Memo’s “Other Jams” Memo: “Down With Disease”, “Chalk Dust Torture”
From Andrew Cary:
I hail from the great city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What’s made Milwaukee famous has made Phish shows fun for me. Milwaukee is all about working hard and then getting together with friends to have a few beers and good times. And that’s exactly how I see Phish. You work hard all year saving up money, frequent flyer miles, and vacation days to leave the stress of everyday life behind so you can see old friends, indulge in whatever you fancy, and see arguably the greatest live act in the world.
San Francisco is not Milwaukee and Phish people are not like other people. We got into San Fran a night early to explore the town and after a few shitty bar recommendations from the hotel doormen, we took to trusty Twitter to show us a good time. Lucky for us, @semirec was still awake and willing to be our virtual tour guide. He had us hop in a cab that brought us to some great bars in the Lower Haight and the Mission. If you ever need San Francisco recommendations, ask him. This run was off to a good start.
We eventually made our way back to our hotel to catch some sleep. The next day was more tooling around the city, eating Rice a Roni, and resting up for the night’s show.
It’s interesting going to a beautiful region of the US, such as the Bay Area, knowing you’re not going to have a natural scenic backdrop for the show. Rather, you’ll be indoors. I struck up a few conversations with people about on the lawn across from the Bill Graham Civic Center about the good, old fashion indoor versus outdoor debate. The general consensus always was, “I don’t think we need to worry about it. They’re not going to mess up a run at this venue.”
Everyone got inside BGCC and although I was obviously thousands of miles from home, I nonetheless still ran into dozens of people I have met over the years. A solid crowd of friends congregated for a first set that was a pretty standard affair, but had some highlights, including an always great to hear “Corinna” and a pretty funky “Sand.”
And a standard affair is not a bad thing. Sure, the first set included a lot of rotation songs but the energy was high and you could tell this run would be special. And it was. My only gripe — “Halley’s” being cut off for “Funky Bitch.” There’s no such thing as a bad song when Phish plays it, just songs that need long, long naps. Go to sleep, “Funky Bitch.”
The lack of jamming in the first set seemed to have no effect on Phish when they came out for set two. The ever-exploring “Down With Disease” let you know that finding psychedelic yet responsible jams over the next three nights would be about as difficult as finding a stoner reference in a hipster blog post about Phish. Those fighter jets of pulsating grooves you wanted in the first set had finally found you in the opening minutes of set two.
A short, yet rocking “Birds” gave way to the bone-in rib eye with sautéed baby portabella mushrooms portion of the show: “Tweezer.” I love “Tweezer.” You never know where “Tweezer” is going to go but you always know it’s going to be rocking. It likes to have a good time all the time. The jam before the jam, starting at 3:20, lets you know they mean business with this “Tweezer.” It’s marinating. It’s being drawn up so you and your friends can sit around and play it for years to come.
At about 5:10, I remember distinctly thinking to myself, “Is Page playing little ‘Wilson’ calls while Trey and Mike are interspacing a ‘Manteca’-esque jam?” Obviously the good times on the West Coast are a little stronger and harder than the good times in the Modest Midwest, so I had to clear my head of this nonsense. The sound of a random Mike’s Fight Bell at 5:27 let you know that he was in the mood to start laying down these wonderful bass lines for Trey to weave in and out of like Brett Favre after too many beers at the Stadium View Bar and Grille. Page took this cue to hop off the piano and create the soundtrack to bubbling pancake batter on a hot skillet. All the while Fishman is helping build up the tension with some unique, yet simple patterns that sat at the bottom of an open drawbridge begging to make the jump.
At 7:25, you hear Page start playing a very similar sound and chord progression as the “Light -> Sneaking Sally” we would hear two nights later. The tension builds up multiple times over the next two minutes of the jam, but Trey isn’t quite ready.
But then at 9:42, it happens, Trey lets it go.
As I said, this isn’t quite the “Light -> Sally,” but it is certainly a foreshadowing of the amazing bit of tension and release you’ll read about on Monday.
The rest of the jam is fantastically syncopated with Trey boomeranging signals to beckon the Mothership, Page matching the madness, Gordo getting out there, and all the while Fish’s kit is percolating the perfect percussion. A bit more tension drifts into Mike running up and down his bass, playing notes that sound like devil’s organ (12:50). Trey and Page tease what I can only imagine is Purgatory’s theme song and it begs you to keep the party going even though you’ve just been dragged through 13:00 minutes of Mike Gordon Segway boot camp.
No one knew what was coming next. It could have gone anywhere from “2001,” to “What’s the Use?” back into “Tweezer,” to “If I Could,” but instead Trey decided to ease up on the gas and play a laid back, but spirited “Twist.” Every Phish fanboy in attendance was woken up from the spaced-out daze that they had just been lulled into, to scream in unison, “Woo!”
So how about that “Tweezer?” In my opinion, it was the best “Tweezer” since Dick’s 2011. If Phish hadn’t put such a superb effort into the “Tweezer” from 12-28-2012, I’d notch this one up to my favorite of the year. It had everything you want in a “Tweezer”: tock, experimentation, the dark side, tension and release, interplay. Everything. How many jams were in there? 1? 2? 3?
That’s up for you to decide. The rest of the run was equally a good time. I may not exactly remember a lot of 8-18-2012, but I look forward to reading tomorrow’s post about it and finding out what I missed. Until then, here’s a little secret for you…
Tour is right around the corner…get ready.
Follow @TweeterReprise for one of the great twitter feeds in the Phish community. He cracks me up constantly. He is apparently a Gif Jedi as well.
From Anderew Cary:
My name is Andy Cary. I’m 27 and I live and drink Miller Lite in Milwaukee, WI. You may know me as @TweeterReprise or you may not know me at all. But you can follow me there for more information about what makes me tick. My hobbies include breathing heavily into disconnected payphones, trying the veal during Packer games, fluffing my stats, and spending hours of my workday as a government intelligence collector reading and writing about Phish and other hip bands such as Radiohead, Wilco, and The Grateful Dead. I’m sorry I once interrupted your Phish show by bringing a sign to it, but that was one of the greatest moments of my life. Inquire within.
Favorite Ghost: 06/26/04 Boogie->Ghost->Free