Well, well, here I am again, lucky enough to join in for one of Lawn Memo’s audience participation pieces. I popped my cherry in 33 for 33 and then took a quick…gasp…hiatus, and now I’m back for 25 for 25. I know it’s been mentioned before – but big kudos to LawnMemo for letting us all have some fun. I’ve seen many a show with Mr. Memo and you won’t find a more genuine and caring dude on the scene. (No he did not pay me to say this.) As one of the other fine writers mentioned, I am also basking in a giant Grateful Dead anticipation bubble. I streamed the shows in Santa Clara, and now I’m counting down each second until I depart to Chicago for the Fare Thee Well Shows.
In the past, I have taken part in and also seen, several conversations about certain Dead songs resembling “this song or that song” for Phish or vice versa, or even other bands. I think you get what I mean…. When selecting “555” in said Grateful Dead bliss; the Dead song correlation of “555” for me was “West LA Fade Away”. In my opinion, both songs have a bit of a seedy, dark and funky undertone which I really enjoy. Coupled with the dark mysterious side you also have a catchy hook that you find yourself singing over and over again. For me at least, I let my mind run free as I imagine “having a steady job, running items for the mob” or in “555”, “Hop off, roll down, spring up, live another day” – envisioning a train jumping or some type of moving car get away.
For this particular version of “555”, it was played at Randall’s Island in New York City. I’m sure there are far more qualified Phishstorian’s than I, but is it possible that this was the first Phish show in which water transportation was the preferred mode of arrival for a large portion of the Phans? How cool is that??! I’m sure there have been more than a few Phans, over 30 years of Phish, that may have thought they were in some sort of aquatic vehicle upon entering the show….but in actuality had merely stumbled through the gates of Phish heaven.
On this night “555” was played after a killer “Bathtub Gin”, which many would argue was the highlight of the evening. After the band and phans catch their breath for a brief moment our ole pal Gordo starts firing away with some deep funky base beats. A couple lyrical flubs not withstanding, Gordo carries the pace of this song for the first minute and a half and then it’s time for the Chairman of the Boards to have his brief moment in the sun. Page has carries the pace for 30 seconds of keyboard excellence from about 1:30 – 2:00, then Gordo barges back in with his base guitar and lyrics as the song winds it’s way down the tracks and up the hill towards it’s sinister destination. About the 3:30 mark, Fishman asserts himself along with Page for some lovely tandem playing. Lest we not think Trey won’t throw his conductor hat (or helmet in Memo’s case) in the ring at about 3:55 as he goes for a solid guitar riff. Trey clearly takes the lead, as the train is reaching its top jamming speed, much to the enjoyment of the crowd. Gordo cedes control to Trey as Mr. Anastasio wails away with a short but solid guitar jam. The rest of the band fits in nicely behind him as the song and train fade into the distance. Another reason I enjoy this song is that each band member has a moment to showcase their talents and then marvelously all come together to make the splendid sounds no other band on the planet can produce. I venture a guess there were a few people wishing Randall’s Island would break loose and float into the ocean for a lifetime of Phish jams to live hippie-ly ever after.
That’s all for me and thank you for reading. Safe travels to all this weekend and throughout the summer. Remember to look after each other and try to do your part to keep this community wonderful. Peace.
From Adam Pd (@PDpie10)
A Damn Yankee from Western New York, living down south in Atlanta, GA – My 1st ever Phish show was Coventry. Somewhere in between sitting in a car on the side of the road for 2 days, hiking 15 miles to the venue, sleeping outside on a garbage bag in the mud, and the funeral-like feeling of the weekend, I fell in love with Phish. What a start! Unfortunately, I had to wait nearly five years for my next Phish experience in Hampton but it was well worth the wait.
Favorite Ghost: Fuji Rock Fest 07/30/1999