Phish tour kicks off in one week. Let's hop in our time machine and flashback to last summer. Phish played 33 shows in the summer of 2012. I saw 24 shows spread out over two legs.
Here is a machine-gun Trey inspired quickie review of the 14 out of 20 shows I caught during Leg 1 (originally plucked from my show recaps)...
Atlantic City, NJ - Night 1... Skipped Worcester and Bonnaroo. Hopped on tour in Atlantic City. Caught a ride from NYC with Javier and Igor, who had a bag full of mescaline. He called it "cactus dust" and devoured dippies while speeding down the Garden State Parkway. Sketchy AC. Wiseguys, old people, and plight. Extras were $40. Beach-party-funk with Camel Walk. Page tore it up on Coil. I finally understood the lyric about Satan standing on the beach. That fucker lives in AC, "where the sand turns to gold." Bader's Field proximity to the ocean created a vortex of unparalleled energy. Mesc peaked during a Birds of a Feather wild rumpus. What's the deal with CK5's vagina-inspired circular lights? Twist-Piper "wooooooo" shenanigans. Nitrous mafia vultures in gold chains and track suits dragged icy-cold tanks around the block from the Boardwalk. Spent all night toking up on the beach. Never saw Satan.
Atlantic City, NJ - Night 2... No sleep. Late night at ACH. Gambled on Euro 2012 soccer. I designed and sold "2001" stickers. Faded wookette busted slinging Xannie bars on Shakedown. Golf cart rolled up, three stormtroopers jumped out and cuffed the shoe-less nymph. Javier and I scored choco shrooms from an old hippie Earth mama. I found a guy with jar of Vicodin. Perfect spot in front of soundboard. Surrounded by beach balls and inflatable goldfish. We bet on length of ripcord Halley's. Choco-shrooms kicked in. Evil part of My Friend reminded me of The Sopranos when Silvio kills Adriana. Page channeled his inner Frank Sinatra during Lawn Boy. Phishy girl next to me almost rubbed one out. I wore my Ocelot shirt. They played it. Natalie Portman's hipster doppelganger spilled a giant beer on me during Crosseyed and Painless. Manteca-Light mixed a classic jazz ass-shaker with a 3.0 jam vehicle. Caught Javier grinding the freaky-freaky with drunk Nat Portman girl during Golgi. I watched all the schwilly souls stumble around crowded Shakedown. Female cop ordered me to stop selling 2001 stickers. "Shut it down, Kubrick!" she said. Igor wanted to get a tank delivered to Javier's room. "It only costs $235. Can I borrow $200? We'll make it back in fifteen minutes!"
Atlantic City, NJ - Night 3... All night rager at ACH. Igor got kicked out of a seedy strip club then picked up a sassy, Russian girl who worked at the all-night pizza joint on the Boardwalk. I was worried she might steal my laptop or our room's towels. On way to Shakedown, I passed a K-9 Unit. Police dog knew I was holding and went berserk. Instant panic attack. Lucky day. Nothing happened. Shakedown filled with hungover and sunburned kids. Reeked of stale beer, teriyaki sauce, and sweaty feet. Extras were $30. I spotted Gordo in a golf cart and requested Waves (my pick for a high-stakes fantasy pool). Bruce and I posted up near the soundboard. Fathers' Day show opened with Brother and Phish's kids in a metal bathtub onstage. Trey super chatty. Did he bust into Fish's Adderall stash? Heady set two opener with Drowned-2001-Reba. Rest of set was meh. They phoned in Roses Are Free. Surrounded by shitfaced assholes like the shirtless guy screaming "Woooooo-hooooo!" and three mollified Jersey girls who talked the entire set. Curveball with a DWD set closer. Masses expected a YEM encore. Denied! Left Bader Field with YEM blue balls.
Cincinnati, OH.... 250th show. Skipped the Virginia shows. Jumped back on in Ohio with the Cincy crew (GMoney, Mr. Fabulous and Iggy -- Deadhead converts to the Church of Phish). Shakedown is a triangular lot. I slung 2001 stickers, miracled my extra to DiggDugg, and scored choco-shrooms. Weird first set. My first-ever Shaggy Dog. Fell into a shroom-hole during Light Up Or Leave Me Alone. Amateur drunks behind us would not shut the fuck up. Show went off the rails late in the first set. Intense Stash zapped Fish. Rare back-to-back flubbs. He blew the intro to Poor Heart. "Still learning how to count," said Fish. When Trey attempted Moma Dance, Fish came in late. Trey masked his contempt with humor ("We need to find a song that starts with the drums," he barked). Page was aloof and Gordo looked wicked pissed. Fish bounced back with a sloppy Llama. If Bobby Knight was the coach of Phish, he would've benched Fish the rest of tour. They regrouped during a short setbreak. Smelled burning seeds during DWD. Schwasted rednecks behind us smoked a prison joint, then Vesuviusly puked during Kill Devil Falls. Vomit everywhere. Deviant Twist. Ripcord Halley's. Plinko-enhanced Sand dance party. Ears ringing for hours after a deafening Carini. Iggy calls it "Caprini." Surly phans denied YEM. Again.
Burgettstown, PA... Got on the road two hours late. Mellow lot at Star Lake. Scored Vikes from a giant who looked like an Ohio State lineman. We had pav seats. Our neighbors were extras from World of the Wonderful Whites: bloated, coked-up Huey Lewis clone in a Hawaiian shirt, his gay partner (Anderson Cooper in Tevas), a 95-pound tweaker, and a misplaced young hipster hottie. Tweaker jumped up and down the entire show. During Backwards, coke-eyed Huey Lewis bothered me with air guitar. Finally got Torn and Frayed after chasing it everywhere. Finally a YEM! First YEM all summer. Everyone went berserk. Seven Below thick-n-juicy. Bouncin' was first "Pauly Takes a Piss Song" of the summer. Tweaker picked up a stray whiskey-tango cougar at setbreak. They smoked meth then dryhumped during Julius. Star Lake was my 100th show in the 3.0 era. So damn lucky. We got super lost on backroads near the West Virginia/Ohio border. Reading Google maps while spun ain't fun. We crashed at a no-tell motor lodge in bumblefuck Appalachia. No wifi. Flesh-eating bacteria was free. Iggy's pillow had a disgusting, yellow-brown stain. I pulled my bed into the middle of the room to avoid a leaky ceiling. Slept in our clothes with lights and TV on. We survived without getting enslaved as a gimp for a rural clan of hillbilly sex fiends. Pro tip: never let the guy on two hits of acid act as the navigator.
Cuyahoga Falls, OH... Hello, Cleveland! I love Blossom. Impeccable sound inside the pavilion. Looks like a wooden pyramid. Chillaxed police at the venue. Anything goes. Best lot scene on tour. Shakedown goes on forever. Made a killing slinging 2001 stickers. Pav seats in front of the soundboard. Watching CK5 work the lighting board is like watching Picasso paint. Shortest Tube ever! Barely 4 minutes. Why even bother? Iggy hoped to hear Axilla, Roses Are Free, and Golden Age. Lucky fucker got all three. Possum is overplayed, but Scotty B once said, "they always nail it." Kid in the hotdog costume climbed on his seat to jump up and down during Meatstick. Trey invited a bevy of Phishy chicks onstage to do the Meatstick dance. Is this Girltalk? Grim Ghost jam sounded like a ritualistic slaying of a mythical demon-like beast. Tight Tweezer > Walk Away. Goofball Trey muttered lyrics to Another Brick in the Wall, Under Pressure, and Ice Ice Baby. Pleasant surprise when Fish sung Sweet Virginia. Antelope was typical full-octane Trey wankage. Everyone went nuts. The fucking exclamation point on a smoking show. "I never saw so many people dance that hard," said G-Money. Spiritual revitalization at Blossom.
Deer Creek, IN - Night 1... After three days off, we loaded up Mr. Fabulous' truck for a classic Deer Creek to Alpine Valley run. Saw seven cars pulled over. Phish kids sat along the highway in zip cuffs. If you're riding dirty, watch your speed! We're too old to sit in the blistering hot lot. 105 degrees? We pre-partied at the hotel. Watched Germany-Italy because I bet on it. Arrived at the lots, found Snail Trax and the Hill Jack boys, scored White Lightning from a Bisco Kid, and a girl with butterfly wings sold me "bombastic mol." St. Louis Tommy miracled me a VIP wristband and a seat right behind pit. Raged solo in the pav. The Cincy crew hung out in the moat (the DMZ between the lawn and the pav). CK5's new "vagina" lights were gone. Fuck Your Face was a fun quickie. Party favors kicked in during Weigh. So damn hot and suffocating, I almost passed out. Strung-out dude behind me kept screaming, "Page's house!" Chilly-themed tunes to soothe the sweaty audience like Velvet Underground's Cool It Down. The boys snuck McGrupp in the middle of Mike's Groove. Had a personal and profound epiphany during Back on the Train. Classic Fish hijinks. He forgot words to Sexual Heeling. Played Bike instead. Vac solo = jazzy flatulence. Pointed at Trey during the "overrated" part of Bug. He smirked.
Deer Creek, IN - Night 2... Spun-out wook slinging liquid thought I was an undercover cop. I told him I was CIA. We hid behind a bunch of cars and made a trade. Hung out on the lawn with the Cincy crew. Band addressed the "sign" issue: leave the signs at home. Page is anti-sign and almost went on a rant. Iggy refers to Crowd Control as "Crowd Confusion." Deep cuts: Dinner and a Movie, Mound, and Mango Song. Two Velvet Underground covers two nights in a row? Sweet Jane came out of nowhere. Mars theme with Bowie's Life on Mars and BBFCFM. Another ripcord Halley's. DWD-Sand tsunami. Nods to Coltrane during the DWD jam. Crazy visuals during glowstick war. Thousands of multicolored tracers zig-zagged through the Indiana sky. Marco Polo hijinks during Antelope. Three-song encore: Cavern, Sanity, and First Tube. Federales chased nitrous mafia over the lot. Tripping balls in Shakedown. Intense visuals. Ground was breathing. Shadows from car headlights looked like army of snakes slithering through the grass. Hadn't been that spun since we got puddled at UIC. I poked fun of "master baster" burritos. "You know what a Master Blaster really is?" said G-Money. "It's when you're getting a blow job and smoking a hit of crack at the same time." Deer Creek #2 was the Master Blaster of the tour.
Alpine Valley, WI - Night 1... Bunk lot scene at Alpine Valley. Patrolled by the Gestapo. Big Brother guard towers and undercovers everywhere. We had pit tix and stood the equivalent of second row. Greatest hits show plus 10 covers. Pit erupted with Daniel, a traditional "spiritual" tune. Overjoyed with Stones' Let It Loose. Menacing heavy metal riffs in Sloth. I wore the Ocelot shirt. Trey saw it and they played Ocelot. Coincidence? Nah, Trey wasn't looking at me, but at three adorable Wisconsin Phishy chicks in front of me. Another raucous Carini. I was flailing, throwing elbows and head-butted the frat boy next to me. A little baggie had a hole. Party favors spilled all over my pocket. I shoved my hand into my pocket, then licked my palm and fingers. Second set all heat. Balls to the wall. UFO-lights flared up. Contact made with the Mothership. 2001 disco-dance party. Third Velvet Underground cover in three nights with Rock and Roll. Page was killing the ivories. Tweaker-jazz grooves in Piper. Love it when Leo screams: "I know what it means to be alone!" on Good Times Bad Times. "I'm about to become a full-time wook," said Iggy. "I'm gonna follow Phish full time. My wife is going to divorce me, but I'll find a cute college-aged Phishy chick to become my lot girlfriend."
Alpine Valley, WI - Night 2... Ate too much acid. Phish scared the shit out of me. Wook at Deer Creek gave me a double dose. Lost my mud in the first set. Too far spun. Did not appreciate the fourth Velvet Underground cover in four nights with Lonesome Cowboy Bill. Rare corn-funk'd up Access Me. Wicked auditory hallucinations during Meat. Got lost during a confusing space-ambient Fee jam. No idea what they were playing. Sucked down multiple rabbit holes (holes within holes within holes). Happy no one talked to me at setbreak. I would've babbled nonsensical words, jumbled phrases, and wounded animal-like noises. Second set anchored by monster covers: Talking Heads' Crosseyed and Painless and Zeppelin's No Quarter. Vivid flashback during the Crosseyed segue. Mini-leap through time and space. Every time you drop acid, you become a time traveler. Thought I peaked, but ambushed again. Never thought I'd get out alive during sinister Ghost. Rescued by tsunami of crowd energy during 46 Days jam. Heavy Things and Joy were a buzz kill. The Debbie Downer of the run. Meatstick with girls onstage dancing was a bizarre way to end the Deer Creek/Alpine Valley run. Long schwasted night. Tripped balls well into next day. In one straight shot, Mr. Fabulous safely drove us from Wisconsin to Cincinnati.
Jones Beach, NY - Night 2... Skipped the first night of Jones Beach; I was traveling from Cincy to NYC. Watched the webcast at my brother's apartment in NYC. Missed Skin It Back! Hitched a ride to Jones Beach with Javier and Igor (sans cactus dust). Decent Shakedown. Scored moon rocks from a wookette with Terrapin tat. Saw UNOlker making "LUSHINGTON" sign. Nigel flew in from London for rest of tour. He miracled me a ticket. Page side rage side. Spooky orange-red harvest moon rise. Amateur fireworks from lot. Ocean view from behind stage. First set all over place. Another Velvet Underground song off "Loaded" -- Head Held High. Three cherry H.S. girls rolling their tits off behind us knew all the words to KDF. Bittersweet Motel makes me think of "Page's New Shirt." Bad-ass Gumbo. Fish hijinks with Purple Rain. Standard SSB on Fourth of July. Boogie On set 2 opener. Drunk guy asked "Would Stevie Wonder be pissed at how CK5 is lighting his song?" Mellow cosmic jelly in Tweezer-Twist jams. Slave started out sloppy but they pulled it together. Igor drove 100mph back to NYC.
Saratoga, NY - SPAC Night 1... Took Amtrak from NYC to Albany. Big sis Lori (another converted Deadhead) picked me up at train station. Phil flew in from Texas. We ate BBQ. Lori knew shortcut to SPAC. Arrived at lots when it opened. Parked behind Shakedown. Slung stickers. Phil scouted out a shed ticket. Found ChinaKat. I had her tix. She gave me a ganja treat. Saw po-po digging through wook's boot in search of contraband. Shrimp Meatstick was $3. Feral wook-kid tried to pickpocket Phil. Shed tix feel like an indoor show. We had balcony seats, Fish side. Hot sauce Ocelot (not wearing shirt). Highlight was frenetic Tube-Psycho Killer-Tube. Kid busted by security toking a doobie during Stash. More Fish hijinks. Tucking, cymbals, and Neil Diamond's Cracklin' Rose. Old school Paul and Silas. Party favors kicked in during lunatic jam in Traffic's Light Up. Forgot what they were playing. Drenched in sweat after rocking set 2. Balcony violently shook during Carini-Sand. Multiple volcanic explosions. Crowd hung on every lyric of Roses. 25-minute Sneaking Sally-Ghost orgy. Antelope featured Tom Marshall and Dude of Life on "Marco Esquandoles" lyrics. Soaked t-shirt by end of show.
Saratoga, NY - SPAC Night 2... Under weather with Wook Flu. Loaded up on Zinc and Vitamin C. Any other band and I stay in bed. I rallied for Phish. Arrived at lots late. Non-existent pre-party. First sober show all tour. Found Josh and Nigel. Swapped war stories about Phish festivals. Had balcony seats with Phil and Lori. Phil pointed at me during Torn and Frayed. "Joe's got a cough, sounds kind a rough." Crowd sing-a-long with Cities. Page dedicated Lawn Boy to folks with shitty lawn seats. Not-so-sloppy Peaches. Full on Trey spooge during thunderous GTBT set closer. DWD included Violent Femmes' Blister in the Sun. Phish weaved Blister throughout the set (in Backwards, Scent of a Mule, and Mike's Groove). Felt like shit, yet managed to get down during 2001 dance party. For encore, Trey brought out a different guitar to shred Sabotage. Dedicated to MCA from the Beastie Boys who had recently passed away. Thought balcony was gonna snap off. Ears buzzed for hours after show.
SPAC, Saratoga, NY - Night 3... Fighting off Wook Flu. Rallied. Last night of tour (Leg 1). Party favors was "everything bagel" comprised of leftovers from my tour stash. Faded. Schwilly. Schwasted. Semi-booming. Lori took us to delicious roadside burger joint. Arrived at lots early. Cheap lawns $20. Met up with Nigel. Found PhanArt's set-up. We swapped stickers. Screwdrivers were $5. Scored the last of White Lightning (for friends) from the same Bisco Kid I saw at every show. Lori and I had seats behind CK5. Watched him cleanse lighting rig with sage. Blues jam out of My Soul. Slow-downed Camelwalk faded funk. Love watching the crowd chant during Wilson. Fishman extended Buddy Rich jam on Party Time. Had not heard Driver in forever. Tremendous applause after If I Could. Wish Dolly Parton could sit in for it someday. Evil Melt jam. I caught the last LaGrange (encore at Las Cruces, NM in 1999). Light jam all over place. Whale calls. UFO lights. Silky smooth Twist. Mellow Swept Away-Steep drastic change from maniacal My Friend evilness. Piper jam felt like sitting at beach and digging my toes into the sand. Trey freaked out acid heads with Kung. Lori really wanted a Harry Hood and got it. Ended set with CK5's favorite song... David Bowie. YEM encore. Crowd apeshit. That's how you fucking end a show. YEM is a hell of a tour closer. Barely survived SPAC after I caught the Wook Flu, but I made it to the end. 14th show (out of 20). Leg 1 dunzo.
Epilogue... Long journey home. Amtrak from Albany to Penn Station. One night in NYC with family, then flight home to LAX. On road for... four plus weeks. Another epic bender. Exhausted. 14 shows in 24 days. Missed my bed and my girlfriend and California. Five-week hiatus before Leg 2 kicks off in Long Beach. Seeing 10 out of 13 shows in Leg 2 including the end of summer blowout in Denver with Joker and the Colorado crew.
UPDATE: Here is Part 2 about Leg 2. The second installment of flashbacks focusing on the rest of 2012 Summer Tour.
In the meantime, visit this special page for links to setlists and videos from last summer.
Read extended recaps of Leg 1 shows I attended:
Atlantic City #1: Satan Standing on the Beach
AC #2: Manteca-Light Sand Funk Fiesta
AC #3: Mothership Extraction
Cincy: Can You Still Have Fun?
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
SPAC #2: Blistering Sabotage
If you enjoyed these show recaps, please help support my summer tour by purchasing one of my books.