A few thoughts after my adventures in Chicago….
Well I am Back on the Plane…on my four hour flight to Seattle, and my final leg of this journey. Why stop writing now?
Quick Note: If you don’t like Phish, you will probably not enjoy this piece…
I have one feeling about Chicago. It was awesome. Was it the music, or what I made with what was presented to me? I am sure it was a mix of both. Let me try and dig deeper and explore a little bit.
I certainly don’t like everything about myself, but one of the things I like best is my ability to see the good in almost every situation. I try to make ice cream out milk. I try to find the Pliny the Elder in a 12 pack of Coors Light.
Focusing on the good and living my life that way, is one of my greatest life achievements. I am a happy person and try to spread that with everyone I come in contact with. A good friend of mine paid me a compliment once by saying “When you are around you bring up the collective happiness of the people around you.” WHAT A COMPLIMENT! I sat for a couple days appreciating what a nice thing that was for someone to say (Thanks Ashley Driscoll). That wasn’t your standard, “You are so nice” or “You have the most amazing beard I have ever seen” (Which I promise will never be said to me). That was a compliment that was thought out, original, and something that made an impact on me. Sometimes words CAN mean everything.
I went to the original Toronto show, and am currently traveling in the complete opposite direction of the rescheduled show. So when Friday night’s show was cancelled in Chicago, I was starting to feel like I was bad luck. Many times my favorite show of a three night run is the first night. I was pumped, with a massive and awesome crew and ready to throw down in the second set. “DWD” had gotten things moving and I thought it was on. Leaving just when things were getting hot, was no fun.
We went to the parking garage in Soldier Field, and it might have been hotter than Trey’s solo during “Prague Ghost.” Luckily a friend of a friend, provided us with some cold beverages! We took our shelter and then went to my friend’s hotel room in between the storms. (Thanks to everyone on twitter who gave me storm updates, you kept us safe!)
Within minutes of sitting around having some beers and catching up with my friends from around the country, the memories of missed Phish and Hell’s Fury Parking Garage were washed away. I could barely breathe with the amount of laughter from the conversations of that night. I was 100% happy that night and knew that the Phish was a feeling that was passing by the minute.
I said to myself “How am I going to complain tonight?” I saw one set of Phish and hung out with incredibly fun people. You know how many people don’t have an opportunity to experience Phish even once in their lives? How many people don’t have the time, money, people to travel with to get to A show? I am IN Chicago with two more nights of Phish. Shake off Friday night, and let the good times roll!
Waking up Saturday we went to fun pre-show party at Reggie’s my friend put together. Sure enough the text saying three sets on Saturday came through and the buzz at the bar was on. We piled into the shuttle bus and had one of the most entertaining rides of my life. 50 people all heading to a three set show, it was like the intensity of a playoff game. So what happened musically on Saturday? A show that many people have split opinions on. Well my group of 30 or so people, that do Phish the right way, we had an absolute blast. At no point was anyone not having an incredible time. I surround myself around people that bring up the collective vibe. People that LOVE Phish, share with people around them, make new friends at setbreak, are as quiet as mice during songs, and hug the hell out each other. No place I would rather be.
The first set did exactly what a first set does. It got things rolling. The “Caspian” was of course a fun nod to the previous night. The earliest “Twist” to date gave us a nice quick jam before the fun “Ha, Ha, Ha>Possum” joke. Rarely played “I Didn’t Know” and “Destiny Unbound” were a great treat. A shredding combo of “Kill Devil Falls>Cavern” followed by an excellent “Bowie” (with sick “Melt the Guns” quotes) set us into set break one (fun to say) where we needed to be.
THEN that second set. This second set was on my favorites. Heavy hitter after heavy hitter, and a complete set from start to finish. “BOTT>Mike’s Song>Theme>Paug>Golden Age> Waves>Piper>Slave” Just look at that! Is there anyone that doesn’t like any of those songs? Every song in that set has a rich history of jamming and when it starts I am pumped.
So the criticism (WHICH I HATE) is that nothing was over 15 or 20 minutes or whatever time you think a Phish jam has to be in order for it to be good. Sometimes it is not about an individual jam that makes a set, but the sum of all the parts put together. This set was heavy hitting songs, that seemed to me to be the perfect call in each slot. A dance party “BOTT,” and RIPPING “Mike’s,” the first ever “Mike’s>Theme” and an awesome segue into “Paug.” A beautiful dance off in “Golden Age>Waves,” a seriously hose’d “Piper,” and the blissful “Slave” closer. It is one composition that when you listen to the whole thing collectively, brings you on emotional ride. That is what great sets do. Sometimes it is monster jams that “make” a set. Other times it is excellent flow and song selection. It is not a perfect set (some flubs in “GA>Waves” etc) but it is a great set. It is however a well constructed, flowing set. Those don’t always come around. When they do I try and take the time to appreciate them.
The third set had some questionable calls for sure. You won’t hear me argue about that. Still a ripping peak in “Ocelot,” another great “Light” (I say that quite a bit, which makes me happy), a beautiful “Hood,” and an explosive “GTBT” still make for a damn good set in my opinion. A well placed “Shine a Light” encore capped things off.
Yup, I loved the second night and happy to debate its merits.
Then the Chicago run capper on Sunday. Some smoke in “Maze” (complete with an awesome Page 360) a nice “Gin” and a fun “Dinner and a Movie” opener had things set for another great night. Then the rain started. Then it rained harder. Then during “Boogie” it came down so hard I couldn’t see the stage. You know what everyone did? We laughed…it was awesome! It was so insane all we could do was laugh! All this insanity while Mike was throwing down on “Boogie.” When the band left the stage, I knew we were in for a second set treat.
Oh and THIS Happened!!! The Greatest Gif EVER during “Bathtub Gin”
“Energy>Ghost>Lizards!” “Energy” is becoming the new “Light.” Phish has found a new monster jam vehicle and I can’t wait to watch it continue to grow. I like the song “Ghost.” “Lizards” needs zero description.
Then “Harpua” drops. Few songs can instantly blow up a venue like “Harpua.” I was going ballistic when the “fans” came up on stage. So exciting! I was a bit let down when I figured out what was going on I must say. I also agree that the Second City gag fell a bit flat, and went a bit long. Mike telling the story however was a blast. I was laughing and I felt like I had stepped back to “Mike’s Corner.” As a whole “Harpua” was a boatload of fun. Phish took a risk with “Harpua” and part of it hit, and part of it missed. I couldn’t be happier that they took the risk. Some of the greatest jams and moments have come before or after some things haven’t gone as planned. I hope they take every risk they can think of, full knowing that some things may fall flat.
To send us on our way rocking the combo of “Antelope” and “Character Zero” was well done.
I can tell you one thing I have been laughing about. It is a hell of a show/set when people are complaining about “Harpua!” People go their whole Phish careers hoping to hear it. It means so much to so many people.
I woke up full of joy and reflecting on one hell of an adventure in Chicago. I am on a plane listening to new Phish and writing about it. It is hard to believe there are many people happier than me right now. Also, some cool guy heading to the Gorge as well, just told me all of his fun adventures and offered me a ride from the airport (which I don’t need).
What a place Phish tour is, I am so blessed to be here.