, attached to 1998-08-15

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout On August 15th, 1998 I woke up on the tarmac of the Loring Air Force base in Limestone, Maine ready for day one of my second Phish festival (their third): Lemonwheel. My friend Jason and I had arrived onsite the day before, having driven in from Vernon Downs, New York, the previous stop on our ten-day run of concerts south of the border. On the way in (or as Jason remembers it: on the way out) we were cruising along the interstate behind a hippie-van that was clearly bound for (or coming from) Lemonwheel as well. When all of a sudden a moose bolted out of the forest at a full gallop, running straight across the highway directly in front of the microbus! It happened in such a flash that I think the van’s brake lights didn’t even light up. Luckily, the moose was a millisecond ahead of the van, which missed the massive beast by mere inches. I had never seen anything like it. The van immediately pulled over and so did we. The driver of the van was freaking out, hyperventilating and amazed that he and his friends were still alive. Close one, that was. Anywho, with that either safely behind us or ignorantly ahead of us*, we pulled onsite at the festival just as the exhaust system fell off of Jason’s ailing Volkswagen Jetta. Well, not entirely. While it was the entire exhaust system, it didn’t entirely detach. So if the loud, rumbling mufflerless engine wasn’t loud enough we also had dangling, clanging metal bits scraping sparks against the pavement. We pulled into the first available spot we saw. We pitched our tents right there on the asphalt, shook hands with our festival-neighbours and plunked ourselves down on the tarmac. We pulled out our cooler full of leftover duty-free Molson XXX and a cardboard-box of synthy-burgers that had been marinating in vintage icewater, cracked our first beers of the weekend and threw a bunch of burgers on the Coleman stove (our theme for the tour – and our argument for eating things we definitely shouldn’t have been eating – had been “fire kills everything”). The weekend had begun. The band played a soundcheck on the Friday evening but to me it was only rumour. I’m confident I was drowning it out with my Coleman-side acoustic Bon Jovi jams, which went over better than you might expect. Regardless, the concert field remained closed to mortals on Friday night. The Saturday (and the day in question here) was a whole different situation, let me tell you! More beers and pre-poisonous burgers held the day until The Phish From Vermont began their mainstage musical glee that compromised of three full-on sets of jammy rock and roll before closing out with a candle-lit space-spa hour-long musical interlude-to-nowhere ambient set that I enjoyed immensely from my comfortable spot lying on the grass. (Though logic tells me we probably watched the concerts from paved runways my memory tells me that we were in fact on a vast lawn. In this very moment memory is wrestling logic to the ground forcing it to say “uncle” and agree that Phish would not logically have made the crowd stand on concrete for the concerts. Looks like we can score this one: brain 1, brain 0. “In your face, brain!” sez brain.) As I was still (barely) in my twenties at the time I’m confident that I spent the post-show hours drinking, guitar-roaming, and making new friends until sunlight forced me down for a short count. And while this is pure conjecture, it is based on a historical pattern that makes it almost certifiably true. Festivals are fun! *Jason has since convinced me that the moose incident was indeed on the way back to Canada after the weekend, but I’m not going to change things now. Nor will I add that he got strip-searched when we reached the border, another fact he reminded me of. No surprise that he remembers that bit more than I do. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2015-08-21

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout Magnaball was the second Phish festival held at Watkins Glen Speedway, a massive turn-both-ways NASCAR track that should be much more famous than it is for hosting the largest concert ever*, a legendary show that featured the Allman Brothers, The Band, and The Grateful Dead back in 1973. I guess Woodstock had better PR people. My crew and I had such a good time at the last Phish fiesta in the ‘Glen that we decided to drive down to New York a whole day early this time around so we could get ourselves set up in the campground and get nice and comfortable before the festival even began. We also kind of figured that this strategy might afford us the primest of camping spots. We were woefully wrong about that. But when we woke up onsite in the morning of August 21st, 2015 we were all still blissfully ignorant to the situation we had parked ourselves in. It wasn’t until we decided to saunter down to the stage to see what sort of installations the band had installated that we discovered the Marco Polo-like distance we had to cover to get there. When we finally got to the site I plunked myself down in the merch line to buy a poster and some records and by the time I got through the line it was time to head back to the site to drop off my purchases and get ready for the show. So back we went, and then forth again; gosh it was far. By the time Phish went on I felt like I was near the end of my own second set. Luckily the band and the crowd exuded more than enough energy to keep me on point for the night. If there was a lull left over from setbreak it was immediately brushed away by set two’s [i]Chalkdust Torture[/i] opener, and people still talk about the[i] Ghost[/i] that they played after that. Then [i]Rock & Roll [/i]by the Velvet Underground and one of my eyes-closed, hands-in-the-air favourites, [i]Harry Hood[/i]. Okay, I might have nodded off for a moment during [i]Waste[/i] but I’ve been known to do that even on my peppiest nights. Then [i]No Man’s Land[/i] and another raised-arms anthem of bliss to close the set, [i]Slave To The Traffic Light[/i]. At that point we were just a [i]Farmhouse[/i] and a [i]First Tube[/i] away from embarking on our epic trek back to the faraway, where my cooler and my guitar awaited my consistent attention. I don’t know when I went to sleep or when I woke up but I knew it didn’t matter. All I had to do the next day was the same thing again, and as taxing as it might be I was up for the challenge. *With 600,000 people in attendance, many claim that the 1973 concert was the largest gathering of people in the history of America. On that single day one out of every 350 people in the United States were at Watkins Glen. Taking demographics into account it has been estimated that one out of three people aged 17-24 living between Boston and New York attended the event. I recently read that there is a concert film doc about the show slated for imminent release. Can’t wait to see it. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2015-08-22

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout August 22nd, 2015. It was the middle day of Magnaball, Phish’s tenth weekend-long music festival and their second of nearly* three held at the enormous NASCAR track in Watkins Glen, NY. M’lady and I were camped with our friend Jeff on the farthest fringe of the massive site, literally miles from the stage. Jeff was a cooking professional and he had brought along hundreds of home-made chocolate chip cookies which had been laced with hot chilli peppers**. They were curiously delicious and we placated ourselves with them again and again over the three+ nights as we woefully contemplated our prodigious walk(s) to and from the main festival pitch. (“From” was the rub, of course. Walking for a couple of miles to the fest wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It was daylight out and sober in; there might have even been a bit of bounce in our step as we eagerly approached the weekend’s main attraction. But from was a whole different story. Walking from the stage back to our campsite would inevitably happen very late at night; in the dark, in the drunk, and with more of a traipse in our plodding march than a “bounce”.) This was the Saturday and it was a big day indeed. Phish played an afternoon set in addition to the standard two-set evening and all of it was capped with the band’s well-known regular irregular standard non-standard secret festival set, which in this case came in the form of a drive-in movie theatre. But I’ve gotten way, way ahead of myself here. So we woke up and made coffees and I jammed with people while m’lady made everyone quesadillas and we all ate handfuls of chocolate chip chilli cookies and with mouths full and crumbs spilling we whined and complained about getting snookered into the farthest camping spot despite having arrived at the earliest allowable opening hour of the Magnaball campground, a full day (and then some) before the concerts even began. Then we set off on our trek with a subtle-yet-still-discernible bounce in our steps. (As we plodded along on our hour-long trek to the stage we couldn’t help but to notice that every single car we passed had a better spot than we did, from our next-door neighbour all the way to the lucky souls who had been directed to park right next to the stage. They have a better spot than us, they have a better spot than us, they have a better spot than us…the whole way. In both directions.) We left early enough to ensure we’d have time to explore the site once we got there, which was a fun treat. There was a central building of weirdness, actors dressed up in lab coats walking around and writing things on clipboards, the ubiquitous Phish fest ferris wheel, and of course a giant drive-in movie screen casting a long foreshadow over the far end of the concert pitch. Phish festivals are always at least a bit Dada-esque, and always tons of fun. I recall the afternoon set with great clarity, made even moreso by the fact that I held my GoPro over my head and filmed several snippets of the crowd’s extended cheer during the pregnant pause in [i]Divided Sky[/i], the opening song of the day. It was sunny and beautiful, the crowd was pumped, and there was nothing left to do for the rest of the day besides Phishing. I specifically recall the band playing [i]When the Circus Comes[/i] during the afternoon set and I further specifically recall wondering why in the hell they cover that song. Aside from the title – which is just so tour – I can’t recall ever standing in the crowd during the Los Lobos cover thinking, “Wow, this is deadlywickedawesome.” And you know what? You never have either. Admit it; we both know it’s true. Trey must just really like the tune. Anyway, in all it was a lovely afternoon and after the set-closing [i]Run Like an Antelope[/i] (which I once again couldn’t place until the “…high gear of your soul…” part) we stuck to the concert pitch and caught up with every friend we could find, especially the ones with beer coolers. And after several hours of lulling in fun the evening sets were upon us. The bulk of the first…err…second set was a fantastic [i]Halley’s Comet[/i]>[i]46 Days[/i]>[i]Backwards Down the Number Line[/i]>[i]Tweezer [/i]that ushered the daylight into a delicious darkness that CK5 was free to decorate with his Impressionistic masterpieces of light. I recall the [i]Tweezer[/i] being pierced with cascades of glowsticks before the band jammed masterfully into what people are still calling the best [i]Prince Caspian [/i]ever. The set break begat set two (three) which begat an encore that wrapped up the evening (nudge, nudge) nice and tidy with a predictable and raging [i]Tweezer Reprise[/i] before begatting even further with the aforementioned secret not-secret drive-in theatre jam, which was – if I might self-borrow a term here – deadlywickedawesome. To wit: An hour or so after the [i]Tweeprise [/i]encore the large, looming drive-in movie screen that skirted the edge of the concert field began to light up and make noise. Like, Phishy-type noise. Was there a smoke machine? Probably. Swaths of people soon congregated, laying down on the wide lawn gaping and ambient-grooving as silhouettes of our jamming heroes flickered on the screen interspersed with shots of understated weirdness and odd, obscure live closeups of the hidden musicians. As per usual the secret jam was just that: a jam. There were no Phish songs that I recall, no teases or snippets. Just the sort of thoughtful, stream-of-consciousness improvising you would expect when well-rehearsed musicians that are very, very warmed up bounce soundscapes off of one another. It was a calmly glorious way to cap an extensive, wonderful day of fantastic music and overt fun with great friends. The laborious drudge back to our site at ?am was a weary slog to be sure, but oh the joy! when our tents finally rose out of the horizon. We fell into a heap and gorged ourselves stupid on spicy cookies before staggering to our beds with well-earned exhaustion. Phish festivals are fun. *Sadly Phish’s third festival scheduled to take place at Watkins Glen had been cancelled at the nth hour. It was rather ironically called “Curveball”, especially for those (like me) who were already onsite with his tent pitched under sunny skies when the cancellation announcement came. And we were super-close that time too; camped in the very shadow of the stage, having shelled out for VIP camping passes. Rats bananas! (pardon my language) **This is not a euphemism; for realz Jeff made hundreds of super-spicy chocolate chip cookies to hand out to one and all over the course of the weekend. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2015-08-23

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout August 23rd, 2015 was the final day of Magnaball. Phish festivals are always a great time and this one was no exception, but I’ll tell ya, by day three my gams were beat. My reward for showing up at Watkins Glen nice and early on Thursday night was a camping spot as far away from the concert field as you could get. To get to and from the main site was a hike of mythic proportions, made all the worse by the constant stream of campsites I would walk by, each and every one that much closer to the action than mine. The end result was that I spent a lot of time around my site, and when I went to the mainstage area I tended to stay there, while others with more advantageous spots were free to meander from their tent to the centre of the madness and back on a whim. By this time I had scoped out the best musicians in my camping area and I spent the afternoon revisiting them all and taking part in some fine, fine tent-side jams. Loaded down with beers I made the hike to the stage and settled in for the final evening of music, a pair of sets that were right up my alley. Big personal faves like [i]Stash[/i], [i]Maze[/i], [i]Theme From The Bottom[/i] and [i]Character Zero[/i] were capped with a fireworks-fuelled [i]You Enjoy Myself[/i], which I did. Lots. Hugs and handshakes and a slow, steady tent-bound stagger marked the end of the show, but I’m sure there was more campsite jamming out in the outer reaches at the end of the night. The next morning brought an easy, friendly pack-up and a steady drive home. Gotta love a Phish festival. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2017-09-01

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout In 2011 Phish started an annual tradition of playing a three-night stint over Labor Day weekend in Denver, Colorado at a big outdoor stadium sponsored by and named after Dick’s Sporting Goods, and up until 2017 I steadfastly avoided attending. Not that I had anything against the place other than its obvious spatial disadvantage, sitting as it does nearly 3,000 kilometres from my home. I guess an added deterrent was that it was always the summer tour capper, and generally by the end of summer tour I felt like I already had enough Phish concerts under my belt for the season and could do without the expense of travelling to Denver for more. However, weighing against all of this was m’lady’s consistent habit of going to the Denver shows without me, and her equally consistent habit of returning to tell me how awesome Dick’s was. “Please refer to it as ‘Denver’,” was my usual retort. And so it was that I found myself sitting on the tarmac in Ottawa bright and early on September 1st, 2017 waiting for takeoff. Unfortunately, when we decided to take the plunge together m’lady could not have predicted that she would fall ill the day before our departure, a victim of bronchitis and other related unsavoury maladies. As we were taxi-ing down the runway preparing for takeoff she closed her eyes and slumped her head back. “I shouldn’t have come,” she mumbled weakly. Ho-boy. But you know, if she’s anything m’lady is a trouper, especially in situations like this. She sucked it up pretty good and tried in vain to get some rest while I watched movies. We made it to Denver where we were met by our Ottawa friend Rob (lots of Ottawa folks make it to Dick’s…err…Denver for these shows) and his rental car carried us from the airport to a nice Mexican restaurant for tacos 9m’lady’s favourite, even when she’s sick) and then on to our room at The Embassy, where we would instantly meet up with literally dozens of other friends who had flown in for the concerts from all over North America. Phish shows are fun that way. If you’ve ever stayed at an Embassy Hotel in the US of A you probably know that they are known for good customer service. All the rooms are suites and the hotel offers a free, unlimited happy hour every day, which can be decimating, especially when one has recently found themselves at a significantly elevated elevation. Like in Denver, for example, the Mile High City. But that’s okay, we’re veterans, plus m’lady spent most of her pre-show time curled up in bed. Of course that didn’t stop her from socializing all the while with a parade of well-wishers who were virtually lined up outside our room waiting to say “hello”. Finally showtime began approaching and we made our way to the venue; I believe we took a cab. The stadium is 100% general admission, except that tickets are dedicated to either GA field or GA seating. Despite having tickets in the former we parked our weary selves in the latter* and waited for the concert to begin. When it did it was already about 11pm as far as our Ottawa-set internal clocks were concerned. And while the show was great – exceptional even – by the second set our legs started giving out on us. While everyone (everyone!) stands up for the entire duration of a Phish concert every time, as the show started to wind down so did we. Not only were we sitting down for much of the last half of the show, fatigue (on my part) combined with illness (on hers) had us both nodding off, even as the band tore through several of my favourites, including [i]Ghost[/i], [i]Harry Hood[/i], and the show-closing rager [i]Character Zero[/i]. On the up side, we saved lots of money on concert beers. Also on the up side, we still had two more concerts to go and a whole suite to ourselves in which to recover. In the end m’lady had to battle her bronchitis all weekend, a fight she undoubtedly won, and while I won’t say I completely caught up on my sleep (not by a long shot) we both made a much better showing at the final two shows. Gosh, there’s so much more in here that I am omitting for brevity (believe it or not I do try to keep these things reasonably short) or I’m just blatantly forgetting to include. Suffice to say that even sleepy-time Toddman came away from Night One realizing that yes, there was indeed something special about Dick’s. I mean “Denver”. *People are generally not clamouring for the bleachers, ergo GA seating won’t get you on the floor but GA field tickets will get you anywhere. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2010-06-20

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout Ah, SPAC. Apart from being a pretty upstate town with a vintage-style Main Street and a serious love affair with horse-racing, Saratoga Springs also is the purported home of a fountain of youth. People have been making pilgrimages to the isolated little town for well over a hundred years to soak in the healing groundwater that spouts from these parts. Personally, I go to SPAC pretty much exclusively to see Phish concerts* which I’m guessing does as much to keep me young as soaking in any tub would, though I’ll admit I don’t usually come out of the run feeling very spry. SPAC is where I woke up on June 20th, 2010, having already experienced an excellent night one of a two-night stint. M’lady and I spent the afternoon visiting several of our friends on the broad front porch of their old-school hotel along the main drag. SPAC invariably attracts a huge pile of our Phishy friends and it’s a great opportunity to spend a whole lot of quality time catching up with good people. When showtime arrives it’s into the woods we go. The venue is in a beautiful state park and as long as you’re not on the lawn it’s a fantastic place to see a show. We weren’t on the lawn (a rule we’ve broken but once, ne’er again) and we had a great time. It was Father’s Day and the show started with all the band member’s children onstage in a bathtub while the band played [i]Brother[/i]. That felt nice and homey. Never miss a Sunday show. The second set had a couple of songs I like but don’t hear very often, Mango Song (for it’s silly super fun-ness) and [i]Makisupa Policeman[/i] (for it’s reggae feel; I really like it when Phish tries to play reggae). And they closed the set with probably my favourite song to hear them play, [i]YEM[/i]. For the encore Page brought out his keytar for a romp through [i]Frankenstein[/i], a song that scores very low on the awesome scale for me but always gets big points for fun. And speaking of fun, there are few venues better than SPAC for the walk-out. Though it can be quite a trek to your hotel the bulk of the journey is through the woods with thousands of happy, like-minded souls along for the stroll. And when you do get back to your room there are always lots of fun people around to help celebrate your arrival. Ahhh, what could be better… *And eat potato chips. Saratoga Springs is the birthplace of my favourite snack and my goodness, do they know how to make potato chips. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2009-06-21

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout June 21st, 2009 was the second of two nights of Phish at Alpine Valley and was the last show of the first leg of their summer tour. It was also the end of a four-night run for me, having caught the band in Deer Creek and Star Lake leading up to this pair of shows at Alpine Valley. Luckily it generally takes more than four straight shows for me to tire of this band. They are such a fun little pocket of the rock and roll world, and they come surrounded by a really cool scene and generally pleasant fanbase. The hotel I was staying at wasn’t quite as enamoured with the scene, employing security guards to roam the parking lot perimeter checking for wristbands and ensuring no nonpaying customers set foot upon their property. Fortunately this sort of situation is getting rarer as more and more hotels start to see the serious cha-ching in welcoming touring music fans with open arms. At the show I found myself at the base of the steep lawn section, Page side. The stage really is in a valley with sizeable hills all around. It’s impossible to stand there and not think of that fateful night in 1990 when Stevie Ray Vaughan and four others died in a helicopter crash departing those hills. sigh Ah, but this was not a night for sad memorials, it was an evening geared towards outlandish fun and revelry with 37,000 of my fellow Phish-following compatriots. After two jumpy, dancy sets the band closed out the run with Edgar Winter’s [i]Frankenstein[/i] featuring Page McConnell front and centre on the keytar. Not to be outdone, Trey amped up the silliness by donning a five-necked Hamer guitar very reminiscent of (identical to?) Rick Neilson’s exaggerated axe. I wonder Trey’s guys called up Cheap Trick’s guys and arranged to borrow it? What am I saying?!? It had to have been Neilson’s guitar. There’s no way there are two quintuple-necked Hamer guitars in the world, right? Back at the hotel I spent the evening revelling and proudly showing my wristband to the increasingly wrinkle-browed security staff at every stumble. toddmanout.com
, attached to 1997-02-22

Review by spreaditround

spreaditround PHISH, SATURDAY 02/22/1997 TEATRO OLIMPICO Rome, Italy SET 1: Walfredo: Standard. Also Sprach Zarathustra: Cool placement. > Funky Bitch: Standard. Theme From the Bottom: Standard. > NICU: Standard. > When the Circus Comes: Standard. Talk[1] Standard Split Open and Melt: Standard. I Didn't Know: Standard. Character Zero: Standard. SET 2: Chalk Dust Torture: Interesting to close the first set with Zero, then open the second set with another rager. And this one definitely smokes. Type I all the way and red hot. Would recommend. Bathtub Gin: Standard. > Sparkle: Standard. > Simple: Cool transition into Jesus. > Jesus Just Left Chicago: Standard. Harry Hood: Below average. > Free: Free has never been played before Hood. Free has been played once after Hood and this was that one time. Hello My Baby: Standard. ENCORE: Johnny B. Goode: Standard. Summary: First set is pretty meh. Second set has some spice too it though. Just nothing that I would necessarily replay. Fun though. 3.5/5 Replay Value: Chalkdust Torture [1] Trey on acoustic guitar. 2001 contained Super Bad teases from Trey. Talk featured Trey on acoustic guitar. JAM CHART VERSIONS Chalk Dust Torture TEASES Super Bad tease in Also Sprach Zarathustra
, attached to 1995-06-16

Review by spreaditround

spreaditround PHISH, FRIDAY 06/16/1995 WALNUT CREEK AMPHITHEATER Raleigh, NC Soundcheck: Caravan, Three Little Birds, Free, Funky Bitch, Jam SET 1: Halley's Comet: Standard. > Down with Disease: Standard. > Esther: Treys ending solo is on point. > Ya Mar: Standard. Cry Baby Cry: Nice – not to be seen again until 11.21.98. It's Ice: Standard. > My Mind's Got a Mind of its Own: Standard. Dog Faced Boy: LOL, they try and start up SOAMelt twice and Fish screws it up, so they do this instead. Fish “Sorry, trying to get my foot started. -> Catapult: Standard. > Split Open and Melt: Chunky and muddy middle passage. Intense. Mad dash ending. Strong Melt, would recommend. SET 2: Runaway Jim: Incredible. Gets way, way out there. Intense. Dark. Creepy. Evil. Scary vocal jam. Easy all timer and highly recommended. The segue into Free is awesome. -> Free: Below average. Slow and uninspired. Carolina: Standard. You Enjoy Myself[1] Fun special guest. The Squirming Coil: Beautiful Page solo! ENCORE: Bold As Love: Awesome in this slot as always. Summary: Cool and unique first set. All timer Jim. 4/5. Replay Value: Split Open and Melt, Runaway Jim [1] Boyd Tinsley on fiddle. Halley's Comet was preceded by "Charge!" teases from Trey. Dog Faced Boy was preceded by several false starts of Split Open And Melt by Fish. YEM featured Boyd Tinsley on fiddle for a portion of the jam. The YEM vocal jam contained a Lovin' You (Minnie Riperton) quote from Fish. JAM CHART VERSIONS Esther, It's Ice, Split Open and Melt, Runaway Jim, You Enjoy Myself TEASES Charge! tease, Lovin' You quote in You Enjoy Myself
, attached to 1997-02-21

Review by spreaditround

spreaditround PHISH, FRIDAY 02/21/1997 TENAX Florence, Italy SET 1: My Soul: Standard. Foam: Standard. Down with Disease: This is freaking incredible in the early going. It’s like they are deconstructing what would typically be the hyper spazz jam that comes out of the composed section. Not sure how I have over looked this one over the years! Super cool. From here this goes into a funky, jazzy type of jam for a few minutes. Trey then wrestles control back and guides the band back into the original theme and closes out the song proper. Would recommend. > The Lizards: Standard. Crosseyed and Painless: Standard. You Enjoy Myself[1] The Firenze stuff is obviously awesome. But outside of that, this is a standard version for me. SET 2: Ya Mar: Standard. Run Like an Antelope[2] Blue balls as it’s not finished but the segue is super cool into Wilson -> Wilson[3] Notable for the heavy metal stuff, would recommend. Cool segue into Oh Kee -> The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony: Very sloppy. > AC/DC Bag: Standard. > Billy Breathes: Standard. Reba[4] Another unfinished banger gives even more blue balls. > Waste: Standard. > Prince Caspian: Standard. ENCORE: Character Zero: Standard. Summary: Interesting show, especially the first set. Not a ton to chew on though. 3.5/5 Replay Value: Down with Disease, Wilson [1] During the “Wash Uffize Drive Me to Firenze" section, Fish exclaimed "this is a dream come true!" [2] Unfinished; heavy metal jam rose from "Rye, Rye, Rocco" segment. [3] Heavy metal style. [4] No whistling. During the “Wash Uffize Drive Me to Firenze” section of YEM, Fish exclaimed “this is a dream come true!” Antelope was unfinished and a heavy metal jam rose from the “Rye, Rye, Rocco” segment. Wilson was subsequently performed heavy metal style. Reba did not have the whistling ending. JAM CHART VERSIONS Down with Disease, You Enjoy Myself, Wilson
, attached to 2009-06-18

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout With summer tour in full swing, on June 18th, 2009 m’lady and I started another little mini-run seeing Phish in the distant-but-drivable northeastern United States. Our first stop was in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. This was my first time seeing a show at the Star Lake Amphitheatre; we camped fairly close to the venue and I’m guessing we walked to the concert. It’s always fun going to a show where there is no need to worry about a designated driver or getting anywhere but to your tent at the end of the night. It’s liberating and generally makes the entire experience that much more fun. Surely that was the case here. The band was rockin’ and we had a great time. They opened with [i]Golgi Apparatus[/i] (the first Phish song I had ever heard, courtesy of my friend’s stereo back in 1994) and followed with a little facemelting chord-riff gem called [i]Chalkdust Torture[/i]. Then[i] Bouncin’[/i], [i]Wolfman’s[/i] and one of their compositional masterpieces of randomicity, [i]Divided Sky[/i]. So good, and that only brings us to barely halfway into the first set! The second set was equally fantastic, with a [i]Harry Hood[/i] (a song that I’m always game for) and a set-closing [i]You Enjoy Myself[/i] (ditto). The encore started with a couple of barbershop butcherings and continued on with a [i]Bike[/i]/[i]Hold Your Head Up[/i] sandwich before closing with their great cover of The Rolling Stones’ [i]Loving Cup[/i]. Ahhh. At this show I bought what is still possibly the ugliest poster I’ve ever had framed, an infantile crayoned nightmare that is printed on stock so thick it couldn’t be rolled without creasing. I was pretty new to poster collecting at the time and of course I rolled it. Now I’m stuck with it forever. At the end of the night we had a very, very liberating walk back to our tent-on-a-hill, as it proved to be pretty far away after all. In fact it was so far to the campground that when I think back on it now I’m surprised we’re not still walking. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2016-10-19

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout The first night of Phish’s 2016 stop in Nashville will forever be the Sirius to night two’s Canopus, the shining bright star of the binary-night run that darkens the second night in comparison. And all that because we were lucky enough to watch Bobby Weir sit in with the Phishies for pretty much the entire second set of that opening show. That said, night two (on October 19th) was pretty darn fantastic too. Once you put together the great joys of waking up in Music City USA, enjoying the wonderful Southern food and excellent warm weather on offer, and getting to see the band in a great, new venue right downtown, well, it was already shaping up to be a really fun evening even before the first note was played. And when the first note did get played, it was Mike starting off one of my favourite Phish songs, [i]Theme From The Bottom[/i], a bit of an odd show opener and one that got me locked in immediately. They followed up with [i]Camel Walk[/i] (a bit of a rarity for me) and then [i]My Soul[/i], which I always enjoy. Next up was Trey’s brand-new orchestra-friendly epic [i]Petrichor[/i]. It was the first time I heard the band’s compositional feat and it instantly became one of my favourites. I was shocked to discover that most fans seemed down on the song, though I got to admit the “When the rain…” lyrical bit comes off as a bit cheesy. Suffice to say the show was off to an excellent start and it just kept coming. There was a live debut near the end of the first set ([i]Running Out Of Time[/i]) and a super-fun second set taboot, with rollicking rockers [i]Tweezer[/i], [i]Harry Hood[/i], and [i]Suzy Greenberg[/i] making up half of the six-song set. Sure, when the encore started with [i]Walls of the Cave [/i]it didn’t seem like the most burnin’ way to end the evening, but I had forgotten about [i]Tweezer Reprise [/i](as usual), which is of course what they actually closed the show with. And as always, [i]Tweeprise[/i] was the very definition of “burnin’”. I walked out of the show feeling like I had won the lottery. These were the only concerts on Phish’s fall tour I had purchased tickets for and to my mind both shows had been super; it seems that I had chosen my shows wisely. Especially since it was just the shortest of walks to the Nashville strip, where the rest of the greatest music in the world was presented on a nightly basis. It’s curious to note that while this ticket indicates that I was in the General Admission Pit area – right up front – I have no recollection of ever being in the pit in Nashville. I asked m’lady and she’s agrees; she doesn’t remember having pit tickets either. In my mind we were near the back of the seats on stage right. Strange. That said, when I mentioned[i] Petrichor[/i] to her we both had visions of hearing that song from the pit. And so we are still left to wonder. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2009-10-31

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout October 31st, 2009. Hallowe’en. Day two of a three-day Phish festival in hot, sunny southern California. A very festive and highly anticipated day indeed. Woke up in the tent, found some coffee and breakfast, explored the nifty art installations that had been artistically installed throughout the site, chose to strike out on the very cool event poster – I just wasn’t up to spending half my morning standing in the blazing sun waiting to spend $50 on a piece of paper – and enjoyed a slow afternoon chatting with m’lady and our campsite neighbours. On our way into the first set the Hallowe’en handbills were being distributed throughout the crowd. It was now official: after months of teasing and speculation Phish would be covering Exile On Main Street by The Rolling Stones for their musical costume this year. I was over the moon; one of my favourite bands covering one of my favourite bands, and with a horn section and a pair of backup singers, including the great Sharon Jones (1956-2016)! The crowd (or was it just me?) was tingling with anticipation. With the Hallowe’en set nigh upon us, Phish’s super-early first set felt like an opening band – the group excited and striving to grab the attention of a crowd more interested in the next act that would be hitting the stage. In truth it was a standard, nothing special first set; [i]Sample[/i] opener, the excellent and always fun [i]Divided Sky[/i], [i]Lawnboy[/i], [i]Bathtub Gin[/i], [i]Possum[/i], and an [i]Antelope[/i] closer, a song I invariably don’t recognize until Trey implores me to set my gearshift to the high gear of my soul. M’lady invariably finds this quite amusing. At setbreak the whole crowd went back to their tents to get in costume for the Hallowe’en set. M’lady and I had spent hours and hours (and hours and hours) over the previous few months making our costumes based on a vest I had made for Burning Man 2001. For the freaky desert fest in Nevada I had glued a bunch of plastic googly-eyes all over the front of a vest. It was my daily uniform at Burning Man and I had pulled it out on a few special occasions since. So m’lady and I went to the local craft store and bought a bunch of googly-eyes – I mean hundreds of them – and a bottle of glue. We started glueing the googly-eyes to some bargain-store formal attire and ran out before we could blink. Back to the craft store we went, buying out their entire googly-eye stock. (Curiously, in craft industry parlance they are actually called “wiggle eyes”.) After a week of spending several hours each night sitting around the dinner table glueing googly-eyes we ran out again. Luckily the store had restocked so we bought them out. We must have gone back to the craft store five times to empty their shelves, and I swear we spent fifty or sixty hours glueing. And in the end I had pants, jacket, tie, shoes, hat, and my old vest while m’lady had a skirt, blouse, hair pin, wallet, bracelet, shoes and a necklace, all covered with thousands upon thousands of hand-glued googly-eyes, from as large as an old silver dollar to teensy-tiny ones literally a single millimetre in diameter. We were the Great Googly Mooglies. After carefully shuttling all of this across the continent we went to the tent and donned our outfits. We finally got to strut our stuff and I tell you, people were impressed! We sounded like the ocean when we walked, as with every step came the whoosh of countless tiny plastic discs looking around their little plastic domes. The only two downsides: a) we both left a trail of googly-eyes everywhere we went as a few would drop of now and again, though at least we’d be sure to find our way home, and b) gravity made it look like our clothes were always staring at the ground. A lot. Which couldn’t be more wrong, because when Phish came out and slayed one of the world’s great rock albums our eyes were on the stage the whole time. We stayed near the back of the crowd, which wasn’t too far from the stage given the width of the polo field and the relatively small crowd of 30,000 or so. Back there we had plenty of room to dance and rock out, and dance and rock out we did. I thought the band sounded really, really great – they had certainly rehearsed this one – and the horns and backup vocals were stupendous. The light show was amazing as always, augmented by the strategic lighting of the rows of palm trees that stretched out peripherally from the stage in both directions. Almost every song was a highlight, though [i]Loving Cup[/i] was the best ever. [i]Torn and Frayed[/i] was stellar and [i]Shine A Light[/i] was pretty great too. It encapsulated the feeling of togetherness of the whole thing; a bit of rock and roll advice we all follow, preached by the band(s) we love the most. The third set was fuelled by the excitement of the whole evening and though a bit short in time, it was nothing short of spectacular. Dressed to the nines, we all communed while the band rollicked through a handful of their best jammy tunes – [i]Fluffhead[/i], [i]Ghost[/i], and a [i]YEM[/i] that featured an ethereal vocal jam under a stunning wide desert sky – but the [i]Suzy Greenberg[/i] encore was just off the hook. The horn players and backup singers had returned to the stage and the band raged their three-chord rocker like it was a victory lap. We had all just won the race together and the energy that was pulsing back and forth between the stage and the crowd swelled with exponential greatness. It was the best song of the entire weekend (imagine that!) and the best [i]Suzy Greenberg [/i]ever played. Frankly, they should have retired the song. Every version since can only sound like a weakened, second-rate cover of the version they did to close this night. Simultaneously spent and energized, the costumed crowd dispersed to join a thousand parties. And while the bustling, celebratory collection of happy souls was full of festive disguises both grand and outrageous one thing I can promise you: for the entire evening all eyes were on us. Except for the ones that fell off, of course. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2009-11-01

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout November 1st, 2009 was the final day of Phish’s three-night Hallowe’en camping extravaganza in Indio, California, an amazing coming together of music, fun, and like-minded souls that encouraged very late nights in a desert oasis where the blazing morning sun dictated an early start to every day. And so it was: the band had treated us all to a knockout set covering The Stones’ Exile On Main Street in its entirety the night before and the excited energy that they extracted from the crowd had kept us all up very, very late. And then an enormous ball of fiery heat leaned into our tent city at some stupid hour like six or seven in the morn and there we all were, sweating, unzipping tents, and smiling wordlessly at one another, lost in the bliss of waning intoxicants and mass sleep-deprivation. Leading up to the festival someone at Phish Co. had hatched the unhinged idea of having the band play an acoustic set starting at 12pm on this final day. That’s high noon, in a desert, on a treeless polo field. You’d almost swear they were trying to kill us. Part of the concept involved handing out free coffee and donuts to the crowd but for all the clamouring I couldn’t get anywhere near either of them. It was blistering hot when we all hunkered down for the first-ever full set of acoustic Phish. Perched on stools, the band lined up backwards across the stage (from audience left to right: Fishman, Mike, Trey, and then Page) and led us through a mile of songs played pretty much straight up, only on acoustic instruments. Mercifully the set leaned towards the mellow. Had they gotten us on our feet and raging in the hot sun I think the entire crowd would have passed out. As it was we all swung between sitting and standing on Trey’s suggestions, though sometimes I’d sit when everyone was standing so I could take advantage of their shade. And though it was a stamina workout doubtlessly on par with Navy Seal training I was still plenty glad to have been there, as it was a darn good pile of music. After a looooong first setbreak the band returned for a pair of evening sets that were a face melting string of rock and roll delivered by one of the best bands in the world. The collective joy coupled with our shared exhaustion created a blissed-out euphoria that was 30,000 strong. By the time the final encore came around a weekend concert had become a mass celebration of joy. The post-show became a challenge of somehow burning through all remaining alcohol and snackables while somehow keeping things together enough to gradually pack up in time for the 4am shuttle to the Palm Springs airport. Of course there would be no sleeping*, and in fact I did such an admirable job getting prepped that I made a 3:30am friend and helped him out too. It’s not like I helped him pack his gear or anything, but when we parted company at least he had less to pack. We Phish fans do like to lend a helping hand when we can. As much of an ordeal as the weekend was, as I settled into the first of several sleepy flights crossing the continent all I could think was how unbelievable the festival was, and how soon could we all do it again? Buying Phish tickets is an incredible investment. Especially the festivals. *I would have leaned on the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mantra but I was worried that if I uttered the words out loud the Reaper might have shown up and called my bluff. toddmanout.com
, attached to 1995-12-16

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout On December 16th, 1995 I drove from Ottawa to Lake Placid for my first-ever two-night run of Phish concerts. If I’m not mistaken this was the time I got a lift to the shows with a couple from university that I barely knew; some friends of mine were attending the second night and I think I had arranged to get a ride back to Ottawa with them, which left me happy to take any ride I could to get to Lake Placid. Though I wasn’t happy for long. As we neared the border I started to become a bit nervous about the constitution of my very laid back travelling companions and I piped up from the very messy back seat of the old clunker we were driving in. “Hey, you guys don’t have any drugs in the car do you?” I asked as we neared the US border. “No, I don’t think so,” came the response, but when the dude in the passenger seat opened the glovebox “to check” I was horrified to see crumbs of marijuana all over the place. “Omigod!” I screamed. If we weren’t already on the bridge crossing the St. Lawrence River I think I would have got out right on the side of the highway. As it was the dude up front nonchalantly spent all of twenty seconds doing an entirely inadequate job of sweeping out the glovebox and brushing the illicit crumbs out the window. At the border we were waved through without a search so it was, as they say, all good. Suffice to say I never travelled to a show (or did anything, really) with those two ever again, and as I say, I already had an alternate ride back to Canada with people I knew and trusted. This was my first (and only) time visiting Lake Placid and with virtually no mountain-town experience at the time I found the place super-quaint and really fun to walk around. I remember a wacky store called “Where Did You Get That Hat” that had a mystifying no-trying-on-the-hats policy. I never did see any Olympic installations and regret to this day that I didn’t find the luge run, though I suppose I couldn’t have afforded to give it a try at the time anyway. I’ve always wanted to go bobsledding or luging; it’s probably my best shot at making the Olympics. I think I could be the front guy in the bobsled, like, on the world stage. Imagine…I could be professional ballast. Then there was the concert, of course. This show consisted mostly of songs I didn’t know (whereas the second night would prove to hold most of my early Phish favourites) so it was more of a stand-and-gape-in-wonder kind of concert as opposed to a dance around and rock out type of show. Which was great because I wouldn’t have my crew of Ottawa friends with me until the next evening. So I stood and gaped at the mind-twisting composed weirdness of [i]Divided Sky[/i], stared in awe at the astounding bass groove in [i]Mike’s Song[/i] and [i]Weekapaug[/i], and wondered at the wackiness of [i]Simple[/i] while the crowd around me sang along to every random lyric (“sim-bop and bebophone, skyballs and sax-scraper”). Not to mention the rather odd band versus audience chess game that played out on the big screen at setbreak. I recognized the encore though: [i]Fire[/i] by Jimi Hendrix. This was probably my first time (of many) hearing the band play it and while I’m generally a big fan of Phish cover songs I’ve never been crazy about their version of [i]Fire[/i]. They play it too fast and to me the song just doesn’t work at the tempo they take it to. Certainly a small complaint though, and as I would come to find out every Phish fan has a song (or two, or more) that they aren’t crazy about anyway. This was just my third Phish show; I had found one I didn’t like early nice and early. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2019-07-09

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout On the off day between Phish’s two shows in Boston and their next two at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut m’lady and I were happy to be hosted by our new acquaintance-turned-friend Sam at his home in Cape Cod. We had met Sam the previous fall at some Phish shows in Albany, we enjoyed two nights of nice chats outside our hotel and took him up on his offer to visit. Sam and his son showed us a great time. We went out for a cruise around Martha’s Vineyard on their beautiful boat, enjoyed an excellent dinner at a legendary local spot called Seafood Sam’s (no relation), rode in Sam’s Jeep down to the beach for a heckuva sunset, and closed out the evening munching yummy frozen pizzas and binge-watching Bob’s Burgers back at our host’s house before turning in for a solid rest. And it all started with a short post-show meeting almost a full year earlier. Gotta love how music brings people together. Especially music that comes with a built-in travelling circus. When morning broke on July 9th, 2019 it was time for us to part company. M’lady and I headed to our budget hotel thirty miles from the next Phish concert to meet up with our Boston friends while Sam dropped off his kid and made his own way to the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, where we would all be joining 10,000 like-minded individuals for the show. Soon enough Dee and Joe arrived at our hotel and the four of us set out for the show, arriving at the stand-alone casino complex early enough to swing a leisurely dinner in an onsite Italian restaurant, a meal that was peppered with visits from and sightings of friends from all over. For a den of sin, the Mohegan Sun was a pretty nice place. It was rather un-Vegas, with shops and distractions scattered liberally amongst their ubiquitous gambling opportunities, and the place didn’t reek of greed and hopelessness the way The Flamingo and Caesar’s Palace do. Maybe it was still too new. It was a bit of a crush getting into the show but it was a happy, friendly crush shared with good people in pleasant surroundings. Inside I headed straight to the concession area and laid out way too much money for a lemonade. Yes, a straight-up lemonade. I was driving. And you know, I enjoyed that lemonade so much I almost swore I was going to give up drinking at concerts. I even got myself a second one. I’ve certainly typed way more words than I should have without yet mentioning the show itself, which I enjoyed very much. It started with [i]Energy[/i] going into [i]Weekapaug[/i] (without a [i]Mike’s Song[/i], weird huh?) and than a [i]Moma Dance[/i] (which I can take or leave, to be honest) into [i]Maze[/i], which has long been one of my Phish phaves. And inside this [i]Maze[/i] they squeezed a run through one of Fishman’s little moments of superfluous gold, [i]Lengthwise[/i]. And whilst this was all well and good (or better), I must aim my attention (and thus yours) towards the next number, a little ditty called [i]Petrichor[/i] that is oft-maligned by people much phishier than I, an orchestrated classical scion that remains gloriously instrumental until being abruptly interrupted by lyrics so cheesy and incessant that they somehow retroactively tie the whole shebang together, and I love it. It’s a chance for Fishman to use the large and cumbersome marimba lumina that his roadies go through the trouble of setting up for him every night on the off chance that they will play [i]Petrichor[/i], and it’s a chance for Trey to show off his inner orchestra. When out for an evening stroll it’s not uncommon for a rock musician to hear large cresting symphonic lines sweeping through their mind’s ear; cascading violins and majestic French horns towering above manic ‘cello glissandos and thundering timpani, with an unimaginable yet unforgettable woodwind melody piercing through it all…and on that rare occasion that said rock musician manages to squeeze the sound out of his head it often sounds an awful lot like [i]Petrichor[/i] (or maybe [i]Tubular Bells[/i]). And like I say, I love it. The set closed out with [i]Things People Do[/i], [i]Sample[/i], and [i]Bathtub Gin[/i] which was also pretty great. And this was just the first set. The rest of the show had a few more of my favourites too: [i]Ghost[/i], [i]Golgi[/i], and even [i]Contact[/i]. To be honest, what a great show to be sober at! I wonder if they would always play that well if I stopped drinking at their shows? The world may never know. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2013-12-30

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout New York is such a cool city. I’ve liked it since my first visit and have always enjoyed my time there. I invariably find myself in town because of one show or another, but NYC has so much going on I generally try to get out and do something touristy, though there is still so much I haven’t seen, and some biggies too like the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero. That said, the end of December isn’t the best time to see the sights in the city. Tourists packed into town to watch the ball drop (what is wrong with people?) also pack out every museum and attraction the city has to offer, the weather is cold and blustery making outings like Central Park less attractive but most importantly, the Phish circus is generally in town. I’ve been fortunate enough to make my way to two Phish NYE runs in NYC (and another in Miami), and if there is ever a time and place when everyone I’ve ever met at a show is in the same place it’s during a Phish New Years run at Madison Square Garden, and everyone always wants to meet up. So brunch meet-up here folds into a preshow meet-up there, then it’s off to the show itself followed by the inevitable series of afterparties, which doesn’t leave much time to see the city itself. Not like this is a problem or anything. Friendships are confirmed, alliances formed, memories are made and epic journeys are forgotten with friends both old and new. It’s always a people-oriented run; the city and its endless attractions can wait for other trips. And so went December 30th, 2013, the middle night of my second Phish NYE MSG run: friends, fun, and another fine, fine performance by the boys in the band (followed by more friends and fun at one of those inevitable series of afterparties I mentioned earlier). Oh, and pizza. There is always pizza. This time it was from the place next door to Tempest, a bar that somehow lets my crew take over the backroom like we own the place and have guards at the door. The pizza next door was fan-freakin’-tastic. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2015-01-02

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout January 2nd, 2015 was the penultimate night of Phish’s New Years run in Miami, Florida. This was my first time spending NYE (et al) in a warmer clime and I loved it. It was so great to arrive at the show unencumbered by winter coats, mitts, toques, toboggans or snowshoes, and especially nice to walk out of said show feeling no temperature change whatsoever travelling from one side of the venue doors to the other. My hotel was really close by – just a short stroll along the waterfront to and from the concerts – and with a thirty-storey dancing neon woman projected on one full side of the skyscraping inn it made for a somewhat hip and very identifiable addition to the city’s skyline. Suffice to say it took almost no effort at all to make it to the arena in time to scrounge for free tickets every night* and still have plenty of time to duck into the lot for a pre-show beer or two. And all of it in t-shirt and shorts! Ah, it was so glorious. Not to mention the plentiful tickets. Hanging outside the venue before the show I scored one ticket for free and when I offered $20 for another one the guy selling it was ecstatic with my offer. Getting up from our seats at the end of the show (which was pretty great) m’lady and I and our friend were joined by a talkative couple that had been sitting near us. I assumed they were friends of our friend but it turned out they weren’t; they were strangers. Which was great! Nothing like a post-Phish show cool down lot stroll to turn strangers into friends! As we were walking out of the venue the couple was relating a story from the previous night, when the people they were hanging out with “took off” on them. “Like, you turned around and they had ditched you?” I asked. “Yeah,” the girl said, “can you believe it?” I couldn’t. That’s like grade-school stuff. “Why would anyone do that?” she pondered aloud. “Maybe you guys are just really annoying,” I almost said as a joke, but didn’t. But you know what? By the time the five of us had crossed the street to the parking lot I was already suspecting that I had unspoken a prophecy. Once we had cruised half the stalls in the small Shakedown it was confirmed: we were in the company of the most annoying couple on tour. They were simply unbearable. Reaching the end of the lot the three of us turned to head back down another aisle. “Hey you guys,” one of them said, “Our car is just a few blocks over there and we have a cooler full of beers. “Let’s go hang out at our car and we can have free, cold beers!” The three of us looked at each other, simultaneously shaking our heads. “No thanks,” I spoke up. “I think we’ll just stick with the lot party.” “But don’t you want a cold beer?” they implored. I looked down at the cold two-for-five beer in my hand and gestured towards the lot behind me. “The lot is full of cold beers,” I said incredulously. “But how about the ladies?” the girls said to me creepily (gosh, I remember it syllable-for-syllable). “The ladies want to come to the car…” “No,” I said, looking to them for confirmation, “I don’t think they do. “I’ll tell you what,” I said flatly. “Why don’t you two go and grab yourselves some beers from your trunk and we’ll meet you right back here.” “No you won’t,” she said, obviously hurt. “You’ll take off on us.” And that’s when it dawned on me that this happens to them all the time. And they clearly don’t know the way out of it. How sad. They did indeed leave to get themselves beers and we did indeed stick around that area of the lot (for a while at least), but we never did see them again. And whenever I think of that couple I can only imagine the trail of stories identical to this one that they leave behind them wherever they go. It’s quite a legacy, I suppose. *Or almost free. M’lady and I paid a total of $100 for tickets over the course of the whole run – an average of $12.50 each – and most of them were in the 100 levels. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2016-07-01

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout Saratoga Springs in upstate New York is notable for several reasons. It has a proud history of horse racing that goes back over 150 years, it is home to the Fountain of Youth (in the form of a series of bubbling springs to which the natives have attributed healing powers for centuries), it is where that mightiest of snack foods The Potato Chip was invented (my eternal thanks goes out to the appropriately named George Crum for his snarky creation), and (least notably but most significant to this missive) it is home to the venue where I have seen Phish play more than anywhere else. Helping to beef up that final stat was a three-night run at Saratoga’s beautiful performing arts centre (which is sensibly called the Saratoga Performing Arts Center) that I enjoyed beginning on July 1st, 2016*. If I’m not mistaken this was the first time I stayed at the very cute Inn at Saratoga, an antique boarding house with a large and unendingly social front porch that lazily oversees a quant corner in the oh-so-American downtown, with immaculate lawns and tricoloured banners of patriotism all around. Plus it’s within (long) walking distance to the venue. Anyway, m’lady and I arrived and hugged a bunch of friends that were already gathered on that wonderful old porch and we sat down for a welcome drink or two. More and more friends kept arriving, the gathering started gaining some serious steam, and finally we all piled into an extra-long shuttle van that someone in our crew had managed to harangle. The concert hall itself is rather unique. It’s in the middle of a state park and completely surrounded by forest, which is pretty amazing, and it’s the only “shed” (as we live music fans call the countless covered outdoor pavilions that are scattered around the continent) that I can think of that has a balcony. Unfortunately the hanging balcony obscures the view from much of SPAC’s lawn section making it the most undesirable lawn section in the country, but if you ever happen to find yourself with a seat up in the balcony you’ll probably agree that it’s a pretty great place to see a show from. I’ve been up there several times but this show was the only time I was in the balcony’s “box” section – that is, the first two or three rows of the whole level – and it was…thrilling. Of course as soon as the band walked onstage the whole crowd stood up, and from the first note we were all dancing (nobody, and I mean nobody sits down at a Phish concert. Not a word of a lie: I once saw a wheelchair in the garbage following a Phish show). And I swear to you, as soon as the room got moving the front section of the balcony started bouncing. Literally. I mean the floor beneath my feet was rising and falling a good two inches, and right in time to the music. It was seriously unnerving and not just a little scary, but when we all survived the first song or two I stopped worrying and just bounced along for the ride. I really, really hope it was built to do that. Anyway, it was a great show and a great time – it was like seeing a Phish concert in a giant bouncy-castle – and afterwards we all ambled back to the Inn and stayed up late continuing our great time on the super-vibey front porch. Ah, it was all so glorious. And we still had two more nights to go! No wonder I keep coming back**. *Though I am loath to leave my homeland on Canada Day I have made a couple of exceptions in these fifty-odd years: Phish’s first festival at Watkins Glen (in 2011) and this show. **I finally (finally!) went there for something other than a Phish concert when I attended the Outlaw Festival (featuring Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Nathaniel Rateliff, and others) at SPAC in 2018. Someday I want to go there not for a concert at all. It would be nice to actually see one of the horse races for once, for example. Or the hot springs (for another). At least I’ve had the potato chips. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2011-07-03

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout July 3rd, 2011 was the ultimate day of Phish’s first visit to Watkins Glen, New York, home to the massive turn-both-ways NASCAR track known to race fans as The Glen. Not only was this Phish’s first time playing the track, it was in fact only the second time a concert had ever been mounted at The Glen (excluding Phish’s performances on the previous two nights, of course). And that first concert had been a biggie: Summer Jam at Watkins Glen featuring the Grateful Dead, The Band, and The Allman Brothers Band on July 28th, 1973. With an estimated crowd of 600,000 people that show set the Guinness World Record for highest attendance at pop concert, easily outpacing Woodstock. I daresay that I woke up in a much, much more comfortable state than many of my time-distant concert brethren had some thirty-eight years previously. Like, did porta-potties even exist back in 1973? Remember what lawn chairs looked like back then? Were there zip-lock baggies? I promise you they didn’t have booths of coffee or Philly cheesesteaks or Ben & Jerry’s or or or like we did. Of course we didn’t have the Dead or The Band or the Allman’s either, so I guess there’s that. But we did have Phish, and a whole lot of Phish too. Over two days and nights the band had given us six fantastic sets and on this final night they would deliver two more super-fun piles of music. The band ushered in the evening with a rare and groovy Bob Marley cover, [i]Soul Shakedown Party[/i], which was a pretty nice start. After that the first set ran all over the place, teetering between straight-up standards like [i]AC/DC Bag[/i] and [i]Mound[/i] and a bunch of Gamehenge stuff (with narration) to a rather aggressive [i]Big Black Furry Creature From Mars[/i] and a late-set cover of Little Feat’s [i]Time Loves a Hero[/i]. Ignorant as I somehow manage to remain to the vast majority of Little Feat’s oeuvre, this was the first time I had ever heard the song. Coincidentally it stands as the last time to date (of eight plays total*) that Phish has played it. And get this: Phish started off the last set of the weekend with AC/DC’s [i]Big Balls[/i], a debut that still stands as a one-timer. I recognized it immediately (it was the second-ever AC/DC song I had ever heard in my life. I remember my friend Dave Norgrove fast-forwarding from [i]Dirty Deeds [/i]straight to [i]Big Balls[/i] and eyeing me enthusiastically while he snickered at every double-entendre) and they totally nailed it. Their were no gaps in the second set, which segued through a killer[i] No Quarter[/i] and tons more until they finally jammed their way into [i]The Star Spangled Banner[/i], indicating that it was probably past midnight (and hence: Independence Day) by the time the set ended. The encore was[i] First Tube[/i] – a song I always love to hear – and the instrumental was stretched out and punctuated by a thrilling fireworks display that lasted well beyond the final ringing chord. What a great way to close out a weekend of great music! And then it was on to the afterparty, a spacious, comfortable, roomy, raging, all-encompassing farewell fling that was 30,000-strong and went until the very, very wee hours. The next day m’lady and I and our four fellow-revellers somehow packed all of our nomadic possessions along with our weary selves into my Mitsubishi Outlander (utilizing the popup third seat in the back) and made the drive home to Ottawa, stopping at virtually every fast food restaurant we saw along the way. (Incidentally, the last time there was a concert at The Glen was the same year that the Quarter Pounder was introduced to the national market. It astounds me when I think of the deprivity that my concert ancestors had to endure.) *If you haven’t already noticed, Phish is a very statistic-oriented band. And there’s no better resource for Phish overall stats** than phish.net, a url that I’ve always found quite clever. **For Phish stats relating to shows one has personally attended google “Zzyzx Phish stats”. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2000-07-06

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout I first met Doug back in university. We were both Bachelor of Music students majoring in electric guitar but somehow we didn’t hang out at all. The music department at Carleton University was ridiculously small so it was impossible for us not to know each other – I was The Guy In The Hat and he was The Guy In The Vest, but for some reason we both managed to graduate without so much as sharing a beer together, which is a shame. That said, once we finally started sharing beers we sure made up for lost time. Doug was well established at the Ottawa Folklore Centre when I started teaching there and it didn’t take long for us to gravitate towards each other. In addition to sharing a deep respect for humour we were both very, very hungry guitar learners. Strike that; we were ravenous. For us the world was nothing but music music music, and all we did was practise practise practise. It was manic. Starting in the late ’90’s we dug ourselves a great groove: four nights a week when work finished at 9:30pm Doug would hop in my car and we would go to my place. I’d throw a pizza in the oven and we would sit across from each other and just play and play and play. The funny thing was, we weren’t ever rehearsing – in all those years we never once even thought of playing a gig together – rather, we would share what we were learning with each other, and together we would analyze and discuss these newfound musical wonders, be they modes, chord progressions, what could be played over this or that harmony, or just blatant random explorations. Gosh, I remember one night we both learned how to comp jazz using stacked fourths…we both turned into a couple of little Joe Passes, giddily bouncing up and down our guitar necks with harmonic impunity, joyous that we had unlocked yet another door. I never had so much fun working so damn hard. These sessions would go until 4-5am every night (seriously), when Doug would set out for the walk home (where he would invariably keep practising until 9am or later) and I would turn in for the night (for my part I would resume my practising as soon as I woke up around noon). We did this for years (until we both got girlfriends) and it was awesome. Heck, we practised so much that people started accusing us of being born naturals (it’s amazing how easily people will encapsulate all the work you’ve done and all the work they haven’t done in one easy lie: “He must have been born with it…”). On one of these evenings I put on some music while we were munching on our pizza. It was a cassette of Phish playing live – I forget exactly what concert it was but it was definitely from a New Years Eve show – and their epicly mind-bending 20+ minute musical adventure [i]You Enjoy Myself[/i] was playing. When the piece ended Doug asked who we had just listened to. “That’s was Phish,” I answered. “You haven’t heard Phish yet?” Like it was yesterday I can recall Doug looking at me and saying the following words: “I feel like I just heard Hendrix for the first time. “Can I borrow that cassette?” he asked. One night about three months later we were back at my apartment and Doug mentioned that he had my cassette to return, as he was done with it. “Did you learn the song?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said. “Show me,” I said, popping the tape into my cassette deck. Doug picked up one of my electric guitars and sat on the edge of my lumpy old futon. I pressed “Play” and right on cue he started playing along, unplugged (we never, ever plugged our guitars into amplifiers when we played together – I still don’t). [i]You Enjoy Myself[/i] starts with a Bach-like arpeggiated romp through a delicious string of chords, and Doug’s fingers tore through the section like a well-trained spider. Then it gets into a two-chord vamp that goes on and on and bam-bam-bam!, Doug hit every hit right along with acetate Trey Anastasio. Then, about four or five minutes in, the guitar solo started. I was still standing in front of Doug – more towering over him really – as he sat perched on the futon and played along mimicking that improvised solo for what, the next seven or eight minutes? And I tell you, the man didn’t flub a note…not one. It was so, so exciting to watch…every phrase was another miracle, every riff was another impossible feat…it felt like being on the rail at your first show, but somehow even more exciting than that. I was watching the culmination of months and months of steady, unceasing labour, probably close to a thousand hours of frustrating, meticulous work on this single song alone. It was a bloody inspiration, like seeing him summit Everest or cheering ringside as he goes the distance with Apollo Creed, and it was nothing short of exhilarating to watch. Finally the song came crashing to its vocal ending and Doug was done. Casually he set my guitar back on its stand while I stood there dripping with sweat, my jaw slack. I never heard him play it again; it’s not like he was learning it for a gig or anything, for Doug it was just another three-month long musical stepping stone. My goodness, it was so damn inspirational to have seen…I can’t even… And so it was that the following summer (or so) Phish booked themselves into Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre for a concert on July 6th, 2000 and I was very happy to haul Doug along with me for his first Phish show. And there, closing out the first set, was [i]You Enjoy Myself[/i]. I was ecstatic that they played it, and so was Doug. It must have been quite an experience for Doug to watch Trey play through a song that he had developed such a relationship with. I wonder if he was disappointed that the solo wasn’t the same? Anyway, Doug and I have remained friends all these years later and luckily we did finally start gigging together.* Which is great, he’s a joy to play with. Incidentally, about twenty years ago he started putting in just as much work learning to sing as he did working on the guitar and you know what? He worked so hard at it that now people think he was born with that voice of his. Musical muggles are funny that way. *First as Velcro Cloud (Doug’s idea) and later as Burnt Reynolds (mine). We were better at music than we were at band names, I promise. Want proof? You can listen to all kinds of live Burnt Reynolds recordings over at archive.org. toddmanout
, attached to 2015-08-01

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout On August 1st, 2015 I woke up in my plush kingsized bed and scuttled down to a Starbucks kiosk in the hotel lobby where I bought three large cups of some strong daystarter; one for m’lady and two for me. When we finally got outside it was hot, as it tends to be in Atlanta, Georgia in the middle of the summer. We got to the Lakewood Amphitheatre good and early and spent the bulk of the day meandering the myriad of mini-lots that surrounded the well-forested (and yet, surprisingly urban) venue. The lot has always been a bit of a mystery to me. It seems that some vendors always get the best spots while others appear to get shut down at the random whim of some member of event security. It was at this show that I noticed one of the biggest food vendors in the lot (and a vendor that I had seen many times before) was heavily emblazoned with Phish logos, a big no-no if you are unaffiliated with the band. And whattya know, they had a prime location in the lot too. If anyone should be getting shut down… It made me wonder if Phish Inc. had infiltrated the lot scene? Don’t get me wrong, good on ‘em if they did, but you’d think they’d be a bit more forewith about it, non? No matter, it was a great day spent with good friends and when showtime came the band delivered yet again. We were near the back of the pavilion this time – dead centre – and it was hot. Both literally and figuratively (young ‘uns might want to look those two words up on the google-machine); the band seemed to kick up a notch with every degree. And we’re talking Fahrenheit here. High energy, raging, sick…call it what you will but one thing it was was hot. From the [i]Runaway Jim[/i] opener to the show-closing [i]Tweeprise[/i] the band made sure the crowd was sweating as much as they were. After the [i]Rock & Roll[/i] encore we poured out of the venue – each of us equally drenched and satisfied – like we had just crawled out of big rockin’ hot tub together. M’lady and I hopped a ride with one friend and drove to the home of another for a nice relaxing wind-down of an afterparty. I remember all of us sitting around in deckchairs, so utterly spent from two back-to-back sweltering shows that we almost didn’t have the energy to lift the many big cans of hoppy beers that were being liberally offered around. Almost. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2009-06-19

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout On June 19th, 2009 m’lady and I pulled into the Closeby Campground near(-ish) the venue in Deer Creek and set up her small, budget-quality tent. I think we were running a little behind or maybe we were being time-cautious, but we went to the show without lingering too long at the campground and (significantly, it turned out) we left the tent empty; with an eye either on the clock or on safety and security all our belongings remained inside my big SUV. We were here to see Phish. I had recently gotten into collecting gig posters so I bee-lined to the merch tent and laid down $50 for a really nice print by a guy I had never heard of: Tyler Stout. M’lady and I found ourselves a spot on the lawn and enjoyed a great first set. As the night went on the clouds collecting on the horizon grew more ominous, but even more frightening was the lightning storm. Y’know how you learned in science class that lighting actually moves up from the ground? We could see it; the lightning was flashing upwards and in slow motion taboot. Over and over a consistent webbing of light rose around the venue, sometimes enveloping the whole sky. I remember the crowd collectively holding their breath in fear as an airplane flew across the sky heading directly towards the lightning. Somehow it made it through. When setbreak came the band announced that the second set wouldn’t start until the storm blew over. Fans with pavilion seating would be good, but everyone on the lawn should go back to their cars until the rains came and went. We took their advice and headed out the gate as the first drops fell, fat and heavy. I wrapped my plastic rain jacket tightly around my cardboard poster tube and put my head own against the coming rain. Before we got anywhere near our truck the clouds opened up. Some kind soul yelled for us to join him in his pickup truck. We took him up on his offer and missed the worst of it. I mean that rain came down. We sat in the cab of buddy’s truck sipping his cold beers and absolutely marvelling at the storm. It was coming down cats and dogs and the lightning was still hummin’ but we were safe. But when it cleared up it cleared up just as fast as it came and we all marched back in and found new spots on the soggy but sloped lawn. When the second set started it was actually a beautiful night, and the set was simply spectacular. During the encore came another torrential downpour. This time it was raining cats and dogs and moose and gerbils; I mean it was raining man. Walking to the increasingly inappropriately named Closeby Campground after the show m’lady and I kept dryish in our matching Maid Of The Mist plastic rain ponchos. And here I was with a poster. When we finally got back to the campground we discovered that we had left m’lady’s tent flap completely open. Inside the tent was a little lake – anything we might have left in it would have been soaked through or stolen so things had worked out pretty okay. The big leather front seats in my Mitsubishi Montero reclined almost 180 degrees so spending the night in the SUV was not only dry, but surprisingly comfortable. And my poster made it through the night 100% unscathed; I’m looking at it as I write this. It’s become a pretty valuable poster too, not only because it was one of the first Stout Phish posters (he’s since done many) and it looks amazing, but I suspect because quite a few were ruined in the rain leaving the print even rarer than its relatively low run of 700 units would suggest. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2016-07-10

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout On July 10th, 2016 I drove to Syracuse to see Phish play in a (relatively) brand-spanking new amphitheatre built right on the water (which body of water might be in Syracuse is beyond both my knowledge and my interest in bothering to google about). Four of us had driven down together and as we got to the venue we were directed to a new, gravel parking strip. We parallel parked and joined a small throng of people waiting for one of the many shuttle busses to take us to the actual venue. Goodness knows why a concert venue built out in the middle of nowhere couldn’t have included an adjacent parking lot like every other shed in the nation is also well beyond my knowledge, and it is so on the cusp of my interest I’m this close to googling it. While waiting for the shuttle we ran into a few of our American friends and soon enough the six or eight of us just made it into the next shuttle, squeezing in last, putting us near the front of the bus. The last to get on the shuttle was a woman, maybe in her mid-thirties, and a little boy around eight years old wearing ear-protecting headphones. She was talking to a parking guy and getting exasperated. “I was told we would have a special bus to ride on,” she explained, obviously for the umpteenth time. “He doesn’t do well in crowds.” “I’m sorry,” the guy said, and it looked like he meant it. “All I can say is we’ll have it in place for the next concert.” Reluctantly she got on the bus, surveyed the crowd and sat the kid up on a wheel-well right next to us at the front. I was chatting with my friend Todd when the bus started to move. Behind me I heard the most horrible screech you could imagine. It sounded like the shriek of a wounded pterodactyl, or more accurately, an angry one. Turning around, I could see the kid lunging at his mother and trying his best to head-butt her in the face. She was clearly well-trained in defence, bobbing and weaving like Rocky Balboa to this eight year-old Apollo Creed. He was autistic – full-spectrum – and this was his time to completely lose it. The kid screamed, rocked, and struck out violently at random, surprising intervals while his mother alternated between hugging him, restraining him, consoling him, and lurching backwards out of the reach of his vicious assaults. All the while I stood three feet away trying desperately to have a normal conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen in six months, trying to avoid adding unwanted attention to the mother’s obvious stressful situation. The bus ride seemed to take forever, and in reality I’m sure it did take much longer than one would ever expect it to take to get from a parking lot to a venue. As we neared our destination the mother broke down to tears, pleading with her child, “Please stop…this morning you were so excited to come here today…Phish is you favourite band in the world…please, please stop.” It was really super-heavy. I got off the bus astounded that I had seen only ten minutes of that lady’s lifelong struggle, and the boy’s too of course. I stood on the sidelines of the lineup going in to the show, bought a dollar-beer or two and took a moment to settle my aura. Meanwhile a half-dozen or so friends found us and we eventually entered the venue en masse. M’lady and I had pavilion tickets but just as we were making our way to the seated section we came upon a gaggle of Ottawa friends standing on the lawn so we joined them for the first set. I met a guy in the gaggle who was following the band on a motorcycle – doing the whole tour – but he hadn’t been inside a show until this one…am I remembering that right? Anyway, the band started the show with a rarity from their past, [i]The Landlady[/i], and it set the tone for the rest of the set, which included [i]Mango Song[/i], [i]My Friend, My Friend[/i], and [i]Bold As Love[/i]. There was even some first-set keytar playing by Page. For the second set we found our seats (or thereabouts) in the pavilion and had a great time for the rest of the show. The shuttle back to the car confirmed that it was indeed a ridiculously long journey to the lot, even without the existential tragedy of life playing out before your very eyes the whole time. But really, the shuttle inconvenience proved to be the only downside to the new venue. Could be worse I guess, they could have made us all walk the whole way. Although I suppose that might have worked out better for at least a couple of people. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2017-08-01

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout Following a wonderful stay at Shelburne Farms* on the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont in celebration of m’lady’s birthday, the two of us drove to New Jersey and booked into our friend’s house for our first two nights of Phish’s Baker’s Dozen concert bonanza at Madison Square Garden. Instead of embarking on their usual summer tour, in 2017 Phish only played a couple of cities before taking up a record-setting thirteen-night residency at the world’s most famous arena. Apparently it’s a concept the band had cooked up decades ago; a doughnut-themed baker’s dozen of shows in the heart of New York City. Part of the idea was to give out actual doughnuts to fans as they walked through the door. On the first night of the run the doughnuts handed out were coconut flavoured and whattya know, Phish pulled out two new cover songs that aligned with the theme: [i]Shake Your Coconuts[/i] and [i](Lime In The) Coconut[/i]. “So that’s how it’s going to be, is it?” thought Phish fans worldwide. Speculation exploded online; what could be next? [i]Pass The Dutchie[/i]? [i]Raspberry Beret[/i]? [i] Blueberry Hill[/i]? I threw my guess into the ring: a maple/bacon doughnut with a Canadian theme…Neil Young, Rush, maybe even (hope against hope) The Tragically Hip…there would be lots of great cover potentials available. August 1st, 2017 marked the ninth night of the Baker’s Dozen run and sure enough Phish announced that the evening’s doughnut flavour would be maple. I tingled with anticipation all day. Our hosts barbecued up a delicious feast for the four of us before we drove into the city for the show. We went straight to the Tempest bar where we met a dozen friends and had a drink with each of them. Much of the chit-chat was centred on the evening’s theme and somehow m’lady and I got it into our heads that the maple theme meant that the band was going to open the concert with[i] O Canada[/i], a cappella. We spread our theory far and wide throughout the back rooms of the bar until it finally was time to go. We all finished our drinks and walked kitty-corner across the street to Madison Square Garden. M’lady and I were seated semi-behind the stage, a great place to be at a Phish show. And that’s where we stood at attention as the band did indeed open the show with [i]O Canada[/i]. They did it Hendrix-style, which was so, so much better than our predicted barber-shop style, and frankly much easier to pull off. I stood and sang along in my best hockey-game voice as the spotlight shone on a Canadian flag that hung from the rafters of the storied arena. What a cool band. The show was epic – as were all of the shows on this run – and we just had the time of times. There would be no Neil Young (though they had played two Neil songs on the run already), no Rush (even though I was absolutely sure they were going to play[i] Closer To The Heart[/i]. From my beside-the-stage vantage point I had noticed a second guitar behind Trey’s rig and had convinced myself that it was a 12-string. My hopes were dashed when I took a closer look during the setbreak – it wasn’t a 12-string after all), and there would be no Tragically Hip (obviously). The only other obvious nod to the doughnut theme at the show turned out to be a short solo [i]Maple Leaf Rag [/i]from Page McConnell’s piano. But c’mon, [i]O Canada[/i]? Who saw that coming? Oh right, we did. *Talk about understatement of the year! Set on 1600 acres of manicured land, Shelburne Farms holds a collection of palatial barns and a 150-year-old mansion full of antique furniture. The restaurant serves the freshest farm-grown everything, our room had a four-poster bed and a clawfoot bathtub, and the games room had a gorgeous old snooker table that was to die for. It was like staying at a museum. Or in a game of Clue; there was a library, a study, a drawing room…the whole shebang. When we visited the barns I milked a cow (“Can adults try it too?!?”), an exercise that I found surprisingly masculine. Not that it made me feel masculine; quite the opposite actually. Let’s just say that it’s a sensation that heterosexual men are not quite familiar with. Entering the chicken coop instantly brought me back to the few times my family stayed at a relative’s farm when I was a kid, where it was my job to go out to the chicken coop every morning and bring back fresh eggs for breakfast. It was like nature’s own Easter hunt. Rest assured, a stay at Shelburne Farms is expensive, but I really can’t recommend it enough. But guys, I would suggest that you don’t try milking a cow. Lordy, lordy; I sure wish I hadn’t. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2014-07-15

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout On July 15th, 2014 m’lady and I drove down to Canandaigua, New York with a couple of friends for a one-off Phish show (for us, not the band. Their tour raged on while we limped home to Ottawa happy enough with the one show. This time.). Our companions had booked us a pair of rooms at some strange dorm-like place. I think it was a residence building for the local college or something but no matter, the rooms were big, unbreakable, and full of like-minded concert-goers. I immediately cracked a can of beer and started mingling. A few beers later I bid my gaggle of new friends farewell and my posse made it’s way to the show. CMAC (née Finger Lakes) is a great venue. It’s a small shed with a small lawn; basically the same as most other outdoor pavilions in the country but half the size. This is also where I saw my second (was it?) Phish concert, which included a second set that went as follows: [i]Theme From The Bottom[/i]>[i]Tweezer[/i]. (Yes friends, when the whole Phish world was abuzz with the Tahoe Tweezer that clocked in at thirty-seven minutes or so – a show m’lady and I were also fortunate to attend – all I could think about was the forty-two minute version I experienced at my second-ever Phish show here in Canandaigua that veered briefly into a verse of [i]My Generation[/i] and then went back to a bunch of glorious jammy weirdness.) Check out the second set from this Canandaigua show: [i]Down With Disease[/i]>[i]Back On The Train[/i]>[i]NICU[/i]>[i]Gotta Jibboo[/i]>[i]Theme From The Bottom[/i]>[i]Meatstick[/i]>[i]Fuego[/i]>[i]The Wedge[/i]>[i]Run Like An Antelope[/i] Yes friends, once again Phish played an entire set without once stopping the music, weaving one song into another for a full ninety+ minutes. It was glorious. It also got a little drunk in there somewhere. After a [i]Character Zero[/i] encore (which generally causes a bit of a rift between m’lady and I…I love the tune, she doesn’t) we stumbled back to the dorm where memories of dark whisper-parties with friends new and old flicker in my mind. I seem to recall chatting over cans of beer and being told to move or quiet down…again and again. We’d move, we’d whisper, but ’twas all for naught. Sometimes you just can’t keep a good party down. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2019-07-02

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout July 2nd, 2019 marked the beginning of a two-week romp through the northeast United States (and eastern Canada) chasing Phish around and catching up with likeminded friends, with the ultimate destination being a visit with my family in Moncton. The first stop was Saratoga Springs, New York, which was a pretty darn fine start to the journey if you ask me.  Saratoga Springs is just such a pretty little town rife with history, attractions, and beautiful brick buildings around every corner (and behind every tree); it’s the site of the first equine racing track in America (it’s still there), home to what was once the largest hotel in the world in the Grand Union (it’s now a supermarket, also called Grand Union which apparently is just a coincidence*), birthplace of the unfortunate author of the harrowing true tale Twelve Years a Slave, and not only where the potato chip was invented (a fact that is oft reported in these missives) but also reputed to be where the club sandwich was first devised**. My goodness, who could ask for anything more? For those that do, Saratoga Springs also has a really cool amphitheatre that is plunked in the middle of a forested state park and surrounded by natural springs that spout forth healing groundwater, and this is where Phish began to play, beginning at about 8pm. They opened with Cathy’s Clown by The Everly Brothers…a first-timer and a song I’m pretty confident will never be played by them again (not that it wasn’t good).  It made me wonder…who picked this particular song, and why?  And moreover, at what point did they run the idea by the rest of the band, and finally, when did they learn it?  As a semi-amateur performer myself I can suggest two musical truths: 1) it generally takes little-to-no time at all to learn an old three-chord rock & roll song, and 2) however simple a song may be a band should probably go over it a few times before stepping in front of a festival crowd (and a forest of microphone stands).   So, was it just an hour before going onstage or was the song suggested a week earlier?  Or maybe the night before?  Either way, kudos to the band for making the effort in a climate where most bands don’t bother learning more than twenty-five of their own songs for an entire tour. Anyway, once they wrapped up Cathy’s Clown they stuck to more familiar material for the rest of the night and delivered an exceptional show which by this time crosses my memory as a bit of a blur.  I recall a couple of people jumped onstage during the second set (in separate incidents), a set that the band closed with one of my faves in Harry Hood. At the end of the night m’lady and I walked through the darkened park to our Inn at Saratoga where we started with social drinks on the welcoming front porch and ended in our friend’s room in the freestanding cottage that sat next to (but was part of) the inn.  The night eventually got a little late - through no fault of our own - but m’lady and I pulled the plug well before daylight, which was a pretty great idea but again, not really our call.  *As if. **Why every menu in town doesn’t offer a club sandwich with a side of Saratoga chips (as they call them) as the local special is both beyond my comprehension and why I’ve never ordered it. toddmanout.com
, attached to 2000-06-16

Review by spreaditround

spreaditround PHISH, FRIDAY 06/16/2000 ZEPP Suminoe-ku, Osaka, Japan Soundcheck: “Zepp Osaka” Jam, Jam, Jam, Twist Jam, “I Can’t Wait to Go Back Home” Jam, Another One Bites the Dust Jam SET 1: Limb By Limb: I would recommend this version because of the length of the jam and the total body of work. It does have some good ambience headspace in there for a moment or two. This one does not have that signature moment that many jam chart versions would. Back on the Train: Standard. > Sample in a Jar: Standard. First Tube: Standard. > Golgi Apparatus: Standard. Heavy Things: Standard. Dirt: Standard. > My Sweet One: Standard. > Reba: Very long version, over 16 minutes. Has plenty of that reverse reverb. Pretty good Reba. Character Zero: Standard. SET 2: Runaway Jim: Very chill jam in the outset. But I love the new direction they take at 11:30 and Trey’s tone/effects. It’s awesome and energizing. Big energy swell at 13:27. The section that comes after this is awesome I think, and I believe it is Trey on the mini keyboard that drives the bus. If that is in fact the case this is one of the few times that Trey on his mini keyboard actually worked for me. The last three minutes = a way, way out there space jam. Headspace for days and days. Easy all timer and highly recommended -> Theme From the Bottom: This takes a rather hard left turn when it typically climaxes and instead gets very moody and introspective. Heavy. It continues in this vein for a while. Would recommend at the very least for the unique nature of this one. Absolutely brilliant segue into DFB. -> Dog Faced Boy: Standard. Driver: Standard. > Slave to the Traffic Light: Cool space jam to open this one but when they start it up the first couple of lines are messed up. Trey unfortunately lazily strums his way through this whole thing. Really disappointing. One of the lamest versions they have played. > Julius: The jam opens in a jazzy, swing type nature. Bug: Standard. ENCORE: Bouncing Around the Room: Standard. > Harry Hood: Interesting version. Seems like it could be on the cusp of something big but never gets there. Summary: Good show. Not worthy of the LP release. 3.5/5 Replay Value: Limb by Limb, Runaway Jim Reba was preceded by a brief Bowie tease. This show is available as an archival release on LivePhish.com. JAM CHART VERSIONS Limb By Limb, Runaway Jim, Theme From the Bottom, Harry Hood TEASES David Bowie tease
, attached to 1991-04-02

Review by thelot

thelot Set 1 has a decent audience source considering that there’s a few cassette generations in the lineage. Set 2 is of lesser quality, it degrades even more after the tape flip. A pretty straightforward Jim kicks things off. Decent Reba. Trey absolutely slays Llama! Solid YEM with a fun VJ. “Stick it in your nose!” A standard Chalk Dust closes out set 1. Set 2 starts off with a nice Sky with a very subtle TMWSIY tease from Trey. Lawn Boy shows up early in the second set. Inspired Fluffhead. Dog Log follows Fluff after a year hiatus. Tape flip after Dog Log. Buried Alive cuts in. Well played Antelope closer. When they come back out for the encore Trey says “Thank you ladies and gentlemen, we are David Bowie” Page introduces his original, Magilla. A fantastic Possum ends the night on a high note. Unfortunately, the recording fades out before the conclusion of Possum. :(
, attached to 1993-04-30

Review by radiator9987

radiator9987 First Phish show I went to and couldn't get a ticket day of show. The staff opened the doors and let us stand outside and you could hear pretty well. Then at setbreak they let everyone come out to smoke and didn't check tickets going back in and we walked in for second set. Lots of Rift tunes. The Tweezer -> Walk Away > Mound is the highlight. The band was all lubed up from the endless nights on the road.
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