26 in 26 #17 07/30/2013 Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s, Stateline, NV (Kristen and Kate, @2Chix1FightBell) #Phish
Selection: “Ghost, Mike’s Song>Slave to the Traffic Light, Weekapaug Groove”
7/31 by @2chix1fightbell
While most people need the travel time and extra day to chill and recover after an amazing two night stand at the country’s most pristine amphitheater, I chose to leave the Gorge the day after to catch a flight to beautiful Lake Tahoe. A former co-worker of mine had moved to Tahoe almost a year prior. When we worked together he had the pleasure of listening to SiriusXM JamOn and mostly the bar staffs’ ipods filled with hours upon hours of Phish. I told him that one day, he’d go to a show while he swore up and down he would rather die than go to a Phish concert.
Let’s just say, he caved, and decided to come to his first Phish shows those next two nights in Lake Tahoe. Lucky first two shows!
The rest of our friends reconvened at the parking lot and hotel casino that we all became familiar with in 2011.- Harvey’s. This place is legit. Between the casino itself, the helpful staff, dog friendly and the pool which overlooks the venue so you can listen to soundcheck while catching some Vitamin D, why would we stay anywhere else?
I walked in ahead of time to scope out the scene inside the venue. I had a full cup of booze, which didn’t bother the event staff as long as it was in a plastic cup. Friends made their way into the parking lot and we set up camp the furthest Page-side you could get before hitting the stands. Before you knew it, show time.
I didn’t take much time to exit the venue and head straight back to my hotel room where I set up shop. By shop I mean: A handle of Kettle One, ice and some mixers and of course the ever-so-important laptop, connected to the equally important-internet.
Earlier in the day, Kate (who missed the Gorge but knew every note that was played, probably better than the spunions that were actually there) and I discussed songs we wanted to hear that show. I wanted an “Energy,” second set opener and she wanted a “Golden Age.” I couldn’t wait to re-listen and give her cred for that call. Kate came to my room soon after and the show was almost done downloading from LivePhish.com. I remember chatting with her how great we both thought the show was, while our hotel room was calling out our one friend who came in hating on it. We were both like, “Were you at the same show we were?” over and over again, until our friend got mad at us and left. Back to conversing. I talked about how the first set wasn’t my typical liking of first set songs, but I thought they were jammed out and enjoyable. And then we came to the Bathtub discussion. I loved that Bathtub, but I hated what Trey tried to do in the beginning. Kate and I don’t disagree on much when it comes to this band, what we like, what we don’t like, what is good, what isn’t good. But on this day, we disagreed on that particular song, but it didn’t matter, it just gave us more reason to listen to that show again, and again,and probably again.
The “Golden Age” set the tone for what both of us agreed, was a Mike-tastic set. It paved the way, the flow and overall energy of a set that we can look back at and see where Fall 2013 was headed. “Ghost” is definitely one of our top songs, with it being Kate’s favorite song. I remember getting deep into this groove while she, myself and another were totally zoned in on what was occurring. The band was allowing me to transcend space and time, feeling ever-so-present and one with everything-until…..this dude comes barreling through our spot! I just remember being that girl to tell him he couldn’t stand there because he had entered our “energy circle.” That seemed to work and he left. Back to “Ghost.” It was layered in multi-tonal directions. I loved the slower start, not rushing after a very high energy “Boogie On.” Page picks up the tone with Mike laying the thick bass lines overtop. They nailed the part (2:45) that we all always hope they nail otherwise we cringe, and continued from there to start building on what they started. Trey and Gordon playing off one of another, each taking lead. Fishman picks up the beat a little while the two of them just play around one another ever so softly. (5:45) Page starts to chime in and follow the fun that Trey and Gordo had created for themselves. Fishman once again starts laying it on heavier, a bit faster, and the others follow suit. My absolute favorite part of this “Ghost” occurs just after the eight minute mark where Trey starts tying in those “Bathtub Gin” licks from set one. And of course bringing back to the original opening beats of “Ghost at the end,” finishing a quick but beautifully done rendition of one of our favorite jams.
The entire set flows so well that it’s hard to not talk about it all. The ending of “Piper” (again one of our favorite songs) is very unique and different than a lot of 3.0 “Pipers” in that Page takes it down to a beautifully composed, Coil-esque ending that segues seamlessly into “Wading in the Velvet Sea.” I thought that was the end of the show, but no, the band had something else in mind.
The opening notes of “Mike’s Song,” I distinctly remember saying out loud and albeit loudly, “Of course they would play this! Of course! Cause Mike just killed it! He crushed it! Of course!” I was out of control and so was the rest of my body, as I started laughing and smiling and getting down. The Mike’s was a great addition to a bass-fueled show, giving him the street cred he so deserved for that night. Trey’s tone (3:20), I remember calling it “gun-metal Trey,” is just that deep raw guitar sound that hits you in the pit of your gut. Fishman just letting it rip as the entire band (5:00) come together full speed and raging. Gordon laying it on heavy again to remind us all why we are at this point, because he absolutely crushed it tonight. (6:19) Back to Trey doing his thing and bringing us back to the structured ending of Mike’s which typically leads us anywhere besides:
Even re-listening, you can hear in the crowds’ energy, “Oh shit!”, “Wow!’, “What?” Nothing out of the ordinary structure within a “Slave,” besides the placement itself. Around five minutes in, you are just elated with that bliss this song gives to us, and we feel thankful, or at least I do, for the moment, for the gift that is this band, that brings us to new places, reunites us to old ones, seeing all of our homies’ smile, and meeting new ones along the away. This song brings me that feeling. Presence. For that, I am thankful.
And just like that…end set? Wait what? Had that ever been done before?
We didn’t have much time to think about it once the band returned to stage to break down “Weekapaug Groove.” This version didn’t start out super loud and strong, but kept its groove and everyone dancing. (2:50) The funk starts with Page breaking it down for everyone, occasional overlays by Trey, the constant togetherness of Fish and Mike with those loud thumps to bring us home. But then Page starts ripping again around the five minute mark, funk fueled finger banging…yeah, I said it. So what.
Favorite Ghost: 7/2/98
The Thursday prior to my first vacation with my last company, I got a phone call from the owner to let me know they were laying me off. “We weren’t sure if it was best to tell you before or after you left for California,” she said. In this case, it was meant to be, and I was certainly meant to know about this before I headed off to Lake Tahoe and then on to San Francisco. It meant that I arrived in Reno, NV the next Monday without having to worry about any work stress, except for what to do next. I came in a night early to Tahoe to catch up with some close friends in the area, which meant renting a boat for the night, absorbing the sunset from a cove on the lake, howling at the moon as it rose and gasping at shooting stars blasting across the cosmos and washing it all down with Tequila. I needed every ounce of the magic that was happening, I felt the layers being lifted.
On our boat was a microcosm of the social interactions that would continue over the Tahoe run and on. Old friends, new friends; People coming off of the insane Chicago into Gorge run, Someone just hiked the Pacific Crest trail, Someone’s who’s first show was earlier that summer, another person’s was in ’94, people just hoping on tour; It didn’t matter, we were all there for the next two nights, everyone thrilled. We toured the lake into the wee hours of the morning. This is the stuff you dream about when you plan a Summer Phish vacation, the magic kept brewing.
The next day I arrived at our hotel, caught up with my group of friends fresh off the Gorge and got the scoop. Obviously I webcasted the Gorge run and was blown away, I couldn’t wait to get a piece of what was happening. How do you top a run like that? Well in the case of 7/31, we danced it out to a show anchored by a very funky Mike Gordon. Kristen’s show review is spot on, aside from yes we do disagree about that “Bathtub Gin.” I think Trey was giving us a vocal breakdown- hints of a some Old School Phish. At least a lot of the people were reacting with excitement just like I was. I’ll leave her review as is- it’s spot on to me, this is why we share a Twitter account, it’s rare to find someone that you can trust fully with your Phish opinions.
I’d rather talk about what I did when I got into the venue, like I’ve done so many times before, like so many of us do at each show- I planted my foot firmly on the pavement and made a mental pivot. And we went to church that night and the next night we were uplifted as high as you can fathom in 36:48 minutes. It all fell apart right before I left for Tahoe, so I had two choices- keep going on the same tangent that had gotten me there, or take a turn in a different direction. We danced under the stars, I made new friends, celebrated with old ones. This is what Summer Phish is about. And I made the first of many pivots in 2013. I went on to do Bill Graham, and then on to the whole Fall tour.
So kudos to my ex-boss, thanks for the phone call prior to my vacation. I needed to hear the finality, I needed to truly unwind, I needed to be able to dive head first, unafraid, into the intoxicating cauldron of magic that brews on the right night with this band. And we did just that.
The girls at @2chix1fightbell bring a great energy to our community and seem to always be having fun. Yup, my kind of people.