We loaded up Wednesday morning, set the GPS (convenient tech
takes the ruggedness and romance out of this Road story already) for
Thompson-Bolling Arena in
News of their reunion
made me (and many others) question if my motive for wanting to see them again
was nostalgia and if I were capable of keeping an open mind after the sour
taste 2.0 (after the hiatus and before the 'breakup') left on my
musical/vibrational palate. Hearing the
Example? At we were not raging in the
We made it there safely and even found some people we know. Nostalgia
check number one - what's the
So as not to alienate the one person reading this who knows nothing about Phish, the band consists of Trey Anastasio (why he gotta' be first?) on guitar, Mike Gordon on bass, Page McConnell on keyboards and Jon Fishman on drums. They ruled the jamband scene for years before taking an untimely hiatus, returning in a less-than-illustrious fashion, 'breaking up', and returning again.
The diverse crowd - old phans, new phans, totally clueless fans - made a lot of noise to bring the boys out. Runaway Jim didn't take me with him, so I dissected the song fairly and objectively. They are definitely tighter. Page is twinklier. Mike slunks, warbles and thumps a good bit deeper. The sound and the lights are ON.
Punch You In The Eye sounded like three other songs before it actually started. Nostalgia check number two - would they tease, play with time, build anticipation? Oh, yes.
Anti-Nostalgia check -Did they have to do the Latin choreography for The Landlady part? Mike did not look like he was into it at all.
Ocelot, a new song, seemed like a personal invitation to me. If you know the lyrics you know what I mean which brings us to Nostalgia check number three - would they play the song that I needed at the perfect moment? Check.
Because guess what's next? Foam. I acknowledged the synchronicity. The experience in the truck on the mountains made it anticlimactic.
Now we stoke some coal. My first live Train Song. It was a dry venue, so we couldn't "drink a little wine" but we yelled for that part anyways.
Undermind ducked right under my mind. Mike's Song - I Am Hydrogen - Weekapaug Groove had it's moments and I stress the SOUND is amazing whatever someone may think about the flow of the song choices. The Squirming Coil got away but I really didn't want it to. I felt like it was close to set break so I swayed my way up through the crowd that had moved from their seats to the stairs (learn the rules, hippies! I kid because I love) to the level where food and facilities would be. But I was taught a month ago to bide my time and take it slow. I stopped midway as Character Zero rocked everyone before we spilled out into the circular hall where people do their Business.
Set Break you see old friends. Nostalgia check number-I-forget-by-this-time - who else is still riding this Train? Some are no surprise. Some are surprising because you never thought they would make it this far. A guy I saw at Big Cypress is still having the same conversation about 'the Force' I had with him way back then. 1999, for the record.
I got to move to a spot on the floor through some ticket stub prestidigitation. The second set pulled out of the station.
Get Back On The Train. I most certainly did. Then Waves
crashed what we all wanted to turn into a
Reba! Faster, a little more country, taut transitions and a jam (with no whistles?) that made us forget what song we were listening to - more of the good Nostalgia.
Hello My Baby. Really? The Nostalgia pendulum swings the other way. They could have done Row, Row, Row Your Boat barber-shop style instead of a song that's been beaten to death. Julius was upbeat and gave me hope. Cavern reminds us to take care of our shoes but I can't tell if this is an intentional nod to a common/classic closer or if they're just lazy and then they bust into Harry Hood. A half-hearted glowstick war fizzled quickly but the lights cascading down the bleachers behind the stage (there's people up there!) sucked in everything that wasn't thrown back. YOU know what I mean.
They did the fake "We're leaving"-you-have-to-cheer-us-back-on thing. Mike pulled out a bass carved from flames and Page strapped on a key-tar (that's what I'm calling it). If not for these 'hair band' theatrics I would have written off the whole show because they played Frankenstein, fodder for too many Encores in the past. The key-tar sounded nasty enough to make up for it.
We made it out and sampled more of the 'scene'. Accepting the nitrous-huffing and the hustling is worth it when you get a beer when you want it and a grilled cheese when you need it. Nowness and Nostalgia are balanced.
From a technical standpoint the show was amazing. It did
feel, however, that they were playing it safe. Trey is supposed to mess up the words to Cavern. Yes, their 'job' is to put
on the best live show possible and not to supply vibe junkies (like me) with
ecstatic experiences or vary their song choice to throw off the stat geeks. They
deliver on that account, but something, that magical thing was missing for me. At least at the
Oh, but the Train doesn't stop there. Keep in mind we are on our way to Bonnaroo and we have Guest passes to The Bridge after-party at the World Grotto. The bossy GPS voice got us there smoothly. The Grotto ; descending the stairs flanked by sand-colored faux boulders is like entering the Earth's womb. Fossils and minerals are embedded in the bar, which faces a trickling waterfall.
The Bridge, from
And I had no idea there was going to be a next band.
We were hanging out backstage with the fellows from The Bridge , thinking the night was winding down and that the guy and girl on the couch across from us were just two cool people playing around with a melodica.
As it turns out, to my surprise and delight, Giant Panda
Guerilla Dub Squad was about to play a late-night set. Those folks just
'hanging out' were Rachel Orke (
So, we called it a night and crashed at a motel in
- By Larry Martin