25 in 25 of 2016: #5 06/28/2016 The Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, PA (RJ Bee, @hfpod)
Fuego is back, Mann!
By RJ Bee, @hfpod
One of my favorite things about being a parent is being able to take my kids on adventures that I would go on anyway. It’s an interesting dichotomy in parenting styles — there are those whose lives completely change because of kids, and there are those who integrate their kids into their own lives. We’ve chosen the latter route.
For the Mann 2016 shows, it started with a road trip to Philadelphia, just like an old-school Phish road trip — except this one was with my 3-year-old son, instead of a bunch of wooks. I love these adventures. We also did for the Fall ‘16 Alpharetta shows. There are fewer joints and more Daniel Tiger than the old road trips, but we still have fun.
Now, before you judge, I didn’t take my son to the shows. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
My wonderful friends in Philadelphia took care of Miles while I was at the show, so I went solo and met up with some friends in the lot. It reminded me, yet again, of the power of the Phish community. Yeah, I guess I went to the show “alone.” But at a Phish show, you’re never really alone, are you?
I had never been to the Mann before and wow! The venue certainly lives up to the hype. It’s a beautiful structure, the sound is awesome, and the band was clearly psyched to be playing there. You can hear Trey talk about his love for the Mann right after the first set “No Men in No Man’s Land.”
The lights go down, and a “Wilson” opener kicked off a 13 song first set. Not a ton of cohesion to the set, but good playing and some solid tunes (“No Men,” “Roggae,” “Split Open and Melt”).
Now for my soapbox moment: Every Phish show I go to these days is a gift. There’s no bad show for me, really, because I only get to see a few per year, and I soak it all up, every last note. Did I want to hear different songs than they played? Deep down, probably. But I try to check that shit at the door and go in and have a great time.
Second set starts and we hear Page lay down the piano intro to “Fuego.” Now, most people were probably thinking what I was thinking — will this be a standard “Fuego” which we’ve come to expect, or will this be a “Mann Fuego” which is sort of like a “SPAC Piper” or a “Riverport Gin?” It’s a different song. For context, “Fuego” has been played 45 times since the debut on 10-31-13. I was there for that one and it was a really solid debut. I’ve rewatched the video of the “Wingsuit set” at least 50 times.
Anywho, of those 45 times played, only 9 of those have jam chart entries on Phish.net. But 3 of those are from the Mann. So The Mann really does get a different “Fuego.” But that night I was wondering, would it happen again?
(Writing 101 — Build the tension so the readers will be more likely to read on to see what happens. The thing is, I know you’ve already listened to this “Fuego” at least 10 times. But we can keep the ruse going together. Also, that’s the only thing I know about writing.)
About 7 minutes in, it seems like we’re getting a regular “Fuego.” The initial jam after the lyrics is pretty standard, it sounds like they’re feeling comfortable and relaxed. So, at this point I’m thinking the run of “Mann Fuegos” has ended, and that this will probably be a regular old “Fuego.” But wait, maybe not!
By the 9th minute, Trey’s tone changes a bit and he starts to explore a bit more. Still laid back, but Fish is using his 8 arms to keep the beat moving forward in a high-energy way. Then, right at 10:10, the Mu-Tron appears. It starts light, but gets progressively heavier. Do you like dirty, nasty guitar jams? Me too.
Mike jumps into the jam about 13 minutes in, dropping some heavier bass lines over Trey’s guitar. This is the point where you don’t know whether we’re going to outer space (like the SPAC 2014 version) or onto an incredible abstract art exploration (like the Mann 2014 version). Instead, it slowly dissolves without heading back into the “Fuego” song structure. Trey leads the band into “Runaway Jim,” which is one of my all-time favorites.
So, while we may not have received a “Mann Fuego” like 2014, I got my first really jammed out version, which set up a very fun 2nd set. The “Breath and Burning” is absolutely worth revisiting. We’ll dance by the light of the moon, indeed.
I guess now is when I’m supposed to go back to the beginning and tell you how this relates back to parenting. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a parent is to have reasonable expectations. Nothing will go as planned. Your life will be fundamentally different. So you can’t expect the same things you expected before. But you can still have fun, Wilson. And the more you create those fun experiences for your kids, and show them that it’s okay to let go and have fun, the more fun they’ll have too.
And the same goes for Phish. If you go in with an open mind, embrace the excellent community around you, let go, and have fun, you just might get a “Mann Fuego.”
RJ is the co-founder of the http://www.hfpod.com/ a Phish podcast. He lives in Washington, DC and runs a communications firm in his non-podcasting hours. He has a bunch of kids and a great wife.