard about "chili" (a mixture of ketamine, molly, and cocaine) for the first time. Ketamolocaine.
God damn! Denver knows how to throw a fucking party.
I stayed up way past sunrise and almost lost a cat (that's a whole other story). Luckily I found it. I also thought I saw an UFO, but the Joker was convinced it was a meteorite. I didn't believe him and accused him of helping Dick Cheney cover up alien life on Earth . Whenever Phish plays 2001, the surrounding airspace is always buzzing with alien aircraft. ET activity is at an all-time high at the end of a summer tour.
Two down, one to go.