25 in 25 #24 08/30/2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO Pauly McGuire (@taopauly and @CoventryMusic)
My friend Fink dubbed 2013 the “Year of Carini.” The rebirth occurred during the MSG NYE run in 2012 and even though “Carini” appeared a mere eight times in 2013, each rendition marked a ferocious release of noxious dark energy, which made me love every single version even more so. In 2014, “Chalkdust Torture” became the MVP of the summer tour, but “Carini” was still one of the most-trusted, go-to songs in the second set. Phish played “Carini” five times in early summer and four of those opened up Set 2. Phish relied heavily on “Carini” as post-setbreak launch pad, joining “Down with Disease” as an “old reliable opener.”
On one hand, “Carini” felt like a fast spaceship zipping to the farthest corners of the jam universe in a short time. Yet other times, it was less like a vessel and more like a savage predator on par with the Kraken or Godzilla, which emerged from the sea and decimated everything in its path. Wake of destruction. Trail of terror. Colossal havoc. Annihilation. “Carini”.
“Carini” was initially spawned in Amsterdam in 1997. I once lived in Amsterdam for a month (felt like a six-month-long bender in a soupy, hashish-shroom haze), so I personally attest to Amsterdam’s prevailing fixation with harnessing the dark side of the force which manifests itself in your deepest fears. In the Phish Amsterdam box set, Trey rambled on about a killer worm that lurked in the canal somewhere amidst the pinkish neon hues and the slippery cobblestones in the red light district. I’d like to think that “Carini” was birthed from the killer canal worm.
I have not missed a Phish show in Colorado since my wingman the Joker moved to Denver/Boulder a decade ago. By definition, Phish Dick’s was a bona fide three-night rager. Our crew throws down extra hard (renting a party bus to transport our schwilly asses all weekend) so Dick’s was a guaranteed mind-twisting and face-melting adventure. Plus, you know my theory on a well-stocked Phish lot; a raging Shakedown translates into a thermonuclear show because the band maniacally feeds off our chemically-enhanced gratification.
Unless you’re one of those Ketamine-boofing zombies, you’re well aware of the Phishy gimmick on Dick’s opening night. With most of the focus on the Friday gag, I think the second night was consistently the best of the three-night stand because the band got the schtick out of the way and finally let it loose. With the “LUSHINGTON” show in the past, Phish was prepared to blast off.
When you’re greeted by a “Free” opener, you’re in for an auspicious evening. Opening set of Dick’s night two featured 13 songs (three from Fuego album) packed in under 90 minutes. But the reason we’re both here is the astounding second set, specifically… “DWD > What’s the Use?”, “Carini > Light > Fuego > Slave”.
I could not decide which pairing to focus on… “DWD > WTU?”, or “Carini > Light”… so I decided to just stick with “Carini” as the centerpiece of the prodigious second set, which is a worthy example why I chase Phish and attempt to see so many shows. Even a jaded vet like yours truly gets goosebumps thinking about that 60-minute-long ecclesiastical musical orgy. You have to credit the incendiary “Simple” from the first night of Dick’s as the trigger point for Saturday’s awesomeness. The “Simple” jam zapped the band into a specific head space, but let’s call it a particular universe, which they first explored during “Simple > Ghost”. Well, on Saturday night, they dialed up the Stargate and returned to that universe and launched a few deep-space probes.
Unlike most of the summer tour, “Carini” was not the opener. Instead we got a “Down with Disease” to kick off set 2. “DWD” contained collective-unit-jamming before everything went sideways with the What’s the Use blowout. While maneuvering through the opaque space fog, Trey had one of those transcendental experiences like at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, when Bowman simultaneously sees himself as an old man and a baby. “Carini” resembled the rebirth of Trey in many ways. I can’t tell if the band unleashed the beast, or if Trey leaped out of his own body…because Trey kicked into warp drive and jumped to an entirely darkened corner of a universe. We got a glimpse of shades of old Trey the fearless leader who was willing to dive into the darkness and explore the deepest of worm holes.
“Carini” was upbeat from the start with a high-energy chorus. Around 4:00, Trey seized control and thirty seconds later we got the first of many aggressive Trey bursts. At 5:00, Trey and his killer pet worm “Carini” went burrowing beneath the crust and unleashed some Split Open and Melt-like undulations. Trey popped back up to the surface for a quick breath just as a stiff, inflatable penis floated its way through the libidinous crowd. By 6:00, Trey launched another ardent subterranean search and latched onto a groove by 6:30. A quickie “Streets of Cairo” tease ensued. By 7:00, a soaring Trey was building a crescendo that reached a mini-peak by 8:00, followed by another round of blustery Trey soloing, which my bud Jonas refers to as “crutch riff playing.” The Joker succinctly explained, “Trey couldn’t make a decision where he wanted to go.” Just when it seemed like an impulsive Trey drifted too far out there around 9:00, Fishman nudged Trey into a concise direction toward another mini-peak/mini-release. By 9:30, the rest of crew linked up for unified jamming. At 9:45, Phish hit the sweet spot with my favorite groove of the jam with Page tickling the Lil Pumpkin, which my bud Rob S. said had a “distinct Grateful Dead vibe.” That blissful moment lasted only a full minute. By 11:00, seems like Trey ran out of ideas, but he was one-man wrecking crew before it got too self-indulgent and he broke it off for a buoyant Light.
Fink revealed a compelling observation about Trey counterbalancing dark jams with a sentimental tunes like “Backwards Down the Number Line”. “This “Carini” has some potential to get really dark but the band never quite takes it there. I attribute it to Trey’s overall state of happiness as he can’t seem to go full dark much anymore. Anytime he goes full dark, he seems to immediately play Number Line to bring him back to his happy place.”
In this instance, Light became Trey’s happy place (thankfully) instead of Backwards.
Type-II jamming is akin to alchemists and sorcerers conjuring up the dark side of the force to perform deviant occult rituals at far-off mystical places like Carcosa, Bohemian Grove, and the parking lot of Phish shows. We often bear witness those esoteric moments first-hand during peak moments in jams, and sometimes I get spooked by how easy the band controls our hive mind. Sometimes I wonder if Phisheads are an unknowing part of a massive “unified field theory” experiment (e.g. Philadelphia Experiment) in which the CIA harnesses our intoxicated minds to help open up a portal to an alternative universe. Sorry for the tangent… I have to save this discussion for an X-Files spec script I’m writing.
“Carini” marked the midpoint of an scintillating hour of music at Dick’s. The Light jam built upon the confident foundation set forth by Carini. Trey circled back to explore a few riffs from “Carini”, which blossomed into majestic “Light” jam… although it was ruined by stop-start “woo” antics. Light bled into the quickest “Fuego” in short history of the song. Instead of the fiery jam out, Trey led the band toward the post-coital bliss of a rare mid-set “Slave”. My favorite song capped off an elegant hour of some of the most delicious live Phish I caught all summer. The set ended with “Bold As Love”, which served a dual purpose: 1) a bone for Page who always kills on classic rock covers, 2) confident Trey had the opportunity to wank a blistering Jimi Hendrix solo.
Quickie note about the encore… the missing “Horse” was finally paired with “Silent in the Morning” and returned to the big stage after being shelved for 67 shows (absent all of 2013 and most of 2014). Plus, we got treated to I’m A Hole old-school antics before a “Fluffhead” that seemed to come out of nowhere.
The Dick’s “Carini” was the last epic “Carini” of note. It was noticeably absent from both the Miami NYE run and the Halloween run in Vegas, yet only popped up twice on fall tour. During the Dick’s “Carini”, we got a glimpse of old Trey the fearless leader who was willing to go down the darkest unknown holes.
Before I go, I have to share one last tangent… my last Uber driver grew up in Romania and he told me a crazy stories about a Sphinx in the Bucegi mountain range and underneath this Sphinx are three tunnels…one to the Great Pyramid, one to Nepal and one to the middle of the earth where the Reptilian lizard people live. Well, if any of those Reptilians stirred up any shit, I’d send Trey and the “Carini” worm to flush those fucking tunnels right out and smoke those evil lizards out of their underground caves.
“Carini”, the fastest spaceship in the universe? “Carini”, a Reptilian-hunting behemoth worm controlled telepathically by Phish?
How about… both?
Pauly McGuire is a writer based out of Los Angeles, CA. You might know him from such blogs as Tao of Poker and Coventry Music. His latest book, Fried Peaches, a rock-n-roll novel about a one-hit wonder Grunge band, will be released at the end of 2015. Pauly is the author of a trashy novel Jack Tripper Stole My Dog and a nonfiction book about the underbelly of Las Vegas… Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker. You can find him on Twitter at @taopauly and @CoventryMusic. His favorite Ghost is Denmark 1997.