I like this. I don’t like that. We’re all so quick to judge and criticize. A friend of mine said, “You’re not a Phish fan unless you’re critical.” He has a point, but eff it! It was an amazing night. I’ve never seen a band be so vulnerable. Truly incredible to play an UNPROVEN raft of songs to, what, the most critical fanbase out there. BALLS on these guys. Yes, of course, it would have been sick-twisted-nasty to hear them rage a cover, but, you know: "Never trust a prankster."
I’d gone to PHI8H, so I saw Exile on Main Street. I’d gone to 10/31/10, so I fell in love with Waiting for Columbus. Was I let down when twitter told me I was walking into Wingsuit? Was 100% WTF. Did I let that go and keep an open mind? We are talking about Phish here after all, right? My goodness, they must have been so nervous.
Lyrics-wise, it’s something you’ve really gotta be prepared to listen to, and on a night like 10/31 when I’d high Halloween hopes for my brain to disintegrate, I wasn’t prepared. The melody, however, is fantastic. Dreamy, dramatic, almost ominous. That “and it feels good” bit (really gotta sing that twice, fellas?) was super corny hearing it live for the first time, but I think I understand why they’re doing it. It’s just a bit too much. Once they get past that, though, the song takes off and turns into a burner. Cleverly, I LOVE how they let Trey’s guitar complete lines 3 and 4 of the “steal away/paint the sky” (3:32) couplet. And then as Page fades out with “Put your wing. suit. on.” (3:57), that business right there is simply smart Phish magic. The Gordo drill at the end is nuts. Cool to finally see him use it.
Best new song. INCREDIBLE. I was raging so hard hearing it for the first time. Full band insanity. Notice that silent moment (0:25) in the beginning. Such a great tension/release. It’s like it announces – in silence – that this song is about to destroy the world. Huge, dope lyrics. Again with the fade away of “Vlad the Impaler” into the big OOOHHHHH. These guys are brilliant. “Inside you’re fuego/We keep it rolling.” I mean, there isn’t a better couplet like that anywhere out there right now. And then to follow it up with “I asked Diego if it was stolen,” man, that cracks me up. Ballsy lyric right there. Wonder what the answer is. Great song. Rollin’... Rollin’... These guys.
Lifty, lighty Phish. A fun time. Always interesting when they try to be meaningful, but thankfully, this one isn’t a ballad. Trey can lose us to the bathroom line on “meaningful” ballads, but this time the music is more dance-oriented. Huge thanks to Page and Fishman at the top of this song. Really dig the “And you step to the line” refrain. Nice song. “A hero’s what I’m not.” Could become a solid jam vehicle. Has an uplifting, pop-song feel, but wouldn’t mind if the jam went dark. We’ll see... A nice piece of topical discourse here, too. I’m certain EPSN will be hearing about this one. We’ll see...
Jim and I were sitting up off of Mike’s side, so we could see activity behind the stage. Dudes and drums and gear. Was great to see them set up a small, intimate vibe of instruments. Gordo on upright, Trey acoustic, Fish standing up to drum, Page on whatever that keyboard’s called. Fun shake of an intro. Slightly corny yet still kinda funny wordplay lyrics at the top, but as they get past the first verses of easily make-funable lines, the Fishman “Sing Monica” work is bright and fun. I love his voice. So underrated. He decays quickly, but it has so much texture to it. Melodically a great song. No idea how they’ll perform this in the future. The setup and vibe would/might break any built-up rage momentum. Great echoic, round ending. Smiles all around.
WAITING ALL NIGHT
Again, the music is so good. Hearing it for the first time live, I was like, uuuuhhhhh. But after a few listens, it’s not the worst song in the world. Tryna ride us through a meaningful love-type song. It’s somewhat a challenge for them, but they can and do pull it off. I dunno. I like it better when they just bend sanity and get weird, loose and absurd and astronomical. Hahahaha. Love Page’s keys on this song.
I meannnnnnnnnn, THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!! FISHMAN RAPPING!!! YYYYYYYYYYYYYESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! “Cuddly, but muscular.” This song is the shit. And all that centrifuge work they do to the lyrics. This song is amazing. AMAZING. The dancers were fun, and 92-year-old Abe Vigoda. HUGE!!! Super funky. Effin brilliant.
CK5 set the scene, and Mike sang falsetto. Interesting song. Hard to hear what Mike was actually saying. Made me miss the days of “Talk.”
DEVOTION TO A DREAM
For me, the set started losing some of its power. Lyrics were what they were. The jam was nothing new, nothing funky. Do Something Different!!!! What’s next?
GREAT, GREAT SONG. THANK GOODNESS. MIIIIIKEEEEEE!!! Strong, driving lyrics. AND THE JAM out of it is what “Devotion to a Dream” is SERIOUSLY lacking. 555 is power. Will go for 20 minutes in the futures. Can’t wait.
I’m sorry, I just can’t deal. Melody/music/vibe is sweet/great. Lyrics are Hahahahaha--NO. Trey’s getting too influenced by Game of Thrones or something. I just can’t. Best, best part of the whole song is the lyric: “The music trapped inside his head / resounds and fills the space instead” and then they jam. Great work right there.
AMIDST THE PEALS OF LAUGHTER
Nice Page and Trey moment. Has a "You'll Know My Name" feel at the top. But when they started singing the nursery rhyme, Jim and I looked at each other like, Really? I understand it's use in the song, but... Really? And then, “Your brain is in pain and your fate has been sealed. The liquid inside of your eyes has congealed.” YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME. Sorry, Tom. Hahaha. I do love how they end it with the cut-off. That’s the kinda quirk I love when they do it, but the song, well, it’s a good thing it’s short. Needs some work. I dunno. Everyone’s a critic.
YOU NEVER KNOW
Funny song. “Maybe that bird needed a cage after all.” I love Phish.
And, well, SET THREE THAT NIGHT was worth the price of admission alone. GREATNESS.
Remind me to tell you about how I completely freaked out when I realized there was a woman doing Sign Language at the corner of the stage--all night. Dancing the lyrics with her hands for someone who couldn't hear a note, let alone a lyric. Whhhhaaaatttt? Phish rules.
Paul Siegell is the author
of three books of poetry: wild life rifle fire(Otoliths Books, 2010), jambandbootleg (A-Head Publishing, 2009) and Poemergency Room (Otoliths Books, 2008). He is a staff editor at Painted Bride Quarterly, and has
contributed to The American Poetry Review, Coconut, Dusie, NOÖ, Rattle, and many other fine journals. Kindly find more of Paul's
work (poems, poemics, videos) at his ReVeLeR @ eYeLeVeL.