26 in 26 #13 07/21/2013 FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, Chicago, IL (Nate Douglas, @phish_forum)
From Nate Douglas:
I’m cruising through Acadian forest, my first time in Vacation Land. A greasy mist slathers my windshield. The concert field is too wet, per rumour. A quick downpour before the show tops off Lake Stupid stage left of the sound board.
Upstate storm season is in full swing. Hail and lightning blow by, and the gates are closed to resounding boos. Approximate pavilion humidity: Cambodia circa 1970. The lawn and pavilion are two separate biomes. At one point I look back and it’s like being on the Maid of the Mist. I got some SPAC lawns for sale, brah.
Wantaugh: A Shining Light in Darkness Deep. I was there, and I can assure the ocean and sky were indistinguishable, waves lapping the wall and spilling onto the floor. Set the cycle to deep soul cleanse and take the highway through the great divide.
Skyscrapers, deep dishes, mining for blues on Halsted. Shows cancelled. Good luck to you, spunions. Go find a tunnel to do dippies in while lightning leaps from cloud to cloud. By the third night the joke had ceased to be funny. As I stare up into the deluge the Gin crescendos with the storm. I open my coat and let the rain wash over me. Water In The Sky indeed. An aborted Antelope and snap out of it LIGHTS.
Holy shit where am I? Ok, I’m in Chicago. We’ve had a bit of rain, it seems. I’m surrounded by chattering teeth, my friends huddle under tarps and plastic bags. Those kind enough to share spread out their raincoats to cover a couple more soaked heads. It’s miserable.
But then just like it stops raining and that infectious melody begins. “And the world, is made of energy / world is electricity.” And just like that it’s all washed away. The rain that had hampered tour from the start—swept away. All my personal problems that I was dragging around behind me across the country—gone. “We’re gonna see the sunlight.”
This “Energy” encompasses 15 sweet minutes. They move through the song rather quickly; it’s a short song. After the final chorus Trey begins trilling, repeating “electricity” as the band synchronizes. At ~5:00 a series of descending scales signals a descent into Type II territory. I’m rapt. I may as well be alone on that floor at this point. Are they playing just for me? At ~7:00 a tempo and key change(?) combine to produce some upbeat melodic jamming. To my ears they are all four a single cohesive entity, each perfectly complimenting the other. A breakdown begins at ~13:30, which dissolves into that ambient space they use to segue into…
GHOST. YES. Ghost is my favourite song to hear live, and this version did not disappoint. Though it clocks in at a mere 9 minutes, the sum of the whole three song medley is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a straight rocker, further developing some of the melodic themes from the proceeding “Energy.” Come for the clavinet, stay for the seamless segue into “The Lizards.”
“The Lizards” is another of my favourite songs to hear live, perhaps stemming from the 6/4/11 version, when I looked over at the lawn and everyone had morphed into lizards. Whatever the reason it was the perfect cap to the three song “Energy” > “Ghost” -> “The Lizards” medley that spanned the gap between torrential downpour and double rainbow.
The set, taken as a whole, is among the best I heard live last year. Whether you think the Harpua was good, bad, bizarre spectacle or the height of theatrical Phish, plunk a by-the-numbers 20 minute YEM in its place and you still have a five song second set with deep jamming, blistering rock and seamless segues. I count myself lucky to have witnessed it live.
Character Zero sent us on our way into the Chicago night to tear down the city like Godzilla v. King Kong. And we all woke up the next day singing “And the world is made of Energy…”
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@Phish_Forum is a 64 year old former hand model for the Sears and Roebuck Corporation. When not on tour she enjoys Antiques Roadshow and shuffleboard.
11/17/97 McNichols Arena, of course. Followed closely by the 6/13/97 SFX Center OG “Ghost.” The way SFX Ghost glides in from “Chalk Dust” and out into “Olivia’s Pool” like an apparition induces goosebumps.