25 in 25 #22 08/03/2014 Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, Alpharetta, GA (Christopher Bentley, @Phishpoint0)
Selection: “Chalk Dust Torture>Scents and Subtle Sounds”
I was very excited to participate in @LawnMemo’s 25 in 25. Reading the reviews always provides a quantitative countdown to those coveted first notes and helps curb my bubbling anticipation. This year I jumped at the opportunity to write about 08/03/2014 from Alpharetta. I chose this show because I feel if I was going to write about Phish then Atlanta is where I’m most qualified. I’ve been fortunate not to miss a Phish show in Atlanta since the reuniting. I saw the famed”Harpua > Killing in the Name”, the rainstorm “Mound”, and the “Heartbreaker” show. While this particular night may not be as memorable as those, it does provide quality Phish.
We start with a setlist resembling a Northeast date rather than the safety blanket sets we often times see in the South. Hearing “Pebbles”, “Vultures”, “Fast Enough for You,” and “Taste” in a set was surprising. One or two of those maybe, but all four was a welcomed treat. I suppose it had something to do with the free webcast and being the tour closer. No complaints! “Gumbo” provided the first real jam and they closed the set with the ever-popular “Suzy Greenberg,” leaving us itching for second set. Following the too long beer and bathroom lines that is set break we are greeted with a brief “Call to the Post” tease from Trey signaling us to strap up our dancing shoes as the band fires into “Chalk Dust Torture.”
This is the song that embodies the very spirit of Phish and its devotees with its mantra, “Can I live while I’m young?” It is perfect as the second set opener. It has so many facets. It can deliver punchy rock and roll, machine gun Trey, bliss Phish or simply stellar improvisation. All are good. All are different. This night delivered on most of those.
Coming out of the composed section Fish and Mike hold the beat together while Trey and Page toy with a new direction until around 5:50 when they all decide collectively it’s time to leave the conventional world of “Chalk Dust.” We begin to venture into the unknown. We briefly descend downwards until everyone is locked in and Trey begins to sore beautiful licks over the top. The tempo builds momentarily but doesn’t materialize. They level off and drift back down. At this point we are fully submersed in Type II improv.
The four continue at a steady pace until Page overlays haunting organ effects before a captivating melody at 9:58, which Trey picks up on immediately and plays a rhythmic accompaniment. The group begins to build, thanks to the metronome that is Jon Fishman. It sounds like the tension is about to pop as we build to climax but it never quite makes it. We level off around 11:17 with an energy driven jam that Trey decides to harmonize over. The kind of effortless complexity that keeps us surprised, though we’ve heard it countless times. The remainder of the song would be the closest thing we would get to full peaks, sadly. It starts to wind down with an interesting section of Trey and Page sharing riffs until 13:29 when Trey gives a note signaling that it’s time to transition into “Scents and Subtle Sounds.”
The transition is nearly seamless, clearly planned. There is no intro, but considering the song has only been played 4 times since reuniting, and 19 times total, I’ll take it happily. This is a beautiful song that doesn’t get nearly enough play. The composition is well executed and breathes a breath of fresh air into the venue. The gorgeous jam that follows is light, crisp, and lifts the audience into a dream-trance. Some songs are made to play outdoors and “Scents” fits that like no other in the Phish catalog. It truly captures the vastness of your surroundings and encourages you to take in the scents, the sounds, and the beauty of the moment. We wait patiently as the four men drift us through a heightened since of awareness, memories of Superball flood my mind, and as soon as it starts, it ends. Trey slides into the second set reliability of “Twist”. The crowd erupts ecstatically. A few are left to wonder what “CDT>Scents” could have really wielded. The stage had been set for something truly special. But, I guess that is why we keep coming back?
For a lot of us Phish is a living breathing organism in our life’s, well beyond what the majority of our friends and family can or will every comprehend. We’ve all had the pleasure to see the band redevelop itself as an industry standard (though the Grateful Dead still draws nearly 375,000 people for a 5 day tour) over the last six years. There have certainly been growing pains with ups and downs. Every year seems like another mark on the doorframe of Phish’s bedroom. They continue to grow, evolve, and reinvent.
I’d like to thank @LawnMemo for letting me participate in this year’s 25 in 25. It’s great for the community, and in the spirit of Phish, it is inclusive. I’d also like to send a big thank you to all the strange Vermonter’s who thought watching the local bar band jump on trampolines was cool. Without your foresight to recognize greatness we wouldn’t have Phish, this community, or the friends we’ve made along the way. I can’t wait to see what is in store for this summer. I’ll see you at Lakewood!
About Me: I live in a world surrounded by WSP Panics, Atlanta. I try to show them the light but they never listen. I saw my first show on 6/10/2009 in Knoxville, TN. I sat one row from the wall straight away center in a HUGE indoor venue. I couldn’t have been further from the stage. It was awesome. I’ve been hooked ever since. My favorite “Ghost” is 12/31/10. I’m biased, I was there. My friend snuck an entire Camelbak bladder of Gentleman Jack into MSG after telling security it was his colostomy bag.