26 in 26 #10 07/17/2013 Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, Alpharetta, GA (Jason Gucciardo, @DJGoocher)
July 17th, 2013 marked Phish’s 6th show at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park. It was also my first time at the beautiful venue, not counting the night prior. I had been on the fence about actually making the 9 hour trek to Alpharetta from South West Florida when tickets went on sale, but I grabbed pits for both nights with the thought that maybe I’d fly solo to these shows. Being they were the closest shows to home, it may be my only chance to see Phish this summer, but in the back of my head I fully expected I wouldn’t make it and I would help out a phan who was having trouble finding a ticket. Then I remembered 7/15/13 would be the 19th anniversary of my first show and 7/18 being my birthday I decided to make it happen. Just to make things better, my good friend Chris, and his family decided to come visit Florida that week. So it was now a sure thing he and I would be making the trip together!
We left Florida at around 6am on the 16th to make the drive to our hotel in Alpharetta with a 32 gig iphone loaded with tunes to help us get through, although the thought that we would be seeing Phish in a few hours was more than enough motivation. We arrived at the Marriott just a few hours before show time, only to be told they didn’t have a room for us and we would be moved to a different hotel across town. Since the first hotel was going to comp the night, we got back in the car and headed over to the new place in a flash. Unfortunately when we got to the new hotel we found out it had been closed for 3 years and the new hotel in its place would not honor the voucher the Marriott had given us. After some frustrating phone calls and searching around we ended up with a free suite at the La Quinta. We dropped our shit and headed to the venue. Night 1 was great in my opinion. I saw my first “Pebbles & Marbles”, the “Heartbreaker” teases, and that kick ass “Chalkdust Torture” had me reeling with excitement for night 2.
The afternoon of the 17th started with a great lunch of some southern BBQ, then a quick stop back at the hotel from hell (*see bonus story at end) and we were on our way back to Lot A for night two. At this point the skies were blue and clear. Meeting back up with Memo and his crew for some booze infused fruit, a few laps around the lot and into the show we go!
The “Runaway Jim” opener was a perfect way to start the show, and the funk-tastic duo of “Moma Dance” and “Funky Bitch” really got me moving, during which this happened…
PSA: When “Dancing like you think no one is watching” Keep an eye out for Memo and his phone, which has forever immortalized me in gif format.
The “Divided Sky” that came next was so beautiful it made the sky cry, and that continued most of the night. The summers first “Gumbo” was followed shortly after by the Phish debut of “Frost,” (and still only played once) a surprising but wonderful choice. Two more tour debuts followed, “Alaska” and “Guyute,” with “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” > “Suzy Greenberg” closing out the first set.
The 2nd set launched with one of my favorite openers, “Punch You In The Eye,” and dripped in to the appropriate combo of” Drowned” -> “Water in the Sky.” Next came what I consider the central theme of Summer 2013, Energy.
As the opening notes of “Energy” started so did the confirmation that I really like this tune. A song that I never heard before Phish covering it, yet I felt like the fellas had been playing it for years. Now this is going to be hard to write about without over using the word “Energy” because the song, the band and the crowed were full of it. You can hear the excitement in Trey’s vocals and playing as he confidently strums through the first verse. About a minute and a half in, Page comes through with a bewitching, droning sound that complements Trey’s simple but well played first little solo.
As the band comes back to “Ham The World” Trey lets out a small chuckle before they flip the switch to full power and let 1.21 gigawatts of energy and electricity loose. My only guess on the laugh is Trey saw this.
As the chant of “Electricity” comes to an end, there is a patient build up while Mike and Fish lay a solid foundation for Trey to rise on. At the 5:50 mark you can feel the tension growing and then BAM! A break down to funk. Mike’s tone moves to a synth groove before they change direction to a floating jam, where Trey latches on to a riff that to me, is reminiscent of the intro of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” This is when Fishman moves to the Marimba Lumina, for the second time this tour, and the first during “Energy.” A great addition to Fish’s jungle gym of beats. Just before the 10min mark you can hear Trey hint at what’s to come next.
Another tour debut, “Fluffhead,” brings with it a refreshing breeze of contrast from a new cover to a artist defining classic. This one starts off very well, strong vocals, intensity and drive. As usual the “Powerful Pills” line evokes an eruption of cheers from the crowd, this still gives me chills. The “Fluff’s Travels” section was very clean and sweet with minimal, if any flubs at all. A fairly standard fluff until Trey brings back the “Heartbreaker” tease from the previous night. This is about the time the guy next to me opened his backpack that was stuffed with glow sticks and began handing them out to everyone around him. Of course every single person he gave them to decided to toss them at what they thought was the best time, during the “FLUFFHEAD”, and as usual this is when CK5 blasts us with white light making the colored glow sticks useless. As we come over the peak and expect this fluff to come to an end we are treated to the opening notes of “Piper.”
This Piper jumps right into the vocals, no extended intro, but it still gets to a place all Pipers should hit. As we sail on out of the vocal section and into “sound of storm” jam section, Big Red begins quoting Energy’s “Electricity”. Fitting because this Piper is electric from here on out. I think Fish gets the MVP here, he sounds like an octopus behind the kit with tentacles flailing. Thats TENTACLES.
The band takes us out on an excursion during the jam. A plinko like sound from Page on what I’m guessing is the clavinet leaves the door wide open for Trey and Mike to really explore. But at no point does Fish stop, not even for a sec! “Piper” slowly melts into a beautiful and for me much needed tour debut “Fast Enough For You.” Yes, another tour debut, and with the “Mighty Quinn” encore that is a total of 8 tour debuts at this show.
If asked which night I prefered I’d have to say….
Both shows were unique, energetic and fulfilling. I feel blessed that after 20 years of seeing Phish, I have never left a show feeling let down or disappointed. Each new show is a gift Page, Mike, Trey, and Jon generously deliver without any expectations. Well I guess they expect some money, but thats cool.
* After the show Chris and I feeling somewhat defeated by the music, in the best possible way, stop and pick up some fast food on the way back to the hotel. Upon entering our room we notice the message light blinking on the phone. Since we didn’t even know we would be staying here, we found it odd that there would be a message, no one knew where we were staying. After about 20 min of trying to figure out how to check the message, we discover it’s a hang up and think nothing of it. We devour our McD’s and since we have a 9 hour drive back in the morning and its already like 1:30 am, we get ready to hit the hay. As Chris is getting ready for bed he asks me if I had gone in his bag, he thought he had closed it before we left and it was now open. I had not, and since nothing was missing, including cash that was right on top in the bag, we dismissed it. I headed into the suite bedroom and that’s when things really got weird. As I was about to get into bed I noticed something on the floor. On closer inspection I see it’s a Magnum condom wrapper. As any of my ex’s could tell you it certainly wasn’t mine. Being extremely tired and knowing I have a long drive ahead of me, I start to make excuses like “Maybe the maid dropped it when cleaning” or “maybe it fell out from under the bed when she made it”. I walk out to tell Chris about my discovery but he is already in bed and just agrees with my conclusions about the maid. So I head back into the room, kind of confused but too tired to care, and that’s when I notice a balled up towel in the other corner of the room. “OK” I think to myself, ” I took a shower before the show, but I think I left my towel in the bathroom”. Now I’m telling Chris from the other room about this and he is laughing but still not getting out of bed. As I walk into the living room again is when I see the plastic cup on the TV with some red “Sizzurp” looking liquid. Now I know without a doubt someone has been banging in my bed while we were at the show.
Not wanting to touch the bed I call the front desk. After explaining what is happening, the man at the front desk says “Are you kidding me, Hold up, I need to come see this fo’ myself”. About 15 min later a knock at the door and incomes a giant dude. He kinda looked like Huell from Breaking Bad.
Again I explain what happened and he says “Oooo, someone’s gonna be in trouble”. I start to show him my discoveries and as I walk towards the wadded up towel, he says one of the funniest things I heard the whole trip. “YO, don’t touch that. it got nut on it”. This became our mantra for the long ride back home, and continues to this day to crack us both up.
After moving us to a new room and only a few hours of sleep we awoke ready to hit the road. As I went to check out the new desk person was aware of the situation and told us they were going to check the key card records to see if a key was used to get in the room. The tech wouldn’t be in till afternoon, so they would call me to let me know what happened. Then she hands me a bill, this surprised me, expecting to be compensated for this fiasco. After a bit of arguing with her and making sure the others in the lobby knew that the things in their rooms may have nut on them when they return, I refused to sign invoice and left. A few hours into our ride home the hotel manager called me apologizing up and down and assuring me this room will be comped too. So all in all, I don’t think I could have asked for more, 2 nights of great music, 2 free hotel rooms and memories that will last a life time.
Gooch is a major part of lawnmemo.com and does all the work to make the site look great, and make sure it functions. I have no idea how to do anything so without Gooch I would be lost. He is responsible for the now famous Portland Meadows Ghost Map.
From Jason Gucciardo (Gooch)
Favorite Ghost: Toss up between Slimer & Casper the Friendly Ghost
2nd Favorite Ghost: 07/23/1997 Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, GA, Due to the length and thick funk, I call this one “The Ghost of John Holmes”
Gooch is a jaded vet turned born again n00b, a dyslexic bra fly, pitbull loving, pirate, computer nerd. When he’s not making GIF’s (hard G) of his fellow Turntablers, he is usually snuggling up with a plate of bacon and dark chocolate. Gooch is happy to have been a part of the build and upkeep of lawnmemo.com and can be found spouting random bits of nonsence at@djgoocher