I know Phish's phamily cleaned up their internal scene by keeping Trey away from ravenous, vulture-like dealers, but they should investigate Mike Gordon shady relationship with Melky. Based upon Gordo's playing thus far in San Francisco, I strongly suspect that Melky has been giving Gordo a little taste of his performance enhancing drugs. Yes, our favorite scarf-wearing, purple-shirt-loving bass god is on the juice and he's been roiding up. Behold the Cactus Juice.
The pre-party took place at a dive bar in the TL because that cool dude @Grill_Meister arranged a Tweet-Up. My girlfriend (aka @change100) and I showed up fashionably late. I finally got to meet @Sail_Fly_Jen -- one of my Phishy/Dead Twitter friends that I had never met IRL. I also finally crossed paths with the infamous @TourTweet. We both love Phish and we're passionate about the music, but we also have the same twisted sense of humor and don't take everything about the scene too seriously -- especially ourselves. He summed it up best: "I'm here to see some great music and have fun with friends." Big Ditto.
When @TweeterReprise and @FunkCaptMax stumbled into the bar, things livened up. The Joker's stories about Max on Jamcruise are truly legendary. I originally met TweeterReprise by accident at Deer Creek in 2010. We were randomly seated next to each other courtesy of Phish's lottery supercomputer.
I didn't drink too much (I'm on heavy dosages of pain medication for my aching back), but @TourTweets bought rounds so everyone slammed shots of whiskey. The bar filled up with random phans and the conversations that bounced around the bar were hysterical. Someone was talking about scoring a bag of snortable drugs from a hairy exotic dancer at a Hungarian strip club. That same person followed me into the bathroom and asked me for "uppers."
Our tweet-group stumbled out of the bar and weaved seven blocks through the TL en route to the venue. One block from Bill Graham, I saw an ominous sign -- a seagull eating a pigeon. Some days you're the seagull. Other days you're the pigeon.
A Super-Wook with three dogs on a hemp leash offered my friend some molly. The price was too good to be true. He was suspicious but completed the transaction anyway. The Super-Wook fucked with my buddy and said, "Enjoy, brah... but don't eat anyone's face off."
"What the fuck? Is this bath salts?" screamed my bud in a paranoid stupor.
The Super-Wool chortled and disappeared into the crowd. My buddy asked me to test it out. I politely declined and said, "Caveat emptor. You're on your own."
Leg 1 featured a "bath salts meme" in the lot and that continued into Leg 2. One guy held his finger in the air and screamed, "Bath salts for your Saturday ticket!"
Tickets to Saturday's show was just as tough to find as Friday. Rumors were swirling that Phil Lesh or Bob Weir would sit in with the boys. The Dead's sound engineer, Dan Healy, was at Phish's soundcheck... and once word got out, the rumors took off.
Dead-Phish collaborations are awesome because those are arguably my two most favorite bands. I've caught three members of the Grateful Dead sit in with Phish: Phil (99 Shoreline), Bobby (00 Shoreline), and Billy (09 Red Rocks). I also caught one of the Phil and Phriends shows in April 99 when Page and Trey played three gigs with Phil at the Warfield. We caught GRAB at Bonnaroo with Phil sitting in. And I can't recall how many Phil-Trey gigs I saw during the height of Trey's oxy years in 2005-06.
Anyway, the Dead rumors made everyone more giddy than the night before. We settled into a decent spot in the center of the floor on Fishman side. Someone hit me up for blow. "I know you're from Vegas man!" he said. Sure, I used to live in Vegas... but not anymore because Vegas is a black hole of depravity and I have a huge sportsbetting problem. I told him to look for some local hipster chicks in brown boots and rubbing their noses. You know they're holding the good shit.
I never saw so many people toke up before a show with the lights on. Pungent aromas. The quality of bud was phenomenal. I have a "weed card" as a patient for my back pain, so I had a nice stash of Northern California's phinest medicinal marijuana (Sour Flower and OG Kush).
The boys took the stage around 8:08pm and the crowd was already jacked up and ready to burn down the entire fucking venue. Phish unleashed a 13-song opening set that included a vacuum solo and a couple of covers. The first set was anchored by a pair of 11+ minute tunes with some serious jamming -- Wolfman's Brah and Split Open and Melt.
The Wolfman's jam included lots of "fog-funk" which they introduced the night before. Trey didn't step on Gordo or Page's toes with superfluous notes. Instead, Trey filled in the gaps nicely while Page milked his clav and had a funkified volley back and forth with Gordo. Toward the end of Wolfman's, Trey finally stepped out in front and tore up a solo during the last two minutes. Trey ripped it up so much that he was sweating bullets and had to take off his jacket.
A trio of Phishy chicks near us went bonkers for Beauty of a Broken Heart. Leo is the sensitive one in the group, which is why Leo is a huge hit with the ladies. Leo got the Phishy girls all randy... but they were immediately grossed out by a shirtless noob who ate waaaaay too much molly and tried to rub up against the girls during Ocelot. He looked like Tom Cruise circa "Risky Business" and wore bright orange pants. I noticed he was bent over on the ground. I assumed he was collecting stray glowsticks... but it looked more like he was crawling on all fours and acting like an ocelot. No wonder the girls got freaked out. I felt bad for the shirtless noob's friends. They were totally embarrassed by his behavior. But then again, in San Francisco, he was the least weird of the bunch. If this were somewhere in the deep south, shirtless noob would've been hauled off by the federales.
By the way... Ocelot had a mellow-faded jam out. Everyone's talking about the face-melting Melt or the second set Simple, but the Ocelot jam is getting overlooked. At around the same time I noticed I was really wasted... but couldn't figure out what. That's when my memory refreshed itself... one of Max's buddies gifted me a pot brownie. I forgot about the tasty ganja treat and I solved the mystery on why I was swaying back and forth more than usual. Yep, only total potheads forget that they ate a brownie an hour earlier.
"Nancy" got another shoutout with I Didn't Know. Trey dubbed Fishman "Moses" and we had a Moses-inspired vac solo which had shades of Sweet Georgia Brown (aka the Harlem Globetrotters theme).
Maze and 46 Days were both layered with delicious mini-jams considering the band didn't fully develop either. Too bad... because they both started out on solid footing. Sometimes Maze is utterly evil, but this one felt more like a speed-race.
Tube is in the same category as Halley's as funkifed tunes that get ripchorded to death. This Tube was under five minutes but in that brief time, we got a trippy-whale jam. Yes, instead of the usual freeway-funk, we got a sparse humping whale jam.
When the Circus Comes to Town used to be a classic "Pauly Takes a Piss Song" in 1.0, but I don't bail anymore. Usually whenever Phish plays a multi-night run, the Phishy circus descends upon whatever city/town they play. But in San Francisco... the freaks run the asylum. So even you're most schwilly space cadet is still somewhat tame compared to the average Bay Area freak.
Sugar Shack was one of the soundcheck songs... and fell off the radar last year. I think the last time it was played was during the Halloween AC run in 2010. I always thought Scott Murawski (from Max Creek and Gordo's guitar player) did a much better job on the guitar segments than Trey... then again, Gordo wrote it with Murawski in mind. Anyway, I've never been a fan of Phish's version of Sugar Shack. In fact, some of my least favorite shows in 3.0 had Sugar Shack in it... yeah it's a weird coincidence. But... I had tons of fun at Saturday's show, so it was good to see the Sugar Shack curse get broken. I actually dug the calypso-jam out.
Things got crazy during Split Open and Melt. I like the crazy. The crazy parts of the show are why I go to see so many shows. They boys pushed the boundaries of the Melt jam to the farthest cosmos. It was one of those tripped-out versions that made me say, "Shit... I wish I was on shrooms!" This mind-meld was covered in shredded-cheesy psychedelia and included enough dissonant mayhem to freak out anyone who was actually on acid. I had my eyes closed for most of the Melty-spacy jam and I got beamed away to an asteroid-like celestial object that was tumbling through deep space. Unfortunately, the boys got themselves lost in the Melt jam... lost in space. Fishman was the one who the band turns to to get them out of trouble, but in this instance, the band fell into a black hole and even Fishman couldn't punch a hole in the time-space fabric to get them out. As a result, they just pulled the plug on the Melt and opted to reboot with a smoking Cavern closer.
At the end of the setbreak, @TourTweet found us on the floor just as the lights went down. Perfect timing. The second set was lathered in Greatest Hits with 13 songs plus two encore tunes. Yes, that selection was a vast difference than the seven-song jamilicious evening in Long Beach. Fluffhead is a lengthy tune... and composed that way. But only other song that reached double-digits on the timer was Simple, which also happened to be one of the standouts from the second set.
My uber-hippie friends (mostly non-phans) were discussing a massive shift in the collective consciousness yesterday. I wonder if the band was dialed in to that? Because they went with Golden Age to open the second set. It's become one of Trey's favorites these days. Around the seven-minute mark, Trey made a decision to keep this version under eight minutes. He could've pushed it another four minutes... but he was having one of those ADD nights and wrought with impatience. Yep, that set the tone for the evening and explains why we got a melange of greatest hits.
Golden Age took a quick turn into Piper and I anticipated Piper was going to be the monster jam vehicle in the second set (resembling Long Beach's Rock and Roll or Friday's DWD). Alas, Piper was short and sweet.
Mike's Song got off to a hot start... and it was super loud. I'm glad they opted to seg into Simple instead of a mellower I Am Hydrogen. Anyway, Simple was designated as the big jam monster of the show. Instead of a fierce beast with pointy teeth, this version was fluffy and almost felt like we were floating through space. @TourTweet heard some of the Wheel teases and we both mentioned that seeing the Grateful Dead perform at Bill Graham's in the 1970s would have been one of the coolest musical things we could imagine.
The Wheel was just a tease. Speaking of "tease"... the rumors of a Dead-related sit in was just that... a rumor and tease. Nothing ever materialized... even though I knew a lot of friends were eagerly awaiting for Phil Lesh to walk onto stage at any moment.
Backwards was a buzz kill for some folks mainly because the Simple jam was pretty fucking righteous and had no signs of letting up... until Trey pulled the plug on it. Backwards was almost as long as the Carini > Wilson double-dip... which included thrashing heavy-metal-like riffs that made my ears hurt. Too bad both songs were rushed and they never allowed an evil jam to manifest itself in Carini. And I swore I heard a "Macarena" tease in Wilson!
I was spoiled at Blossom with that sick version of Weekapaug... so at this point it's really going to take something with a little extra hot sauce to get me off.
Fish deserved a break... and he got it during Horse > Silent. Someone carried around a horse's head to the show and went bananas when it got played. I'm all for phans dressing up at shows and bringing props... but a horse's head is pretty fucking random.
2001 kicked off cold right after Silent. Too bad they didn't ax Backwards and went with a Simple > 2001 one-two punch. Anyway... I was thrilled with a Saturday night 2001 dance party. I mean, who isn't? The grey's Mothership was hiding in the fog all night long and waiting for CK5's signal. By the way CK5 had his shit together and displayed one of his better performance of the night lighting the stage and crowd during 2001.
The set was extended with a crowd-pleasing Fluffhead, which could've ended the set, but Big Red wanted to squeeze one more uppity tune with Loving Cup... yet another cover from "Exile on Main Street" to end set two for a second consecutive evening.
The encore was an eye-rolling Show of Life and luckily it was just the first installment of a two-song encore. The night was capped off by a raging Character Zero. I watched folks in the last row at the top of the venue dance their asses off during Zero.
Instead of taking us all on a voyage through inner space, Saturday night became your typical Greatest Hits Phish with a couple of gems scattered about both sets. The crowd was bubbling over with tons of frantic energy and just like the night before, the band fed off of all of us.
If you're looking at the San Francisco run as a three-act play, then Saturday's second act was just setting up the final act. Who knows what will happen next... but one thing is certain... Phish is going to smoke the shit out the joint on Sunday before the tour moves eastward.
Two down in San Francisco. One more to go.
Here's our coverage of Leg 2 so far...
Setlists:Don't forget to follow us on Twitter.... @CoventryMusic.
8/15/12 Long Beach, CA
8/17/12 San Francisco, CA
8/18/12 San Francisco, CA
Long Beach: Wednesday Night Bieber
SF #1: Touch the Magic