Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Visuals Phish Pre-Party in Denver

Thanks to Sutton who gave us a heads-up on the Good Visuals Phish Pre-Party on Thursday in Denver, CO at Quixotes. Most of the Coventry crew will be there, will you?

Here's the skinny...
Phish will be playing their last shows of the 2011 summer & fall season just minutes outside Denver at Dick's Sporting Good Park. Denver venue, Quixotes True Blue, will be the host to a pre-party the night before Phish's three night run begins. This all day music and art event, Good Visuals, will include live music from six bands, with some of the hottest poster artists on the scene on hand with their art display. Doors open at 4pm, music begins at 6pm and won't end until 2am. Quixotes has both an inside and outdoor stage, allowing music & art fans to enjoy the amazing Colorado weather!

Bands include Dawgs at Large, Deadlocks, Jet Edison, Shakedown Street, Magic Beans, and Magic Gravy (featuring members from ALO, The Motet, Shockra).

Artists include TRiPP, Jack Shure, Ryan Kerrigan, Kingpin, and Sweet Melis (with more announced soon).

Tickets are on sale now for only $10.

Join fellow Phish fans and celebrate the start of a great Labor Day weekend with live music and psychedelic art, just right for getting you in the perfect mind set for three nights of Phish with the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop.

Get tix now.

Hope to see you at Good Visuals!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Phish Videos: UIC - Undermind

Here's an official video from Phish's throwdown in Chicago. Enjoy... Undermind...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

McCartney or Dylan?

So who is better Bob Dylan or Paul McCartney? Penn Jillette gives you the straight dope...

Thanks to Mr. Funk for sharing this video with me.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bikini Hula Hoop Cam

Check out this awesome video from @jeremy Sewell! Oh to be a hula hoop...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Phish Videos: Julius from Outside Lands

Here's an official video release of Phish's gig at the Outside Lands...

Phish Videos: Tahoe

Here's two official videos from Lake Tahoe, including Light from 8/9/11 and Stash from 8/10/11...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Recap: UIC 3 - Tweaker City

The entire floor in my hotel reeked of weed. A business traveler in a finely tailored suit stepped off the elevator with a computer bag and a wheelie luggage. He had no idea what he was getting into staying in the same hotel with Phisheads on the final night of a scorching three-night run in Chicago. I hope he didn't have any early morning meetings because the floor was going to bring the UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ all night long.

G-Money and I grabbed lunch in Greektown before he drove back to Cincy. He could only see the first two shows and his vacation was over after a pair of shows. That meant I was raging solo for the final show at UIC. Seeing a concert by yourself can be intimidating, but every once in a while I like raging solo, especially at a Phish show. I love my friends but sometimes our group swells up to the size of a small invading army, and if you've ever read Sun Tzu, he'll tell you that it's impossible managing a dozen or more spun-out music freaks.

Phish tour can be stressful for myself and the Joker because a lot of our friends rely on us to get them out of a jam whether it's a ride to the show, a ticket fiasco, party favors, low-batterys on cell phones, bail money, or locking keys in their trunk. In the 3.0 era, I turned plenty of friends onto Phish and a few caught their first shows with me, which requires a little extra attention. At the same time, many of my older friends are trying to relive old glory days and push themselves too far and get super schwasted, which means you have to keep an eye out to make sure they don't get into any trouble. Sometimes, friends get sucked down an rabbit hole and freak out. Whenever that happens, I'm there to pull them out of a nasty spin cycle.

Whenever I can fly under the radar and see a show by myself, I'm pretty excited because I can move much more swifter through the scene and do whatever I want. I'm fortunate that have multiple Phish experiences -- from groups of 30+ or just me.

I headed to the lot and wandered around Shakedown. I ran into Justin from LiveMusicBlog. He asked what kind of show I was expecting -- "Blowout, dance party, or rock show?"

I told him that the boys tore up a couple of rock shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles because they wanted to impress the masses, so they rocked it out hard. But for the last night in Chicago, I anticipated a hybrid of a blowout show and a raging dance party.

"How about Dance Party Blowout?"

I made the rounds in Shakedown and heard, "Six up!", more times than I could count, which meant the po-po patroled the lot. It was back to school for UIC students, so the campus police maintained a stronger presence on the lot, but mainly targeting tanks -- if anyone was greedy or foolish enough to bust them out in daylight.

Extras were hard to come by, which was the case for the entire run. Had the shows been at Deer Creek or Alpine Valley, you could score a ticket for $30, but in this case, you had to fork over almost $200 to see Phish's last intimate show at UIC.

I prepped for semi-sober show until I ran into someone who hooked me up with moon rocks. At that point, I was going to blast off and sincerely hoped for a dance party blowout.

Photo by Dave Vann

I had a floor ticket again and headed to the same spot as the last two nights. I ran into Doughboy and his wife -- old friends of the Joker's days in Texas. I met Doughboy at Deer Creek in 2004 when the Joker and I first toured together. The Joker was not on tour in UIC and he was back in Colorado on diaper duty rocking couch tour with his new baby girl. However, the Joker was with us in spirit all night.

Phish took the stage about ten minutes later than they had been, but the entire building was swelling with jittery anxiousness and effervescence. A friend of a friend once described the moment before Phish took the stage as "Christmas morning" -- an appropriate description of the fervent and giddy electricity inside the venue.

I went into the second and third nights of UIC with low expectations. I likened the show to a play with three acts and we were heading into the final act. But all of this was gravy, so no matter what happened, it was going to be fun.

I'm not what you would call a Gamhendge geek, and not really into Forbin > Mockingbird. With that said, I'm glad they played the duo to kick off the show. The crowd, on the other hand, went berserk with the exception of the drunk douche in front of me who talked the entire time. I had to reposition dance space and finally enjoyed the show with a thick and hearty Gumbo (played it a couple of times on Leg 1, but making its debut on Leg 2). The bong-rattling Gordo bombs reminded me of a short convo I had with Justin about Gordo forgetting his part in Walls of the Cave before the "silent trees" part, when he pushes his hand up and down to make the GOOOOOOOSH GOOOOOOOOOOOSH effect.

Possum was well placed considering it had drawn the ire of many jaded vets as it reached overplayed status. I love possum as a lot delicacy. It's the "other" white meat. Ever have a possum kebab on Shakedown? It's savory and tastes just like chicken.

I was "that guy" who jumped up and down for Weigh. I have a bum hip, so I was hopping up and down on one leg like a one-legged hitchhiker. The boys busted out Weigh during NYE runs in Miami 03 and MSG 10. Five songs in and the show was already on a path no one expected.

The crowd's collective screaming, yelling, and cheering reached a pinnacle during the pause of Divided Sky. I've seen my share of DS outdoors at historic venues. The wallpaper on my CrackBerry is a shot of Telluride's sunset, which I snapped during DS at last year's Telluride destination shows. But, Divided Sky gets a lot rowdier indoors. UIC was a tiny venue bottling up all of the crowd noise.

Bathtub Gin allowed the boys to finally open up and let it all hang out and we finally reached the possibility of heavy jamming. During the Joker lyrics, Doughboy leaned over to me and whispered, "I miss the Joker." I couldn't have agreed more.

With the exception of Divided Sky, Gin was the longest song of the set, clocking in 12+ minutes. Gin-Maze was a sweet combo and was the highwater mark of the set (up until that point). Maze has been the vehicle in 3.0 for some serious ass-kicking tension-release jamming. Almost every one I've caught has been stellar.

I thought the set was going to end with a run-o-mill Cavern, but Trey had none of that. They launched into an explosive First Tube. I always got the impression that Gordo didn't like playing FT because the bass line wasn't as challenging as other tunes. It was virtually nonexistent in 2.0 (save for four appearances according to PT). Gordo remained stoic throughout the song, while Trey looked like a man possessed with a haunted spirit, or someone with fire ants in his crotch. Hey, Trey is sober now and uses music to get off, so if he wants to replicate snorting seventeen lines of blow by ripping the shit out of First Tube to end a first set, well by all means, let it rip.

I ran into Denver Boyd and Sweet Willy at setbreak. Both were gushing about the set (and these are vets who are very honest with their opinions) and thought it was the best set of the run (out of five). I was reticent to stamp it "best set" of the UIC run, but I definitely agreed it was one the best first sets I've seen this tour.

It had an awesome chat with Denver Boyd at setbreak because the main topic of conversation was writing. He's a fellow scribe and has been a guest poster on Coventry in the past. We both were independently mulling different writing assignments and were skiddish about pulling the trigger. But after our setbreak pep talk, we both felt better about our writing futures.

Sweet Willy's buddies from Michigan snuck in like twenty joints and some tasty bubblegum hash. They smoked me up all night. Thanks guys! Ever since I moved to California, I became a horrendous pot snob. I scored some meh homegrown in the lot on Monday, but the Michigan boys kept my head in the right spot.

We discussed second set openers. I vacillated between a pair of covers: Rock & Roll and Crosseyed & Painless. The highlight of Hollywood was the Crosseyed jam. Plus, one of my favorite shows from last summer was Charleston, where Phish kicked off a sizzling second set with CP.

Photo by Dave Vann

The lights went down and Phish led the charge with a hard-hitting Crosseyed and Painless. The "Still waiting" lyric would be the keywords of the night because they tried to sneak into other songs the rest of the show. CP's jam delved into ambient territory and like the night before with DWD, I heard a couple of 2001 and No Quarter teases. But in that instance, they launched into No Quarter. For a brief moment, I felt what it would have been like to see Zeppelin in the late 1970s. Trey channeled his inner Jimmy Page with some thrashing, thunderous guitar licks that would make one of his heroes somewhat content.

No Quarter slid into a silky seg of Timber Ho, but they never really got that jam cooking before a reprise of the "Still waiting" segment of CP. An abrupt and sudden shift into Tweezer came out of nowhere. It was high-octane but rushed and sounded sloppy as hell, but that fit the theme for the second set. Did someone dose the band with crystal meth at setbreak? If you ever wanted to know what it was like to see Phish crocked to your tits on speed, then you'll love the second set.

Trey reverted to "cutting short" jams, a bad habit which plagued the band on the West Coast run. Instead of allowing the second sets to let the music organically evolve and morph into a life of its own. Did Trey had a bet with someone that he could play more than 12 songs in a second set? Thirteen songs in the final set of UIC. That was almost double compared to the seven-song anchors in the previous two shows.

Schizo Phish or speed freaks? Welcome to Tweaker City.

A tranquil Caspian popped up, but I was thrilled when Trey's ADD took over and he made the command decision to jump into Piper, which was teased more times than I could count in the previous two shows. The Piper pink light jam might have been the musical highwater mark in the second set. Sadly, Piper's growth was stunted by Trey's impatience. It had so much more potential to sprout into hell-raising mindfuck. Luckily, they opted for a transition into Ghost.

Ghost was more of an appetizer than a full on meal, lasting less than four minutes.

"It was like listening to a studio version," said Sweet Willy.

It seemed like Gordo was the one who cut the Ghost jam off when he finally knocked Trey out of the driver's seat and dragged the band off to Makisupa Policeman. Makisupa was loaded with shtick including Trey poking fun at weed-versions of musician names (the best one was Harry Chronic, Jr.). They band's inner child took over and the four pranksters returned to the "Page's house" routine. Page tore up a killer jam and I expected the band to return to Ghost jamming. That never happened. Instead, they served up two quickie versions of Sleep and Buffalo Bill, followed up by a pair of crowd favorites -- Golgi and Character Zero -- both of which jacked the crowd's energy level back up.

Golgi was super-rushed. Speedgolgi. Antelope delivered a spot on orgasm, but it also seemed rushed to fit in perfectly with the speedy set.

Phish capped off the UIC run with a three-song encore featuring a Son Seals cover (and nod to Chicago bluesmen) of Funky Bitch, then a self-indulgent Trey offering of Show of Life, with a blow-the-roof-off-this-mutha-fucker version of Tweezer Reprise. I walked out of the venue drenched in sweat. Another scorcher. Melted faces all around.

As a whole, the UIC run was stupendous. It's difficult to maintain maximum energy and peak levels of intensity for three consecutive nights, but that's what Phish accomplished in Chicago. The three shows were pure heat and Phish sounded like an completely different band that I saw take the stage at the Gorge, the Hollywood Bowl, Lake Tahoe, and in Golden Gate Park for the Outside Lands Festival. They played with more confidence and finally showed some cojones on stage instead of trying to keep the masses happy. If I come off overly critical of Phish (not just me, but others as well), it's because I love the band but know they are not a nostalgia act, but a band capable of achieving musical perfection on any given night. It just takes the right set of circumstance to make that happen. That's why UIC blasted all of us off into the outer cosmos. The attentive crowd was frothing at the mouth and waited to be taken on a ride, and the band obliged. The receptive and frenzied audience was the necessary fuel the band needed. They fed off us and we fed off them. As a result, Phish smoked the shit out of UIC.

Nine down. A short break, before the three final shows in Colorado.

* * *

Read recaps from UIC Night 1 and UIC Night 2. I also wrote about the Gorge Night 1, Gorge Night 2, and the Hollyweird Bowl.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Phish Setlist: UIC Pavilion - Chicago, IL - 8/17/11

By Tripps Prints

Last night of UIC. Follow @CoventryMusic on Twitter for live updates in the lot before/after the show and during the concert itself.
Phish - 8/17/11 - UIC Pavilion - Chicago, IL

Set I: Colonel Forbin's Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Gumbo, Possum, Weigh > Divided Sky, Alaska, Bathtub Gin, Maze, Cavern, First Tube

Set II: Crosseyed and Painless -> No Quarter, Timber, Tweezer -> Prince Caspian > Piper > Ghost > Makisupa Policeman, Sleep, Buffalo Bill, Golgi Apparatus, Character Zero, Antelope

Encore: Funky Bitch, Show of Life, Tweezer Reprise

Recap: UIC 2 - Chicago Disease, Gimps, and Golden Heat

I woke up in a trashed hotel room which reeked of dank nugs combined with a sweaty, lot stench. Shit was strewn everywhere, the TV was left on to Walker: Texas Ranger, and the leaky cooler was wide open. I felt bad for the poor fucker whose room I was in. That's when I realized... fuck... I was in my room and I'd have to do some explaining to the front desk upon checkout. Just another day on Phish tour.

G-Money and I grabbed breakfast at an old school diner in the West Loop and tried to piece together the post-show insanity from Monday night. We knew Tuesday's Chicago show couldn't top the previous evening, but we hoped for a plethora of random tunes (not on their rotation radar). I was begging for a four-song second set with mind-bending jams that would make the ghost of John Coltrane say, "Shiiiiiiiit, those white boys can play."

We attended the Mock Show art exhibit featuring different artists in the Phish community, almost off of whom create show posters. Tripp's Prints had a table in the front. I got to say hello to the infamous "Pollock" and he's a real person. I also found Pete from Phan Art and he hooked me up with an UIC badge.

After the art show, we wandered over to Crossroads, a bar with a Robert Johnson theme including a massive wall-sized mural hanging over the bar. I'd sell my soul and your soul to the devil if I could write a mere 10% of the equivalent of Trey plays guitar. Crossroads had a killer pulled pork curly cheese fries app and they played lots of Dead-themed music and even a few Phish tunes. I met up with one of my poker buddies Mattazuma, who lived a few blocks away. I was also there for a tweet up organized by @EricWyman. He's a funny mofo and we've crossed paths a few times before. I met @OhKeePahBlog for the first time and he was telling us about his bicycle ride on LSD (Lake Shore Drive). The SF crew -- @JustinWard from @LiveMusicBlog and @PeteLikesMusic -- made an token appearance along with Fletch and @OnlinePhishTour (sorry I never got to say hi). Most of conversation centered around the heat that Phish whipped up of night 1.

The question on everyone's mind: could they replicate it, or more importantly, could they surpass their feats from Monday? Or were we putting unattainable expectations on the band?

I went into the show with low expectations so anything I heard was going to be gravy. I also wanted to tone it down a notch or six on the Tim Leary scale because Monday's show and subsequent mind-blown journey got completely out of control (albeit in a good way). The lot was jam-packed by the time we arrived at 6pm and Shakedown was as dense as I've seen it with everyone waving their finger in the air. Some had two or even three (good luck with that, brah). After Monday's smoker, the Tuesday show instantly became hottest ticket this tour. Everyone was looking, but few had any to sell (that were not trades for Wednesday).

The second night of a multi-show run is when the lowlifes invade the lot. You've seen those derelicts who had been up all night and look like raccoons. Beware of dangerous creatures in the lot. They are far more dangerous that your prototypical mountain wook. The raccoon-like vampires were slinging hard drugs like special K, yay yo, and Meth. Yes, meth. UIC was only the second time I was offered homemade speed at Phish. The first and only time was at the Coventry festival of mud and darkness when the entire underground drug scene from the 2.0 era needed a group intervention in August of 2004.

Unlike the previous day, the lot wasn't flooded with tanks before the show. Everyone on Shakedown was seeking tickets, molly, and weed. Exactly in that order. It seemed dry on two of those fronts. I didn't get puddled like the night before, but I definitely had a little taste of liquid sunshine -- to keep things interesting.

We headed into the show expecting a thorough patdown. We snagged a spot center court about 15 yards in front of the soundboard. I ran into Sweet Willy from Colorado and found @LiveMusicBlog and @PeteLikesMusic. We looked around and noticed three signs hanging from the rafters: FIKUS, "17 Years Since Last Gamehendge", and HA HA HA. The HA HA HA signs were actually three individual HA signs. I noticed they were spread out on Day 1, but on Day 2, they were together.

The show kicked off with a rare Dinner and a Movie. I caught the bustout in Vegas in 2000, and the boys have only played it seven times since then (and I caught four). I appreciated the selection because of the rarity of the song. Batting second on night 2 was HA HA HA, a short yet obvious nod to the gang who brought in the banners. Nice work.

A ten-minute Chalkdust substantially moved the crowd's energy meter, which shot up a couple of levels.

"I loved the 'chasing up the ladder' jamming," said G-Money. "Trey didn't mess around with a few early tension-release points."

Yep, lots of Trey wanking early in the show.

I love Mexican Cousin because of my buddy Senor. It was his birthday and unfortunately he did not attend the show because he was back in Providence, so it was cool that Phish played the tune on his special day. What I love about Mexican Cousin is the fact I really dig a song that a lot of people loathe. But that's the beauty of Phish magic because at any given time someone is equally miffed as someone is elated. The ying and the yang. Phish moves people in so many different ways. Mexican Cousin is proof. By the way, the world needs to drink more tequila.... and dose more... but I'll settle for more tequila consumption.

My one-hitter got clogged during Mexican Cousin. Luckily I had a paperclip to clean it out in time for Walls of the Cave. The composed sections of WOTC are tightening up. The best part is the jam out of the "silent trees" section. The UIC version quite didn't get there (like say the breezy lake-side Tahoe version). Weird stat -- I've seen WOTC 15 times out 21 career appearance. WOTC was the first "new" phish song I heard from the 2.0 era. Do y'all recall when band released a free version in late 2002? I remember waiting forever on a dial-up connection for the WOTC download to complete.

Jim was always a throw-away song to open the show or early set 1 filler. It was one of my favorites in the 1.0 era, but it sorta lost its luster since then. The Tahoe version (a rare set 2 cameo) revitalized my passion for the song because they stretched Jim out and took the jam in a different direction. I hoped for a similar route with UIC, but it didn't quite get there.

Foam had a couple of juicy Gordo squishy notes (like stepping on a bag of grapes) and I got drenched by a chubby girl who spilled her beer on me.

Just when I was wondering about a vac solo... we were treated to Fishman vacuum hijinks with I Didn't Know. At one point Trey held up a t-shirt with a picture of Otis Redding's face on the front. He even gave one to Gordo.

Ocelot is a personal favorite from the 3.0 repertoire. I love songs about pharmies. The UIC's cagey Ocelot included almost ten minutes of soulful mellow-funk. Sure, Trey was playing superfluous notes in the second half, but Leo filled up the space with lots of melodious Thelonious Monk-inspired pecking.

Ginseng Sullivan fell off the planet after 1.0. They played it once in 2.0 and the country-tune barely cracked the rotation in 3.0.

"I feel like a Hillbilly," snarked G-Money as he did a hokey redneck dance.

I always expect Fishman to step it up on Limb By Limb, but I was particularly impressed with Page and Gordo's interplay, particularly a Plinko jam sprinkled with UFO lights from Kuroda.

I expected a heavy-hitter or a crowd-pleasing favorite to close the set, but the boys threw us with another curveball -- Let It Loose -- a deep cut off of the Rolling Stones' Exile from Main Street. I had been chasing a Torn and Frayed and Trey has an obvious boner with Shine a Light, but letting Leo slay a Stones cover (that wasn't Loving Cup) was the wise choice. As the lyric goes, "I'm hip to what you do."

Just as the lights went down for set 2, a drunk dude screamed out, "Play Party Time!" I thought I heard Trey unleash a Ghost lick and was getting ready to get spooked.

"It was the same key to Ghost," assured G-Money.

Instead, Phish launched into a searing Down With Disease clocking in almost 22 minutes. The UIC version blew away the cheesed-out, straight-edge version they regurgitated at the Hollywood Bowl in the first set. Those scenster LA types can't handle anything in excess of a normal length of radio pop song. But, the hardcore fans who got a lucky golden ticket to the UIC shows were the perfect audience to unleash some serious jamming. Yes, the fire-breathing dragon returned and I finally saw it.

"I'm lucky," said G-Money. "I saw two crazy DWD's this summer including Detroit and now Chicago."

The 6/3/11 DWD will go down in phistory as one of the most epic versions of the song in any era, but I appreciate the fact the boys took a risk and tried to match their feat from earlier this summer. It's difficult to compare the two DWDs because each had their own quirks and peaks, but the UIC DWD was strewn with random teases including Piper, No Quarter, and a ambient astro-jam (accented by CK5's UFO lights) that could've rocketed into 2001, but instead they snuck in the back door of a milky and soothing Twist Around.

A light and fluffy Backwards popped up after Twist. The crowd hit another highwater mark in their collective energy level. Maybe everyone around me was a huge fan of Backwards (or snorting bike rails of molly during DWD), but it seemed like everyone was going nuts by screaming and clapping and flailing. A hippie girl was so spun out she was throwing glitter everywhere and slowly trickling to the ground in between beams of purple and green lights. Just at my feet, I noticed a pair of glowsticks that were busted open and all yellow and blue florescent goo covered the sloppy floor.

I was bobbing along and waiting for the next treat -- Theme from the Bottom -- peppered with a couple of intense, yet tranquil moments.

"Theme is something I really wanted to hear," said G-Money. "It reminds me of a Beatles tune circa 1967."

After Theme, the boys crushed their new favorite cover song -- Golden Age -- which they had been segging into in the middle of second sets, something I thought they perfected in Tahoe. They rhythmic background groove is infectious and they've been absolutely destroying TV on the Radio cover. The only other comparison I can conjure up is how they transformed Ween's Roses Are Free in the late 90s.

Next up on the menu was a surprising Day in the Life -- a quick, fluid, and effortless Beatles cover, but a mere appetizer for a monstrous serving of You Enjoy Myself. The iconic anthem had irked jaded vets when it reached overplayed status in the post-Hampton reunion era. Sure, I can hear YEM every night and shake my ass to it like a Vegas stripper jacked up on Peruvian snowflake, but I the song's soul gets weary if it's in heavy rotation. I'm glad Coach Phish benched it for a bit, giving it a much needed rest before unleashing the beast.


For you hardcore sex freaks, YEM is sometimes that freaky sex slave you keep locked up in chains in your basement and only let 'em out for deviant trysts and orgies with local soccer moms.

YEM had everything you could ask for -- it's was down and dirty with a funky-plinko wild rumpus. Someone must've dosed one of the beer guys because he was jumping up and down while wearing a blue wig and thrusting an inflatable airplane up in the air. Always fun to see civilians get indoctrinated into the cult, especially during YEM.

The vocal jam stood out as one of the strongest I heard in a while, and that wasn't the liquid sunshine talking either.

It would be difficult task to top the five-song encore from the previous night, especially because Phish played a longer second set. But as long as they didn't screw us with a single encore of Velvet Cheese, I was going to be happy. Otherwise, Phish would've had to quell a mutiny and the Chicago SWAT team would get called in to handle rioting Phisheads.

The encore was a triple scoop: an uppity Heavy Things, a lustrous Slave, and an unexpected injection of slam-grass with Rocky Top.

If you know me pretty well, they you understand my connection with Slave to the Traffic Light -- my favorite Phish song that they don't play as often as I'd like. But then again, if it got heavy play time, I'd probably lose interest in it.

A buddy of mine had a theory that Phish only played Rocky Top as an encore when they personally felt they had an awesome show. It was an eerie coincidence that some of my favorite shows from 1.0 included Rocky Top (specifically 7/17/98 -- I was a tour rat then and loved those 4 song second sets).

I left the venue just like the night before -- with an infectious smile on my face and listening to all the snippets of conversations from the crowd. Seemed like everyone had another glorious evening. A Phish concert is like going to church, seeing a therapist, opening up presents on Christmas morning, and getting laid -- all in one event. No wonder I keep going back.

Bring out the gimp.

G-Money always makes me laugh when I'm half-spun and re-entering Earth's atmosphere after an excursion into the cosmos. As we navigated the slippery stairs, I asked him about the show and he deadpanned, "I'm starting to see what all the fuss is about. It's almost better than Dave Matthews Band."

If I had anything to drink at the time, I would've done a spit take. I'm glad I didn't laugh so hard that I fell backwards and fell down the stairs. Seeing shows with G-Money is always tons of fun. He's like the Cookie Monster of the lot. Put anything in front of him and he'll consume it.

We headed to the lot and grabbed some food while we watched all of the animals in their natural habitat. A few dogs were roaming around, spun out heads stood in line for $2 grilled cheese and $5 pizza. The nitrous addicts stumbled around while making the nitrous mafia richer.

The security and po-po were busting tanks, but they couldn't keep up with a hundred other ones. One security guy who looked like John Candy was almost out of breath as he proudly showed off two tanks he confiscated. He bragged to Chicago's finest, "I think we nipped that balloon business in the bud." Both myself and the cops shook their heads like he had no clue what he was talking about.

Two down at UIC. One more to go. Eight shows complete on Leg 2, and only four more remaining.

Photo credit: Dave Vann courtesy of Phish

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Phish Setlist: UIC Pavilion - Chicago, IL - 8/16/11

Stay tuned for night two! You can followed Dr. Pauly's updates via Twitter @CoventryMusic And don't forget to hit up Da Mock Show today from 12 - 5.

Set I: Dinner & a Movie, Ha Ha Ha, Chalkdust, Mexican Cousin, Walls of the Cave, Runaway Jim, Foam, I Didn't Know, Ocelot, Ginseng Sullivan, Wedge, Limb By Limb, Let it Loose

Set II: Down With Disease>Twist, Backwards, Theme from the Bottom, Golden Age, A Day in the Life, YEM

E: Heavy Things, Slave, Rocky Top

Quickies: UIC 1 - Monday Night En Fuego

Poster by Dan Grzeca

Four hours after the first UIC show, I was wide awake and still shaking. Maybe some of it had to do with the stupendous music, but more likely the mischievous culprit was the chemicals pumping through my blood system. Actually, it was a delightful combination of both. Right place, right time. One of my friends summed it up best, "You picked one helluva a night to trip balls at Phish."

Every once in a while you have to push yourself over the edge to a place extremely far from your comfort zone because when you do, that's when magical things happen -- that is to say, if you can survive stepping over your boundaries. Some of the most exhilarating experiences I undertook were the times I sprinted to the edge of the abyss with recklessness then peeked into the darkness of nothingness before I jumped. On more than one occasion, Phish swept me up and dragged me down the rabbit hole with them.

Yep, it seemed like just another Monday night for some, but for the lucky heads at UIC who got their brains liquefied, it was one of the greatest Monday nights of their life.

I saw the entire West Coast run and after six shows the band left San Francisco shrouded in hype for the impending three-night run in Chicago. The band had not played UIC since 1998, which attracted lofty expectations (and often unrealistic) from Phishdom. I can't figure out what exactly happened to Phish in the Pacific Time Zone. I had more fun than anyone should be allowed to have and they played well, but something was amiss. I have to chalk it up to the laid back vibe of the natural settings (The Gorge and Lake Tahoe) and the immense pressure that Phish (i.e. Trey) thrusts upon itself to keep everyone happy. Trying to please everyone is an impossible and thankless task. We've seen a bleh result too many times to count when they often fall short of the mark, which happened at the Hollywood Bowl (the band seemed paralyzed trying to impress the industry heavyweights of Tinsel Town) and again at Outside Lands (desperately trying to impress the hipsters and other musicians). Even the serene Lake Tahoe shows seemed "forced" with Trey killing a lot of jams to squeeze in a couple of other songs. A couple of second sets seemed rushed which was the downside of the band knowing they were not just playing to 9,000 fans along the lake, but for the entire blood-thirsty and overly critical masses rocking it out on couch tour.

Whatever weirdness that was festering with the band on the Left Coast instantly vanished the moment they arrived in the Midwest. Phish let it all hang out and they truly smoked the shit out of the intimate venue on the campus of UIC. They seemed more comfortable onstage, partly because of the condensed, yet intense crowd energy of an indoor show. Phish fed off of us and vice versa. The symbiotic relationship is essential to improvisational music. When all cylinders are firing and the band finds the right groove pocket, then you have a recipe for a scintillating and titillating show.

I arrived in Chicago at 6am after flying the redeye from San Francisco. I didn't sleep on my flight and wandered around Lincoln Park before I convinced someone at my hotel front deak to let me check in 3.5 hours early. I passed out for 45 minutes or so waiting for G-Money who got caught in traffic. He was the only member of the Cincy crew to make it to these shows. It felt weird for G-Money and I to attend the UIC shows without Iggy and Mr. Fabulous because we had become an eclectic quartet in the 3.0 era when it came to Midwest Phish shows. We were kinda perplexed that both Deer Creek and Alpine Valley were missing from the summer tour. We did both runs the last two summers but things didn't work out on the production end for the band. Alas, three nights at UIC came to fruition but just for G-Money and myself. Even my girlfriend jumped off tour and headed back to LA after Outside Lands. We had a small unit, but G-Money has seen over 100 Dead shows so he knows how to handle himself in a Phishy environment.

G-Money and I headed to the lots which opened up at 3:30. The scene was impressive for a small area of concentrated vending, where pretty much anything goes. UIC was rowdy and boisterous. In comparison, it made the weak-sauce scene at the Hollywood Bowl highly laughable.

I knew we were going to be in for something peculiar because we heard the ominous hissing of tanks sprinkled throughout Shakedown, with heads weaving and staggering all over the place while clutching balloons with a death grip. Tanks are synonymous with the late-night lot scene, but it's rare to hear the hissing in daylight before the show.

I heard the venue had 9,000 capacity, which was why tickets were going for over $200+ on different online brokers. One guy was trying to get $250 in the lot for his extra Monday. I had not seen people hold up $100 bills in search of extras in a while. You could get extras for the Gorge below face. Shit, even though the Bowl was sold out, you could get into the Hollywood show for under $25. UIC was the hottest ticket this tour. Luckily I had floor tickets for all three nights. On the tickets, the section was marked: DANCE.

I got puddled by a generous fellow. Minty fresh flavor. That was just the beginning of a long, arduous mental journey. Sometimes the right intoxicant makes its way to you before the show. Right place, right time.

We went inside before everything kicked in and I'd be too spun out to figure out how to cross the street. The patdowns were intense and thorough. Security at the door made you empty all of your pockets. That was a far cry from the minimalist ZERO patdown at Harvey's. We boogied down to the floor and secured ourselves a spot smack in the middle of the venue -- in sports terms, we stood center court.

I got sucked down the rabbit hole before the lights went out and the band took the stage. I overheard someone echo the exact conversation I was having inside my head: "This is crazy part of the trip...I'm waiting for Phish to come out and the music to tell me what to do."

The choice to open with Back on the Train set the tone for the evening. It was the band admitting that they were slightly off track, but now their back on the right course. They kicked off the UIC shows with some southern-fried crispy funk. The floor was mayhem -- spilled beers, people banging into each other while figuring out their dance groove, random wooks jumping the boards and even a few bold security guards chased after them.

Phish played a lot of early starting first sets in Tahoe and Outside Lands with, which meant you had to wait until the second set to appreciate Kuroda's light work. That wasn't the case with an indoor show and I was instantly mesmerized by the swirling colors cutting through the sporadic darkness of the venue.

Rift and Guleah Papyrus allowed me to have flashbacks of 13-15 years ago when they played smaller venues like UIC. The intimacy added to the ambiance. I lost my mud during Scent of Mule and got ambushed by the furry, fanged creatures who live in the rabbit hole. It took Jesus to save me from the depths of despair. Besides, what's a Chicago show without Page singing Jesus Left Chicago? They didn't linger and delved into a funk orgy with Wolfman's Brother. Gordo and Page played musical ping pong onstage with one delicious jam session. Too bad Trey cut that short so he could play the uber-cheesy Anything But Me. Weird selection, but well-timed after an intense start to the show because the band blasted off and no one had a chance to catch their collective breaths.

I know that Babylon Baby was soundchecked in Tahoe, but the Mike Gordon Band song was officially ready to make its debut with the Phish. It had it moments, particularly the jamming.

"That Caribbean groove was pretty cool," said G-Money.

Gordo gets off playing his own shit. Page gets off singing random covers. Fishman likes to suck on household appliances. And Trey? He's fucking Trey. He gets off just stepping on stage. Thank God he didn't step into any Oxy-induced wormholes in the 3.0 era.

Reba had all the whistling parts for the hardcore fans. I don't recall too much other than I was absolutely drenched in sweat at that point. In my head I had conjured up this scenario where we went to see Phish at an ice rink, but they brought the serious heat with their incendiary playing. They were en fuego so everything melted and I was then standing in a small lake and trying to dance my ass off in water.

Alumni Blues > Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues was a 215 mph curveball. I never saw it coming and expected the boys to cheese out with a couple of "greatest hits" set closers. But fuck yeah, it was one of the most intense moments of the show as the band and frenzied audience reached an energetic peak. They were 80+ minutes into the show and the band made the wise choice to rush off stage and end set 1 on the ultimate high note.

"Good to see some of the young-uns throw down," G-Money observed about the younger generation of Phisheads getting down and dirty with a throwback so old that Page had a full head of hair and Trey used to walk around clean shaven.

I thought I could collect my space together during setbreak, but I had yet to peak out and was still schwilly. I had thought I had hit a 10 (out of 10) on the schwasted scale, but I was at least three or four more levels higher. It wasn't until the middle of the second set before I started to coast down the hill. G-Money said that Phish had let the dragon out in the first set. I pretended to know what he was talking about and just nodded. I didn't see any dragons, but there was definitely a fucking monstrous beast hiding in the shadows.

Second set kicked off with a scorching Sand. Instead of a disjointed second set with 10+ songs, they opted for a compacted 7-song set with plenty of jamming to arouse Type II fetishists and enough unexpected twists and turns to keep things interesting for everyone in the arena who was tripping balls.

The meat of the Light jam is inspired by CK5's lighting. Sometimes I wonder which comes first -- the lights or the music. During Light it seems as though Kuroda is the puppet master controlling the direction of the band.

Dirt was the second whistling song of the show and it was a welcomed respite after an intense and maniacal beginning of set 2. You never could have guessed it would be the highlight on paper, but the Waves > Undermind part of the show made me feel like we were in an aquatic wonderworld. Phish has an uncanny ability to make you feel like you're seeing a show in outerspace, in a 70s discotheque, or underwater. I thought I heard bits and teases of Undermind in the Waves jam, but chalked it up to my wasted self. When they finally punched through to Undermind, I felt better knowing that I wasn't losing my mind, but more importantly, that I was locked into the band's psyche.

Steam is getting better every time they play it and I get hypnotized by the melodic back groove. We saw the debut in Cleveland earlier this summer and I caught it again on the West Coast.

"Definitely one of their best 3.0 songs," explained G-Money. "Reminds me of Traffic from the early 1970s. I like it spicy."

Fire seemed out of place and a bit sloppy, but it was small thermonuclear device that Trey unleashed to end the set. If anyone hadn't had their faces melted by that point, then they must have been in the lot.

G-Money pointed out that the second set had a "nature" theme -- sand, light, dirt, waves and fire. That spooked me out when I glanced at the setlist. Holy shitballs, he was right. Cleverly planned or just a happy accident?

After the encore break, Trey mentioned something about most venues reminding them about the curfew, which is the secret to what they end up playing on any given night. However, at UIC, no one told him anything. Yep, no curfew. The band responded with five songs -- something I had never seen before. In all, the encore was 40 minutes long. Some indie bands call that a full show. Fuck those whiny hipsters in the mouth. On any given night, Phish can blow the roof off any indoor venue, and if outdoors they can make contact with the Mothership(s).

"By the mid-90s, sometimes the Dead would only play a 45 minute set," said G-Money. "I can't believe we got almost three and a half hours of Phish. We were thirty rows back on the floor. Where else do you wanna be? It was a near perfect night."

After a few moments of indecision, the band launched into Camelwalk before a third whistling song, Guyute. Definitely wasn't the best version I heard and it seemed rushed, mainly because they wanted to squeeze in Horse > Silent before the pulled the trigger on a 14-minute Hood. The orgasm release point was fairly epic. Trey had his "OH FACE" on the entire second set, but by the end of Hood, everyone in the crowd walked out of the show with their OH FACES. Shit, five songs inside a single encore clocking in at 40 minutes will do that for you. Phish practically played a third set.

I love exiting the venue after a smoking Phish show because the entire crowd is all pumped up. Everyone was in such a feisty, yet festive mood that it's infectious. That's one of the many reasons why I go see Phish -- because I always leave their shows feeling fucking fantastic.

"I can't believe we get to see them two more times," squealed one Phishy chick with butterfly wings.

We hit up Shakedown for some grub and I almost got bit by a tour dog. I never saw as many tanks in just a small concentration in the lot. Behold the powers of the nitrous mafia. You could easily get food because the lines were short compared to the flock of nitrous addicts elbowing each other to get a couple of balloons. It seemed like half the lot was clutching three or more balloons, while everyone else couldn't stop talking about the five song encore. I nearly lost it when a girl walked by carrying a birthday cake and trying not to get stepped on in Shakedown.

We had to pass the Greyhound bus depot on the walk back to our hotel. Anytime you wander by a sketchy bus station past midnight, there's a potential for disaster. Luckily, even though we were sweating profusely and still spun out as far as Jupiter, no one in our crew got shanked and we safely returned in time for the after-party.

First night at UIC? En fuego. It's going to be tough to top, which is why I'm going into the next two shows with low expectations. The next two nights are gravy.

One down in Chicago, two more to go. Seven down on Leg 2, and only five more.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Phish Setlist: UIC Pavilion - Chicago, IL - 8/15/11

(poster by Ben Whitesell)

Phish returns to Chicago tonight to kick off a 3 night run. As always, @CoventryMusic will be on the scene with all your twitter updates.
Phish 8/15/11 - UIC, Chicago, IL

Set I: Back on the Train, Rift, Guleah Papyrus, Scent of a Mule, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Wolfman's Brother, Anything But Me, Babylon Baby, Reba, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page >Alumni Blues

Set II: Sand > Light > Dirt > Waves > Undermind > Steam > Fire

E: Camel Walk, Guyute, Horse > Silent in the Morning, HOOD

Mock Show - Free Art Exhibit on Tuesday in Chicago

Our friends asked us to share this info about Da Mock Show, which is a free art show on Tuesday August 16th, starting at noon and running through 5pm at Gallery 400, which is two blocks from UIC, where Phish is playing.
What: Da Mock Show
When: Tuesday, August 16
Time: Noon - 5pm
Location: Gallery 400
Where: 400 S. Peoria Street, Chicago, IL
Here's more info....
"Da Mock Show", an art exhibition staged in homage to the rock band Phish featuring 20 established artists from across the county, will take place just 2 blocks from Chicago’s UIC Pavilion on Tuesday, August 16 from 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm. The event is free, family-friendly and open to the public. Da Mock Show will feature artwork for viewing and for sale. The exhibition will showcase some of the most collectible artwork from the music industry, including Chicago’s own Jim Pollock, Jay Ryan, Steve Walters & Dan Grzeca as well as other accomplished artists such as Nate Duval (Massachusetts) and David Welker (New York). All 20 artists will be present to discuss their works and their unique craft.
Da Mock Show features:

Isadora Bullock
Nate Duval
Drew Findley (Subject Matter Studio)
Dan Grzeca
Justin Helton (Status Serigraph)
Bruce Horan
Fred Hosman (Hosco Press)
Ryan Jerzy
Ryan Kerrigan
Jonathan Lamb (Like Minded Productions)
AJ Masthay (Masthay Studios)
Ian Millard
Mike Ortiz (Like Minded Productions)
Jim Pollock (Pollock Prints)
Jay Ryan (The Bird Machine)
Tim Ripley
Uncle Ebeneezer
Steve Walters (Screwball Press)
David Welker
The Mock Show has hosted exhibitions in Virginia celebrating the return of Phish in March of 2009, Colorado surrounding Phish’s 2009 Red Rocks Amphitheater concerts, in Miami during the band’s New Year's Eve run in 2009 and in conjunction with the 2010 Summer Camp Music Festival as "Mock Camp". UIC will mark Mock Show's fourth pop-up gallery installation. Through attendees support, Mock Show has helped raise funds for local and nationwide charities. Since its inception Mock Show has donated over $10,000.00 to various charities and non-profit organizations.

The Waterwheel Foundation will be our exclusive charitable benefactor for the event and will be selling tubes and limited edition merchandise.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ben Whitesell's Chicago Print

Ben is back with another stellar print just in time for the UIC shows. Here's the details...
Ben Whitesell just completed his print for the UIC Pavilion run in Chicago. This print pays homage to the urban life of Chicago and contains quite a few easter eggs for the phans, even a few shoutouts to the Coventry Music Crew and Phanart. The print is 13x19 and printed on Epson Enhanced Matte paper. Limited run of 30, each signed and numbered by the artist.
Buy a print for only $15. Click here to purchase.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Phish Setlist: Outside Lands/Golden Gate Park - San Francisco, CA 8/12/11

Phish - Outside Lands/Golden Gate Park - San Francisco, CA 8/12/11
Set I: Kill Devil Falls, Wilson, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, Peaches en Regalia, Sample in a Jar, Possum, Tweezer > Mound, Suzy Greenberg, Axilla, Mike's Song> I Am Hydrogen> Weekapaug Groove

Set II: Rock and Roll > Steam > Piper > Roses Are Free, Julius, Life on Mars?, Birds of a Feather, Fluffhead, Backwards Down the Number Line > Also Sprach Zarathustra, Chalk Dust Torture

E: Cavern > Tweezer Reprise

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Phish Setlist: Harveys - Lake Tahoe, NV 8/10/11

(Poster by Steve Conroy)

Set I: Dogs Stole Things, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Poor Hear, Alaska, Halley's Comet > It's Ice > When the Circus Comes, Ya Mar, Stash, Funky Bitch, Instant Karma, Antelope

Set 2: Down with Disease > Runaway Jim > Ghost > Golden Age > 2001 > Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley, Guyute, Velvet Cheese**, YEM

E: Show of Life, Good Times Bad Times

** Pauly Takes a Piss Song

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Phish Setlist: Harveys - Lake Tahoe, NV 8/9/11

Set I: Party Time, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > AC/DC Bag, Mellow Mood, Rift, Punch > Meat, David Bowie, Bouncing Around the Room, Horn, Water In the Sky, 46 Days

Set II: Jibboo > Light > Chalk Dust Torture > Slave > Free, Rocket Man*, Hood, Walls of the Cave

E: Bug, Squirming Coil

* Phish Debut

Quickies: Hollyweird Bowl

By Tripp

Editor's Note: I wrote this quickie recap on my Crackberry while riding shotgun while we drove from LA to Tahoe on Tuesday morning...

The attendance for Phish's sold-out show at the Hollywood Bowl was over 17,000. At $60 a ticket, that's $1 million from the gate. Phish is many things, but smack in the middle of the recession and on one of the worst trading days in the history of the modern stock market, the only thing that the bean counters in Hollyweird cared about was Phish -- their proverbial meal ticket for the day. I know the promoters much have been cursing themselves thinking -- "Why didn't we book the Phish for the whole fucking week?"

Welcome to show business.

Phish did everything in the power to evade the tentacles of the music industry octopus. For two decades they did things their way, often saying Fuck You to the establishment. They didn't need the industry-controlled press to sell out shows or get a record played on the radio. I've always been grateful Phish never reached the mainstream world because then their shows might be more like the crowd at the Hollywood Bowl... full of what my friend Otis described as L.A. Douchebagicus.

Yeah, the Bowl show had less than a 1% wook factor, but there were more douche and douchettes than I expected. The hispter crowd infiltrated Phish. sure, Phish will play Outside Lands Festival on Friday and fans/critics of hipster bands have already taken pot shots at Phish and Phisheads, but at least NoCal hipsters are cooler because they ingest significantly more drugs. SoCal hipsters just get drunk and talk loudly over the music, or angrily stand with their arms crossed while updating Facebook.

My girlfriend, Change100, grew up in West LA. She worked at the Hollywood Bowl as a summer job in high school. She always wanted to see Phish in the Bowl. Me? I live in LA and wanted a local show. I grew up in NYC and consider the MSG shows as "hometown shows" because all I have to do is hop on the #1 train and head downtown to Penn Station.

I'm feeling older than I'd like to admit. I'm the Brett Favre of the lot (minus the penis pics): my goatee is greying, I'm addicted to Vicodin, and I hobble around a lot. I can't crash on floors like I used to on 99 tour, so it really felt good to wake up in my own bed on the day of the show in my apartment in the Slums of Beverly Hills.

I live 1.5 blocks south of BH with my girlfriend. I loathe LA, but I have a serious gambling problem, so I can't live in Las Vegas full time, but I have a career as poker reporter and gambling writer, so I have to be somewhat close to the Vegas action. Besides, I've always had my eye on Hollywood. I'm a failed screenwriter and as one of my friends in the biz once said, "If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, you have to live in LA."

Going to bars is an arduous experience in LA and seeing bands is even more troubling due to L.A. Douchebagicus. Most of the bands I love happen to avoid LA like it's fucking Utah. My friends in San Francisco and Colorado (Denver-Boulder) are so friggin' lucky when it comes to music compared to LA. Thank God Phish decided to play the Hollywood Bowl -- just one month before I pack up my stuff and migrate north to San Francisco.

Phish. The Bowl. Seems like a match made in heaven, eh? There's zero lot scene at the Bowl. We had to park on Hollywood/Highland in a park/ride lot and take a shuttle bus. The Bowl has those park/ride all over the city. In theory, it's an amazing concept to decrease the amount of traffic. But in reality, it kills the lot scene. We noticed a crowd had gathered in Lot D -- mostly because someone busted out a tank and all the nitrous addicts flocked like starving pigeons pecking away at crumbs.

The show was sold out, but hundreds and hundreds of tickets were floating around in the lot. One kid was looking for a miracle. He said he had $11 to his name. I asked him where he was from. He said Bergen County, New Jersey. Rich college kids hustling for miracles in the lot....he definitely got his miracle because when the show started, people were giving tickets away for free.

I had to give Mitchell from the UK his tickets. I met him in Atlantic City during the Halloween run. Always awesome to meet European fans of Phish. I hope more come out of the wood work so Phish heads overseas for a Euro Tour. I converted my friend Benjo from France. I'm currently working on a new project -- Remko -- who is a work colleague from Holland.

The Bowl has an 11pm curfew so we knew Phish would be coming on only 30 or so minutes late. I usually set 37 minutes as the over/under. We scored terrace seats courtesy of Change100's sister Mandy. The terrace boxes have four chairs with fold up trays. Those are for yuppies to drink wine and eat picnic crap while listening to the Philharmonic. In Phishy terms, they left the trays out so you could roll joints or rail lines of molly in between slow songs.

The cool guys sharing our box drove from the Gorge. That was a rough journey. We flew, but were dreading the drive to Tahoe. At least we got the LA show in our backyard.

The crowd was a mix of normal Phish folk, older Deadheads in tie-dyes, and a smattering of hipsters in skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts. The hipster girls wore $300 designer sundresses and cheesy Fedoras. One of them sat in the box next to us, got crocked on wine and talked most of the show.

Tube is one of my favorite songs. I wondered if they would open with it? I never understood the lyrics until I lived in Los Angeles for a year or so and I was driving down the freeway and then a moment of clarity hit me.

But no Tube opener. The DWD show opener clocked in at seven minutes. No type II or Type 17 jamming in that little bundle of joy. That set the tone for the "greatest hits" show. Overall, the night was fun but safe. If you saw the Gorge shows, then I can understand how you'd be somewhat bummed about the repeats (only one or two matched or surpassed Gorge versions). But if the Bowl was the only show you saw, then you walked away with a fun evening with the Phish.

Cavern was rocking, but had the standard Trey flub. Possum batted third in the line up. The first cover of the night was a nod to the Talking Heads... Cities. London was on fire the previous two days due to riots and looters. I wonder if that was on their minds? "Think of London, small city..."

This version of Peaches was definitely a lot tighter than the other sloppy-choppy-dicey version I heard in 3.0. I love me some Zappa.

Page crooned the audience with Lawn Boy, despite the fact there was no lawn at the Bowl. Hipsters get confused with irony. I saw Lawn Boy as a ploy to get laid. Leo had all of the Phishy chicks eating out of his palm. The temperature rose a few degrees and all of a sudden it got extra humid south of the equator. Post-show hummer was locked up for Leo with a stellar performance of Lawn Boy.

Finally... it was time for some Tube funk. Wished it was longer. Gordo and Page fed off each other, but Trey cut it short. Gordo responded with a fight bell and they surged into Get Back on the Train. I dig the funk train and would ride that fucker into hell. Or Iowa.

The sun started to dip behind the Hollywood Hills and for the first time I got to see Chris Kurodas spectacular lighting work as he illuminated the inner ribs of the band shell. You gotta see videos just for the light work. The only other time I can recall something similar was in 2000 during the Radio City Music Hall shows. With the "safe" playing from the band I joked on twitter than Kuroda should be MVP of the set.

After the intro notes to Wilson, the drunk hipster blurted out, "I know this one!" Then continued to talk during most of the song.

Axilla was rocking and I thought they were finally getting their shit together, especially when Melt popped up in the set. The jam had potential, but they couldn't get any heat working. They had some smoke, but not pure heat because Trey cut it off short for a self-indulgent Backwards. That closed the set. If I had any disappointments (the drunk hipsters were expected), it was the abrupt ending of Melt in favor of Backwards. They should've opened with Backwards and closed with DWD.

My exact tweet after the first set ended: "82min set. Fun, but safe. Maybe all the music critics + snob-glitz-tards will go home at setbreak then Phish can get freaky freaky in set2?"

Maybe Trey was spooked out by the Hollyweird Machine and they played a jam-paralyzing first set? For a band bursting with talent that said FUCK YOU to the Man more times than I can count, why were they all of a sudden pandering to critics and industry types? Maybe it was as simple as Trey's ego doing everything possible to avoid negative press for "noodling to wastoids." Come on, Big Red. I've been living in LA long enough to know there is no such thing as "bad publicity."

At setbreak, I caught a white dude with dreads in white linen pants doing key bumps with one of the schwasted hipster chicks.

Anyway, after a safe/greatest hits-themed opening set, the second set was molded much more to my liking. Highlights included a loud-as-fuck Carini opener, Crosseyed and Painless (for the second Talking Heads cover of the night), and the Twist > Piper jam. Crosseyed had several moments of grandeur -- the definite peak of the night.

I also dug the Fish shtick -- sitting on a slimmed down drum kit up front and singing lead vocals on 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. We heard the band soundcheck that Paul Simon tune at the Gorge. Awesome to see that cover, but I was hoping for a vacuum solo to boot.

As per usual, Phish did a terrific job with the covers -- ranging from Zappa to Talking Heads to Paul Simon to Dylan. The double encore was better than my greatest Phish nightmare -- a single encore of Velvet Cheese. I wasn't in love with either choices for the Bowl, but they rocked out a compact version of Faulty Plan and the crowd lapped up all ofJulius. Hey, at least we got two tunes instead of Show of Life!

After the show, we walked down Highland to check out all the freaks stumbling back down the hill into the streets of Hollywood. We got caught in a pedestrian jam by hot dog row where a couple of tanks set up shop next to these tiny old Mexican ladies cooking up bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Random people were huffing down on balloons as the ladies hawked hotdogs.

"Fatties! Fatties! Get'em right here!" screamed one balloon vendor. "Who doesn't do nitrous at a fucking Phish show?"

I hoped no one stumbled out into Highland and got crushed to death. LA drivers are fucking crazy, man.

After the fun and safe Bowl excursion, I smoked a doobie and asked my girlfriend to drive us to In-N-Out Burger. I never crushed a double-double after a Phish show before. If I was in LA seeing Phish, then I wanted to take advantage of In-N-Out. Besides, who the hell knows if Phish will ever come back to LA again?

Three down. Nine more to go. Next stops... Tahoe.

* * *

Other Quickies... Gorge #1 and Gorge #2 - Phish Magic.

Tahoe Tips

Seems like more and more of my friends have moved out to Tahoe over the past couple of years. Which means I get to spend more time out there! I've learned a couple "local" secrets the last time I was out there and thought I would share them with the people going out there.

1) Mt. Rose Hwy (SR 431) - if you're flying into Reno, take the scenic route into South Lake. Not only is it shorter than taking 80, it's more exciting. It is the highest road that is open year round in the Sierras. From the airport take 395 S. toward Carson City. Exit left towards NV - 431/Mt. Rose Hwy. Turn Left onto NV-28 E/Tahoe Blvd.

2) 215 supplies - If you're lucky enough to have your 215 card, I highly recommend swinging by Patient to Patient at 2314 Lake Tahoe Blvd .

3) Sprouts Cafe - Vegetarian restaurant with great breakfast food. The ATOM bagel is the best thing on the menu in my opinion. Don't bother ordering their juice. I don't know why people would do this, but they don't peel their carrots before juicing them. Something about "extra nutrients." Yeah....more like added microbes and food incidents. Not to mention it makes your juice taste like the dirt that is still on the carrots. F*ckin' hippies. All things aside, pretty damn good food. 3123 Harrison Avenue

4) State Vs. Federal - What is interesting about the Lake Tahoe area are the state and federal lines. Keep an eye out for where you are, laws change according to states. California being more lax than Nevada on certain issues. But if you're going out on the lake, remember that it is Federal Land, not state land.

5) Trokay Cafe - If you're leaving via North Lake stop by this cafe. You will be glad you did. Hands down this place has the BEST food out of the entire Tahoe area. 10115 Donner Pass Road in Truckee right off of 80. (They'll be closed the days of the shows as the owners are HUGE Phish fans)

6) Sundries - Get your random supplies in Reno or Carson city.

Phish Setlist: Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA - 8/8/11

The Phish - 8/8/11

Set 1: Down With Disease, Cavern, Possum, Cities, Peaches En Regalia, Kill Devil Falls, Lawn Boy, Tube, Back on the Train, Axilla I, Split Open and Melt, Backwards Down the Number Line

Set 2: Carini > Crosseyed and Painless >Twist > Piper, Mike's Song > Joy > Weekapaug Groove > 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover > Hold Your Head Up > Weekapaug Groove >Character Zero, Quinn the Eskimo

Encore: Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Julius

Monday, August 08, 2011

Official Gorge Video: Antelope

Here's the Gorge Antelope with all of those teases...

Quickies: Gorge Night 2 - Saturday - Phish Magic

Editor's Note: I forgot to post this quickie recap which I scribbled down on my CrackBerry. I never posted it because I nodded out just before sunrise and before I could finish it! Anyway, here's the second part of the Gorge run...

I woke up a few minutes after sun came out just as all the vampire wooks scattered back into the dens their burrowed themselves under a bank of port-o-potties. I wandered up to the toilets as Mr. Honeybucket was cleaning out the shitters. I thank the Lord for having a decent job because I never appreciate what I do until I see someone vacuuming shit out of a port-o-pottie. I also had an auspicious start to the day because I didn't have to deal with heaping mound of of shit, piss, and vomit -- all discharged from the previous night. A cleaner shitter is always an awesome way to begin Day 2 at the Gorge.

I went back to camp, ate a few Clif bars, drank tea, rolled a fatty, and discussed the second set with my neighbors. They couldn't stop gushing about the Rock and Roll jam. A couple of them got super schwilly on Friday night.

"You go sooo wasted," said my neighbor to his buddy, "You thought Trey was talking to you."

"Braaah, I'm still wasted and stick to my guns. Trey. Talked. To. Me."

Yeah, it was one of those epic nights and it was the start of the tour. Only good things could come for the second day, right?

I met Justin and he gave me a couple of extra tickets for Saturday. He felt a Caspian coming. Awesome foreshadowing, eh? I went on an ice run at the general store and bumped into @ChinaKatSnflwr hanging out. We chatted for a bit and she every other sentence she repeated two words during our conversation -- Phish magic.

Phish magic? Phish. Magic. Indeed. There's something about the harmonic energies at the Gorge, that make Phish and it the perfect match. And as the Joker once said, "I've never seen a bad show at the Gorge." He's right. I think I've been to every show Phish played at the Gorge, and even during the Oxy Years, the show still slayed.

By mid-day my friends from Boise arrived -- The Human Head and his wife, Mrs. Head. They drove up from Idaho to see their first ever Phish show. One of the exciting aspects of 3.0 is going to shows with friends catching their first show and Phishy experience. Since the boys returned in Hampton 09, I've had the pleasure watching my friends react to the emotional rollercoaster of popping their Phish cherry. That list includes... IronGirl (SPAC 09), Benjo (Festival 8), Strawberry Shortcake (Knoxville 09), Iggy (Burgetstown 09), BadBlood (Charlotte 09), and Otis and DiscoSis 2 (Asheville 09). After the Gorge, you can add my friends the HumanHead and Mrs. Head.

I love turning my friends onto music, but Phish is an acquired taste and you really don't know what it's really like until you see a live show. Listening to Phish is akin to wanking off, while seeing them in concert is full blown sex.

The Phish world can be intimidating for a lot of newbies, but luckily most of the community is extremely welcoming. Whenever I'm accompanying a friend who is seeing Phish for the first time, I kinda get nervous because I want them to have an epic time. I know from my own experience that it took a dozen or so shows before I really found my Phish groove. So, I know it might take my friends a while before they finally grasp the entire concept of Phish and feel comfortable weaving up and down Shakedown without being freaked out.

I always considered myself a Deadhead with Phishy tendencies, but it wasn't until Jerry Garcia died that I started racking up shows and became a tour rat. Almost 16 years after Jerry passed away, I've seen 5x as many Phish shows than the Dead -- 230 to 46. I turned a few Deadheads onto Phish -- Bruce, IronGirl and Iggy -- and they now love them with a similar passion as myself, which was pretty rad because I know some Deadheads who can't stand Phish.

With that said, I was excited and nervous about how HumanHead and Mrs. Head would react. They totally went in cold without knowing any of the band's material -- yet they left the show with wide smiles on their faces. They are open-minded people who loved the Gorge. They saw previous shows their in the past, but never Phish. I gotta say, I admire their willingness to drive almost 6 hours from Boise to see only one show. I'm glad glad glad they got a scorcher and left wanting to see more.

The Heads loved Shakedown and the entire concept of the hippie bazaar. My girlfriend and Mrs. Head shared their thoughts on the different styles of fashion they saw from custie glam to hippie chic. I made sure the Heads experienced Shakedown before AND after the shows. Two totally different beasts, but we all had a blast watching all the schwasted spacekids, wooks, and spunions stumbled up and down Shakedown.

During my afternoon stroll on Shakedown, a sketched-out wook tried to peddle DMT. When I declined to buy any, he instantly lowered the price by $10. When I declined a second time, the guy offered to blast me off... for free... because he was convinced I'd want to buy some afterward. I politely declined his generous offer to get digital, but I asked if he had a business card, so I can contact him sometime in the future. He didn't have one. Why would he? He didn't even have a last name.

So what about the show... overall, it was more consistent than the first night, but nothing could top the Rock and Roll jam from the first night. Although, the came very close on a couple of instances.

We found a spot on the floor on Fishman side just to the right of the soundboard, where a slew of my friends gathered for the last night at the Gorge (Johnnie Walker, Friedman, G Rob, Uncle Ted, and the Heads). We had a good crew and prepped for "Phish magic" and the band to take the stage as the sun to set over the majestic Gorge.

First set opened up was your run-of-the-mill Possum, followed up by some sundown funk and Moma Dance. The guy with the white parrot got his bird into the show! He was denied entry the night before. The parrot was an ominous foreshadowing for things to come.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend happened at the end of Sample in a Jar. HumanHead tapped me on the shoulder and said, "This song is badass!"

That's funny because if I make a Phish mix for noobs, I always include Sample -- it's kind of a short song and has crossover appeal. I was stoked the Head liked one of the "Phish 101: Intro to Phishdom" tunes. Next summer well introduce him to "Phish 201: Year of the Funk."

During Ocelot, I told my friends to pay attention to the lyrics because the song is all about Trey's oxy abuse. I happened to be be wearing my Ocelot lot shirt, which now has a 75% success rate.

What a contrast from uppity, speed-grass and Poor Heart to the slowed down, almost valium-dipped version of On Your Way Down. My friends already got a sampling of different musical styles and ranges Phish could play at any given moment to classic rock, blues, funk, and country/bluegrass.

By the way, Page destroys all the covers he plays and we got a bit of morose-blues guitar from Trey during On Your Way Down.

The last four songs of the first set made y personal highlight reel -- Wolfman's > Maze, Wilson, Fluffhead.

Wolfman's jam delved off into a could "Medicated Goo" aspects and it was so sultry that my girlfriend kept smacking me in the ass, and Uncle Ted had to unbutton his shirt to boogie-down bare chested for the rest of the jam. Mike stomped down on his fight bell at the end of the Wolf-Gorge jam and they rocketed into Maze. Yeah, that Maze simply kicked my ass. Love the tension-release points. The orgasm point was spot fucking on and the guy with the cannonfetti nailed the precise moment. Nice work on the trigger, brah.

Wilson was thunderous and as loud as you'll get at an outdoor venue. My ears were ringing through setbreak after the eardrum shattering echo of Trey's guitar after the crowd chanted "Willllllllll-son!"

I turned around during the "Can you still have fun" part and G-Rob was grinning ear to ear. I've caught more Fluffheads than I would have preferred in 3.0. It seemed like they were playing it (along with YEM) every other show. The Fluffs have slowed down a bit, but the Albany Fluff in 09 might be one of my favorites since they returned. The Gorge Fluff was tons of ass-shaking fun. The crowd was feeding off the band's energy and vice-versa and nothing can go wrong during those symbiotic moments. Sadly, that's one of those "in the moment" experiences that you can't replicate when you hear a recording of the song after the show. Alas, Phish reached a stupendous peak at the end of Fluff as my girlfriend screamed "I love pills!" The boys walked off the stage with the crowd reeling in jubilation, just a few minute s short of the 90 minute mark. I sincerely hope they continue to play 90 minute searing first sets from here on out.

When the first set ended, HumanHead said "Ninety minutes in, and I'm starting to get what all the fuss is about."

Welcome to the cult.

Second set was pretty insane. Case in point was: Tweezer > Caspian > Sand > Tweezer > Birds > Waste > Golden Age. The only lowlight in the bunch was Waste. They teased 2001 more times than I could count. I'm not the biggest fan of Caspian, but it really wasted that bad this time around. That's what I love about Phish -- they can bring me around on songs on the bottom of my "MUST HEAR" list. The Birds must have been for the folks with the B-I-R-D-S sign. At different points, the D person was absent and it said R-I-B-S.

Mmmmm. Ribs.

Reba was a crowd favorite and they lapped up every bit of it. Antelope included a bit of Reba whistling and tons of other teases (Golden Age, Tweezer, Sand). Check out the official video.

The three song encore was delicious, especially Sanity, which I would end up singing the lyrics the rest of the night.

After the show, we headed out to Shakedown so the Heads could see late-night wookery at the bewitching hour. They were impressed, entertained, and horrified at the same time. I loved it. I almost got violated by Gumby and we couldn't figure out why some dude was dressed up like Julius Ceasar. Back at the campground, I wanted to ease the pain on my sore hip so I grabbed a Vicodin, only to drop in on the ground. I dunno how we found it in the plush grass! Nice catch, eh?

We spent the rest of the night talking about the wonders of the Gorge, the TV show Hoarders aliens, the impending financial implosion, and Phish magic. That's when I nodded out in mid-sentence about how awesome it would be if lanterns had USB ports to charge iPhones.

Yes, ChinaKat was right. Gorge is the epicenter for Phish magic.

Two down. 10 more to go. Next stop... Hollyweird.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Official Gorge Video: Roggae

Here's the official videos for Roggae...

Phish Setlist: Gorge Saturday - 8/6/11

The Phish - 8/6/11 - The Gorge

Set 1: Possum, MoMa Dance, Sample in a Jar, Limb by Limb, Ocelot, Poor Heart, On Your Way Down, Wolfman's > Maze, Wilson, Fluffhead

Set 2: Chalkdust, Tweezer > Caspian > Sand > Tweezer > Birds > Waste > Golden Age, Reba > Antelope

Encore: Suzy Greenberg > Sanity > Tweezer Reprise

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Quickies: Gorge Night 1

I'm trying an experiment and writing a recap without a laptop by solely using my CrackBerry. I'll just jot down a few random (and unedited) thoughts. I have to be brief because I'm running out of juice and I don't want to turn on the car at 3am to only charge my phone, so why piss off my neighbors in the campgrounds of the Gorge.

Yes...the Gorge. Why the hell would I fly to Seattle then drive out in the middle of nowhere unless I'm helping a friend bury the remains of a dead hooker, or I'm seeing the Phish bring the funk.

I think I might have seen every Phish show at the Gorge. I need an intern/personal assistant that I can outsource from India to remind me of little things like that. Oh, and hire a couple more interns to wait in line for Pollack posters and fetch me ice for rum cocktails in the blistering central Washington sun that bakes anything and everything.

We set up camp and avoided moving to stay cool and avoid sunstroke on the first day of tour. Friends trickled by our area because I'm still hobbled a bit from a car accident last month. The Gorge is so friggin enormous, which also includes the sprawling campgrounds and the long ass hike to the venue along a windy, hilly gravel path.

Shakedown was impressive as usual. The local law enforcement let's the inmates run the asylum at the Gorge, and that includes a free-for-all in the campgrounds. We scored a premier camping pass which is a way to segregate the wooks and other sketchy fucktards from wandering around our campsite and shitting in my tent. But, shakedown was relatively close to our location, so if you wanted ketamine or a burrito, you were only a few steps away from satisfying your jones.

I saw a random dog piss on a tent in shakedown. I also saw a wookette yell at a guy for trying to sell his extra for face plus ticketbastard fees.

"$65? That's for two right? I aint paying that much for 1 ticket!!"

The Gorge seemed not as packed as previous shows I've seen here. I also heard they weren't sold out. If you hustled you could score extras on the cheap.

I almost got hit by a custie driving a silver Mercedes through shakedown. He looked like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons and was blasting Phish.

Security patdown was light, but some spun out balding dude in a vest tried to sneak a white parrot in with him. He somehow slipped passed security, but when he reached the ticket scanners -- he got nabbed. That sucks. If the parrot has a ticket, he should be allowed to see the Phish. Anti-parrot laws in Washington state are bogus.

The floor was kinda empty in the back. I got the same spot as 2 years ago -- nice nook on fishman side and 20 yards from the back. Lots of space to dance and groove and watch the sun set.

First set was 90+ minutes and with exception of Kill Devil opener, the first set could have been from 99.

The highlights were a delicious Gin jam and Roggae (which Justin from LMB called the best roggae ever). T'was pretty gnarly. I particularly dug Walk Away. I was glad to hear Roses (and I can hear it every night), but they could've done a better job with that one -- seemed rushed just like Bowie set closer. Regardless of the minor gripe, the first set from the tour opener was better than expected. I'm glad they played 90+ minutes.

Second set was a little funky-freaky and they reached a few pinnacle moments with their jamming -- Rock and Roll > Meatstick > Boogie On. Perhaps they could've not killed the trip-funk-infused momentum of the set with Farmhouse. Sure the clusters of stars were cool to see when you look up, but the boys were killing it in the second set until they veered off path with Farmhouse. They regrouped with a powerful Julius/Zero one-two punch to end the set.

A few odd incidents... I got busted smoking a bowl and security was cool and kindly asked me to put it away. In Cincy, G-money got busted and waved off the guard like he was working a Jedimind trick. Also, a guy faceplanted during Rock and Roll jam and ate some serious pavement. The floor is asphalt and not like a soft grass up on the lawn. Also, I accidentally broke a glowstick and it sprayed all over shirt of guy in front of me. I offered to buy him a new shirt, but he was too wasted to understand what I was saying. He rubbed the goo under his eyes like war paint.

Encore was your standard Loving Cup in which Page shines and Trey plays too many notes. They ended the show on a proverbial high note and left the sweat-soaked crowd wanting more and more. But, it was only a one-trick pony encore. We'd have to go back on Saturday if we wanted another taste of the Phish.

We hit the lot as soon after we hiked the 27 miles required from the floor of the venue up to the guys slinging Jerry rolls in Shakedown. Tons of balloons were visible as kids, wooks, custies, and one girl in a wheelchair were all huffing down on big ass balloon.

One wook was angry and waving a crystal around at the schwasted youth.

"Buy crystals! Not balloons! You'll remember these in the morning," he pleaded.

Ha, too bad no one wants crystals when it's after midnight at the Gorge.

One down, one more to go here and 11 more shows before the boys hang it up for a while.

Phish Gorge Setlist: 8/5/11 Friday

The Phish - 8/5/11 The Gorge

Set 1: Kill Devil Falls, Wedge, GIN, My Friend, Nellie Cane, Cavern,Taste, Roggae*, Walk Away, Funky Bitch, Roses Are Free, Bowie

Set 2: Backwards > Rock n Roll > Meatstick > Boogie On > Farmhouse > Show of Life > Julius, Zero

E: Loving Cup

* Best Roaggae ever (according to Justin W.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Summer Tour Leg 2 Preface: Enjoy It While It Lasts

I'm about to head to the airport to fly up to Seattle. The second leg of summer tour starts in about 60 hours.

I missed most of the first leg of Summer Tour and only boogied down at both Ohio shows (my recaps: Cleveland Steamer and Dali Blossoms & Cincy: Jedi Mind Bends) and the three-day jamboree called Superball IX. I had a crazy work assignment covering the seven-week long World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and was fortunate that I escaped Sin City for five shows. The timing is perfect right now because I'm in between freelance writing assignments so I can take off an enjoy the entire second leg without missing any work. I busted my ass this spring and summer working on a couple of projects including a start-up so I could have enough money to fund the second leg -- which is a tour built for custies because it's one pain in the ass to drive.

Most of the Coventry crew was absent from the first leg of summer tour. We were all busy with life stuff -- raising families, finishing school, moving to a new city, unable to get off from work, lack of funds for tour, and even one of us was expecting a baby (yes, we have a new lil rager in our crew). We're all bummed out that the second leg also presents many obstacles for our entire crew to meet up on tour. Alas, at least we have the three shows in Denver to throw down. Saving the best for last, eh?

I missed a couple of smoking shows on the first leg, especially skipping the sleeper of the tour in Detroit (before jumping on tour for two stops in Cleveland & Cincy, yeah I should've jumped on in the Big D). I listen to Michigan's epic version of Down with Disease with the Coltrane teases at least once a day. It's one of a few daily 3.0 jams that appears on my personal playlist along with Albany's Seven Below > Ghost, Camden's Michael Jackson inspired 2011, and Chucktown's Crosseyed & Painless.

I saw the majority of 3.0 era shows, almost 2/3 of every gig Phish played since they returned to the Mothership and Hmapton in March 2009. I called in lots of favors with clients to get the time off to follow around my favorite band over the last three years. I subcontracted a couple of writing projects and even gave up on the chance at a few awesome gigs in exotic locales in favor of Phish. I pissed off friends by bailing on other non-Phishy weekends and made my family think I had joined a cult or something, but whenever possible, I dropped everything I was doing to see Phish in the 3.0 era. I made a fair share of sacrifices to see one band... night after night after night. Why? You never know what's going to happen.

Any you know what? If I could do it again, I'd go see the 44 shows I missed in the 3.0 era -- even the two or three that were universal stinkers.

I saw my first Phish show at the Wetlands in 1989 and went as far as Japan to see them. As I've grown-up from a teenager to frat boy to young-adult to thirtysomething guy, I noticed the band has gone through different stages (both emotionally and artistically) including three distinct eras: 1.0, 2.0, and now 3.0. Phish morphs into a new entity every few years, but many of us on the rail are much slower to adapt. Hence the friction and backlash that bubbles up to the surface from time to time. It's natural to resist the change, but if you want to have fun at Phish and more importantly within the Phish community, then you have to truly surrender to the flow and just accept the path everyone is headed on... both good and bad.

We're lucky to have Phish in any form. I'm counting my blessings (after surviving a scary car accident last month) because who knows what the future brings in all of our lives, especially the nebulous and magical world of Phish.

Phish is going to call it quits someday, or maybe one of them dies unexpectedly, or they are cursed by some crazy witch and one of them gets seriously injured in a "bizarre gardening accident" that doesn't allow them to function as a cohesive quartet on stage?

There will be an eventually end to the Phish. That's the life cycle: birth > breakup > reunion > death.

I wasn't prepared in the Spring of 2004 when they pulled the plug. But this time around? If it happens, I'll have zero regrets because I'm soaking up as much Phish and fun in the sun as I can before one day... pooooooof... and it's all gone. That means longing for the old, anticipating the weird, and having the patience to allow Phish to play what they want.

But for now, as musicians, Phish is playing as close as their potential as possible (at this juncture in their lives), so I shall attempt to see every show as long as I have the time off from work and the money to make it happen. Nothing is quite like a Phish concert and I'd rather save my money to buy up those intangible and visceral experiences. The music is not the only payoff for the journey; you know that the show is just one aspect of the traveling circus. Some of my favorite moments of tour happen in the lot before the show or during a late-night after party. Alas, none of those memory burns wouldn't have been possible if they never showed up and attracted 15,000 passionate music lovers, vibe seekers, spunions, aliens, wooks, and a few curious souls.

* * *

The second leg of summer tour is unique, particularly the West Coast swing with two shows at the Gorge, a historic gig at the Hollywood Bowl, two more in Tahoe, followed up by a music festival in Golden Gate Park, before migrating to Chicago for a three-night stand and taking a mini-break before finishing the tour with a three-run blowout in a soccer stadium just outside Denver.

Gone are the days of the meandering two-plus week tour out west when the boys would play three shows in the Pacific Northwest (no love for Portland in 3.0) before playing a double-dip at Shoreline, then hitting up the outdoor amphitheaters in SoCal scattered around LA and San Diego. Sure SoCal got Festival 8, but I miss seeing Phish in Chula Vista -- the scene of the monstrous 20-minute Boogie On to open Set 2 in 1999. It was easier to follow the band on the West Coast when they played more dates closer together. This year the circus zig-zags over the West Coast. Drive safely if you're making any of those rough, time-consuming journeys (Gorge to Hollywood and San Francisco to Chicago).

The Gorge is special for me because I moved to Seattle in the summer of 1997 and the Gorge was the first time I ever saw Phish on the West Coast. I racked up quite a few Gorge shows and aside from Red Rocks, it's my favorite outdoor venue. The last time Phish rocked it out at the Gorge for a raging dance party was two summers ago and we had a great crew from Coventry represented. As far as personal memories go, nothing can beat the Reunion shows in Hampton or Telluride last summer (I'm still recovering from that monstrous trip) or Festival 8, but if you ask my friends about the Gorge in 2009, they'll tell you it was one helluva time. We're all a bit disappointed we can't reprise that fun this summer. Alas, all of my friends will be with me in spirit.

Gorge - 2009

The Gorge is only two days away. It's hard to go into those shows without lofty expectations after hearing many musical highwater marks from the first leg, but I'm going in with very low expectations so everything will be gravy. I'm damn lucky that Phish is playing on the West Coast and just happy to be able to see as many shows as I can while I'm alive and while Phish is still bringing it.

My mantra this tour is... enjoy it while it lasts.

See you in the lot.

* * *

Feel free to follow @taopauly, which is my own Twitter feed, but don't forget I will also tweeting before the show (lot prices!), during the show, and after the show for @CoventryMusic. Oh, my girlfriend is going to all of the shows (minus Chicago) and she'll have some fashion reports from the lot along with other gems. Follow her at @change100.

I'll also do my best to post show recaps here -- travel permitting. It's tough to publish stuff when you're camping, and it's even more problematic to write when you're all schwilly.

Have a safe tour. Be smart. Drive safe. Don't do anything we wouldn't do... er, actually, just be smart and safe!