Hey nerds. As I sit here writing these words, beams of sunlight are poking through the oak trees outside and shooting through the living room window. A fire is blazing in the corner. I have a freshly made cup of joe in hand, curled up on the couch in only my underwear as a beautiful orange tabby cat sleeps peacefully by my side. Why?
Because I’m at home! And I couldn’t be more thrilled to report that after my 137th Phish show last night at the William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre something happened for only the second time ever—I slept in my own bed!
A Midwest transplant now living in the North Bay, these Phish shows at the Greek are as close as we can get to hometown shows. Back in January, I sat glum in this same living room, torrential down pour happening outside wondering if the sun would ever show its face again when there was an announcement that Phish would play eight dates in April on the west coast. That announcement was something I really needed that day. I was on cloud nine as it really felt like a perfect little mini tour they were doing specifically for me. At least until ticket anxiety started to creep in. I scored greats seats through the lottery for the Hollywood Bowl, and Seattle was a cinch, however we all new from the beginning that the Greek shows would be a tough ticket. Luckily, we we’re able to secure all three nights separately with the industrious help from our friends and of course Cash or Trade.
I’ve seen quite a few shows at the Greek now, but the bedlam happening out and around the venue was uniquely phishy. The circus was indeed in town. The line situation seems like it could have been improved. FYI, they are using the barcode on the ticket through the Ticketmaster app; they cannot scan the ticket from your phones’ wallet.
We got in line on the Page-side of the venue around 2:45 and stood in the cool shade of a Cyprus tree at the top of the stairs. I had some great convos and met a slew of new faces. Also, a shout out to Dustin whom I met standing in line in fall of ’21, here we were again, fortuitously in line side-by-side.
We finally made it through security and made a mad dash to secure space. We landed slightly center Page-side in the last few rows of the bowl. A perfect spot. Everything seemed to be coming up Millhouse!
The band took the stage at approximately 6:38 with the sun still hanging high in the air. I can think of no better opener than “The Curtain With”. My favorite Phish song of all time, I’ll take it! There were some minor flubs in the intro, but Trey recovered as they made their way through the composed sections. Then of we we’re treated with the first “with” jam of 4.0. I love the “with” jam more than anything, even though last night’s wasn’t above average, it was the perfect way to set the mood and shake off a day of travel.
They shifted gears quickly into “Carini”. While this Carini wasn’t deeply exploratory, it did start out with a funky little jam and some thick baselines being laid down by Mike, before building to some nice full-band interplay. Finally, they shifted to a major key bliss jam near the end as the sun dipped down on the horizon beyond the stage. Trey gave a shout-out to “Frenchie” (Tim Gazaille), the streaker from last year’s Dicks run who sadly passed away from cancer the day before.
Next up was “All of These Dreams,” the Round Room era rarity making its annual solo appearance. I enjoy this tune, but based on the amount of chomping around me, other people not-so-much.
A very welcome mid-set “Stash” came after with a very patient build and some super silky guitar tones from Trey.
Page’s “Halfway to the Moon” was up next punctuated with some screeching guitar from Trey near the end.
My friends and I play a nerdy setlist game, and I’ve been putting “Mull” on my list since night one in Seattle. I figured with Mike dropping his new album last week, they were all but guaranteed to play the single at some point on this tour. Points! Although this version didn’t quite reach the heights of say Mexico ’22, it got everybody grooving and featured some long-sustained notes from Trey.
A light sprinkle commenced near the beginning of “Undermind” and suddenly I felt like a crown of broccoli in the produce isle at the grocery store. Not completely unpleasant and thankfully a sparse showing compared to what we’ve been used to in the last few months. Fishman crushing the fills on this tune as per usual.
The set-closing “Theme from the Bottom” featured CK5’s lights kicking into high gear with a soaring and danceable jam. Very satisfying. And also, more points for moi!
Set break wasn’t as weird as normal because 1. I kept my head of fairly straight with today’s homework assignment and 2. I was surrounded by an embarrassment of riches in the form of friends, new and old. I spent the shorter than normal timeslot catching up with friends from near and far.
The Clifton Chenier penned “My Soul” kicked off the second set. The bluesy little number had me bouncing and singing along.
And then BOOM! They drop into the first “Tweezer” since last year’s New Year's Eve performance. And what a monster it was!
Clocking in at nearly forty-four minutes, the intro again had some minor flubs before meandering into the jam section. At first it seemed like everyone was really listening to each other without anyone really stepping up to the plate to lead the jam. Page thankfully took the wheel at some point and jumped on the clav before eventually switching over to his organ. He coaxed Trey into his melody and finally the jam began to fully form into some murky sounding swamp sounds with some 4.0 guitar effects from Trey. I imagined I was spelunking down the walls of a dark cave, slightly scary but exhilarating at the same time. By the time I reached the bottom I was thrown into light, and a tranquil piece of music followed that to me was akin to returning to the womb. A warm and peaceful place.
Trey and Fishman then kicked into high gear before Page once again decided to take control back into an ambient space before a dark and brooding idea emerged. Now we were in some deep evil Phish territory before pulling the boat into the harbor with the "Tweezer" riff. But wait, they weren’t done yet. A start/stop jam ensued with the crowd contributing some woos. I for one had no part of this, but you do you. This led to some very interesting and original jamming that I thought would be the end of the song. But alas, they went deeper into Type 2 territory. The kind you might need a little penicillin to treat. In my notebook I wrote “whatever they were lacking in foreplay, they certainly made up for with girth.” One helluva journey and one of the longest "Tweezers" of all time. Dayum!
Next came “Simple,” and it was no slouch either. The jam shot into outer space almost immediately, with Mike’s bass imitating my beating heart. Some spooky orange and green beams shot through the heads of the people getting down on the floor. A rollicking jam made me feel like I was flying high above the venue.
The crowd seemed pleased when they dropped into the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll." I sure was. I got a little burnt out by this song in 2.0, but it feels like a nice treat to get one these days and everyone was firing on all cylinders by this point. Any hey, I ain’t mad at a four-song second set either. Curfew or not, I felt like I got my money’s worth.
Admittedly, I got at a little choked up during the first encore of “Miss You.” I started thinking again about Frenchie, a dude I did not know at all. But I started thinking about Frenchie’s friends, and how someone’s crew out there was permanently short a member. Life is short and "Miss You" gave me a moment of gratitude for all the amazing people in my life, many of whom I happened to be smashed up against last evening.
So in closing, it was definitely not a case of the Mondays. I reckon you’d get your ass kicked for saying something like that around here. And a very sincere thank you to the band for playing so many dates close to home. See y’all tonight!
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