Selection: “Down with Disease”
I once said that a single minute of good improvisation could get me off. Walking into a show, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to have a life changing musical experience. You’ll likely have a great evening, provided that you’re not vomited on, but the nights where you leave really impressed are pretty special.
I also once said that “we” should walk into shows free of expectations, speaking specifically to rumor mongering prior to perceived shows of importance, placing tremendous on not only the band but the experience as well. Boarding a plane for Las Vegas in 2014 I was told, I shit you not, that not only would the band play Gamehenge, but they would be accompanied by a Cirque du Soliel performance.
That’s a big expectation, but I must admit that I walk into each and every show expecting to be impressed. Even mid-week mid, mid-tour shows.
After a first set with plenty of decent music but no real substantial highlights, the band returned to the stage and mined their only true gem with the set opening “Down With Disease”. The post-chorus jam starts hot but quickly begins to devolve. By the 8:00 mark Trey is creating patterns over Fish and Mike who are still holding the main “DWD” theme, but by 9:30 the jam really begins to form. I’m a big believer that it is Fish who guides the band in and out of jams. There’s a moment in most instances where it is Fish letting go of the main theme of the song that finally springboards the band into a different space.
He does so at this moment and nearing the 11:00 mark the jam has found its way into darker spaces. Quickly, however, Trey and Page begin to guide the ship back upwards and just before 13:00 Trey leads with a delicate touch. There’s probably also some merit to counting the changes that a jam takes, because as quickly as it progressed to an uplifting major feel, there’s a quick dive back into minor tones where the band hangs briefly. It’s an interesting dichotomy and one that fits this jam quite well. Can they play to their strengths on both ends of the spectrum? They certainly seem to for a brief period here, just after 14:00, with Trey and Page once again progressing upwards while Mike remains grounded where he is. Mike often seems to latch on to pedal effects during these moments, it’s almost as if it’s his way of providing direction. A lot of times it seems to be a crutch (that big meatball tone that everybody goes ga-ga for) but sometimes it helps to push the band.
By the 18:00 mark the band is synced up, Fish steadily on the ride cymbal counting out the tempo as the band propels into a spacey wash that continues to have potential. Just after 21:00 Trey leads the band into “Get Back On The Train.”
Asking for more reeks of greed, but that’s what high expectations are for. The show may not be one that you’ll say your pinnacle experience happened at. Nor are people likely to refer longingly to the “CMAC DWD,” but it’s fair to say it had that single minute that was needed.
Eric is a model, dancer and choreographer from Marseilles, France. He used to listen to Phish, but feels strongly that Trey’s time as a session player with Bob Weir will most certainly ruin any competency he once had with his own catalog.
Any “Ghost” with a pronounced “San-Ho-Zay” tease is my favorite “Ghost”. Which isn’t as much of a statement about those versions of “Ghost” as it it is a blind endorsement of “San-Ho-Zay”