Monday, July 27, 2015

Cali Recap: On Fleek Phish at Shoreline and the L.A. Forum

This recap covers both California shows at Shoreline and the LA Forum. Here's my recap of the Bend shows.

7.24.15 Shoreline, Mountain View, CA

Phish returned to Shoreline for the first time since 2009. One Shoreline gig equaled three nights at Bill Graham in the heart of SF. I'd prefer three nights at an intimate indoor venue (despite the mushy sound) versus one night at the ginormous amphitheater in the NSA (aka Google) and Zuckernerd's backyard.

Sean drove to Portland and we flew PDX>SFO instead of driving the long slog between Oregon and Mountain View. The downside to Left Coast shows were the huge distances between major cities/venues. We partied in SF for a night (I lived there and knew few old haunts like my bud Big Dog's bar) and Anna snapped a pic in front of 710 Ashbury Street, like any good Deadhead should do when visiting SF. The next morning, day of show, we rented a car and drove to In-N-Out Burger, something so scintillating even vegetarian friends from Colorado indulged in its awesomeness. We eventually hit up the Shoreline lot, which is always a bacchanalian psychedelic scene. Another influx of older Deadheads and grateful vibes at this show. After all, the Bay Area was ground zero for the Dead and the entire jamband scene.

Everyone in the lot since Bend was speculating... 1) Will Phish cover any Dead songs this summer, and 2) Which members of the Dead will sit in on the West Coast? The answer to both was no and none. As Fink said, "If it didn't happen at Shoreline, it isn't going to happen." Alas, prior to the Shoreline show, the entire lot had an overwhelming electric vibe. That's all anyone was talking about... will Phil or Bobby sit in with Phish? I caught Shoreline shows in 1999 and 2000 when Weir and Lesh separately joined Phish onstage (I was also at the Red Rocks show with Billy Kreutzmann... epic Undermind), so a precedent had been set regardless if Dead50 with Trey never happened.

"If Phil Lesh sits in, he won't let Trey sing again!" said Sean.

Gordo drove by on his golf cart in the lot and a zombie Wook yelled, "Yo, Mike! Jews for Jerry!!!"

Photo by Sean W.

My Pet Wook did not have a ride to Shoreline and he took a train from Oregon. He was awesome as a courier because I gave him my extra nugs in Bend and he returned them to me (unsmoked) at Shoreline. I really don't think he's a real wook because a OG w00k woulda smoked ALL of my bud. My Pet Wook scored tickets fairly easy. Lawns were going way below face. Pavs were tougher to find, but they were out there. Anything goes on the drug front for Shoreline's thumping Shakedown. More deemsters than you can shake a stick at. Plus one dready guy slinging L on Starburst. Surplus marketplace for nugs of every strain and variety. I remembered the first time I ever rolled up to Shoreline in 1998 and didn't even open the car door all the way before someone offered to sell me a QP.

Lot Prices Shoreline: $40 Berry White 1/8, $60 for Gorilla Glue, $5 screwdrivers, $10 one hitter, $20 Wookin For Love shirt, $5 banana margaritas, $15 Lesh Philling Taste Great shirt, $50 deemsters, $5 liquid on yellow Starburst, $25-$40 lawn tix, $40 Fire OG 1/8, 2 for $5 Fireball shots, $120 Fishman sparkly capes, $15 choco-shrooms...

We had pav seats. I found one for face a week before the show coincidentally in the same pavilion section as Sean and Anna and Dr. Steve. We had Rage Side but not quite underneath the tent top. Interesting crowd. Lots of tech nerds getting shitfaced and letting off steam plus Trey-curious older Deadheads. Thank Jerry that I wasn't stuck up on the lawn with the ghetto lot kids, sketched out tweakers from the East Bay, gutter punks, and those ancient, crustied zombie wooks aka the most severe acid causalities in recorded drug history.
The Line was soundchecked and it opened Shoreline. I told Sean I felt a Gumbo opener coming. Couldn't have be more waaaay off. Moma Dance funk injection was an instant ass-shaker for anyone who got antsy with the opener. KDF was upbeat, yet felt more like filler than anything else. I had a minor incident during KDF when the choco-shrooms and L kicked in simultaneously and I reached peak-fuckedupness and struggled to converse with a schwilly bro who insisted on sitting in his seat (which he inevitably vacated half-way through the set). Gordo brought out the guns for Yarmouth Road, which is a perfect bouncy set one tune. I want Phish to play Undermind more because it gives Fishman and Page a chance to shine. Leo tore it up on the jam out laying down those CTB-like Casio keyboard grooves. Free was one of those songs that could give your soul an instant reset. All you have to do is look around to easily see someone getting D-O-W-N, who was in desperate need of a Free soul boost. It's that cathartic moment at a show that helps you get back in touch with your true self, the one that got hidden away trying to navigate the superficial and highly judgmental civilian world. First treat of the night... Reba. "Are they gonna whistle?" wondered Anna. They stumbled through the whistling but pulled it off. As per usual, rocking 46 Days ended the set with some high-voltage Trey wanking (as per usual).

I went to visit friends at setbreak and found Dr. Steve. When I returned to my seat, it was occupied by a super-fucked-up Bisco-girl who had fallen into the treacherous depths of a K-hole. I could write a series of YA novels about that messy K-hole girl under the spell of an Alpha-Wook Bro-squatch, who preyed on an emotionally vulnerable princess (albeit Jewish American Princess from the Main Line). Definitely weirded out by the presence of that small group of zombie-wooks who invaded our row at setbreak.

Photo by Dave Vann (courtesy @Phish_FTR)

Phish must have been riding a wave of supreme confidence to open up a second set with a new song. Bold move and huge gamble, but they picked one of the two new tunes that I dug the most from the Bend noob bustouts. Blaze On debuted a couple nights earlier and it had already evolved into a worthy set 2 jam vehicle. Only a select number of tunes can fall into that coveted spot as a jam launcher. Even when Phish started jamming out Light in 2009-10, it was always in the middle of the second set and never an opener. Kudos for the risk. They were not fucking around with Blaze On drenched in Dead-like tendrils, and even this jaded vet took notice.

Twist was the first sighting of the DARK SIDE of PHISH... the Phish that I love the most... when a jam gets weird and deviant and dark and dirty and fucking frightening and you have to hide the women and children and put on the bulletproof vest because OMAR is coming and you're dosed to the gills and everything turned blue-green tinted and you suddenly realize you can speak fluent Dutch and the ghost of Van Gogh is poking you in the ribs when the jam goes sideways and upside down which means you will have to punch and claw and bite your way out of a mental street brawl if you were going to come out alive, otherwise get permanently stuck in the tripping world with all those other burned-out lot wooks and acid causalities from the 60s. Even the dark side of Twist took hold of the K-hole girl who freaked out on her Alpha wook (he banished her to the lawn and replaced her space with one of the other meow-meow'd-out sisterwives, which meant I still lost my seat to the zombie-wooks). I had a theory that Phish had collective ESP and could tune into the brain of someone in the audience and they were just mimicking the soundtrack inside someone's head who was tripping balls. Was it my head? Or the head of the K-hole girl? Twist eventually got into the Miles modal zone. Twist skidded for a while on a patch of what my bud Jonas calls "dirty tones." Twist was diving head-first into the heart of the abyss before Trey had enough darkness and pulled them out. Fink had a theory about post-rehab Trey's antidote to dark jams with bright-happy tunes (like Light and Backwards) and the Twist > Light was a perfect example of the Fink Theory of Dark Trey 3.0. Light had a couple of magnificent moments including a call back to Blaze On, a spicy dab of Manteca, and some I Know You Rider licks (I heard those).

The first 45 minutes of set 2 was some of the best stretch of playing throughout the West Coast run. Too bad we got Joy'd. It was a Pauly Takes A Piss Song. Hood finally popped up after thinking we were guaranteed to hear it in Bend. Another strong Hood jam. Gordo dropped a couple of bombs and everyone got a little freaky. Rocking and reeling Cavern ended the set. They kept up the high-octane vibe with a wank-heavy Zero encore. The tent roof over the seated section gave it a deceiving indoor vibe, but I was quickly reminded I was outdoors when I looked up and saw stars and the half-moon on a black canvas right above us.

Post-show Shoreline Lot Prices: $20 Tripp poster, $60 1/4 Alien Kush, 4 for $5 PBR, $2 Coconut water, $1 lick the inside of empty molly baggie...

 * * * *

7.25.15 The Forum, L.A.

I was still dosed out at the airport. The floor was super sparkly. We flew on Hippie Airlines from San Jose to LAX. The flight attendant wondered why everyone was so happy. Phish will do that to ya. Semi-hometown show now that I've been based out of California the last seven years and living with my girlfriend Nicky (aka @change100). My girlfriend had to work (her reality show was back in production) so she could only squeeze in the LA show. As a resident of West'd be pretty swank if we got a West LA Fadeaway bustout. Sean thought they'd play it for Bill Walton. The renovated Forum has become one of my favorite music venues in LA and damn glad Phish did not return to the Hollywood Bowl, which had a lame-ass lot scene and the posh garden boxes ruined the vibe. The Forum had a GA floor, which ensured real fans would be riding the rail... including Bill Walton.

By @neillybop

Vladimir the West Hollywood coke dealer was working overtime for the LA show. If anyone used my coupon code Wook555, they got $20 off their first 8-ball. We made it to LA forum lot fashionably late at 5pm. We were greeted by reluctant porn stars in tight jorts and knee socks handing out free flavored blunt wraps. One of them had a chicken and waffles flavor. Broseph drove up from San Diego with Mexican friends. Auggie saw his first show at Chula Vista last fall and was pumped to see a show at the LA Forum. We also hung out with our bud Mr JackStraw (aka the Setlist Art guy), who happened to be Canadian. Pretty cool we hung out with international fans. Our crew had all of North America represented.

Lot scene eventually picked up. Plethora of fingers in the air despite some tickets still available at the box office. The nitrous mafia was out in force. I did not see any local cops (the venue was located in Inglewood, which meant it did not fall under LAPD jurisdiction) so there were balloons everywhere at a jacked-up price too.

Lot Prices LA Forum: $40 1/8 Romulan Diesel, $120 floor tix, $20 MTV-YEM shirt, $20 Skeletons Closet coaster, $20 shroom Rice Krispie treats, $10 ganja popcorn, $20 I miss Jerry Shirt, 3 for $5 Ghetto Lot Kids stickers, 2 for $20 balloons, $2 PBR, $100 1/4 Tangie, $100 shitty cocaine from tweaker that'll give ya insta-Hershey squirts...

Show number 333 for me. I didn't realize the special number until now. We all had floor tix, so we found a spot adjacent to the soundboard. Lots of space in the back of the floor, just like last year. Glad that Irving Azoff didn't get super greedy and oversell the floor. Azoff purchased the Forum and renovated it with intentions to improve the sound and make the premier music venue in SoCal. The new ceiling looked like the Death Star or the bottom of an UFO. First set blasted off with Martian Monster. Phish typically inserted one of their Halloween songs into their song rotation and that was the second time we caught Martian Muthafucking Monster since Vegas. Never expected them to open up the show with Martian and anticipated the vanilla safe choice of AC/DC Bag or Runaway Jim. Sean thought they might open with DWD. Actually, he was close because Down With Disease popped up second. Gordo got to flex his guns early on. He hoped his wardrobe would get noticed by the fashion police and he'd finally get on the radar of LA's elite fashionistas. Alas, according to black fingernails are uber-emo and soooo 2013. DWD was compact and packed a powerful punch, but it never really broke beneath the surface. Fun start to the set but we had to move to different spot. Anna described a group of chatty, annoying douchebags as "Pathetic 50 yr old version of drunk bros."

Unusual slow tune for the three-hole with Waiting All Night. All it really did was encourage wasted poseurs to talk more. Don't forget LA is fueled by cheap cocaine and Adderall, oftentimes in a tag-team effort. Heavy Things was peppy, but more of an outdoor first set tune. A thunderous Axilla drowned out any of the schwasted yappers. 555 ain't so bad until they play it every other show. Page killed it on the YaMar jam out. Yep, Leo knew he had throngs of celebrity-craved starlets eager to give a rock star a handjob. Leo locked up post show booty with a dazzling YaMar solo. He had Brazilian MAWs (model-actress-whatever) or Kardashian tail lining up to ride the L-train.

The quote of the night came from a schwilly "audibly tan" Laguna Beach gal: "I'd see Phish more if they played Coachella and didn't have icky hippies everywhere!" 

By @neillybop

Another great Game of Thrones/Phish mashup by the Joker. Limb By Limb was always a showcase for Fishman's octopus-like playing. Fuego has become a crowd favorite. Love the brahs who scream "Vlad the Impaler!" The jam out of Fuego emptied out into a serene solo for Page. Trey sorta left it up to Page to pick the last song of the set. Page pecked away at the opening notes to Walls of the Cave. That's another 2.0 song that I wished Phish played more often. Trey tore it up with some serious wankage.

During setbreak, I groundscored a baggie containing a white powdery substance. I always wanted to try Flakka Flakka! The baggie reeked of baby powder. I'm shocked that these amateur wanna-be party people buy such shitty blow when we're essentially living in Northwest Mexico. I was feeling a Ghost or better yet, the night was perfect for a monstrous cover to open the second set like Crosseyed or Rock and Roll. When I walked out of the Shoreline show, I felt a Tweezer looming over the City of Angels and a YEM mothership connection in Austin. I also figured a Carini was due. Would any of those kick off the second set?

Nope. It was a new song. Another gamble. Another ballsy move. No Men in No Man's Land opened  the set. Sizzling 13+ minute version. Much like Blaze On's debut, the Bend version did not feature any deep exploration but it certainly had oodles of wiggle room. Never thought that either of the new songs would open up second sets in Shoreline and LA on back-to-back nights. Confident Phish. The best art always happens when you shoot first and ask questions later. No Mans jam out got crazy bananas quickly before it reached the outer cosmos and it was time to unleash Carini. Carini never got too dark and never had a chance to develop into something of substance before Trey dragged the band into Tweezer. Much like in the Carini jam, it never got too dark and deviant because they didn't have a chance to breathe any life into Tweezer before an ADD-Trey dragged them into My Friend My Friend. Ah, finally some darkness. Alas, it came at the expense of a potential big Tweezer jam.

If I said that Slave, Carini, Tweezer and Roagge would appear in the same set, you'd never ever pick Roagge would be the best jam of the four. Who woulda thought Roggae would be the jam of the night and in contention for best jam of the summer (up there with Bend's Simple and Shoreline's Twist)? I'm salty about Backwards Down the Number Line only because I think it's killed more potential behemoth jams than any other tune in 3.0. Buzz Kill City. Alas, sometimes I feel that the rest of the band phones it in while Trey wanks away. Not this instance. The LA Backwards actually impressed me, particularly Page, who blew me away. Normally I chalk up Backwards as "filler" but that version was all "killer." Slave to the Traffic Light was due up in the rotation and had not been played yet. The sparse lyrics seemed appropriate for Los Angeles. It's also my favorite song, so I always like a show a little bit more when it includes Slave. It's such an emotional song for me that I cannot listen to it any place that is not a Phish show. Slave is emotionally draining, yet invigorating in the same breath.

Photo by Dave Vann (courtesy of @Phish_FTR)

The entire room expected a two tune encore... something coupled with Tweezer Reprise. The safe bet woulda been Loving Cup, or perhaps a Suzy Greenberg. I wanted anything that did not had "Velvet" in the title. Sorry Austin about the YEM. I really thought Austin was getting a YEM. Instead it came out of nowhere. Yeah, the crowd went apeshit. I totally wrote it off, which is why it was awesome to get blindsided by a song you never expected. My back was killing me, yet I still jumped up and down like a maniac. The YEM jam out included Trey hijinks. Couldn't tell if Gordo was mortified when Trey was dry humping him as they swapped instruments. Trey had so much fun he jumped on Fishman's kit and banged away. Seemed like Gordo wanted to shared some of Page's kit, but when he got there he looked lost. As always, CK5's lights were the MVP of YEM. The Mothership had been contacted. It's much faster these days with UberUFO. Plus the Mothership signed a deal with Roscoe's so all the inflight meals will be chicken and waffles. Aliens love that shit.

So we got a YEM encore but denied a Tweeprise. Fair trade, eh? What will happen to Tweeprise? Austin opener? Or can Phish save it until MagnaBall? Can Trey actually stifle his urge to rock out to Tweezer for almost another month?

Post-Show Lot Prices LA: $35 YEM-MTV shirts, $2 Red Stripes, $100 grams decent blow from Euro trash brah with a man bun...

We walked outside the show and bumped into the Illusion. He's a former skate/surf pro turned YouTube star. Funny that the Illusion would be our one "celebrity" encounter at the LA Forum. The last time I was at the Forum, I took my girlfriend to see Fleetwood Mac and I stood in the security line with Matthew McConaughey. I asked him if did a good job at hiding his stash from the rent-a-cops to which the McConaissance replied in a Wooderson-eque drawl, "Not to worry. All taken care of."

Last fall tour, Sean and I kept our eyes out for the Illusion because we hoped to bump into him somewhere at a West Coast show. We never saw him last year, but it was fate that he was parked a couple cars down from us in the Forum lot. Before we took off and went back to my place for the after-party, a working girl in a sparkly purple dress sauntered by. Never a dull moment on the fringes of the Phish lot.

Four shows down on the West Coast. Seven debuts. The set 2s in California were on fleek; love those 6-song and 7-song second frames. Bodes well for the next batch of shows as the psychedelic circus migrates east and touches down in Texas...

Check out my recap of Bend: Phish Blazes On With New Tunes.


toyightmoves said...

great writing as always Dr.. "Trey-curious" is the fucking LULZ

Ed Reibsamen said...

Ghetto Lot Kids is a "thing"

Stephanie Skinner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie Skinner said...

Thank you so much for your delighfful recap of these summer shows - I adore you! - shoreline was for me exactly as you said in every way - minus the bisco girl wookie scenes and add a direct communication from God during Twist clearly telling me "all is one"---- I am so happy to have found you - happy new year - blaze on - etc!