Mr. Fabulous' Friday Cincy Show Review

Editor's Note: I'm honored that Mr. Fabulous is sharing his review of the Friday Cincy show with us here at Coventry. So without further ado...

Phish Review – U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati – 11.20.09

By Mr. Fabulous

When it comes to Phish, I'm an easy lay. I generally leave every Phish show thinking that it's the best show they've ever played-- a habit due somewhat to my hyperbolic nature but mostly to my status as a 10-show noob. So take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt: The two-night throwdown at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati this weekend was the best live Phish that I have personally witnessed.

Jaded veterans and career haters on PT will no doubt disagree with me. In my defense, I'll present two pieces of supporting evidence: First, the inestimable Mr. Miner at Phish Thoughts, who solemnly declared that Friday night's Set II marked the official beginning of Fall Tour; and the Phish themselves, who let Trey sum up the band's feelings about the weekend when he wrapped up Saturday night by declaring, "We wish we could play here for a week."

Friday night began at the surprisingly chill Shakedown beneath an overpass and across Pete Rose Way from the venue. Cincy's finest were horse-mounted and present in force, but they seemed content to let the wooks mill about in this makeshift internment camp as long as they minded themselves. Mrs. Fabulous, Iggy and I hung back while G-Money disappeared into the shit to scout the available mind-altering wares.

G soon returned bearing three hits of blotter, and dropped two of them. That's the thing about G-Money-- there isn't a plane built that he isn't afraid to jump out of.

After a short, happy detour to Gameday Cafe to throw back a few, we found our seats Pageside just as the house lights went down. What followed was a throwdown with a second set that ranks among the top sets of Phish 3.0.

Pic courtesy of Phish from the Road

After a de rigueur Chalkdust and a short but raging Moma, the first hint that we were in for a special night came during Divided Sky. At the pause, the waves of adulation from the capacity crowd rolled through the Crown and broke in massive whitecaps over the stage. The band milked and milked it, prompting Daddy to later remark that it was the longest Divided Sky pause he had ever witnessed.

By the end of the smoking finish to Alaska-- played, no doubt, in honor of Sarah Palin's visit to our fair city earlier that day-- two facets of Friday's show had come into focus. First, it was clear that 15,000 assorted wookies, tweakers, fairy-winged naifs, crusty vets, cubicle dwellers, career criminals, hippy chicks, clueless noobs and 6-foot tall penguins had come to party. The Crown thundered with palpable energy, and the band was feeding on it. As the audience, we were doing our job-- letting the boys know that as far as we were concerned, it was on.

Second, allow me to introduce a certain Mr. John Fishman. I saw three shows this summer-- Deer Creek and the two Alpine shows, and I have to say that, for the most part, Fish was a non-factor. He's still Fish-- we still love him and want to hold him and pet him and call him George-- but the rumor around the PT troll farm was that Henrietta was going through the motions, that he had lost his chops and couldn't hack it. And although he performed admirably in the shows I saw, I couldn't say that he stood out.

But in Cincy this weekend, Fish was on fucking point. He played with authority, propelling the jams and enabling the band to build towering soundscapes on this firm foundation. I rarely spend much time focusing on Fish, but on Friday I couldn't take my eyes off the guy (no homo).

This was never more apparent than in Friday's TTE, which we all knew we were going to get and which we mostly dreaded. Being a Phish fluffer, it befell to me to defend the song, which I did all night to anyone who would listen. "It's a journey," I said. "You have to get through the pain and suffering of the first ten minutes to enjoy the rebirth of the last five. It's obviously a sonic metaphor for Trey's experiences with rehab."

"Shut the fuck up, fluffer," I was invariably told.

But having said that, I will say this-- the song takes on an entirely different vibe indoors. This summer, it was easy to space out during the early minutes and watch the pretty girls go buy or contemplate the inside of your eyelids. But indoors, TTE confronts you, forces you to bow before it or be destroyed. And by the climax of the song on Friday-- which, aided by CK5's epic lighting, resembled nothing less than Abacab-era Genesis-- we were all believers. TTE pwned us.

We all assumed it the set-ender. But then came a rollicking Jibboo, and we peed our pants a little. By Fluffhead, we had been officially punked out and had our salads tossed.

And that was just set one. During set two, The Crown orgasmed violently, convulsively, and repeatedly-- during the Tweezer that surely stands as the best of 3.0; during Possum, when the writhing, twirling wooks shed their clothes, set their seats on fire and danced naked around the flames; and especially during the YEM, when the building actually achieved liftoff, circled the Carew Tower and dive-bombed Paul Brown Stadium before settling back in for the encore.

At one point I looked over at G-Money, in the midst of his two-hit rollercoaster ride, and saw that he bore the wild-eyed look of a prophet. "Wow!" I said. "Yeah!" He replied. Given his state, it was enough. Iggy had lost his mind. Mrs. Fabulous was quietly bemused. And me? I was just happy to be there.

By the time Reprise opened up a wormhole in the time-space continuum and sent us all plummeting through it, every soul in the venue knew we had seen something special. And judging by the happy grins plastered on the band's faces as they took their bows, they knew it too.

So pay no attention to the haters, the trolls or the sourpusses. Phish is back and playing better than they've played in ten years. Those of you with tickets to upcoming shows are in for a treat. Revel in it, roll around in it, get filthy with it. If you give the boys the level of adulation that we gave them in the 'Nati, then I assure you that they will respond in kind.

Mr. Fabulous is a writer from Cincinnati, OH.


IMHO Friday night Second set was the Phish of 1995...when I was 20 years old actually takin' the drugs. A few Magic Hat beers, and the magic of Trey was all I needed to get back in that very same place Friday night. The energy in the 'Nati was raw, and people were screaming their heads off all night. Don't forget the Back on the Train (one of my favorites) which was a great surprise. Having only seen the Bonnaroo sets and Sat. Alpine show this summer (and was just thrilled to be seeing Phish again after so many years) the Friday night show was the first time I heard them so tight in the zone for a flow of multiple jams. Very jealous of people with more shows on their calendar this winter.
the joker said…
awesome review. its on!
GMoney said…
Very nice review Mr made me feel like i was there at the show with you....which i kinda was and kinda wasn't... i blame it on the double dose....usually too much is never enough but in that case it was TOO MUCH. At least i got a chance to laugh and laugh and fall apart...
See ya next time i jump out of the next plane...hopefully with a parachute this time.
I'm sure if everyone was on blotter for every Phish show, then every show would be considered best ever. The true worth of a show is if it can make you feel like you are on blotter without being on it. Try going clean for a show (not counting beers)and then write a review. you may not be all that excited about your 45th Tweeprise.
the joker said…
Christian- dont know how long you have been reading this site, but we talk about our experiences at phish shows, and are honest about them. we dont go sober every time, and we dont go wasted every time. but we let you know most of the time either way. maybe you are the one that needs to think about what they are writing and the context. and try to have some fun.
Pauly said…
Well said, Joker.

As the editor and primary show reviewer at Coventry, I have attended almost 200 shows on different ranges of the inebriation spectrum.

I was sober for the Hampton shows and most of the first leg of summer tour through Bonnaroo, in addition to several shows on the East Coast run to end the summer as the designated driver. The rest of the time - I let it rip - as the lyric says "like an Antelope... out of control."

But that's the beauty of music and the magic of Phish is that it's a collaborative effort between your mind/body and the music. Some of those sober nights - I was transformed back to the year of the funk. While other nights when my face was melting -- I was on another planet with Phish as my rocket ship.

With that said, I don't care what state of mind anyone is in to see Phish. That's their own business and personal choice.

Don't be too quick to judge from your moral high ground.
Mr Fabulous said…
I was actually on nothing but beer and a little herb myself. If I seemed otherwise from the review, then I blame my writing. US Bank didn't *actually* lift off the ground-- that was hyperbole designed for dramatic effect.

-Mr. Fabulous
I have been lurking forever on this site and I have no problem with people ingesting and have done so myself many times. I have no moral high ground but I feel like giving a good review to a show when under the influence is like cheating. Everyone is so quick to throw around "best ever" after they've downed 3 gel tabs, but that is not a way to get an unbiased review of a show. Sorry to throw a dent in the love fest...I really love this blog most of the time and I also admit that I misunderstood some of the hyperbole of this review.
Daddy said…

Either Christian Lashade* (nice name, by the way) can't read a lick, or is just an outright fucking idiot.

Either way, he's a goddamn asshole.

Nicely done, dickfuck. Enjoy your heady Fall '97 bootlegs.

*The Christian Lashade: -noun, -verb; The act of performing daytime alley anallingus using a Baptist church as cover.

"Brahhhh, I gave that homeless guy a Christian Lashade for a pull off of his Thuderbird wine. His asshole tasted like roasted pumpkin seeds."
and with that i go back to lurking...
Irongirl01 said…
I think we need to all join hands embrace in a group hug and sing Kum ba yah together.

In the words of Dave Matthews

Some people like to drink
And some people don’t
Some people like to get drunk as hell
And some won’t
Some people like to burn one down
And some like to burn it up, burn it up
Cause some people do and, well,
Some people don’t
But its ok cause that’s just the way it should be you see
BTreotch said…
These comments are like a 45 minute Tweezer on blotter
Daddy said…

Take it easy, man.

You're not an asshole.
You're just taking the internet way too seriously. And, Phish too.

They're not meant to be taken that way. Just kick your feet up, and enjoy the ride.

We still love you, brahhhh. I'm picking out a nice sick Waste on my Martin for us right now.

"A dream it's true, I'll see it through."
Unknown said…
Everyone be nice now. I haven't taken a hit in years, but for reading someone's experience of a show on a hit (or not), I actually got a kick out of the review. In fact, it took me back to the days when I would trip when seeing Phish (e.g looking at my friend who's glazy saying, "wow". This, in itself, was satisfying to me as a reader. The thing we all have in common is celebrating the music of Phish (sober or not). Love to all.
Pauly said…
Christian -

Roll with the punches. I encourage you to be a regular commenter, please don't go away.

But understand that this is not like "PT" where disgruntled fans snipe from the bushes. We're a phamily and defend each other -- especially with a guest poster.

If you want sappy/happy Phish reviews... then go read Mr. Minor. No one does a better fluff job on the music than he does.

If you want the straight dope, then we're your site. We don't pull punches. We tell it like we see it. If a wook passes out in a porta-pottie,we tell you about it. If Trey flubs Esther, we rag on him. If one of our crew gets very sloppy and doesn't something stupid -- we make fun of them.

We're all here because we love Phish and want to have a good time. And we'd like to continue to share that with you -- and everyone else for that matter.
dr. pauly,

I think the problem stems from the fact that I felt unusually comfortable posting my criticism even though I never posted on here. I really didn't consider that before I posted.

And Try flubs Esther like it's his job. I shiver when that song comes on.

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