Friday, August 31, 2012

Phish Colorado Setlist: 8/31/12 Dicks #1

Phish returned to Colorado and kicks off a three-day party at Dick's.

Le Phish, 8/31/12 Dick's Park, Commerce City, CO

Set 1:
First Tube,
Uncle Pen,
Kill Devil Falls >

You Enjoy Myself[1],
Set 2:
Runaway Jim[3] >

Farmhouse >
Chalk Dust Torture[3] >
Emotional Rescue >

Fuck Your Face[4]

Encore: Grind, Meatstick[5]

[1] "We all love Dick's" vocal jam theme.[2] Crosseyed and Painless tease.[3] Unfinished.[4] Emotional Rescue quote.[5] Japanese Lyrics.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Phish Setlist: 8/29/12 Oklahoma City, OK

The circus moves into Oklahoma tonight for one last show before a three-night run in Denver.

Le Phish, 8/28/2012, Oklahoma City, OK

Set 1: Kill Devil Falls, Rift, Wilson, Backwards Down the Number Line, Moma Dance, Divided Sky, Wolfman's Brother, Axilla, 46 Days, Ya Mar, Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan, Antelope

Set 2: Down with Disease, Birds of a Feather, My Friend My Friend, Rock & Roll, Twist, If I Could, Light > HOOD, Zero, Suzy

E: Slave to the Traffic Light, Loving Cup

St. Louis Recap: Turn My Brain to Mush

I love it when Phish goes off on a tangent and makes something from nothing. That's why I chase them all over the country and prefer those four or five-song sets because it gives the band lots of wiggle room to maneuver and take chances with monster jams. These days, they do not devote large chunks of their sets to ambitious improvisational exploration. Instead they give you mini-jams somewhere in the twelve minute range with the occasional foray into twenty minute territory (e.g. Long Beach's Rock and Roll). But even within those constraints, Phish delivered a show that kept phans from all eras on their toes including a marvelous Limb by Limb that everyone's been gushing about.

Every once in a while, Phish absolutely obliterates a song and that particular show becomes synonymous with said song. Take Long Beach for instance... just mention those two words and you instantly think about that sickly Rock and Roll. Or how about that Gorge show from last summer? I can't tell you anything other than that Roggae , which came out of nowhere. Justin Ward said it was the best Roggae ever, and I concur.

Well, if you were one of the ten thousand lucky souls in St. Louis, then you bore witness to a magnificent version of Limb by Limb. The evening will forever go down in history as the St. Louis Limb show.

St. Louis was special from the get-go. The crowd was lit up (courtesy of a raging lot scene) and the entire venue was buzzing with kinetic energy before the band took the stage. They also feed off of the sea of Phisheads in front of them. In this instance, the band had a little something to prove. Depending on who you talk to, the last show in St. Louis at the Fox Theatre was a bit of a let down. Besides, Phish has only played in St. Louis one time since their return. Phans from all over Missouri and the Midwest flocked to the banks of the Mississippi.

With the exception of Ocelot (the only 3.0 song played in the set), the first set was full of old-school delights that would tickle the soul of even the most cantankerous, jaded vets in the building. I was digging every second of the set including rarities like Mound and The Curtain minus the With. Usually I cringe when the boys butcher parts of beloved songs, but I didn't mind the flubs and was thrilled to death when Trey actually nailed a few complicated segments.

Photo via Dave Vann courtesy Phish's FB page

The room was anticipating PYITE opener. It was one of the few heavy hitters that had yet to be played during Leg 2. Sometimes openers are throw-aways or often phoned in while the band get used to their surroundings, but not this instance. Despite a few errs, you could feel the overflow of crowd energy... and it's hard not to deliver when the band has an endless pool of energy to feed off of.

I have personal reasons why I identify with Ocelot, a song about Trey's struggle with pills. But the last few versions I caught had a little extra hot sauce sprinkled on the end. They always start out slow and funky and slowly and sort with a cool-breezy jam building up to an orgasmic peak. Hey, Phish must really dig Ocelot if they played it two shows in a row.

Reba was a powerful fourth song and a venerable "clean-up hitter" to use baseball parlance. When constructing a lineup, a manager always wants to have his strongest hitter in the clean-up spot.

I Didn't Know was one of those rare non-Tom Marshall songs. IDK is an old-old "Nancy" songs. We got some Fishman hijinks early on with a modal-scales influence vacuum solo. After all, Trey called Fish the "John Coltrane of the vacuum cleaner."

Peaches is the only Frank Zappa tune in rotation and I have mixed emotions about the song... I wish they played it more, but sometimes they struggle with the song, so it comes down to this... do you want to hear a flawless song you don't like, or would you hear a favorite song that the band absolutely butchers? It's a catch-22. You can't get better at a tune unless you keep playing it. In this instance, we got a crisp Peaches, which was followed up by another tune from my college days -- Mound. The band dug a little deep into their bag of tricks and opted to entertain the crowd with several older songs instead of cranking out a buffet of greatest hits.

But... the band never let the audience get too lackadaisical and launched into a crowd-pleasing Sample in a Jar. From that moment, the rest of the set was all heat... a boisterous The Sloth, a funkified Camelwalk, a brisk Possum, and capped off with a peppy Quinn the Eskimo that got everyone in the building on their feat, singing along.

I forgot to mention that one of my poker buddies, Chilly, broke his Phish cherry with the St. Louis show. He went in totally blind. He didn't listen to anything before. He literally dove into the deep end... and he survived. He was a fan of Bob Dylan's Quinn the Eskimo, so like many Phish virgins, it's usually a familiar cover song that hooks them in.

I loved showing Chilly the lot scene and explaining the concept of Shakedown. Whenever he met random people or some of my tour friends, Chilly would say he's at his first show and never heard a single Phish song. Everyone thought he was joking... but he was deadly serious. Anyway, Phish is an acquired taste and not for everyone. I'm happy he was willing to take a leap of faith and just dive right in.

I saw this show with my buddy JW. He flew in from Seattle and caught his only show this summer. Usually the boys play two shows at the Gorge, but for some reason, they never made it to the Pacific Northwest. So, the only days off he could get meant he only had one shot at a show -- St. Louis. I know JW from when he lived in Las Vegas and we worked together in the poker magazine industry. He's a gambler at heart and rolled the dice with this particular tour. Man... talk about picking a hot show to go see! Especially since it was in the middle of the week. With Phish, you never know what you're going to get. That's why you can never dismiss a show when the schedule comes out.

Anyway... I felt setbreak was rather short. I don't have the exact numbers on hand, but both sets were approximately 90 minutes each. Three hours of Phish. What more can you ask for? Right? Everything else is gravy.

I was impressed with where Saturday's Atlanta Chalkdust jam ended up...morphing into What's the Use. When Phish kicked off the second set in St. Louis, I knew it just wasn't a greatest hits song to inject energy into the crowd. Rather, Chalkdust was a launching pad (or booster rocket) for the entire set. What I enjoyed the most about the first half of the second set was the seamless and smooth transitions in between songs. The band didn't rush things... moreso, Trey kept his ADD in check and patiently allowed jams to spill over into each other like Chalkdust > Frankie Sez and then again with Frankie > Undermind. By the way, Undermind is one of those Latin-flavored songs that gives Fish a chance to really show off his skills.

I loved every second of Sand. The tempo was strong from the start and Gordo injected some of his rugged, toughness. I like my Sand sultry, funky, and outright scary. This version included outstretched moments of psychedelic darkness, which is enough to spook anyone of shrooms or liquid. I was sober this show... but that's what's awesome about Phish is that they can suck you down the rabbit hole with their music so it feels like you're tripping balls. That's what Sand felt like.

Sometimes the band phones in Walk Away, but they were dialed in. Trey and Page fed off each other in a tete-a-tete and kept the second set energy up at its peak levels.

And then it happened. Limb by Limb. I won't ruin the song by regurgitating tons of praise and fluffy adjectives. Just take some time to yourself, turn out the lights, and crank up the song. Let the band take you on a journey.

Fishman always puts on a drum clinic with Limb by Limb. But whenever you expect a monster jam from Phish, you figure it's going to be one of their standard jam vehicles like Tweezer or DWD. But as the Joker summed it up best, Phish loves to surprise us by picking a random second-tiered song and tear it to shreds.

My measuring stick to determine whether a song delves off the deep end of the spectrum? If I forget what song they are playing. It happened not once, but twice during Limb by Limb. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Like I said, I had a sober show. That's how much of a mind-fuck Phish pulled off.

Limb by Limb was such an ass-kicker than the rest of the show was a blur (especially Julius). The fact that they tossed in a 2001 and YEM to cap off the set was the proverbial cherry on top of the sundae. Yeah, I can never have a bad time at a Phish show whenever it's a 2001 dance party and they anchor a set with YEM.

The encore was the Stones' Shine a Light, a soulful, yet soothing tune to end the show. My buddy Tom was chasing Shine a Light and I'm happy he got it for his hometown show. Phish usually blows a sizzling show with a cheesed-out, weak-sauce encore. But, I'm a fan of the Rolling Stones and one of my fav Stones' albums is Exile, so I'm thrilled whenever I hear anything off of that.

Anyway... on the way out of the venue, I told JW that he picked one helluva show to see Phish this summer. Luck of the draw? Or was Phish always gonna throw down in St. Louis? Who knows for sure... but if you were one of the lucky 10,000 or so phans at the show... they caught Phish on a good night when they were on top of their game. Folks came to party down and they were not disappointed. I can't wait to come back to St. Louis next year and hope they play two shows here!

Wish I could write more, but I got a plane to Colorado to catch. I wish I could've seen OKC, but I have a bunch of work stuff to do tomorrow. Alas... seven shows done for the this leg. Three more to go at Dick's. See ya in Denver.

Here's our coverage of Leg 2 so far...
Long Beach: Wednesday Night Bieber
SF #1: Touch the Magic
SF #2: Lost in Space
SF #3: Sunday Scorcher
Atlanta: Return to Lakewood
Charlotte: The Church of Phish
BTW... click here for Leg 1 recaps. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter.... @CoventryMusic.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Phish Setlist: 8/28/12 St. Louis

The circus is now in St. Louis... here's what went down:

Le Phish, 8/28/12 St. Louis, MO

Set 1: PYITE, Runaway Jim, Ocelot, REBA, I Didn't Know, The Curtain > Peaches, Mound, Sample in a Jar, The Sloth, Camel Walk, Possum, Quinn the Eskimo

Set 2: Chalkdust > Frankie Says > Undermind > Sand > Walk Away > Limb By Limb, Julius > 2001, YEM

E: Shine a Light

Monday, August 27, 2012

Charlotte Recap: The Church of Phish

Never miss a Sunday Phish show. That's an adage I heard a couple of times. Last Sunday was a scorcher in San Francisco, which bolstered that assertion. It goes without saying that any day that Phish plays is our day of worship. For us devoted apostles, Phish is our religion and Trey is the Pope that shits in the woods.

"Never miss a Charlotte show in 3.0," Disco Sis said. She luckily caught all three gems. I saw 2010 and 2012. For some mysterious reason, Phish steps up their game in Charlotte. Add the fact it was Sunday... and you have a recipe for some finger-licking-fried Phish. What other band on the planet has molly-eating soccer moms ditching their kids for the weekend to throw down hard?

We woke up foggy and groggy in Atlanta after Phish's return to Lakewood. Disco Sis shook off her hangover and took on the burden of getting us to Charlotte safely. After a quick stop at Waffle House for bacon biscuits we zipped up to North Carolina. I love seeing other vehicles on the road that are also going to the next show and feel some sort of camaraderie with my fellow road warriors evading good ole Smokey and other humorless, hippie-hating highway patrolmen. To hell with the fuzz. Never miss a Charlotte show.

We checked into a sketchy motel a couple miles from the venue and opted for some rest instead of heading to the lots early and sweating our arses off. We arrived around 6pm, which gave us an hour of raging in the lot and watching the scene unfold at Shakedown. We linked up with some of the G-Vegas crew including M, who was having her first-ever Phishy experience. She picked one hell of a night to see her first Phish concert. Never miss a Charlotte show.

Just off Shakedown, a spun-out wook told me his sad story about getting his merch confiscated by copyright police. He offered me an old-school pressed roll. Shades of 1.0. It looked like a yellow sun and popped it in my mouth, washing it down with some iced tea.

We got to our seats in the pac a few minutes before showtime and shooed away a couple of feral kids trying to squat on our seats. Disco Sis and I were on Page Side Rage Side again. Two nights in a row.

Standard AC/DC Bag opener. I got a good vibe that the Charlotte show was going to have a "bite to it" when the crowd erupted for the "let's get this show on the road" bit. A dose of Carolina- pulled-pork-funk was served up for Moma Dance. I did a spit take when Disco Sis leaned over and blurted out, "Heavy Things reminds me of a washing machine." For me, Heavy Things conjures up images of Big Cypress and the "cheesecake" chant at the Millennium show.

Ocelot batted clean up, and yes, I wore my beloved Ocelot lot-shirt for the first time this tour (my sixth show). Although Trey is wanking off for most of the jam, Page was the true MVP of this rendition. The apex of the faded-oxy jam was lathered in hot sauce.

Behold the Cactus Juice. Gordo flexed some of his bulging guns during Funky Bitch. Gordo's been roiding ever since he hung out with Melky Cabrerra in San Francisco. Funky Bitch flirting with "overplayed" territory... but I'm afraid to snark on it via Twitter or Gordo and his meathead friends at the gym will beat the shit out of me.

The crowd lapped up every note of Gin. I always miss the Joker the most whenever Phish plays that song. I'll be reunited with my tour buddy in Denver... which can't come any sooner. Phish almost let the slippery Gin jam slip through their fingers, but they snatched it before it snuck away.

Courtesy of @Phish_FTR

One of the loudest crowd reactions of the night happened at the start of Fluffhead. I almost ruptured an eardrum during the "powerful pill... oh yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah" part. The guy next to me was a veteran of 97 tour but doesn't get to see too many shows anymore, so he went berserk for Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues.

After the end of the song, Trey and the rest of the band engaged in some nifty stage banter. It even featured a rare response from Gordo. Yeah... Gordo actually spoke during a show. The roids altered Gordo's personality!

Anyway... Trey told a story about meeting Fish at the University of Vermont in 1983 and the two were kicked out their freshman year. Fish posted the "lowest grade point average for a non-fraternity student" with a 0.0036. Page attended neraby Goddard College and got cash kick backs ($50/student) for recruiting new students, so he made a quick $100 by getting Trey and Fish to enroll. Fish made a crack that uber-smart Gordo had a "4.12 (GPA) in film and engineering."

The banter reminded me of the Asheville show in 2009 when Trey launched into a "Storytellers" type conversation about being Fish's roommate and thumbing through his journal... which inspired several tunes including two of my all-time favorites: Tube and Gumbo.

Anyway, we got a quick Tube before the banter returned with My Sweet One. Fish was reluctant to give some background on the song and the rest of the band needled him. At one point Page issued an ultimatum... "Start the song or tell the fucking story."

Phish was having fun onstage. They were joking around and poking fun at each other and having a blast. When they have fun... we have fun. It's pretty simple. The band and audience feed off each other in an incestuous, twisted relationship. One of the primary reasons why Charlotte stood out was the fact that the band was in a jovial mood and very loose. That vibe spilled over into the crowd. I just hope the boys realize how much fun they have together and decide to play 60 or more shows in 2013. Heck, why not 90?

Phish's gimmick next year will be playing Possum at every show just to fuck with all of the jaded vets, Sabremetric geeks, and everyone else who showed up to find salvation and redemption at the Church of Phish. Did you know St. Leo is the patron saint of wooks?

Okay... sorry for the tangent. Anyway... after Trey finished reminiscing about the halcyon days of Phish lore, they capped off the set with Bowie. Highly contagious bundles of energy, albeit rushed a tad.
I love Crosseyed and Painless. I chased it back in the late 90s when I was a hardcore tour rat. Two versions I saw stand out from the end of 1.0... Big Cypress and Deer Creek 2000. The Joker and I caught Crosseyed only one of the two times they played it in 2.0 at Deer Creek in 2004. In the 3.0 era, I've been spoiled... 14 out of 18. Call it dumb luck that I've been blessed with the opportunity to hear a Talking Heads cover I was jonesin' like crazy to see it the most in 1.0. I caught a couple super-duper renditions this year alone... all three kicked off the second set (Bader Field, the night I tripped my balls off at Alpine Valley, and last Sunday in San Francisco).

Phish anchored the second set of Charlotte around Crosseyed and Painless's relentless surging waves of Latin-funk grooves peppered the first half of the jam before it took a quick turn down a seedy alley and ended up in evil jams territory.

McGrupp was mellow, yet intense at times, but it was a perfect setup for Mike's Song. Gordo flexed his muscles once again courtesy of the Cactus Juice. Bouncin' was a Disco Sis Takes a Piss Song. I knew the lines would be packed during Bouncin so I waited... even though I had to pee since Ocelot began. When I finally relieved myself after the show, I urinated longer than Sunday's version of Tube.

Whatever energy that was sucked out with Bouncin quickly returned with a turbo-charged, roaring Axilla. And then things got weird with Tweezer. You know Phish ain't fucking around when they sneak a Tweezer and Mike's Song into the same set that also included an almost-overlooked Harry Hood. The boys usually spread out their heavy hitters over a couple of shows... but in this instance, Trey was not shy to load up on the big guns.

For some odd reason, the Frisco Tweeze rubbed me the wrong way last weekend. It felt slightly off. However, the Charlotte Tweeze won me over. When Page seized control of the jam, I got that "underwater" vibe which you feel during the jam out of Theme from the Bottom. I thought this Tweezer was going to veer off into Ghost, but instead, they opted for a Hood, much to the delight of the crowd. Horse > Silent got squeeze in before concluding the Mike's Groove with a quickie Weekapaug. But wait... there was more.... a soulful and uppity Suzy ended the set.

I was praying for anything except a cheesed out "Show of Life" for the encore. I got what I wanted even though Phish threw us an insane curveball with a loud and rowdy Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars. The hijinks returned when Trey played guitar behind his back and Gordo got down on his knees and slapped the shit out of his bass. Disco Sis went ape shit because she had never seen BBFCFM and figured she'd never get to see it. Yep, never miss a Charlotte show.

The Trey wank-o-meter was off the charts for Tweezer Reprise, but it was a definitive exclamation point for the evening. After the show, we headed to the lots and made a beeline for Shakedown. We soaked up the festive bazaar of weirdness. Somewhere in the shadows of Shakedown, I nearly tripped over a leashless tour puppy while fireworks exploded in the skies every few seconds. Another fun night. Another monumental Sunday Phish show. Another epic night in Charlotte.

The Southern swing is dunzo. The circus migrates to St. Louis on Tuesday before heading to Oklahoma on Wednesday and closing out the tour in Colorado for a three-night rager. I caught six shows thus far... and have four more to go. See ya in the lot in St. Louis.

* * * *

Here's our coverage of Leg 2 so far...
Long Beach: Wednesday Night Bieber
SF #1: Touch the Magic
SF #2: Lost in Space
SF #3: Sunday Scorcher
Atlanta: Return to Lakewood
BTW... click here for Leg 1 recaps. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter.... @CoventryMusic.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Phish Setlist: 8/26/12 Charlotte, NC

Sunday night Phish in North Carolina! Never miss a Sunday Phish show...

Phish, 8/26/12 Charlotte, NC

Set 1: AC/DC Bag, Moma Dance, Heavy Things, Ocelot, Funky Bitch, GIN, Fluffhead, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Tube, My Sweet One, Bowie

Set 2: Crosseyed and Painless > McGrupp > Mike's Song, Bouncin', Axilla, Tweezer > HOOD, Horse > Silent in the Morning >Weekapaug, Suzy Greenberg

E: Big Black Furry Creatures from Mars, Tweezer Reprise

Atlanta Recap: Return to Lakewood

I went to college in Atlanta so it's a city where I partied down. Hard. Too hard. I dunno if it was me trying to re-live old glory days, or the festive atmosphere of the G-Vegas crew. Probably both. Anyway, I had one of those fun Saturday nights when I got hammered with friends. Phish was the added bonus.

You know traffic is bad when a denizen of Los Angeles complains about it. But shit... traffic in Atlanta is atrocious. Originally, we planned on taking two vehicles for the eight of us. But Otis busted out the Moscow Mules.

"Delicious but lethal," explained Disco Sis.

The liquor flowed and no one was in shape to drive. Uncle Ted pulled two clutch moves... 1) picking up a shit-ton of BBQ for the pre-party and after-show, and 2) arranging a van to drive us to the venue on short notice. Our ride was late and somehow the front desk lady hooked us up with a driver. We were staying at one of the airport hotels so we were less than five miles to the venue. We piled into the van and our driver took us in the back way. He dumped us off at a gas station that was steps away from the entrance to Lakewood. We tipped him well and he (supposedly) agreed to pick us up after the show.

We arrived kinda late and barely had time for the lots. I was running out of juice on my phone and already shrooming. Most of the other people I wanted to meat were scattered about or stuck in traffic. We headed inside and found our seats on the far left. Page side. Rage side. Me and DiscoSister #1. She got her drinky-drinky on pretty good. We had a decent section, not too many talkers, with the exception of wasted redneck guy who offered me a fistful of mushrooms. I politely declined. I had already ingested my own and felt perfectly snookered. Besides, he was just too sketchy for my tastes.

The security guard tending our station was having a tough time handling all the kids trying to sneak into the pavilion.

"Y'all bitches are crazy and the show hasn't even started yet," she bemoaned. "But I tell you what, I ain't getting out of here without scoring me some weed. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. You crackers smoke some good shit."

I had not seen a show at Lakewood since 1999. That epic July 4th show is among one of my favorite shows from that summer tour. The last couple of years, the action shifted to the burbs of Alpharetta, but the boys returned to where it all began. At least for me.

Phish kicked off the Atlanta show with Cars Trucks Buses. I was chasing it during the first leg. It flowed smoothly. Almost felt like a laid-back sound check. Page set the tone for the night with some delicious playing. I almost felt as though CTB and the subsequent Wolfman's were the highlights of the set. Unusual that the first two offerings of a set would be the highwater marks.

The crowd began clapping (out-of-tune) during Jim, which annoyed the hell out of Disco Sis.

"You know what I hate during shows?" said Disco Sis. "Drunk assholes clapping during Jim!"

I dig all the "play it Leo" songs, especially Ya Mar because you get some Gordo slap-funk reggae and a breezy Page solo. I liked the speedy My Soul. Felt like it was much faster than usual. Disco Sis dug it. She said her face hurt so much from smiling too hard. The meaty parts of the second half of the set included a raucous Wilson and tripped-out Maze. I didn't get too lost during that jam...not that they didn't try to dig some deep tunnels toward Middle Earth before burrowing out. Roses was rocking but standard and Phish left the stage riding a surging wave of energy after a rowdy Character Zero.

I found @TourTweet at setbreak. He gave me a nice gift of Asheville's phinest. Seemed like a short setbreak. Heck, both sets seemed short. I forgot about the 11pm curfew. The band didn't really have much time to waste with 20-minute long meandering jams.

Kill Devil Falls kicked off set two. The wasted redneck in front of us started banging on the backs of the seats in front of him. At one point I thought he was gonna rip the seats out and start humping it.

The jam out of Golden Age was one of the highlights of the show for me. Uber-trippy jam. Gordo was back on the juice for that Golden jam, which CK5 was lighting using lots of purple hues. I really have to re-listen to the part of the show that included Golden Age > Free > Light. I fell into a shroom hole during Light and was in my own world. The lights displayed on the circular screens above the band during Light reminded me of crystals and peyote buttons.

I sat down to smoke a bowl during Velvet Sea, or Velvet Dick Cheese as Disco Sis referred to it. Toward the end I started singing the chorus very loudly. Apparently I interrupted Disco Sis having a tender moment watching parts of the crowd. She was lost in her own space... but she yelled at me for ruining the song with my Bob Dylan-esque falsettos.

"You're such a fucking jaded vet!"

Chalkdust > What's the Use was my other favorite segment of the show. Supposedly, that was Chalkdust #400. I must've seen about 70 of them, but this version will stand out because of the cosmic-jam out. You know a Phish song is getting far out when you forget what song they are playing after getting totally lost in the jam. In than instance, they dragged us all the way out to Pluto than bailed. Leaving us to fend for ourselves on the fringe of our solar system.

What's the Use was the perfect song for my mindset. Shroom tunes. Couldn't have asked for anything else.

"Beam me the fuck up!" screeched Disco Sis.

The best part of Joy were the wooks behind us smoking DMT. Joy Deemsters? I think I found a clever name for a fantasy football team. Joy Deemsters.

So I've caught both shows when Phish served up Velvet Cheese-Joy. Oh well. I could totally understand if you were pissed off because this was the only show you're seeing this summer. The band could've used those minutes to keep on jamming out that twisted Chalkdust Jam or extended the sparkly Light jam.

The set ended with a searing Antelope. Although it never deviated from the main road, it was still lots of high energy.

Page capped off the evening with a Beatles cover... A Day in the Life. I thought they might toss a Little Feat cover in there, but instead, the band paid homage the the Fab Four.

We wandered outside and met up with our group. All of us survived the show. We found our "driver" but he totally fucked us over and said he had other clients. What a dick. I'm pissed that Otis tipped him a few extra bucks and that generosity was not enough. Oh well. G-Rob scrambled and within a few minutes he bribed a guy with a van to cart the eight of us back to our hotel. Behold the power of a $100 bill.

The after-party was short but a lot of fun. G-Rob was cranking Dead, Talking Heads, and Snoop Dog. I made a controversial assertion that I identified more with Snoop Dog's lyrics than Dylan's 60s poetry. Uncle Ted was in rare form and made these chicken-like figures out of hand towels. He also fell into a character and couldn't get out. He was living in 2085 and was conducting a business meeting for his Chicken Salad empire.

Yeah... another Phish show in the books. I had fun, as per usual. I got wasted with friends and we all had a blast. Could they have played better songs? Sure, but that's why you go see multiple Phish shows... you never know what you're gonna get.

Five shows done this leg... five more to go. See ya in Charlotte.

* * * *

Here's our coverage of Leg 2 so far...
Long Beach: Wednesday Night Bieber
SF #1: Touch the Magic
SF #2: Lost in Space
SF #3: Sunday Scorcher
BTW... click here for Leg 1 recaps.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Phish Setlist: 8/25/12 Lakewood, Atlanta, GA

Phish finally returned to Lakewood Amphitheater! Here's what you missed...

The Phish, 8/25/12, Lakewood, Atlanta, GA

Set 1: Cars Trucks Buses, Wolfman's Brother, Runaway Jim, Ya Mar, Alaska, My Soul, Wilson, Maze, Roses Are Free, Backwards Down the Number Line, Character Zero

Set 2: Kill Devil Falls, Golden Age > Free > Light, Velvet CHEESE, Chalkdust, What's the Use, Joy, Antelope

E: A Day in the Life

Friday, August 24, 2012

Phish Setlist: 8/24/12 Oak Mountain, Pelham, AL

Phish returns to the original "redneck riviera" and plays a show at historic Oak Mountain. The gig was webcast, so if you missed out, here's the setlist:

Le Phish, 8/24/12 Oak Mountain, Pelham, AL

Set 1: Possum, Cities, Sample, Timber Ho > Back on the Train, Lawn Boy, Down With Disease, Gumbo, Ginseng Sullivan > The Wedge, Julius > Cavern, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Set 2: Rock & Roll > Lizards, Halley's > Sand > Twist ** > Birds > Boogie On > 2001 > Waste, Slave

E: Good Times Bad Times

** Oye Como Va tease

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Phish SF Videos: Full Show 8/19/12

This is awesome. The full Sunday show from San Francisco. The second set was all fire and anchored by a sizzling Crosseyed and Paniless opener!

Phish SF Videos: Full Show 8/18/12

Found this awesome gem. The full show from Bill Graham!

Phish SF Videos: 8/17/12 Full Show

The Phish kicked off Leg 2 of their summer tour with the first of three shows in San Francisco...

Thanks to BurhingshoreProphet for the vids.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Phish Setlist: 8/22/12 Starlight Theater, Kansas City

The Phish return to Kansas for a show at the Starlight Theater.
Phish 8/22/12 Starlight, Kansas City

Set 1: Chalkdust, Skin It Back, MoMA Dance, Rift, GIN, Stash, Curtis Loew, Kill Devil Falls, Funky Bitch, Antelope

Set 2: Tweezer > Piper > Mike's Song > Bouncin > Backwards > Heavy Things > If I Could > Weekapaug, HOOD, Suzy Greenberg **

Encore: Loving Cup, Tweeprise

** with Stairway to Heaven tease

Poster art by Sei Rey Ho

The Beatles 50th Anniversary

Thanks to Bernard for this tribute video celebrating 50 years with The Beatles:

And this rare footage of a live performance of "Some Other Guy" is exactly 50 years ago today on 8/22/62...

Monday, August 20, 2012

SF #3 Recap: Sunday Scorcher

I was raging solo. My girlfriend had to work on Monday morning so she drove back to L.A. and I stuck around for the final night of the three-night run at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. It's one of the most intimate venues I've seen Phish play outside of the tiny clubs in Japan during their 2000 tour. The ghosts of every legendary Bay Area musician roam the hallways and haunt backstage including the man himself... Jerry Garcia. Even the wispy apparition of old Jerr-Bear wanted to catch a glimpse of "the Phish from Vermont." The Grateful Dead put their mark on Bill Graham's joint and since then, it's become a sacred vortex of energy. Over the last few nights, Phish tapped into that abundant supernatural vortex as they blurred the lines between entertainment and alchemy. I just hope they can bottle up some of that dynamic vigor and take it with them on the rest of summer tour.

In this instance... believe the hype. The setlist looked phenomenal on paper and it held up in real life. At this point as I creep toward 300 shows, Phish come in three categories: 1) shit shows, 2) good/average shows, and 3) scorchers. Phish shows are like orgasms. Every one I've ever had was spot on. Webcasts are like jerking off. Sure, you get off, but it's a lot more fun if you have a partner... or multiple partners if you're into deviant orgies. With that said... I always have fun at Phish no matter how bad they play but I certainly have more fun when they kick my ass. Mostly every show I see falls into the second category. Phish really has to fuck up shit badly in order for it to be a shit show... and yeah, the 2.0 era were littered with those. I even caught a few 3.0 shit shows but for the most part I'm catching an average Phish on any given night. They really have to blow the roof off the fucker in order for me to rank it in the "scorchers" category.

Yes... Sunday night was a scorcher. This is the highwater mark that will be used as a measuring stick for the rest of tour... maybe even for 3.0. The night had a little bit of everything that makes Phish grand, but when it comes down to it, the second set is the perfect example of why I drop everything and follow Phish.

The first song is always a throw-away tune, so I actually prefer if the opener is something I don't really dig (e.g. Crowd Control). I spent the time smoking tuff with @TourTweet near the taper's section in the middle of the floor. We were in the most optimal spot in the venue sound wise and the perfect place for people watching.

Party Time set the tone for the night. Sunday was the third and final show of the run... which means everyone is eating/smoking/snorting their entire stash. I had reached the pinnacle of fuckedupness for the run... and probably the most lit I've been since I lost my marbles at Alpine Valley #2 when I ate waaaaay too much liquid sunshine.

Axilla is the type of hard-hitting Phish that gets everyone all fired up. Reba is a heavy hitter and batted in the cleanup spot. The Reba-nerds went bersek and rightfully so. We were treated to a silky, smooth Reba. The soft mood lighting from CK5 made it sound like it was a soundtrack for a soft-core porn film. I felt bad for one hipster girl who was having a bad trip... she was sitting on the floor with her hands in her face. Her boyfriend tried to console her, but I could tell he was totally bumming out.

With each song in the first set, Phish was getting hotter and hotter. Gordo kicked some ass during Free. He was showing off his huge guns. I'm telling you... Gordo is juicing and taking whatever Melky was using. Melky led the league in hitting and Gordo led the Phish in jamming average.

I love the guy holding his hands over his ears!

Mound is one of those rare tunes that you don't get to see very often, let alone a well-crafted version. I couldn't even tell you if they messed that up because I was so pumped to hear it that I was jumping up and down. That was the first time it happened all show... and wouldn't be the last time.

Walkaway was all heat. It matched the searing version we caught at Blossom last leg and even Joe Fucking Walsh would be proud. NICU featured the emergence of "Leon" which Trey dubbed Page on this instance. Leon ripped off a delicious solo before things really got cooking with Back on the Train. It was one of the standouts from the solid first set. Fog-funk was the theme the last few nights... and that soupy thickness spilled into Sunday. Fishman gets a gold star for holding down the funk backbeats. For the second half of the jam, Phish surfed atop a surging funk-wave that was three stories high. The kid behind me was on some killer shrooms because he was bugging out at CK5's "super trippy lights" during Back on the Train.

Jibboo was both mellow and intense. Not one single rough edge. Super smooth, like skipping a rock across a pond. Trey definitely snuck as many notes as he could into a couple segments, but Page's fills were what made Jibboo work.

Last summer featured the emergence of Roggae as an unexpected, yet tasty jam vehicle. That version last summer at the Gorge still gives me chills. Justin Ward called it the "best Roggae ever" and he's spot on. This rendition of Roggae was smooth like cocoa butter... or "buttah" as my friends from Rhode Island would say.

Bowie was all fire, but it probably had the most flubbs out of the first set. Fish came in waaaaaay too early and Trey missed a change. If they were in James Brown's band, the Godfather himself would've fined them on the spot. JB used to fine his band $5 for every missed change. Look up some JB videos on YouTube and see if you can find him pointing at one of his bandmates then flashing five fingers to indicate that he fucked up a change and owed JB $5 for their faux pas.

Anyway, despite the choppy start, Bowie caught fire and teetered on the edge of "evil jams" territory before it ended the first set.

Crosseyed and Painless has been the band's go-to second set opener in 3.0. Some of my favorite shows in the last few years were anchored around the Talking Heads cover. This particular version was just a launching pad for 45-minutes of explosive and exploratory jamming. It included intricate layers of funky elements (led by Page's shredding on the clav) not to mention Gordo's power-lifting bass. Plenty of No Quarter and The Wheel teases.

When Trey listens... the jams are fucking awesome. Big Red sat back and allowed the jams to develop instead of being impatient and the ADD-addled Trey we saw on Saturday night. Whenever Trey lets things flow organically, magical moments occur.

Same thing could be said about the dynamics in the Light jam. The boys did an excellent job at shifting gears within jams. At one point it felt like we were swimming underwater. I dug the stripped down jamming toward the end of Light before it reached a powerful orgasmic crescendo and I was jumping up and down before they seg'd into an explosive version of Sneaking Sally from the Alley. Volcanic Sally-funk. And then to top it off... Sally slipped back into Crosseyed to cap off that 45-minute beast.

That's how you open a second set. Crosseyed > Light > Sally > Crosseyed.

Theme from the Bottom was well placed. Started out mellow and gradually ascended to a tasty peak. My buddy Javier had a theory that Phish played Rocky Top when they all thought they were playing a kick-ass show. So I was kinda surprised and happy to hear it pop up in the middle of the set, because it meant the band was having fun.

Man, Gordo was slapping the shit out of his bass during Boogie On. I was worried that if he kept smacking it around, then he'd get arrested by SFPD for domestic battery. Joking aside, I thought Gordo was going to punch Trey in the nuts after he ripcorded the Boogie On funk-a-thon -- after just five minutes -- in favor of a self-indulgent Meatstick. Thankfully, Trey didn't go all gimmicky on us and grab Phishy chicks from the crowd and pull them up on stage to grind the Meatstick dance with him.

If I had one complaint about the second set... it was the shortened Boogie On. They really could have delved into another five or seven minutes of fog-funk... but instead we got the only ADD-Trey moment of the night.

Sometimes Bug bugs me... but it was a tender version and they needed to give Fishman a breather. He deserved it after laying down some serious funk all night.

Judging on the time... it was getting late so I didn't expect the boys to sneak YEM by us. It was the perfect cherry on top of the three-night sundae. The crowd hung on every single note.

Everyone expected Tweezer Reprise after it got skipped on Friday night in favor of First Tube. But I had no idea what we'd get before it... I was thinking some sort of cover from Page like Day in the Life or Oh Sweet Nuthing. Of course... how could I forget Ride Captain Ride! It had the lyric about San Francisco that riled the crowd up. Plus Page/Leo/Leon always slays cover songs. Delicious set-up for Tweeprise... which blew the roof off the joint.

When the house lights went up, I was drenched in sweat and couldn't stop vibrating. Phish tapped into the vortex and they sucked us all in for a while. Shiiiit. Too bad they don't do that every night, right?

Sometimes I wonder if I'm too hard on Phish. Sure, I'm grateful to see any Phish at all but sometimes they'll play an inconsistent show when we all know they can smoke the shit out of any venue -- like Bill Graham for instance. A sizzling show like Sunday night in San Francisco proves to me that they can still bring the heat, push jams out to the farthest edges of the universe, and put a wicked smile on the melted faces of every jaded vet in the room. But therein lies the conundrum. Why don't they do this every night? Or at the least, why do they lack consistency?

Regardless, after almost thirty years, Phish can create magic out of thin air at any given moment. That's why we chase them all over the country. You never know what you're gonna miss.

The three night run in San Francisco is complete. Four California shows in the bag. The tour rages on and the circus moves on to Kansas City on Wednesday then Pelham, Alabama on Friday. I'm skipping those shows but will jump back on tour next weekend for Atlanta and Charlotte. See y'all then.

* * * *
Here's our coverage of Leg 2 so far...
8/15/12 Long Beach, CA
8/17/12 San Francisco, CA
8/18/12 San Francisco, CA
8/19/12 San Francisco, CA

Long Beach: Wednesday Night Bieber
SF #1: Touch the Magic
SF #2: Lost in Space
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter.... @CoventryMusic.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Phish Setlist: 8/19/12 SF #3

The Phish rocked out their third straight night in San Francisco to end their epic three-show run.

Here's what went down...
Phish, 8/19/12 Bill Graham's, San Francisco, CA, USA, Earth

Set 1: Crowd Control, Party Time, Axilla, Reba, Free, Mound, Walk Away, NICU, Back on the Train, Gotta Jibb00, Roggae, David Bowie

Set 2: Crosseyed and Painless > Light > Sneaking Sally >Crosseyed and Painless, Theme from the Bottom, Rocky Top, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Meatstick, Bug, YEM

E: Ride Captain Ride > Tweezer Reprise

SF #2 Recap: Lost in Space

My Saturday morning started out like a Widespread Panic lyric... "I was talking to a homeless drunk about religion." Actually, I was walking around the Tenderloin (aka TL) and smoking a doob to shake off my hangover when I came across a homeless junkie and we chatted about... Melky Cabrerra (outfielder for the San Francisco Giants who got slapped with a 50-game suspension by MLB suits for using steroids).

I know Phish's phamily cleaned up their internal scene by keeping Trey away from ravenous, vulture-like dealers, but they should investigate Mike Gordon shady relationship with Melky. Based upon Gordo's playing thus far in San Francisco, I strongly suspect that Melky has been giving Gordo a little taste of his performance enhancing drugs. Yes, our favorite scarf-wearing, purple-shirt-loving bass god is on the juice and he's been roiding up. Behold the Cactus Juice.

The pre-party took place at a dive bar in the TL because that cool dude @Grill_Meister arranged a Tweet-Up. My girlfriend (aka @change100) and I showed up fashionably late. I finally got to meet @Sail_Fly_Jen -- one of my Phishy/Dead Twitter friends that I had never met IRL. I also finally crossed paths with the infamous @TourTweet. We both love Phish and we're passionate about the music, but we also have the same twisted sense of humor and don't take everything about the scene too seriously -- especially ourselves. He summed it up best: "I'm here to see some great music and have fun with friends." Big Ditto.

When @TweeterReprise and @FunkCaptMax stumbled into the bar, things livened up. The Joker's stories about Max on Jamcruise are truly legendary. I originally met TweeterReprise by accident at Deer Creek in 2010. We were randomly seated next to each other courtesy of Phish's lottery supercomputer.

I didn't drink too much (I'm on heavy dosages of pain medication for my aching back), but @TourTweets bought rounds so everyone slammed shots of whiskey. The bar filled up with random phans and the conversations that bounced around the bar were hysterical. Someone was talking about scoring a bag of snortable drugs from a hairy exotic dancer at a Hungarian strip club. That same person followed me into the bathroom and asked me for "uppers."

Our tweet-group stumbled out of the bar and weaved seven blocks through the TL en route to the venue. One block from Bill Graham, I saw an ominous sign -- a seagull eating a pigeon. Some days you're the seagull. Other days you're the pigeon.

A Super-Wook with three dogs on a hemp leash offered my friend some molly. The price was too good to be true. He was suspicious but completed the transaction anyway. The Super-Wook fucked with my buddy and said, "Enjoy, brah... but don't eat anyone's face off."

"What the fuck? Is this bath salts?" screamed my bud in a paranoid stupor.

The Super-Wool chortled and disappeared into the crowd. My buddy asked me to test it out. I politely declined and said, "Caveat emptor. You're on your own."

Leg 1 featured a "bath salts meme" in the lot and that continued into Leg 2. One guy held his finger in the air and screamed, "Bath salts for your Saturday ticket!"

Tickets to Saturday's show was just as tough to find as Friday. Rumors were swirling that Phil Lesh or Bob Weir would sit in with the boys. The Dead's sound engineer, Dan Healy, was at Phish's soundcheck... and once word got out, the rumors took off.

Dead-Phish collaborations are awesome because those are arguably my two most favorite bands. I've caught three members of the Grateful Dead sit in with Phish: Phil (99 Shoreline), Bobby (00 Shoreline), and Billy (09 Red Rocks). I also caught one of the Phil and Phriends shows in April 99 when Page and Trey played three gigs with Phil at the Warfield. We caught GRAB at Bonnaroo with Phil sitting in. And I can't recall how many Phil-Trey gigs I saw during the height of Trey's oxy years in 2005-06.

Anyway, the Dead rumors made everyone more giddy than the night before. We settled into a decent spot in the center of the floor on Fishman side. Someone hit me up for blow. "I know you're from Vegas man!" he said. Sure, I used to live in Vegas... but not anymore because Vegas is a black hole of depravity and I have a huge sportsbetting problem. I told him to look for some local hipster chicks in brown boots and rubbing their noses. You know they're holding the good shit.

I never saw so many people toke up before a show with the lights on. Pungent aromas. The quality of bud was phenomenal. I have a "weed card" as a patient for my back pain, so I had a nice stash of Northern California's phinest medicinal marijuana (Sour Flower and OG Kush).

The boys took the stage around 8:08pm and the crowd was already jacked up and ready to burn down the entire fucking venue. Phish unleashed a 13-song opening set that included a vacuum solo and a couple of covers. The first set was anchored by a pair of 11+ minute tunes with some serious jamming -- Wolfman's Brah and Split Open and Melt.

The Wolfman's jam included lots of "fog-funk" which they introduced the night before. Trey didn't step on Gordo or Page's toes with superfluous notes. Instead, Trey filled in the gaps nicely while Page milked his clav and had a funkified volley back and forth with Gordo. Toward the end of Wolfman's, Trey finally stepped out in front and tore up a solo during the last two minutes. Trey ripped it up so much that he was sweating bullets and had to take off his jacket.

A trio of Phishy chicks near us went bonkers for Beauty of a Broken Heart. Leo is the sensitive one in the group, which is why Leo is a huge hit with the ladies. Leo got the Phishy girls all randy... but they were immediately grossed out by a shirtless noob who ate waaaaay too much molly and tried to rub up against the girls during Ocelot. He looked like Tom Cruise circa "Risky Business" and wore bright orange pants. I noticed he was bent over on the ground. I assumed he was collecting stray glowsticks... but it looked more like he was crawling on all fours and acting like an ocelot. No wonder the girls got freaked out. I felt bad for the shirtless noob's friends. They were totally embarrassed by his behavior. But then again, in San Francisco, he was the least weird of the bunch. If this were somewhere in the deep south, shirtless noob would've been hauled off by the federales.

By the way... Ocelot had a mellow-faded jam out. Everyone's talking about the face-melting Melt or the second set Simple, but the Ocelot jam is getting overlooked. At around the same time I noticed I was really wasted... but couldn't figure out what. That's when my memory refreshed itself... one of Max's buddies gifted me a pot brownie. I forgot about the tasty ganja treat and I solved the mystery on why I was swaying back and forth more than usual. Yep, only total potheads forget that they ate a brownie an hour earlier.

"Nancy" got another shoutout with I Didn't Know. Trey dubbed Fishman "Moses" and we had a Moses-inspired vac solo which had shades of Sweet Georgia Brown (aka the Harlem Globetrotters theme).

Maze and 46 Days were both layered with delicious mini-jams considering the band didn't fully develop either. Too bad... because they both started out on solid footing. Sometimes Maze is utterly evil, but this one felt more like a speed-race.

Maze searchlights

Tube is in the same category as Halley's as funkifed tunes that get ripchorded to death. This Tube was under five minutes but in that brief time, we got a trippy-whale jam. Yes, instead of the usual freeway-funk, we got a sparse humping whale jam.

When the Circus Comes to Town used to be a classic "Pauly Takes a Piss Song" in 1.0, but I don't bail anymore. Usually whenever Phish plays a multi-night run, the Phishy circus descends upon whatever city/town they play. But in San Francisco... the freaks run the asylum. So even you're most schwilly space cadet is still somewhat tame compared to the average Bay Area freak.

Sugar Shack was one of the soundcheck songs... and fell off the radar last year. I think the last time it was played was during the Halloween AC run in 2010. I always thought Scott Murawski (from Max Creek and Gordo's guitar player) did a much better job on the guitar segments than Trey... then again, Gordo wrote it with Murawski in mind. Anyway, I've never been a fan of Phish's version of Sugar Shack. In fact, some of my least favorite shows in 3.0 had Sugar Shack in it... yeah it's a weird coincidence. But... I had tons of fun at Saturday's show, so it was good to see the Sugar Shack curse get broken. I actually dug the calypso-jam out.

Things got crazy during Split Open and Melt. I like the crazy. The crazy parts of the show are why I go to see so many shows. They boys pushed the boundaries of the Melt jam to the farthest cosmos. It was one of those tripped-out versions that made me say, "Shit... I wish I was on shrooms!" This mind-meld was covered in shredded-cheesy psychedelia and included enough dissonant mayhem to freak out anyone who was actually on acid. I had my eyes closed for most of the Melty-spacy jam and I got beamed away to an asteroid-like celestial object that was tumbling through deep space. Unfortunately, the boys got themselves lost in the Melt jam... lost in space. Fishman was the one who the band turns to to get them out of trouble, but in this instance, the band fell into a black hole and even Fishman couldn't punch a hole in the time-space fabric to get them out. As a result, they just pulled the plug on the Melt and opted to reboot with a smoking Cavern closer.

At the end of the setbreak, @TourTweet found us on the floor just as the lights went down. Perfect timing. The second set was lathered in Greatest Hits with 13 songs plus two encore tunes. Yes, that selection was a vast difference than the seven-song jamilicious evening in Long Beach. Fluffhead is a lengthy tune... and composed that way. But only other song that reached double-digits on the timer was Simple, which also happened to be one of the standouts from the second set.

My uber-hippie friends (mostly non-phans) were discussing a massive shift in the collective consciousness yesterday. I wonder if the band was dialed in to that? Because they went with Golden Age to open the second set. It's become one of Trey's favorites these days. Around the seven-minute mark, Trey made a decision to keep this version under eight minutes. He could've pushed it another four minutes... but he was having one of those ADD nights and wrought with impatience. Yep, that set the tone for the evening and explains why we got a melange of greatest hits.

Golden Age took a quick turn into Piper and I anticipated Piper was going to be the monster jam vehicle in the second set (resembling Long Beach's Rock and Roll or Friday's DWD). Alas, Piper was short and sweet.

Mike's Song got off to a hot start... and it was super loud. I'm glad they opted to seg into Simple instead of a mellower I Am Hydrogen. Anyway, Simple was designated as the big jam monster of the show. Instead of a fierce beast with pointy teeth, this version was fluffy and almost felt like we were floating through space. @TourTweet heard some of the Wheel teases and we both mentioned that seeing the Grateful Dead perform at Bill Graham's in the 1970s would have been one of the coolest musical things we could imagine.

The Wheel was just a tease. Speaking of "tease"... the rumors of a Dead-related sit in was just that... a rumor and tease. Nothing ever materialized... even though I knew a lot of friends were eagerly awaiting for Phil Lesh to walk onto stage at any moment.

Backwards was a buzz kill for some folks mainly because the Simple jam was pretty fucking righteous and had no signs of letting up... until Trey pulled the plug on it. Backwards was almost as long as the Carini > Wilson double-dip... which included thrashing heavy-metal-like riffs that made my ears hurt. Too bad both songs were rushed and they never allowed an evil jam to manifest itself in Carini. And I swore I heard a "Macarena" tease in Wilson!

I was spoiled at Blossom with that sick version of Weekapaug... so at this point it's really going to take something with a little extra hot sauce to get me off.

Fish deserved a break... and he got it during Horse > Silent. Someone carried around a horse's head to the show and went bananas when it got played. I'm all for phans dressing up at shows and bringing props... but a horse's head is pretty fucking random.

2001 kicked off cold right after Silent. Too bad they didn't ax Backwards and went with a Simple > 2001 one-two punch. Anyway... I was thrilled with a Saturday night 2001 dance party. I mean, who isn't? The grey's Mothership was hiding in the fog all night long and waiting for CK5's signal. By the way CK5 had his shit together and displayed one of his better performance of the night lighting the stage and crowd during 2001.

The set was extended with a crowd-pleasing Fluffhead, which could've ended the set, but Big Red wanted to squeeze one more uppity tune with Loving Cup... yet another cover from "Exile on Main Street" to end set two for a second consecutive evening.

The encore was an eye-rolling Show of Life and luckily it was just the first installment of a two-song encore. The night was capped off by a raging Character Zero. I watched folks in the last row at the top of the venue dance their asses off during Zero.

Instead of taking us all on a voyage through inner space, Saturday night became your typical Greatest Hits Phish with a couple of gems scattered about both sets. The crowd was bubbling over with tons of frantic energy and just like the night before, the band fed off of all of us.

If you're looking at the San Francisco run as a three-act play, then Saturday's second act was just setting up the final act. Who knows what will happen next... but one thing is certain... Phish is going to smoke the shit out the joint on Sunday before the tour moves eastward.

Two down in San Francisco. One more to go.

* * * *

Here's our coverage of Leg 2 so far...
8/15/12 Long Beach, CA
8/17/12 San Francisco, CA
8/18/12 San Francisco, CA

Long Beach: Wednesday Night Bieber
SF #1: Touch the Magic
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter.... @CoventryMusic.

Phish Videos: Long Beach Jam 8/15/12

Here's the jamiliciousness everyone's talking about:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Phish Setlist: 8/18/12 SF #2

The Phish is back for the second show of a three-night run in San Francisco. Don't forget the show is being webcast on

Here's what you missed....

Le Phish, 8/18/12 Bill Graham's Auditorium, San Francisco, CA, USA, Earth

Set 1: JIM, Wolfman's Brah, Nellie Kane, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Ocelot, MAZE, I Didn't Know, 46 Days, Tube, CIRCUS, Sugar Shack, MELT, Cavern

Set 2: Golden Age > Piper, Mike's > SIMPLE >Backwards, CARINI > Wilson > Weekapaug, Horse > Silent, 2001, Fluffhead, Loving Cup

E: Show of Life, ZERO

SF #1 Recap: Touch the Magic

7:45pm. I didn't have my ticket yet. Showtime was 7:30pm, but luckily Phish always took the stage 40 minutes late, so I had a buffer. Hundreds of ticketless phans thrust their index fingers in the air in desperate search of a miracle. I stood next to a quartet of SF cops and made small talk.

"Anything weird happen today?"

"Nothing more than usual," barked the most jaded cop.

I took the hint and buggered off. I was waiting... on a man. Not Lou Reed's smack dealer like in the Velvet Underground song, but the kid (DD from Seattle) who had my ticket. Thanks to, we arranged to swap my extra Sunday for his extra Friday. DD was running late and as every minute inched closer to 8pm, I got anxious. Nervous. Worrisome. I started sweating. Shit, I felt just like Lou Reed in Waiting for the Man... while he was super dope-sick slumped up on a pole on 125th Street in Harlem, waiting for his dealer.

My drug of choice is Phish. Ain't no place I'd rather be. All of my friends were already inside Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, posting pics and tweeting how small the venue is. My girlfriend (aka @change100) was one of those people. I sent her inside fifteen minutes earlier and told her I'd wait by myself.

7:50pm. I was freaking out on the inside. Every ticketless phan that walked by asked me for an extra. Two random wooks hit me up for Ketamine. Three bums asked me for spare change. I even took a photo for Japanese family posing in front of City Hall.

7:55pm. I got a call from my guy DD. He had trouble finding parking. He was on his way. Thanks the Lord Jesus Christ and Jerry Fucking Garcia. My ticket was just blocks away. I danced a jig.

8:00pm. The kid arrived with my ticket. I was never more happier to see anyone in my life! The cops shook their head as I practically tackled DD and jumped up and down. We completed the ticket swap and bolted across the street. Since everyone else was inside, there was no line to get in. The security guard was having a bad day. She said she had a massive headache. I joked that people inside had something to make her feel groovy. She shot me the stink-eye that screamed, "Fuck off, hippie!"

I smiled and rushed inside. I stepped foot into one of the most sacred and magical musical venues in the world. The ghosts of the Grateful Dead were twirling around everywhere and tickled my spine. It feels corny to actually write this... but I felt like I was... home.

I found Dr. Jelly Eater near the back and he reminded me, "I was last here in the 1980s to see the Dead on New Year's Eve."

Holy shitballs! Talk about one lucky mofo. I'd give me left nut to catch the Dead (circa 1970s) smoke the shit out of the Civic Auditorium (as it was called in those days). But that was then, and this is now... and Phish were moments from taking the stage of their first of three shows inside an intimate and holy venue.

Bill Graham's house was packed. Jammed tight. Very little space to move. Almost every seat up in the balcony sections filled up with giddy phans. I somehow found my girlfriend.

The energy on the floor was frenetic. Vast difference from the mellow, laid back vibe of Long Beach in which Phish had to cajole the energy of the crowd in LB with a Suzy opener. Alas, in San Francisco, Phish didn't have to dig deep into their back of tricks to get things rocking. The entire building was swaying back and forth -- before the show even started -- from all of the bottled up electric energy. Tons of positivity flowed everywhere.

The band feeds off us. We feed off the band.They feed off us. We feed off them. Circles. Nonstop circles. It's a symbiotic relationship that has been festering for almost thirty years. I feel sorry for other bands whom do not have the fervent, yet reverent following like us dedicated phans.

The lights went down and a deafening howl echoed through the room. I actually got goosebumps for the first time since the Hampton reunion shows. I was just so overjoyed to be inside. No matter what they played, I was going to soak up every second. Ten minutes earlier while standing outside fending off shady ketamine-addicts, I was an emotional wreck. Luckily the Joker calmed me down and reminded me that everything was going to work out because the universe wanted me to go to the show... so I just had chill out and to wait a few minutes longer than everyone else. It was well worth the wait. By the way, thanks to everyone who sent out positive thoughts when I needed it the most. Who needs a Valium or chill pill to calm you down when you have your friends putting out good vibes?

Phish took the stage and a feeding frenzy ensued with the crowd's infectious energy feeding the band. AC/DC Bag had the entire crowd screaming, "Let's get this show on the road!"

My girlfriend and I got schwasted earlier in the day and wandered around SF MoMA checking out art. I should've known the boys were going to bust out the Moma Dance fog-funk early in the set.

The third song was Possum, which clocked in as the longest song of the first set (and the only tune to pass the 10-minute mark). The intro included Wilson-esque teases from Trey. By that point, the floor was slippery from spilled beer and sweat, which made things interesting while trying to dance. If the floor wasn't so packed, I would've wiped out three or four times. Instead, I just kept bouncing off whoever was next to me and vice versa.

Corinna was the only lull in the first set. It's got more playtime than usual in Leg 1. I forgot who make the snide remark on Twitter last month, but they said there were more versions of Corinna in Leg 1 than YEMs. Sometimes I prefer it when YEM only gets played once or twice a tour. Makes us truly appreciate it.

Corinna's mellowness perfectly set up for a funkified-dance party with Sand. That's a unique song that evolves differently in the first set compared to those second set renditions. Historically speaking, second set Sands are thunderous jamming vehicles, like the running of the bulls, but the first setters are usually tighter and compact. This SF Sand jam was anchored by Page, who milked his clav with bursts of flowery jazzy notes. Instead of those heavy-funk riffs, Page played spacious Thelonius Monk inspired notes... but using his clav instead of his grand piano. I dubbed Page's flow... "Monk Funk." Eventually, Trey took over and unleashed a flurry of superfluous notes as the Sand jam reached a crescendo.

Earlier in the day, I had read a story in Relix about "Nancy", the freaky guy from Goddard College who penned the lyrics to I Didn't Know and Halley's Comet back in the early 1980s. Phish paid homage to Nancy with an uppity Halley's Comet. The tune barely clocked in at 6 minutes. Yes, once the jam got cooking, Trey pulled the chord and that was it. The best ingredient of Halley's lights included those comet tails chasing each other on CK5's screens.

By the time Gordo belted out the beginning to Funky Bitch, he was full-throttle en fuego. Gordo must have been hanging out with Melky Cabrerra on his day off because he was playing some serious steroid-induced bass. Gordo is on the juice. Just like most PEDs, the Cactus Juice is also banned by Major League Baseball.

The crowd sang along for Sample in a Jar and for the first time, some room opened up around us. I didn't have to throw Charles Oakley-esque elbows to get some dancing space.

Let's not focus on the flubbs in Roses Are Free or the rest of the show for that matter, because as Trey said in Bittersweet Motel... "It's all about energy." That first set was oodles of boundless energy. Everyone fed off each others' vibe, which created a vortex of good vibes. With the exception of a few coked-up hipster chicks in high heels yapping away at 100mph, everyone inside BGCA wanted to be there. Badly.

My Friend My Friend included segments of unadulterated evil jamming much to the delight of our buddy @eviljams. I love the dark, deviant side of Phish. Sure the Dead was all about rainbows, moonbeams, and unicorns... but once in a while, we surrender to the flow and Phish unwillingly drags into a dark alley and beats the living shit out of us.

Slave is my favorite Phish song and I'm glad they don't play it very often (like Possum or DWD) so I really have to hustle on tour to catch a live version. This particular Slave was unique because it popped up in the first set instead of its usual cozy spot late in set two. It totally came out of nowhere. We all expected something searing and rocking to close out the set like Zero or Antelope...but instead we got treated to a silky, smooth Slave. Thank God that DD showed up with my ticket at the last second because not only did I make it into the show... I also got to hear my favorite song. Viola! The crack-flavored cherry on top of the molly sundae.

We were stuck in the back Fishman side for the first set. We took advantage of the floor opening up at setbreak and vastly improved our spot. We migrated to the dead center of the floor. Perfect spot to see everything, especially noticing that Trey had changed shirts at setbreak. Man, I really need to bring an extra shirt to shows. I had sweat through my shirt by the time Possum ended. One of these days I'm going to bring three shirts to a show... the shirt-before-the-shirt for pre-show, my first set shirt, and a second set shirt.

Photo courtesy of @change100

Down With Disease kicked off the second set and the jam took flight around five minutes in, with a little machine gun Trey, before it reached maximum speed around seven minutes in like a truck driving 120mph through the rain and fog. The back end of the jam contained some serious layered groove with Page's clav filling in the empty spaces. Gordo and Fishman were bouncing off each other around the ten-minute mark. The jam receded a bit and things got a little foggy. I guess they couldn't figure out the smoothest transition into a second tune, so the ambient fog jam stalled.

Trey counted off and launched into Birds of a Feather. During Leg 1, Birds (and Twist) became an unexpected jamming vehicle. I still listen to the AC Birds whenever I can. But in this instance, the band seemed reticent to open it up and allow it to develop into a monster jam.

I had mixed emotions about Tweezer. Some of it felt slight off kilter, but when it was on... it was on! My bud Jonas, who is a drummer, watched the webcast in Denver with the Joker and other friends. He had an interesting theory about the SF Tweezer.

"If there's one song I know, it's Tweezer," explained Jonas. "I can tell you in the first minute if the jam if it's going to be good. This one? Trey had no direction. Mike was frustrated and took the lead. Not the best Tweeze jam."

That's the muddy part of the jam that threw me off. Jonas was right... Trey sat back and just played some weird Wilson-like licks before Gordo elbowed him out of the way and took command.

"I had a lot of hope at the beginning," said Jonas. "Trey held back and was patient -- much like 97-99. However, he never took charge and didn't have anything to drive with."

Once Gordo grabbed the jam by the scruff of its neck, it quickly improved and a few minutes later I got totally lost. Those are some of my favorite moments at a Phish show... when I have my eyes closed and I get zapped to another planet (remind me to tell you about the theory the Joker and I have about our pineal gland being our third eye, which is a Stargate to other dimensions)... and then I somehow wake up from a trance and open my eyes to discover that I'm not really dreaming because I'm at a Phish show! Definitely mind-fuck for sure. But luckily I write down setlists because it's a like a map... or a trail of bread crumbs, so I can figure out where the hell I was when I got lost.

With Tweezer served up, we were almost a lock to get a Loving Cup-Tweeprise double encore. Of course, whenever you expect Phish to do something... they don't. More on that later...

The back end of Tweezer featured Trey's ancient video game "pong" note before it melted into a fiery, yet compact Twist. Yep, both Birds (under 6 minutes) and Twist (7+ minutes) were on tight leashes, but on a positive note, those dense and consolidated versions didn't have lots of filler or noodling... just straight up in-your-face jamming.

Maybe the inconsistency of Tweezer made the band gunshy to push Twist to the outer cosmos? I mean, in another time's forgotten space, we could have had a four song second set with 20-minute versions of DWD > Birds > Tweezer > Twist. Had that 80-minute, four-song second set strewn with psychedelia actually happened, I probably would have gotten thrown out of the building and arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior for pleasuring myself to those empirical and exploratory jams.

Anyway... the only time I felt like "McKayla was not impressed" was when the band tried to pull off a Velvet Sea and Joy sandwich with Chalkdust squeezed in the middle. I mean, Velvet Cheese-Joy tag-team in the second set? What the hell? That's like when my girlfriend is on a diet and replaces my crispy (pig) bacon with hippie-veggie turkey bacon.

I love to watch the crowd and during Chalkdust's tension buildup, I noticed that folks in the last row at the top of the venue were dancing their asses off and getting down! That was a far contrast to Velvet-Joy when a portion of the crowd headed to the exit to relieve themselves or get more booze. I took the time to burn one down and yeah, Joy fell into the "Pauly Takes a Piss Song" category.

Oh well. Phish and especially Trey don't give two shits about what we want to hear. They're gonna play what they're gonna play. But it's almost like an ultimate fuck you when they say... "This is your song too."

If Joy were really my song would have more funk and less wrist-cutting melodies.

My girlfriend said it best, "At least they got those songs out of the way."

The second set had so much potential but all of the air and infectious energy escaped the building by the time Joy ended. I understand they have to let Fishman catch his breath with a slow tune... but why two ballads in that short space? As a result, the fire was extinguished and the band had to restart the fire. Enter the Antelope.

High-octane Antelope as per usual. Nothing too fancy. Just straight-forward heat. I felt bad for my girlfriend... during Antelope, she got stuck behind a tall wook, who was dancing around like he had fireants in his patchy pants. He was channeling an antelope on a freshly-cooked batch of crack and took up like three dance spaces. My girl caught a natty dread to her face a couple of times so I spun her around and swapped spaces. I saved her from being whipped to death by dreadlocks.

When Trey sang the opening lines to Shine A Light, I realized that he essentially cock-blocked Page and a potential Loving Cup encore. Would the band play two Exile on Main Street covers in such close proximity? Then again, they tried to sneak a Velvet Cheese and Joy double dip by us. Alas, why couldn't they do a pair of Exile tunes?

Anyway... Shine A Light put me in a happier place and I quickly forgot about the lame Velveeta-Joy sandwich they tried to ram down our throats. CK5 cranked up the house lights for Shine A Light, which gave me another chance to do some people watching. I get high by watching other people have fun. Happiness is infectious. Phish has an uncanny ability to make people happy... and the best thing we can do, is to take those contagious vibes and pass it on to as many people as we can.

When the band exited the stage, I wondered about potential encore songs. I figured a double tune was coming with Tweeprise... but what would it be? I begged for anything except Sleeping Monkey. There's a time and place for Monkey but that wasn't it.

Trey and Gordo had a minor discussion before Trey launched into First Tube. It would have been weird to catch a First Tube-Tweeprise encore... mainly because it's just overkill. Yes, we got a single encore... a smoking First Tube and unfortunately I caught a few lashings of dreads in the face from the wook in front of us. That was it. Trey pulled off a Jedi mind trick. Show over. House lights went up and mostly everyone was wondering, "What the fuck happened to Tweezer Reprise?"

We floated out of the venue debating when Tweeprise was going to appear next... Saturday night opener? Sunday night encore? Will they abandon it altogether?

It was so friggin' hot inside that we welcomed the crisp night air of San Francisco. Perfect way too cool down after a smoking evening. The nitrous mafia were posted up at different spots in the alleyways surrounding the venue. The balloon mongers even spilled onto Market Street, which at the Midnight hour, attracted an eclectic scene of runaways, junkies, and other miscreants.

We bypassed the plight and kept walking down Market Street back to our hotel near Union Square. I looked up and saw a strip club/porn theatre with a gigantic, bright marquee surrounded by sultry pink lights.

Three words stood out: TOUCH THE MAGIC.

I wrote a book about strippers so I can attest to this sheer fact... no matter how much you spend, you can never touch the magic. However, on those special nights you get to attend a Phish show and soak up every note of music, you certainly get to feel the magic vibrating through your entire body.

One down in San Francisco. Two more to go.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Phish Setlist: 8/17/12 San Francisco #1

Phish is throwing down in San Francisco. It's the first of three shows. If you're not there, never fear, because the shows will be webcast via LivePhish.

In case you didn't get a chance to see it, here's what you missed...

The Phish, 8/17/12 Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA
Set 1: AC/DC Bag, MoMA Dance, Possum, Corinna, Sand, Halley's Comet > Funky Bitch > Sample in a Jar, Roses Are Free > My Friend My Friend, Slave to the Traffic Light

Set 2: Down with Disease > Birds > Tweezer^^> Twist, Velvet Cheese, Chalkdust, JOY**, Antelope, Shine a Light

E: First Tube

** Pauly Takes a Piss Song
^^ No Tweezer Reprise....

* * * *

Check out my recap of the show: Touch the Magic.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Long Beach Recap: Wednesday Night Bieber

Beggars can't be choosey. Phish picked 13 dates out of a hat for Leg II and four of those shows landed on the West Coast -- one in Long Beach and three in San Francisco. I had mixed feeling about the Gorge's omission from summer tour. On one hand, it's a majestic venue and I had never seen a bad Gorge show. But on the other hand, it's a bitch to get to from SoCal.

I love waking up in my own bed knowing that I'm going to see a Phish show later that night. It's only happened one other time in 3.0... last summer at the Hollywood Bowl. I hadn't officially moved to San Francisco yet so Golden Gate Park didn't count as a "local show." Even though I crashed with family back in NYC during the MSG holiday runs, it's not quite the same.

I moved back to LA just before the summer began. Although I live closer to the Hollywood Bowl, I'd rather see Phish at Long Beach. For one, it's an indoor show and I prefer the sound of indoor venues. Plus, Long Beach has a chill parking lot scene, unlike the Bowl where parking is sparse and everyone has to hike up the hill to see the show. But most importantly, the Bowl is a beacon for music industry types, scensters, and other L.A. douchebags. They're there to be seen and spend too much time yapping to each other. They're not the type of people who would fight weekday traffic on the 405 just to see a "jamband" play a show in Long Beach. As a result, the tour opener was devoid of scensters... with the exception of a random appearance by Justin Bieber and his "girlfriend" Selena Gomez. More about Bieber later.

My girlfriend and I pulled into the main lot around 4:20pm. Mr. Jack Straw and his wife had just arrived as well. We hung out in the back corner of the lot in beach chairs and soaked up the scene. A cool ocean breeze occasionally washed over the blacktop and I could count a half a dozen cars blasting different Grateful Dead shows. That was the most obvious difference between East Coast and West Coast shows -- what you'll hear on car stereos in the lot. Deadheads are a plenty out here so you won't be bombarded with the K-fried untz-untz of a random Bisco show pulsating through the lot.

A small Shakedown popped up in the middle of the main lot. It was tame compared to most of venues on Phish tour, and unfortunately, a handful of watchful po-po cased out Shakedown. A couple of security teams navigated the lot on bicycles and three obvious undercover policemen in tie-dyes patroled the lot. But for the most part, the vibe was super chill. All you had to do was take a whiff and you cold smell plenty of California's finest medicinal marijuana wafting around. Much more pot toking in the lot than booze swigging.

On my way into the show, I ran into Fink. His crew was in the middle of a 10-day bachelor party for "The Wookie." Those guys were raging hard and reached stage four schwillyness before the show hadn't even started! Fink was rambling on about how much he missed the Olympics. I knew what he meant. I got used to betting on Team Handball and Basketball every other day that I woke up on Monday jonesin' for some action. Fink was gushing about the women's gymnastics team.

"Dude, we're old enough to be their fathers," I joked.

"Yeah, but who cares," he explained. "The were amazing! Those 15 and 16-year olds train for 16 hours a day and work their entire lives for that one shining moment."

Yes, normally middle-aged men watching little girls prance around in their underwear is a cause for an alarm, but once every four years it's morally acceptable to engage in that aberrant behavior. America, fuck yeah.

I have GA tix all three nights for the San Fran shows, so I didn't mind being up in reserved seating for Long Beach. We had third row off the floor. The venue reminded me of Hampton, but it was kinda old and it felt like we zapped back in time 15-20 years. The squeaky chairs looked like the original chairs that were installed. The bathrooms were tiny and lines snaked around the cramped hallways. The venue housed around 10-12,000 people with a massive floor space. By the time the lights went down, only 75% of the floor and 100 level was filled up, while 50% of the upper level was... empty.

I wonder if Phish walked onto stage at 8:16pm and saw some of the empty seats in the upper deck and decided to play something rocking early on to get everyone fired up? That's the only explanation I could come up with for a Suzy Greenberg opener. That's a tune the band goes to late in the first set or somewhere in the second set to interject life into the crowd.

Cities and Kill Devil Falls could have been five-minute wonders but the band stretched both out just a bit (KDF a little more so). Somewhere in the middle of KDF the band had shaken off its rust and were back where they left off at SPAC. Sometimes it takes a full set (maybe more) to get back into game shape, but in this instance, it only took a couple of songs.

I'll gladly hear anything from Velvet Underground's "Loaded," so I was pleased with another Cool It Down. The last time I caught it in Deer Creek, it was 105 degrees and I was sweating my balls off. This version was much breezier and included a little extra Gordo hot sauce during the last 30 seconds of the song. Why didn't he start playing that juicy groove minutes earlier?

Before the show, Mr. Jack Straw had mentioned he caught 20+ Phish concerts but had never seen a Rift, Maze, and Sparkle. That was a little strange, but I told him one of them was coming. He got a Rift tossed into the middle of the first set.

With the exception of Bouncin' (a perennial Pauly Takes A Piss Song), three out of last four songs stood out as the highlights of the set... Stash, GIN, and Quinn the Eskimo. Both Stash and Gin clocked in at 10 and 11 minutes respectively. Page led a Thelonious Monk-inspired dissonant jam-out of murky and swampy Stash.

Photo courtesy Dave Vann and Phish

My girlfriend mentioned that Trey wanted to ripchord the Gin jam about 2/3 of the way through, but the band vetoed him! Trey wanted to rush back to the melody, but Gordo stuffed him. Yeah, they stuck it to Big Red and carried on with the jam a little longer. Good to see the guys gang up and deny a ripchord moment.

Quinn the Eskimo has gotten plenty of air time in 3.0. It's a nod to Dylan, but for me it's a bridge between both the Grateful Dead and Phish. It's one of the few songs both bands covered, and Quinn was the song that hooked me on the Dead. I saw my first Dead show at MSG when I was 15 years old and the vibe I felt that night would resonate with me the rest of my journey. One of the coolest moments in my entire life was hearing 20,000 Deadheads scream "When Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everyone's gonna DOSE!"

The second half of Quinn had a savory "chase-up-the-ladder" jam, a term that G-Money loved to describe elements of Phish's jamming. They could have extended the Quinn-fiesta a few more minutes but Trey cut it short and they took a bow. The first set felt shorter than 75 minutes.

By setbreak word had gotten out that Justin Bieber and his entourage were raging up near the soundboard. Once @bizarchive kangfirmed it, I knew it wasn't a prank or bad inside joke. You know the old saying, "Never trust a Prankster"? Well in the modern era, you can never trust a Phishead on Twitter! They'll say almost anything to stir up the pot. Myself included.

Bieber and his lady friend hung out backstage. Had this been 1977 and Dead tour, someone from the crew would've dosed Bieber and his entourage. But these days, backstage is much mellower than the infamous nights of hell-raging wild rumpuses at the "Betty Ford Clinic" backstage.

Like most Phishy chicks, Bieber loved the pretty lights from CK5 and developed an instant crush on Page. I dug reading the tweets about a giddy Bieber in the second set... apparently he embraced the concept of a glowstick war. The limp-wristed Bieber hurled glowsticks with the glee of a fifteen-year old girl.

I'm convinced that the meeting between Bieber and Trey influenced the second set. Musicians always like to one up each other. Best example was the Monterrey Pop Festival. The Who had seen Jimi Hendrix smash his guitar during gigs in London, so when The Who ended their set, Pete Townsend destroyed his axe much to the bewilderment of the crowd. This was an era without YouTube so no one in attendance at Monterrey had seen those shocking theatrics. Hendrix came on a little later (actually the Dead were scheduled to play in between The Who and Hendrix) and not to be out done, Hendrix on a head full of Owsley acide decided to not only smash up his guitar... but he'd also lit it on fire. Whooooosh!

I had a feeling the Bieber presence lit a fire under Phish's ass and during the first half of the second set, the Vermont quartet produced one of the trippiest moments of 3.0. This was a sober show for me so for most of the second set I kept saying, "Shit, I wish I had some shrooms!"

What seemed like a run-of-the-mill Rock and Roll set opener morphed into a small thermonuclear detonation and Phish blew up a hole in the space-time continuum. I don't know if they were trying to cajole all of the Deadheads in the crowd, but the Rock and Roll jam delved off the deep end of exploitative space. The Long Beach Bieber jam went so far out there, that I thought I was on acid. It made me wonder if Phishy psychedelia was an artistic statement and bold response to the bubble gum pop that Bieber was churning out? Or maybe Trey was trying to steal Selena Gomez away from her boy-toy Bieber?

"This is how a real man plays the axe, Sweetie."

Regardless of who the band was trying to impress, they definitely knocked this jaded vet on his ass. I was digging every moment of the jam that had evil undertones. At one point, CK5 busted out purple search lights during a Gordo-led charge. It was as though the band and CK5 were trying to find a way out after getting locked up in another storage-like ambient jam. I heard plenty of teases like 2001 and even Halfway to the Moon. I had no idea what the band was going to pull off... but they kept pushing the boundaries of the jam farther and farther out before Fishman punched his way out... and cleared a path for Ghost.

Charlie Dirksen commented that this Ghost was his favorite since Albany 2009. I couldn't agree more. That silky Seven Below > Ghost was my favorite jam in 3.0... but the Rock and Roll > Ghost might have eclipsed that highwater mark. During Leg 1, almost every show had elements in the second set that I call "twenty minute deliciousness." It's when Phish opens up a jam and goes balls to the wall. I wish they did that more often, but I'll take whatever I can get.

Maybe Phish wanted to scare the shit out of Bieber? One thing is for certain, Biebs was loving the glowstick skirmish that popped up during Ghost.

It was going to be difficult to top Rock and Roll > Ghost, so I just relaxed the rest of the show. Limb by Limb is fun because it gives Fish a chance to show off his drummer chops and he sounds like a couple of African drummers. The Afro-Caribbean grooves of Limb was an interesting contrast to a sinister Guyute. I didn't enjoy Guyute as much as I should have mainly because I was starving at that point and all I kept thinking about was eating a bacon sandwich. Sometimes music conjures up bizarre images. For me, this Guyute was stirring up bacon sandwiches.

An uber-mellow Dirt gave Fish a chance to catch his breath before embarking on Harry Hood. Parts of the beginning seemed rushed, but the boys made up for it in the second half. I figured Trey was going to unleash some rock and roll guitar riffs, so I had picked GTBT in my phantasy pool with the G-Vegas boys. Phish closed the second set with a thunderous Good Times Bad Times.

"OMG, the girl next to me is all McKayla is not impressed," joked my girlfriend. The girl next to my girlfriend was in a bad mood all show. She bitched to her boyfriend that she hated all of the "jamming" in the second set. She looked miserable with her arms crossed just like that wacky McKayla is not impressed meme which flooded the web last week. I spent most of the second set watching all the people dance behind the soundboard on the back of the floor. Plenty of space to dance and everyone was getting down. Happiness is infectious. I'm a sponge. I soak up the vibes of whatever is around me. When I walked out of the show, I forgot how much I missed floating around in a sea of thousands of happy people. I felt sorry for McKayla girl sitting next to us. Even at the worst Phish shows I ever saw (Coventry and Vegas 2004), I still had a balls out fun time.

Anyway, GTBT ended the set and we were treated to just a single encore... Julius. Usually Julius closes the set and GTBT is the encore, so it was a nice curveball.

Anyway... this will always be known as the Justin Bieber show. Even though he didn't sit in with the band, Bieber showed up and checked out Phish and it's hard not to think his presence at Long Beach had a positive effect on the evening. I betcha Biebs covers Bouncin' on his next tour.

Fink said something like the tour openers have been all heat the last few years. I agreed but hated to thrust that lofty expectation onto this show, so I went in with zero expectations. It worked because I was blown away with the first half of set two. Rock and Roll > Ghost shall get tons of airplay from me over the next few weeks. Nonstop loop.

Phish kicked off Leg 2 of their summer tour on a hot note. Long Beach did not disappoint one bit, especially because I love seven-song sets anchored by heavy jamming. That why I chase Phish all around the country...for visceral experiences and to be transformed to another world during far-out beyond-the-weird jams when Phish slingshots us into the darkest corners of the cosmos. Bieber too.

One down. See y'all in San Francisco.