25 in 25 #25 08/31/2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO (Brendan McClain, @Bcmcclain)
Selection: “Mike’s Song>Sneaking Sally Through the Alley”
Thanks to @LawnMemo for letting me write up my birthday show.
I like the Phish from Vermont. I don’t know much about music so I can’t really tell you why. When I listen to Phish, I don’t think about major keys or chord progressions or things because I don’t know those things. I can barely tell a do-re-mi from a fa-so-la. So you’re not going to get much technical musical theory discussion in this post. In fact, I invented a new term that is probably completely wrong in regards to the actual music.
But I like Phish, so I have been at Dick’s the last two years over Labor Day weekend which has also included my birthday on 8/31. It was a great weekend, as weekends at Dick’s always are, and last year my birthday show was the closing show of the weekend and tour. Never miss a Sunday birthday show.
The show started solidly with a well-played “The Curtain (With)” which I took as a good sign for things to come. Up next was a nicely exploratory Wombat, and let me just say, if you are ever at a show with @LawnMemo and Phish plays “Wombat”, hurry up and finish your dab then look for the helmet and go there, because that’s where the nastiest get-down funk dancing in the building will be. On this night, Memo happened to be locked in a furious dance off with a friend of his. I could not take my eyes off of them, it was completely entertaining and added a new element to the song for me. And I’m sorry D, but Memo won the dance-off
The rest of the first set was solid, not spectacular, with the “Wolfman’s Brother” being one of the other highlights, along with an above-average “ASIHTOS” and a fun finish to the set with the tight and funky (and too short) “Tube>Possum” doing it’s job and leaving the crowd happy at setbreak.
Set 2 included lots of big heavy hitters in Phish’s repertoire with “Chalkdust Torture”, “Twist”, “Tweezer”, “Sand” and “Piper” all being played. According to phish.net, Trey was dropping some teases throughout the set, but none of these versions will be considered legendary, although the “Sand” has some interesting parts and is worth checking out. But even with all of the big songs being played, the boys still had something in store for the fans. The jam I am writing about here is the last little bit of improv of the Dick’s weekend, the “Mike’s Song” at the end of set 2. End of set Mike’s Songs are a little different than other “Mike’s” because usually the band has to rush to have enough room left in the set to get to the sandwich song and the “Weekapaug”.
Fishman’s crashing cymbals coming out of Joy signals the crowd to start moving and raises the energy level after “Joy”.
The guys get into the song and it’s apparent early on they are not going to rush through this one. Gordo’s vocals sound good as they get into it and Kuroda let loose with his full complement of cascading light effects to infuse some energy and the crowd knows its ok to let it all out because the weekend is almost over. At 3:20 Trey took a sip out of his mug and the coffee or tea or whatever kicked in (No, I don’t think it’s microphones in there) and he let loose with a bunch of wikki-wikkis and a couple of wah-wahs (I told you I don’t know any technical terms so bear with me) while still waiting patiently for Page and Fishman to build the peak. This is stereotypical 3.0 Trey right here. About 5:30 in, he found a chord he liked I think on the echoplex and the rest of the band notices and jumps in on time to build a small start-stop section, but not of the recent normal call/woo response variety. This is a start-stop through the echoplex. A stop that echoes. An echostop. White guys doing the robot all over the place.
For the next couple of minutes, the band is locked in, they are playing as one unit. The music that happened here was no accident, and is not easily duplicated, it was the output of the work of musicians listening to each other and responding. Start-stop through the echo, improv jam for 5-10 seconds, then back on the beat for the echostop. In between the stops Mike was really laying down the heavy bass to keep it rolling. At 6:25 Trey adds a couple of soaring chords to keep the energy level up then right back into the echostop. Trey was playing around stepping on pedals trying all sorts of different sounds while Mike was just pounding away. 7:45 Trey started to hint at bringing it home, 8:10 he hits the chords signaling the approaching end of “Mike’s”…right back into echostop! This was good stuff, a unique take on “Mike’s Song” that continued throughout the song. The sandwich song was “Sneaking Sally Through the Alley” which is always a crowd favorite dance along and the “Weekapaug” was solid as usual to end the set the right way, but I think it will be the Mike’s Song that will have the most future replay value.
About Brendan: I saw my first Phish show at Shoreline in 1995 and am very excited to hear “20 Years Later” open set 2 this Friday. I live in a Phish bubble in San Diego, at times I have gone years without talking to anybody in person about Phish. That is not an exaggeration, sometimes I feel like the only Phish fan in San Diego but I much appreciate all the dates they have been throwing us in the last couple of years. My favorite “Ghost” is one that was on a LivePhish CD I found in a used bin at Music Trader and played endlessly in my car and I considered it “my own personal Ghost” because I found it and I didn’t find out until years later it was actually fairly well known in the community and that “Ghost” is Prague “Ghost”.