25 in 25 of 2016: #6 06/29/2016 The Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, PA (Josh Diskin, @jdisk)
This very special show was my 100th.
Tom Marshall can talk about the “300 Show Club” all he wants to on Under The Scales (a lovely podcast, btw) but I reached my personal mountaintop a year ago today. It took hard work, insane dedication, creative ways of getting to shows (did anyone else use to trade tickets for rides on craigslist back in the day?) and a thorough level of ridiculousness.
I purposely picked this Mann show as my 100th for a few reasons: I went to undergrad in Philly and had never been to Prospect Park or the Mann. Every Mann show seemed better than the last and I wanted to go to one myself and earn my baseball card. Also, my second show ever was Camden ’09 which, in a lot of ways was the real start to my Phish obsession, so going back to the area for my 100th seemed full circle.
Also, friends! Lots of my friends were going to be at this show and I loved surprising them. (Thanks for all your help on this one, Vivs!) It’s worth noting that one dear friend, Dianna_2Ns, was going to be there for her 100th show, too. It was meant to be!
In terms of the music, this show was pretty average. Still, it certainly had its unique moments. There were 3 debuts- “Waking Up Dead,” “Friends,” and “Tide Turns.” “Waking Up Dead” and “Friends” were weird in the moment and we weren’t too sure what the band would do with them, which is where we still are, in all likelihood. I was also happy that “Dear Prudence” showed up. When they brought it back on the tour opener, I got goosebumps listening to the “look around” part and I was so happy I was able to hear that surround sound experience live. Also, I am officially in the 100% club for “Dem Bones.” Whippee.
Really, this show centered around the second edition of “Slow Llama” which I fucking love, as I’m sure many of you do, too. It centered around “Slow Llama” because once finished, the band started it’s excursion into slowing down song tempos.
Speaking of tempo, it’s a pretty important dynamic for Phish. When they are playing and messing around on stage with tempo, it’s an awesome sign of brilliant playing to come. While maybe the tempo exercises didn’t pay dividends for this particular show, I’m convinced they served as a foundation for some of their highest moments of the summer later on.
Two songs after “Slow Llama” came “Reba,” the song I picked for this jam writeup.
I’m on a huge “Reba” kick right now. I just had my first child and one of the few tools I have to stop his fussiness are “Reba” jams. Also, “Reba”s are pretty scarce these days. Only 3 in 2016. Weird. Please stop this trend, Phish.
So how did this “Reba” go down?
For one, it starts off noticeably slower. They screw up the lyrics a bit but it’s a very rhythmic song with the lyrics so it’s understandable.
7:00-8:25- The initial spacing is just beautiful, exactly what you look for at an outdoor summer show. I love when you can clearly hear each individual instrument and the space becomes a tangible 5th instrument. You can actually feel the space, both live and on a great recording. It’s a magical Phish moment.
8:25-9:47- Tempo picks up a bit. There is a slight reverb soundscape in the background, reminiscent of pre-3.0. Hard to put a finger on it. Maybe I’ll rewatch the LivePhish set break rig segments again to pinpoint what and who was making the sound. Everyone starts to groove just a little bit more during this part.
9:48-11:10- Prime “Reba” territory. Trey is crooning out his soaring notes and Fishman is starting to assert himself more prominently. Happy happy Phish place. Let the vibes rise like like fireflies and illuminate our play!
11:11-11:46- Some nice trilling from Trey. You can even hear cheers from the crowd. I love it when you can hear crowd cheers through the soundboard. The climatic build is solid and with “Reba” being played so seldom, the climax comes just as you always remember it, with a little extra pleasure that comes after delaying gratification.
After some slowed down whistling, we get some Trey banter, always lovely on a summer evening. “We’re just cracking ourselves up here, thinking about what other songs we can perform slowly…” Well, Trey, here are some suggestions– “Tube,” “Sparkle,” and “Buried Alive”. Much appreciated.
So this was my 100th show, spent in the warm presence of very dear friends and lovely summer weather. Every show can’t be the best show but they all are certainly memorable. I can remember every moment of this one, pre/post show and during, in photographic detail. It will always be my 100th.