Slow start after an epic raging after-party as Saturday night bled into Sunday morning. I tried to crash at 6am (I almost lost the Joker's ladyfriend's cat when it bolted out the door and had a slight freakout while I searched for the elusive feline) and finally passed out around 9am for a brief nap, before I woke up, cranked out a recap, grabbed food, re-upped supplies, and returned to the rendezvous point in Capitol Hill to meet up with the Party Bus crew. Jonas scheduled the bus a lot later for Sunday, mainly because he knew that by the third and final show of the Dick's run, everyone is dragging ass. Sunday was the tour closer and the prevailing attitude all around (the band and audience) was that we don't know when Phish will ever play again, so let's let it all hang out.
The Party Bus arrived at the lot and Shakedown was in full swing. We made the rounds and watched the folks from the Wook Store sling "mystery boxes" for $10. I bought 2 lollipops from a shoeless feral indigo kid. We saw Fishman capes selling for $100 and everyone was in desperate search for a lost girl named Molly.
Our Party Bus also had a grill attached to the bus. Our awesome driver grilled burgers and even let us bring a keg. I ran into Vanessa and Will and we chatted about the smoking UIC shows. Vanessa was in rare form and giving me tons of guff about getting old and getting too wasted to tweet on Saturday night.
"You need better intoxication management during the shows," she said. "(@CoventryMusic) tweets were slacking because you got too schwasted! Maybe I should get you one of those pill boxes for old people so you don't forget what to take?"
Touche. She was correct because sometimes I have too much fun at the shows and forget to tweet. Alas, I was treating the Dick's run like it was going to be the last Phish show in a year. No holding back. Balls to the wall.
Phil found good seats in the stands (approximately fifth row) at the back of the venue. We had a perfect view of Kuroda's lights with optimal sound. More importantly, we had a good group of people surrounding us (no loud drunk talkers) and everyone was ready to get down for the final show.
According to Phish.net, the last time Maze opened a show was winter tour 1995. Show openers are often throw-away songs so I get a little antsy when they kick off a show with a song that I know they'd tear to shreds later on down the line., hence, why I gripe about DWD first set openers. Plus, the boys have been smoking the shit out of Maze in 3.0. The opening slot hindered their opportunity to stretch it out.
I got pelted in the face with glowsticks during Maze. The funk train arrived with Back of the Train and Trey showed up a few machine gun licks early on. The show got off to a hot start with a solid 1-2 punch, and kept up the pace with Rift.
I was happy the Joker finally got a Bathtub Gin, after all it's his song. The fifteen minute Gin was one of my favorite first set songs from Dick's. It's also up there with some of the more delicious jams of the entire run.
After a 40 minute sprint, the band needed to cool everyone down and let Fishman catch his breath, who had changed things up in the costume department with the X-laden muumuu for the first set. Seemed to work.
The set hit an energy low point (peaks and valleys) during the Gillian Welch cover Way It Goes, which was sung by Gordo. I dig Page's crooning on Halfway to the Moon and wished it got into the rotation a little more. The back of the floor had a section of the grass soccer field blocked off . The grass had become a final resting place for errant glowsticks. A security guard patrolled inside the grassy area to make sure no one jumped over the barrier. To kill the boredom of the set, she made Phish-figures out of the glowsticks. A wook-mom let her little kids jump over the fence and the hellions disassembled a few of the fish and scrambled around gobbling up glowsticks. The security guard chased the wook kids out.
Gumbo injected an energy boost to get the crowd back on track before they ended the set with an incendiary five song combo (Halley's Comet > Tube > Timber Ho > Roses Are Free > Chalk Dust) that nearly lifted the entire venue forty feet off the ground. I usually moan about the shortened Halley's jam, but this time I was thrilled to hear a seg into Tube. The band played both tunes for Comet Elenin conspiracy theorists.
Roses > Chalkdust was an unique combo which fueled the crowd's energy level to the highest peak of the set. I have to listen to the show again, but it was one of my favorite first sets from Dick's. Not a single Pauly Takes a Piss Song.
The second set was all heat. They launched the first missile with Rock and Roll -- a perfect song because it fulfills so many aspects of Phish that I like: 1) cover song from a band/musician I admire, 2) Page shines on covers, 3) jam vehicle. The jam delved into a cover of Come Together, which was welcomed but slop city before jumping into Twist, which included a Low Rider tease.
Piper gives the band a chance to take a risk with far-out jamming. Sometimes they miss, but the effort is appreciated. I rather see them take a risk and miss, than playing it safe with a crowd pleaser. This particular Piper jam was a menacing two-headed monster that included a Roadrunner tease, Page tinkering with the theramin, and a cosmic-head-trip with a sprinkling of the ambient Storage jam from Superball.
On any normal night, I'd be gushing about Hood, but Sunday had a couple of songs (Gin, Ghost, Piper, Walls) that surpassed it. Roggae hit a highwater mark at the Gorge and that spicy version enticed the band to keep it in the rotation.
Ghost-Forget? Fuck yeah. Ghost > Guy Forget > Ghost displayed the band's musicianship and their sense of humor. As Trey said it best, "Now y'all know who the ghost really is...the ghost is Guy Forget." I caught the debut of Guy Forget at that rough Phoenix show in 2000 (rough because it was after 2 back-to-back Vegas shows when no one slept). The Ghost-Forget more than made up for the rip chord, stunted-growth version of the UIC Ghost.
Walls of the Cave is also another vehicle for them to open up and jam in the second half of the song. The composed sections of WOTC are improving with each run through, but the jams are always spot on. I never saw the crowd react as insanely as they did at Dick's wth the peak of the jam.
The encore was only one song -- Backwards Down the Number Line. Backwards fit the mold for most Phish shows that were absolutely smoking, but fizzled out with a disappointing encore. Everyone had put out the YEM vibe during the encore break, but Trey wanted to play Backwards for a reason -- it's his mea culpa and an artistic statement -- letting everyone know that he turned the corner with a terrible stretch in his life. In that regard, I'm happy to hear any Phish. Heck, at least it wasn't Velvet Cheese.
The Dick's run had some obvious omissions including YEM, Wilson, Bowie, Zero, Mike's Groove, Fluffhead, AC/DC Bag, First Tube, and Jim (not to mention popular covers: Loving Cup, Cities, Crosseyed and Painless, and Boogie On). Some of those were benched in favor of S-songs on the first night. If you are a fan of those omitted songs, I totally understand your disappointment. Phish is always fun, but the shows seem to have an extra tinge of awesomeness when they play your favorite song.
I had a blast during the Dick's run to end the second leg of summer tour. I'm particularly happy I got to see the shows with the Joker, Jonas and the rest of the Colorado crew. Thanks to Jonas for hooking up the Party Bus and thanks to the Joker for putting us up. I've seen a lot of special shows in Colorado in 3.0 (Red Rocks and Telluride), and the Dick's run was a magnificent way to end the summer. If Phish isn't going to play a while, at least I'll have many memory burns to keep me warm and fuzzy over the duration of their unknown hiatus.
It's been a long and exhausting tour kicking off with the Gorge, the Hollywood Bowl, Lake Tahoe, Outside Lands, UIC, and Dick's in Colorado. I saw most of this amazing tour with my girlfriend (she skipped UIC) and along the way, I partied at various shows with different groups of friends. Phish always puts everyone in a good mood and I'm fortunate that I got to hang out the last month with them in the lot, at the shows, and raging it up at after-parties. Phish is always a little better when you can share the experience with others.
It's been a wild ride. Can't wait to do it again. In the meantime, I gotta say... thank you, Phish.
Here are recaps from 9/2/11 - The S Show and 9/3/11 - Diseasetweeze.