26 in 26 #12 07/20/2013 FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, Chicago, IL (Jordan Gans, @CorbinDallas41)
Selection: “Mike’s Song>Theme From the Bottom->Weekapaug Groove”
From Jordan Gans:
Ahh, Chicago, Chicago, Chicago….how we’ve grown apart. Being born and raised in the windy city, I grew restless in my late 20s and decided to move on to bigger and better things. These days, I tend to avoid it as much as possible (too much city, too little nature). When I do grace it with my presence, my visits typically revolve around 3 things: grabbing the only style of pizza that matters, a burger at Kuma’s, and Phish.
Now as much as I complain about it, having so many friends and family there, I still consider Chicago as hometown shows (I’m complicated like that). And being hometown shows, emotions were running high when Phish rolled into town for the first time since UIC in 2011. Leading up to the run, all talk was on this ‘new’ Chicago venue. Instead of the expected Alpine/Deer Creek weekend, we were getting shows right in the heart of the city. Reports from an earlier Jimmy Buffett concert were not positive, leading the community to wonder if the venue would be able to fix their earlier mistakes in time for Phish’s takeover. Little did we know the venue would be the least of our concerns during the ongoing 2013 tour of rain.
‘If it blows over we’ll come back.‘ These were some of Trey’s parting words on night 1, but sadly this was a pipedream with the massive storm blowing in from the North. After the initial shock of what had happened set in, the only thing on our minds was what Phish was going to do to make up for the let down we had all experienced. I was at Reggie’s for pregame festivities Saturday, discussing the endless possibilities that the band had in store for us, when the answer came as most do these days…via the internet. As all our phones begin to ring and vibrate, you could feel a palpable excitement expand through the bar. I reached for my phone and my eyes began to widen as I read.
PHISH WAS PLAYING 3 SETS IN JUST A FEW HOURS. If the possibilities swimming through our heads before the announcement were grandiose, they were now downright astronomical.
3 SETS! That’s basically a festival, right?!? The rest of the afternoon was awash in speculation and anticipation, and with a favorable forecast, we were ready to get this show on the road.
After a short bus ride over to the venue, our crew quickly securing a spot on the floor, it wasn’t long before the band took the stage. How would they respond to the mid song exit the night before? Would we get some sort of reference? As some people guessed, we got our “Caspian” (although still unfinished…missed opportunity!). And for the conspiracy theorists out, possibly a hidden setlist message… “Prince Caspian > Twist > Ha Ha Ha > Possum” (some people always think it’s about them). The rest of the set was well played, albeit standard first set material, and I even got my first “Destiny Unbound!”
After a short 15 mins, we were ready for the meat of this 3 set Sammy. Everyone expected big things from this set, and it didn’t disappoint. After a solid “Back on The Train” opener, the opening riff of “Mike’s Song” let us know it was time to get down. Now normally I wouldn’t give a 3.0 “Mike’s” the satisfaction of a review, but this version deserves mention because of the unique choice of segue into “Theme From the Bottom,” so what the hell. After the composed section ends, we enter jam land at 2:35, with Trey laying down some standard rock riffs. Trey and Mike continue to noodle close to the “Mike’s” theme, and around 4:00-4:15 Mike is hinting ever so subtly at “Sand”. After a few calls to his whale brethren, we’re heading straight towards the exits, and at 7:50 we start to hold our collective breath in hopes of the ever elusive 2nd jam. Alas, this wasn’t the day to break a “Mike’s” wide open.
Fishman draws out the ride ending until Page comes in with the opening melody of “Theme” (including a bad note just to make sure we’re listening). A solid reading of “Theme” leads to the breakdown/jam section at 12:05. A few glances around to see if everyone has their fingers crossed, hoping that Trey can nail the widdleys…and he does it (mostly)! A 9.4 from our Russian judge (using the standard LawnMemo scale)! Trey quickly takes us to an uplifting, blissful place with Page providing chordal backing. Trey thinks about tossing the DEGheads in the crowd a bone at 14:10, but it’s just a carrot on a stick…We’ll get nothing and like it! At 15:00 we start the outro segment leading us into the vocal jam. Trey very quickly starts strumming some muted rhythms, perhaps hinting at the jam to come. At 16:20, just when you think it’s all ending, Trey lays down some more widdleys, and at 16:30 Mike drops some lasers into the crowd.
This is all the enticement Trey needs, and he immediately jumps into a funky chordal strum with Mike continuing to fire lasers. At 16:50 Fishman has already settled into a “Weekapaug Groove” like groove, and Mike quickly joins him slapping up a frenzy. At 17:20, Trey drops out to give Mike his usual bass solo intro. Trey jumps on the wah pedal for the beginning of the break at 18:40, with page keeping pace on the Clav. Page really starts shredding at 19:10. This segment is all Page!
Sounds like Page is teasing something at around 19:40, and Mike finds a bass line he just can’t quit at 19:42. Trey doesn’t waste much time in chasing Mike and then it’s Trey’s turn to show us what he’s got. We get some great interplay between Mike and Trey during the 20th minute, with Mike repeating a pattern and Trey weaving through it. After some more noodling around similar themes, Page steps back to the forefront. While this paug doesn’t contain a huge peak, it features some nice interplay between all four members. At 22:52, Trey takes up back to Paug proper, and we’re just about ready to close this groove out.
After the groove, Trey quickly starts up “Golden Age,” and while a pretty standard version, this leads into the 2nd highlight of the set in “Waves>Piper>Slave.” Definitely take a listen to that segment as Page continues his tear, giving Piper the full on Rock treatment. Our bonus set, while not containing a ton of highlights, features a solid “Light>Hood>GTBT.”
While I wouldn’t rank this show itself amongst the monsters of 2013 (Gorge, all of fall), it was a clear indication that Phish is still having the time of their life. And while they may not be able to please everyone, they’re certainly doing a damn good job pleasing most. Seriously, what other band would find a way to give their fans back a missed set?
Contrary to popular belief, Jordan was born in the early 80s and saw his first show in the golden era of Phish. He currently resides in Salt Lake City, UT where he spends most of his time climbing mountains. He continues to attend Phish shows in the hopes of hearing elusive bustouts, seamless segues, and one day, a full band Dave’s Energy Guide.
Favorite Ghost: Not sure I have a favorite, but I love me some funk, so I’ll go with 1997-11-17.
Jordan does a lot work to help out The Daily Ghost. Jordan also helped host all our studio replays over at plug.dj/thePhish. Also, he likes Seven Below as much as me, so he has that going for him.