21 in 21 of 2017: #2 07/15/2017 Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, Chicago, IL (Josh Cohron, @JoshCohron)
Jam Chosen: “Simple”
As I walked over to Northerly for the second night of Summer Tour last year, I kept thinking back to 10/15/16, the second night of the previous Fall Tour. The consecutive tour openers had a lot of similarities. Each had a bold choice for the opener and featured inspired playing and jamming throughout the night. (Seriously, don’t sleep on the 10/14/16 DWD. It’s short but gets really dark and has a smooth segue into “Cities.”) The second night of Fall Tour, however, was rather unmemorable.
I’m never going to say any Phish show is bad, or that I didn’t have a good time. There’s always something you can find to like. And if I can’t have a good time at a show, I need to reevaluate some things in my life. But when I think about 10/15/16, words like “aimless” and “haphazard” and “Why the hell did they play ‘Miss You’ and ‘Joy’ in the second set?!?” come to mind.
I was truly hoping there wouldn’t be another second show drop-off.
The first set of the show is totally fine. There’s a Page song, there’s a Fish song and Mike got to sing “Ya Mar,” which is a tune that just feels like Summer Tour. A few more songs from the first set I’d suggest checking out would be the trio of “Martian Monster,” “Party Time” and “Wingsuit” played consecutively after “Ya Mar.”
The most impressive part of the first set was the hilarious @PhishPropBets account nailing that “Moma Dance” would be played in the 2-hole:
Let’s do it again ; Moma Dance slot 2 paying 7/5
— PhishPropBets (@Phishpropbets) July 15, 2017
The second set opened with TAB tune “Corona,” a Phish debut. There’s nothing really to say about it because of what came next.
When the first notes of “Simple” started, I was elated. I’d been at Dick’s the previous summer for that spacey version. And I’d seen its high-energy counterpart in Alpharetta seven weeks later. Both versions were stellar. Both versions were about to be topped. What followed were 27 minutes of superb playing and a jam that recalibrated everyone’s expectations for Phish in 2017. Here are some notes I took on my 853rd listen this afternoon:
– 4:30; Mike makes his mark and starts hammering his bass.
– 7:00; And we are off. Page creates a great texture for Trey and Mike to do their thing.
– 8:00; Trey finds a lick he likes and this jam has officially gone Type 2.
– 9:10; Page takes the lead and things pivot towards a groove-based jam as Fish starts playing a cool beat.
– 10:00; “Trey playing cool shit over the beat while Mike beats the hell out of his bass.” – direct quote from my notes as I get more and more excited about the jam
– 11:45; Things are slowing down considerably. It’s getting a bit dissonant. In the moment, I was hoping it wasn’t ending.
– 12:30; Mike refuses to let the jam die and attacks his bass with fervor. Page is all over the synth.
– 13:10; Trey is rocking out while Fish starts a beat which I can best describe as tribal. It’s about to get awesome…
– 13:30; Peak #1. The jam sounded like it might have ended 90 seconds ago, now it is straight hose. I love this band.
– 14:40; Fish’s tribal beat has morphed into a “Timber” jam.
– 15:00; Trey seems most reluctant to not segue into “Timber.”
– 15:30; Officially past the “Timber” jam.
– 16:20; Trey and Mike do a back-and-forth as Trey tries to find the effect he wants.
– 17:00; Trey finds what he’s looking for while Fish keeps hammering away at his tribal beat.
– 19:20; Mike takes the lead for a moment and is going off.
– 20:00; Trey starts getting warmed up.
– 21:25; Page starts doing his thing.
– 21:45; Trey joins in Page’s fun.
– 22:10; Things are coming together…
– 22:30; Oh god, it’s so close…
– 22:45; Almost there…
– 23:00; Yes! Yes! Yes!
– 23:08; Peak #2. The jam seems like an unstoppable force at this point. Like LeBron going down the lane with a full head of steam…
– 24:00; Literally everyone in the band is going off. If this is hose, spray it directly in my face.
– 25:00; Mike decides to remind us all how awesome he is one more time.
– 25:35; Page gets on the synth one last time to create a cool texture.
– 25:55; The band finds what seems like the sixth different theme of the jam.
– 26:30; Trey pulls the reins back and things start to cool down.
– 26:50; The anticipation builds for what the next song will be…
And Trey lands on “Winterqueen” which seems to be a new favorite soft landing spot of his. This version keeps the spacey theme going for a while.
“Light” serves as what I’d call a “bridge jam” to a fantastic version of “Scents and Subtle Sounds.” The whole jam is great, but Mike, especially, has some stellar playing in the last five minutes.
“Cities,” “Slave to the Traffic Light” and “Loving Cup” finished out the night.
But, the crown jewel of the night is “Simple.” It was the first big jam of the summer and left us all wondering what else Phish had in store for the summer.
About Josh: I am clearly not a music writer, but I do love Phish. My first show was 7/23/99 in Columbus. My “Ghost” Mt. Rushmore (in chronological order): 7/23/97, 7/6/98, 7/23/99, 5/22/00. I’ve got tickets for Alpharetta, Dick’s, Nashville and Chicago this year. Find me and I’ll buy you a beer and we can talk Phish, books or college football betting.