I have started crying at shows. I am not sure why this happens but it’s happening. Not getting teary eyed, or wiping away a few drops, but outright bawling, pouring the rivers of time and space out of my eye sockets. It usually only lasts half a song and it’s amazing. It really cleanses the soul, washing away the issues of the day to allow me to be open to the rest of the show. Lawnmemo recently wrote his post about “those moments” and that’s when it happens. Why do I cry? Maybe its that I have 3 kids under 5 so life is both beautiful and very hard. Maybe it’s the wonder of life and love. Maybe it’s the amazing music pouring into my ears. Maybe I’ve become soft in my old age. Whatever the reason, I love it. It feels real. It happened last weekend at Solid Sounds when my 3 year old son fell asleep on me during Tweedy’s acoustic afternoon set. It happened during “Theme From the Bottom” in Bangor 7/3/13, and it happened at the CCCC 7/6/16.
Before I give my recap of the show highlights, a brief history of the Bog Hog. I’ve seen 199 shows, starting 11/27 and 11/28 in 1992 (“That’s right folks, we’re going back inside of Fish’s head.”). I’ve seen something on each tour, never jumping off the circus train. Phish is the soundtrack to my life. Lucky for me, my show attendance peaked 1997 – 2000. I had always heard about people crying at Dead shows “that Morning Dew….” But I never got it, until the Great Went. It happened during “Dirt”, Set 3 night 2 of probably the best show of my career (hmm. Maybe 12/30/97 or 4/3/98). That Dirt was the first time I balled at show. What a release. Love that song to this day. That was a rare moment in the 90s. But now the crying is more common.
That takes us to 7/6/16. I was late to the show due to an 8 month pregnant wife and bedtime for the kids. This was only the third show in my career I was late to (Sugarbush ‘94 I missed the “Golgi Apparatus” opener, but made it in for the NO2, and Gorge ’98 I missed the first set, not that you care). I got to the show early in the first set, I didn’t miss much. By the time I was situated on the floor with great dancing space, “My Friend, My Friend” was ending and “Heavy Things” started up. The 3.0 Page solos that happen sometimes in “Heavy Things” are a great change to the song format. And the tone on Page’s Hammond was phenomenal in the CCCC. You have to listen this solo. Page absolutely slays it.. Sometimes, there is a Page solo that is perfect for the time and place.
“Heavy things” was an amazing moment in what was more of an average 2016 show. I cannot complain about this show. “Tweezer,” “Mikes Groove,” with a “Fluffhead,” and a “Contact>Tweeprise” Encore. Ummm, hello Amazeballs Setlist?? But maybe a less inspired show than some we’ve seen.
The “Tweezer” (as usual) was the highlight of the show for me. I think some magic was brewing that somehow got snubbed. Nonetheless it was an experience. I had the feeling it was going to blow up into a 30+ minute Tweezer. Wishful thinking? Maybe, but it seemed due, right? Trey’s ripping from 1:45 – 1:55 first gives me that feeling. Unique riffing for mid verse “Tweezer.” You can really feel it at 3:05 when the breakdown after the verse happens. Given the amazing sound in the room and how great Page’s Hammond sounded (it makes grown men cry), you would expect a typical “Tweezer” Page breakdown. But No. Trey noodles a pentatonic lick into a jam space. Mike slaps some complimentary lines (almost unison with Trey at 3:19…one musical mind). This almost feels like they skipped the Ebenezer part and went straight to the jam. I had the distinct feeling they wanted to leave song structure and soar.
The jam begins around 4:20 in a typical 3.0 “Tweezer” rolling boil. Fishman attacks the high hat. Some great Trey and Mike interplay and again Trey and Mike in unison around 5:14. The groove Mike takes us on at 5:25 brings the jam to the dominant E major which they jam on in an open uplifting groove. This is awesome. We are taking off. At 5:55 Trey introduces an ascending lick I’ve heard before, can’t place it but continues to lift us up. At the end of minute 7, Page starts a Rhodes led jam and in minute 8 darkness ensues and we turn to E minor. At the time this did not feel like fizzling of the energy but felt very much like the diving into the deep end possibly not to return. Especially at minute 10 this feel of diving into the soup was palpable. Where are we going??? Around 10:40 I’m looking at the stage wondering if this could be it? Could this be my Tahoe “Tweezer?” (I missed that one) I mean, we’v modulated twice to the third key of the jam, and “Tweezer” is jam vehicle right? We are in Maine, C’mon. Trey seems to lack and idea of what to do and starts stepping on some pedals and putting some soundscapes out there. Now in early 3.0 this would have been the time for Mike to take over with the meatball or some envelope filter and take lead. But Mike didn’t really take too many leads in summer 2016. Trey lacked ideas, and all of sudden, the “Guyute” rhythms start. I’m not one to complain about “Guyute” so I take it, but it seemed like there was a lost moment there. In some ways the post-GD50 bandleader Trey had become had the other 3 watching him and waiting for his queue instead of taking over the reins.
No more crying for me at this show, the rest was a fun ride. I appreciated the “slow down” sections Phish was adding late second set last summer where they would play four emotional slow songs in a row. On this night we got “Tide Turns,” “Devotion to a Dream,” “Wingsuit,” “Bittesweet Motel.” Don’t sleep on the “Devotion to a Dream” solo either. And the Clod breakdown in “Fluffhead” is a ripper. I love the way Fishman kicks those beats like a hellborn elfchild. Not a better rhythm in all of Phish than his high hat and kick drum playing during the Clod. Page on Clavinet countered by Trey’s dirty licks (no soundscape) is a peak worth revisiting.
I’m all about that “Contact” and a “Tweeprize” to end. Send us back to our abode. See you at Great Woods!
About Bog Hog:
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