The Bowl was fun because I arrived in LA with very low expectations of the show and got obliterated (last night of tour) so everything was gravy. Sure, the tour closer included a phenomenal Harry Hood, but that was one of the few standouts from an ordinary "greatest hits" show. Hollywood is a company town run by well-tanned show biz mafioso types. Maybe it was the cumulative effects of the encyclopedia of intoxicants I ingested the previous two weeks, but I had this image that the Bowl show was Hollywood's version of trying to put on a Phish show. But Holly-fucking-wood always manages to screw something up and the final product becomes watered down and cheesy. Heck, I wasn't even 100% certain that Phish was actually onstage. Maybe I smoked too much DMT in Tahoe because for most of the show I was convinced that Phish was actually a complex hologram created by George Lucas. The fab four were heading back to Vermont/NY with their families, while their fabricated projected images were performing a greatest hits set at the Bowl! Hollywood magic meets Phish alchemy. Hollywood suits are amazing media manipulators, which is why many of them are in cahoots with the CIA. Hollywood suits convinced us that Britney Spears could actually sing and that J.Lo could actually act, so keeping schwilly ketamine-eating zombies mildly entertained with a Phishy hologram at the Bowl is like shooting fish in a barrel. However, when the boys shredded that 22-minute Hood, any illusions of Hologram Phish were quickly dismissed. It was a fun theory while it lasted. Welcome to Hollyweird.
We woke up in San Francisco on Monday morning after four hard nights of partying and three straight shows at Bill Graham. Most of the crew was heading back to Colorado, including the Joker. I snuck out of the city without hitting any traffic. My girlfriend (Change100) and drove the entire way back to LA, which we had done more times than we could count. We made excellent time with Broseph and Leslie right behind us. I had not been home in three weeks and it felt like three months following the circus... LA > Chicago > San Francisco > Mt. Shasta > Portland > Seattle > The Gorge > Methford, OR > Lake Tahoe > San Francisco > LA. We had a brief pre-party on my couch in the Slums of Beverly Hills before we left for the Hollywood Bowl.
We thought we gave ourselves plenty of time (traffic included), yet we got stuck in one of the worst jams I had ever experienced. Figured a Tube was coming... and that we earned a big one. We didn't bring any Fireball for the ride to the show, an oversight on our part. Leslie had an outfit that was not optimal for smuggling in contraband. At one point, we bailed from the car in the middle of traffic and walked up the hill because we had extras to sell. My girlfriend eventually parked the car at a park/ride garage in West Hollywood and took the shuttle up the hill. Highland is the street running in front the Bowl, which has limited parking lots (some with stacked parking) that contributed to a lame lot scene. After the show, everyone spills over into Highland winding down the hill. That's where the balloon mongers were out in full force. When the show ends, you'll see hundreds of wastrels clutching balloons and hugging the ivy-covered brick walls lining the boulevard.
On the way up the hill, shady scalpers offered me $10 a ticket. Phish sold out the Bowl (17,500 capacity??) but tons of extras were floating around. Easiest and cheapest ticket of the tour, considering San Francisco extras peaked at $150 and Saturday Chicago (three sets) went as high as $150. I waved my extras in Section N and a Mercedes pulled up and they rolled down the window. A girl with curly hair who looked like Maeby from Arrested Development was looking for tix. It coulda been the actress who played Maeby, so you never know. Even Zenmaster Phil Jackson was at the show and I heard Beiber was wandering around backstage in a molly-afterglow with a few glowsticks plugging up his arse. Maeby in the Mercedes held up traffic on Highland so we could discuss a potential deal. She offered me $100 for both tickets (shocking, I hoped to get $20-25 per ticket) and I snatched up a Benjamin while everyone in cars behind the Mercedes angrily honked at us. I got lucky because Leslie could only sell her extras for an 1/8 of weed.
Jesus... getting close to the Bowl was a total clusterfuck (moreso than usual). The traffic jam ate up at least an hour of pre-party. I had no time to check out the lots or meet up with friends. I got to the top of the hill at 7:30, ran into Leslie near the gate, and found SetlistArt. I miracled him a ticket because he had a headache ticket snafu. He's from Canada and I love the fact that Phish appeals to non-spoiled Americans. This summer whole on tour, I hung out with dedicated phans from France, Japan, India, and Canada.
We had super seats (not benches) but surrounded by dudes who could not handle their liquor and talked the entire show. I expected a restless crowd that would not be as locked-in as the previous runs at the Gorge-Tahoe-San Francisco. I mentally prepared myself to think that the Sunday show at Bill Graham was the real tour ender, so I arrived in LA with an attitude that the Bowl show was like a bonus show. If you go in with low expectations, then you will always have a good show. I also got super-schwilly in order to deal with self-absorbed LA hipsters, plus it was the end of tour and everyone had given me their surplus supplies starting at the Gorge, continuing thru Tahoe, and San Francisco. Friends pulled me aside to gift me whatever they can't/won't fly/drive. I'm always surprised to discover who was the closet cokehead that particular weekend, or who was getting digital.
I was prepared for low key evening with a LA crowd versus normal tour enders at different venues. Yeah, the vibes from the crowd always affect the show. The band feeds off the vibe of the crowd, which felt much more mainstream show biz than intimate psychedelia we experienced at the Gorge or Tahoe. They couldn't pull off a 36-minute Tweezer in Oklahoma City or at the Bowl, but Tahoe crowd was in the perfect mindset (e.g. the most LSD I had scene on the lot in a very long time) for the boys to experiment with a half-hour jam. With that said, I'm glad they had the balls and willingness to go for it with a 20+ minute Hood.
I forgot about the enormity of the Bowl until I walked inside and tried to find my seat. It was easy to get a ticket, so you had a lot of civilians tagging along that didn't necessarily like the music or the scene. Plus LA hipsters are more image conscious than SF hipsters, which is why they were much better dressed. Then again, a kid behind us wore a three-piece suit, hipster glasses, and sported a mustache. Due to the vast size of the Bowl, there were significantly more hipsters wandering around than at Bill Graham. Seemed like everyone I knew had extra tickets, so this was a show you didn't think twice about bringing friends who were marginally into Phish versus saving tickets for tour rats at smaller venues in Tahoe or San Francisco (where extras were hard to come by and tthe supply/demand pushed prices in triple digits). The upper parts of the Bowl had the atmosphere of the top parts of a typical cookie cutter amphitheater "lawn" from the midwest/south, with significantly more hard drinkers/scensters/casual fans/talkers versus hardcore fans who opted to get as close as possible and fill up the majority of the boxes.
Broseph and my girlfriend arrived at the Bowl via the shuttle and they got to the seats in the middle of AC/DC Bag. I got in five minutes before lights went down. Our old friend Schwilly Meg made a cameo appearance and scored some moonrocks on the way inside, but of course, she lost her baggie of blow by the time Moma Dance ended. Trey attempted a stop-start woo early on, but the prickly LA crowd was "too cool" and too PT sober for mind-control audience participation. Change100 figured only 25% of the crowd was at Tahoe and/or SF and they didn't know the stop-start cues to "woo", which was a valid point. Leo crooned the audience with Lawn Boy and I imagined him trying to woo glassy-coke-eyed chicks from Silver Lake to post pics of him on their trendy Tumblrs. Really felt the band got their groove on by Wolfman's, but they kept their funk vamping on a short leash. Roses Are Free quickly won over the crowd and I always get goosebumps during the "get in the car and cruise the land of the brave and free" part because we drove all of the West Coast swing. Midway through the set, the sun had dipped behind the hills and CK5 unleashed his full gameplan to light the inner skeleton of the Bowl. With the exception of a few songs (Ocelot, Sand, Hood), the boys focused more on presenting fundamentally sound versions of popular songs versus taking a loose jazzy improv approach like they did at other West Coast shows. Leo had a pretty solo during Scent of a Mule (Victor Borgia meets Philip Glass). I'd love to see Leo rage out a 25-min piano solo during Mule someday. That'll never happen... "You can't handle that shit on strong acid man!" Instead of Fishman marimba hijinks during Mule jam, we got all four members hopping on Fishman's kit. It began with Fishman picking up his mallets to bang on Gordo's bass strings. Trey and Page wandered over and the drum rumpus continued. Ocelot was super faded with a nifty Oxy jam. CK5 lit up the shell with rainbow colors... which must've been a nod to his BFF Beiber. Like most Phishy chicks, Beiber loves unicorns, glitter, and rainbows. I felt a Beatles was on the slate, (e.g. Day in the Life encore) but we got a pleasant surprise with WMGGW to close out a short set. Started out sloppy but it finished strong with an emotional highpoint.
|via David Huchteman|
The lights went up at setbreak and everyone in my crew scattered. Broseph never made it to our seats and he wandered around trying to pick up Asian hipster chicks and angle-shoot against beer vendors (hear more in Wook Patrol podcast episode 11). Leslie Fireball wandered off to meet up with Colorado friends. My girlfriend took off and tried to meet up with work friends. I realized I was alone, without water and a one-hitter (my girlfriend had both), not in the best headspace to talk to neighbors or meet up with friends because my phone was dying. I stayed put and my mind began to wander and I got caught up in my Phish hologram theory. That's when I remembered why I was so schwasted... because we were going 100mph since the Gorge. SetlistArt showed up with a beer for me... something I desperately needed at the time.
Interesting to see a bunch of second set openers tossed into the second set (e.g. DWD, Golden Age). Chalkdust came out of nowhere (expected it early in the first set) and I hoped for something glorious during Golden Age jam, but that seemed to give Phish some hipster credit with the Echo Park/Silver Lake crowd. When Birds popped up, SetlistArt reminded me of the Miami version of Birds > L.A. Woman. He thought we were going to get that Doors' cover, which would blown my girlfriend's mind. Never happened. We got a Sand > DWD one-two punch over the next 20 minute segment. Sand was full-blown dance party yet it never got too dirty. DWD started out deviant and morphed into a mellow fluffball before the band returned to the dark side with My Friend My Friend.
Listen to Harry Hood for yourself and enjoy the heavenly jam out. Those moments are why I chase Phish and it made the Bowl show totally worth the effort (long drive from SF plus hellacious traffic and annoying fucksticks talking behind us). The Bowl Hood was like one of those nights when Kobe drops 50 or 60 points for the Lakers. It had a little bit of everything... peaks and valleys, Phish punched a hole in the time/space continuum, opened up a wormhole to another dimension, melodious four-way conversation, Trey the cosmic trailblazer, Fish's Latin-flavored booty shaking, Gordo roiding, Leo vocoder, Trey "knife/myfe" insertions, and of course the controversial woos. I was wooing along at the end with the hipster in the suit much to the chagrin of Wildo (my one friend who held the most staunch anti-woo hardliner stance; listen to Wook Patrol podcast "To Woo? Or Not To Woo?).
Crowd sing-along with the Stones' cover and Loving Cup encore, the chosen exclamation point to the evening. Hoped for a two-song encore, but the fundamental rule of show biz is leaving the crowd wanting more. Like Lohan hooked on Adderall XL, I'm itching and jonesin' for more Phish. I specifically opted for fewer shows this summer (in favor of saving up time/money for Fall Tour), and can't wait until another three-show run at Dick's. See ya in Colorado.
****P.S. I know I never wrote anything about the Bill Graham shows. Stay tuned for a San Francisco recap. Soon come.
Check out the Gorge Recap and Lake Tahoe Recap.
Listen to all of our Wook Patrol podcasts. We've recorded 11 mini-episodes since Tahoe.