Sunday, July 08, 2012

SPAC #2 Recap: Blistering Sabotage

Every once in a while Phish unleashes a heater and you we're damn glad you went to that show. Whereas the night's festivities might not sound as epic on "tape" or in the modern realm -- via digital recording -- it was still one of those nights that you'll hold dear to your heart like a loopy Vietnam veteran.

"I was fucking there, man. Where you? I didn't fucking think so."

I caught one of those epic shows at Deer Creek in 2000. All I have to say is "Moby Dick" and the tour vets from the end of the 1.0 era all give you the same head nod. "Moby Dick? Yep, I was fucking there, man. What a night." That magnificent night at Deer Creek featured Phish weaving Zeppelin's "Moby Dick" in and out of the show, and as a result you never knew whether or not Phish was gonna throw in a lick... at any given time.

The first leg of summer 2012 has been special because you never know what Phish was going to do on any given night. The band has dug deep into their repertoire, promising (and delivering on) 200 songs this year, which included random covers they hadn't played in years and dusting off bustouts that would make any jaded vet break down and cry. Heck, Phish shattered that 200-song milestone somewhere during the second night at SPAC.

I told you in the last recap about my fondness for SPAC, especially when I'm inside the pavilion or the "shed" as the locals like Irongirl prefer to call it. Inside the belly of the beast. I keep saying this... because it's true... inside the shed at SPAC feels like an indoor show. The sound is phenomenal and if you're up on the balcony you get the extra added bonus of the ground beneath you rumbling. Phish is just like a secret government black op that can create earthquakes. If you don't know what I'm talking about just google: "Stardog Phish HAAARP."

Anyway, conspiracies aside, Phish ripped the hell out of another show and I was lucky to be along for the ride.

I woke up on Saturday morning at Irongirl's condo with breathing problems. I'm allergic to cats but I also felt the inklings of the wook flu coming on. I'm a certified lot doctor so I made sure I drank lots of liquids, loaded up on zinc and Vitamin C, and got some rest. As a result, I skipped all of the pre-party festivities and didn't wandering up and down Shakedown trying to sling stickers. Instead, we arrived at the lots much later than the day before and I plopped my ass down in the shade on a lawn chair. I waited for friends to stop by... Josh and Nigel... while Phil and Irongirl went on a hunt to find Phil's pav ticket for the show.

I saw the po-po arrest an entire car of Phishkids. Who knows what they did wrong, but stupid and sloppy phans help juke the arrest stats of local law enforcement officials. I can't stress this enough... party smart... and don't blaze up a blunt in front of a cop.

Anyway, I wasn't feeling well before the show and if this was any other band, then I would have stayed home. That's a testament to how awesome a band like Phish is... I would risk my own personal health just to see a show. I wouldn't do that for any other modern band (with the exception of any Galactic show, but it has to be in NOLA). Phish's music has magical healing powers. I felt like a leper chasing down Christ and asking him to attach his missing left foot back onto his body.

I made the wise move and decided not to live-tweet the show for my friends who didn't make it to SPAC. Besides, the show was being simulcast on satellite radio and there was anywhere from a 5 to 10 minute delay, so if I was tweeting, then I'd be getting hundreds of bitchy @replies from people telling me I was spoiling their show. I made the wise choice to shut down twitter (save for any special announcements -- of which I'd have one or two). Sometimes being the guy handling the twitter feed for @CoventryMusic can be stressful. I felt like Scotty B from @yemblog, who was uber-burnt out and decided to focus on enjoying the music this tour instead of providing live commentary. I'm a lucky dog and get to see about 2 out of every 3 shows in 3.0, so I don't mind take a few seconds in between songs to give a few snarky comments for my crew who couldn't make the show. Besides more importantly, my show tweets are all for me because I rely upon them as "notes" later on when I write the recap.

Anyway, I had the first sober show all tour, unless you could cold/allergy meds as a drug. Irongirl, Phil, and I had seats in the balcony. Phil was pumped because he wanted to feel the ground below him rattle. We had virtually the same section as the night before... just a couple of seats to the left. If you're in the first half of the balcony, it's a near perfect view because you get a full-blown light show from CK5.

The show kicked off with an a capella version of Grind, before blasting off into orbit with a pair of crowd pleasers... Possum and Golgi. I thought Golgi was an interesting choice, but an indication at the type of show the band was about to deliver. Usually Golgi is a late set song that the band relies upon to inject a boost in the crowd's energy. The fact that the played it right after Possum was proof that Trey didn't wanted to keep surfing peak-crowd energy. Just take a look at the song choices... all the way down to the set closer. The only slow down was Lawn Boy. Otherwise, Phish took off and never looked back.

Moma Dance is a bit of cow-funk that gets even the whitest of the whitest dudes dancing like they were an extra on "Soul Train." Last year I was chasing Torn and Frayed because whenever I jumped off tour, the boys penalized me and played the one "Exile on Main Street" cover that I dig the most. Besides, the lyrics matched my health at the time. Phil laughed and pointed at me during...
Joe's got a cough, sounds kind a rough,
Yeah, and the codeine to fix it.
Doctor prescribes, drug store supplies,
Who's gonna help him to kick it
Yep, I could have used something out of Keith Richards' doctor's medical bag (anything except the China White heroin... I'm a drug fiend, but not a full-blown junkie).

I noticed Rift was being squeezed into second sets this tour, but it was perfectly placed in between a pair of covers. Sometimes I feel as though the boys phone in Cities, but not this time. The crowd was hanging on every word. The jam-out into Maze was led by some juicy Page clav-milking and we even got a little sprinkling of plinko hot sauce.

I was spoiled with some smoking-sizzling-searing versions of Maze in 2010 and 2011... so at this point I set the bar low. Man, I just listened to that again and Page was en fuego. I don't think I've seen him mash his keys like he did during Maze.

Photo by Dave Vann © Phish 2012

Page took center stage to croon the audience for Lawn Boy. That song was for all of the poor fuckers caught up on the jam-packed lawn. And yes, I broke my Twitter silence to delivery my obligatory tweet about wet Phishy chicks and Leo locking up post show poon tang.

Peaches is getting better the more they play it. I can't recall off hand the first time I caught Peaches in 3.0 but it was slooooooooooopy to all hell. Even Zappa would have taken a dump on Trey's monitor for that insulting version. But they've practiced it since then and it's getting tighter.

Gin was special for me because I always think of my buddy and partner in crime -- the Joker. It was a special day for him because his daughter had her first birthday. I shot him a text when the song began and he was literally giving his starbaby a bath when Gin was playing. It's hard not to walk around SPAC without getting vivid flashbacks of the first time the Joker and I toured together in 2004, which included a couple of shows at SPAC and a side trip to Niagara Falls after the shows. That's when we stumbled into a strip club in Canada and I told the nubile nekkid goddesses that the Joker and I were actually musicians from a band called "Phish." About a dozen strippers flocked to us the rest of the night and for a couple of hours, I lost the Joker deep in the bowels of the infamous VIP room. Ah... fun times in 2.0!

After Gin ended, Trey ran over to Gordo and whispered something in his ear. I figured the set was non-stop heat so Trey wanted a self-indulgent rock star moment and end the first set with an exclamation point. Enter... Good Times Bad Times. The high-wank factor was in full effect and the kids riding the rail were drenched in Big Red's spooge bomb. GTBT doesn't appear out of the encore slot very often, so I was pumped to hear it to close the first set.

At setbreak, I looked at my notebook and found my setlist notes for the Blossom show. That was a rock and roll buffet and this show was on a similar wave length. Every once in a while you're treated to a rock and roll blowout.

Down with Disease opener is a bad cliche, yet it's the necessary fuel that Phish needs to rocket them into the cosmos. This particular DWD included an injection of Violent Femmes' Blister in the Sun. It was the first time the boys unleashed that cover since Barcelona in 1998. We didn't get a full on version... so I wondered if it was going to count in the "200 songs" department. Little did we know, Blister would get weaved in and out of the second set. It wasn't as pronounced as the Moby Dick Deer Creek show, but it was tons of fun nonetheless. Personally, the Violent Femmes were the soundtrack for my high school days growing up in New York City. A couple of years later, the Femmes would play a free concert at my college. Just last month, I stumbled upon a French-pop lounge act that my French pal Benjo knows well... Nouvelle Vague. We posted her cover of Blister in the Sun for our Monday Morning Key Bumps.

Anyway, Phish weaved Blister in the Sun into a few songs in the set including Backwards, Scent Of A Mule, Mike's and Weekapaug.

Boogie On was short and quick, but Irongirl and I were dancing our asses off along with everyone in our section. Irongirl caught the first Golden Age at the Albany shows during fall tour 2009. I've been super lucky and saw 11/14 times it's been played. Phish really has the TV on the Radio cover down pat and put their unique signature on it. Although, I still think the Blossom version might be my favorite.

I can never complain about a show that includes 2001. The 2001-dance party was in full effect. I was still a little sick, but again, Phish's music is so powerful that I couldn't stop grooving and getting down. Oh, and my 2001 Mothership stickers have been selling like hotcakes. I had to re-up at least once since tour started and need to order a new batch for Leg II. I only have a few left, so get them while their hot!

I'm not a fan of a late set Backwards because it ruins the flow of the set. However, this version included Blister in the Sun licks so was glad to hear it. The only lull in the set was Caspian but I sat down to people watch and took the only hit of herb I had all show. Like I said, it was a sober show for me and I was having tons of fun with Phish's magical healing music.

According to, Scent of a Mule clocked in at the longest song of the set... which was peculiar because not a single song went into double digits (unless you could DWD+Blister as a whole unit). So, we didn't get any monster jams, but who cares because the second set was flowing smoothly. Oh, and Scent had some more Blister insertion.

Mike's > Contact > Weekapaug ended the set. I had wagered big bucks on Contact in my high-stakes phantasy pool with the G-Vegas boys, so I was jumping up and down when they squeezed it in as the Mike's Groove lunch meat.

I thought I saw Trey walk back onstage for the encore with a different guitar. Turned out he needed a different dirtier sound to shred Sabotage. He dedicated the encore to MCA from the Beastie Boys, who passed away earlier in the year. Sabotage was sloppy but it sounded much better than Dick's version. It definitely won't translate well on tape, but if you were at the show, you were caught up in a massive tidal wave of crowd energy. It reminded me of the night in Alpharetta, GA when they butsed out Killing in the Name. Much like that night, the entire crowd was going berserk. Man, that's a powerful feeling...when you're caught up in the middle of all of that infectious insanity. I never see that sort of frenetic enthusiasm when I see other bands.

That was my 13th show (out of 19) this tour and it will go down as a memorable evening for sure. Two down at SPAC. One more to go.

* * * *

Check out previous recaps from shows I caught this tour:
AC 1: Satan Standing on the Beach
AC 2: Manteca-Light Sand Funk Fiesta
AC 3: Mothership Extraction
Cincy: Can You Still Have Fun?
Burgettstown: Tweakpaug
Blossom: Tweeze Away
Deer Creek #1: Heat Wave Hijinks
Deer Creek #2: Master Blaster
Alpine Valley #1: Float With the Flock
Alpine Valley #2: Gotta Get Out of This Maze
Jones Beach #2: Head Held High
SPAC #1: Light Up the Sally Ghost
Also, don't forget to check out our master index page of all of our Phish summer tour 2012 coverage.


sunshyne_silverwear said...

I fully agree with you. Saturday's show was epic. I was telling my friends as we were leaving the venue that that show would be one talked about for years to come. SO glad I was there.

Robert Pace said...

googled stardog phish haaarp.. nothing... want some deets!!!

the joker said...

links to agent stardog's writings,+aka+Agent+Stardog/

recommended if you want to read about connections between phish, aliens, mayan prophecy...but dont go to far down the rabbit hole :)