25 in 25 of 2015 #22 08/23/2015 Magnaball-Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, NY (Dianna Hank, @Dianna_2Ns)
Going into night 3 of Magnaball, I was feeling a lot of different emotions. First and foremost, I was filled with an immense amount of gratitude: towards the band, my friends, and even all the folks I haven’t met yet, who were able to make this amazing, weekend-long celebration go off without a hitch. Secondly, I felt a sadness akin to what kids experience on the last day of summer camp. All 40,004 of us had just spent the last few days laughing, dancing and generally enjoying each others’ company, but after tonight’s show, we would all return to our camps, pack up the chairs, and be on our separate ways — back to the world of work, bills, responsibilities (other than having to go see Phish each night) and people who don’t get it. Next, although I was bummed that this was the end of the run, I still had a whole Phish show ahead of me (!) so I was excited to see what the band had in store for us for this last night of festivities. Lastly, and perhaps most overwhelmingly, I was exhausted. After having stayed up the night before meeting all sorts of strange and wonderful creatures, getting to see the sun rise over Watkins Glen, witnessing a wedding of two complete strangers at which I bawled my eyes out, causing a watermelon to explode simply by wrapping rubber bands around it, as well as many other wild and wacky activities throughout the day, I was completely spent.
As we made our way through the security gates one last time, I noticed I wasn’t the only one dragging my feet. The crowd seemed slightly more subdued than the mad buzz of night prior. Once the band took the stage, I realized the fans might not be the only ones who needed some time to get things going… After a fun but sloppy “Punch” opener, “Buffalo Bill” was a welcomed rarity, followed by fairly basic versions of “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” and “Limb By Limb.” The overplayed & underwhelming “Waiting All Night” came next, then “Theme” and finally, the juices were flowing during “Maze.” Next, Trey continued his trolling with “The Line” before bringing some much-needed energy with “Stash,” followed by a beautiful, blissful “Reba.” Trey thanked everyone and their mothers (but the fans first & foremost!) during “I Didn’t Know” and a rocking “Character Zero” closed out the set. A very “first set-y” first set, as some jaded vets are wont to say.
Soon after the lights went down for the second set, Page hit the “Martian Monster” sample key and the crowd collectively lost their shit. One last trip to space before we head back to reality? Yes, please.
After some customary cosmofunk, the band ventures into a dark space, from which Mike smoothly leads them into “Down With Disease.” While I did not include this “DWD” in my jam segment, it is absolutely worth a re-listen, both because of the beauty of the jam and to hear the buttery segue into the subsequent “Scents and Subtle Sounds.” This segue is so natural and seamless, the crowd absolutely erupts with jubilation when they realize what is happening. While extremely uncommon in 3.0, Phish had actually played this tune less than 2 weeks prior during that awesome 5-song 2nd set at The Mann, so once “Scents” began, I knew we were in for a treat. The sweet, melodic intro is well-played but once that is done, Mike has other plans and takes a turn to the dark side. Fishman leads an energy build around 4:07 with that signature push of his and Trey begins wailing at 5:15, leading to a nice little peak at 7:36. By 8:10, the band has settled into an ambient space as Fishman repeats “like colors in the void.” But before anyone even has a chance to wonder what could be next, Trey drops into “What’s The Use?” so effortlessly that you’d think he had planned this before the set even began. Two great segues in a row? Is this the same Trey we all know and love??
Similar to “Scents,” “What’s The Use?” had not been all that prominent throughout 3.0, however 2015 seemed to be the year for it to shine. Having seen it at Alpine, MPP & now here, my previous misunderstanding and therefore dislike of the tune had all but dissolved and I now found myself able to appreciate and actually welcome this slow, intentional, HUGE piece of music. After Trey drops in, Fishman follows fluidly and Page begins to send these massive waves of sound out and over the crowd. Around 10:44, Mike bends down to hit his fight bell (which is usually a sign that he means business) before the music fades to almost complete silence, both onstage and off. This gentle giant has brought a crowd of 40,000+ folks to such a noticeable quiet, you could hear a pin drop around you. We are hanging on every note, as Trey deliberately and masterfully sends them out into this vast field of fans. Around 12:03, the sound starts to get big again but remains delicately powerful until the eventual fade into “Dirt.”
“Dirt” fits perfectly here, as we all get a chance to breathe and appreciate each others’ existence. Next, “Mike’s” kicks off the last real party of the weekend, with an interesting filler of “Fuego” & “Twist” before dropping into “Weekapaug.” Back to our regularly scheduled programing, a horrendous attempted segue back into “Martian Monster” reminds us that Trey is still human & a “YEM” encore before the finale of fireworks is the only way to possible way to end a weekend like this.
Thank you all for reading, for making Magnaball one of the best weekends of my life, and for being kind. Here’s to Summer Tour ‘16!
Dianna lives in Brooklyn & likes to talk about Phish on Twitter over at @dianna_2Ns. She is psyched for tour to be starting again soon & will be celebrating her 100th show at night 2 of The Mann! (She knows… She’s a n00b.) She’ll also be making her first trip to San Francisco & BGCA this summer. If you like cat pictures, you should go follow her cat’s Instagram at instagram.com/magnolia_the_cat. Her favorite “2001” is probably the one that followed “Sally” from The Gorge in ‘13 because “2001” is an appropriate song to be hearing when you feel like you’re on another planet… 👽
Note from LawnMemo: The above “2001” mentioned that took place at The Gorge was my birthday. Just needed everyone to know that.