25 in 25 of 2015 #7 07/31/2015 Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood, Atlanta, GA (Zac Cohen, @zacharycohen)
Make America Phish For Excuses Again
Alpharetta is the most basic venue in America, so pretty and well manicured that I wouldn’t be surprised if Donald Trump ends up using the venue as a staging ground for The Future Blackshirts of America to organize and congregate, pop their collars, engage in low level racism with other similarly privileged fascists while partaking in ostentatious displays of repressed homosexuality. Honestly though, who wants to see music in a venue without any semblance of personality? Let alone Phish’s music. Alpharetta is anodyne af, if you ask me.
So I for one was happy that Phish was back in the motherfucking ‘hood.
Lakehood to be exact. Never seen ‘em there. Only heard the stories. Woo Atlanta. Chocolate City, bitches. Yeah. Atlanta is the black New York.
As a cosmopolitan sort of wook, I’ve always felt comfortable around a little color. We had a Peruvian wet nurse named Consuelo who loved me and taught me how to wipe my ass. Back to front, which is apparently weird for men to do. Our chaffeur Van was a large joyous black man, a felon who my parents couldn’t really afford but wanted to help anyway. He was with us for ten years and destroyed one of our Mercedes but he often took me to play basketball on 11th Avenue and 49th Street where the black kids used to hang out. He was there for my first dunk. I tend to be more afraid of places where tons of white people congregate. Which makes being a Phish fan really curious. It’s a paradox I can’t explain.
Even though Phish shows are supposedly filled with heady, fun and interesting (yet very white) people out for “a real good time” and a little spiritual reflection, the awful truth is that the world of Phish is actually an awfully conservative and reactionary place filled with establishmentarians, fossil fuel users and fans of the critically-acclaimed TV show “Scandal.” It’s a hive of discontent and pseudo-competition among pathologically passive people. Not a good mixture.
Author’s Note: if you happen to be reading this and support Hillary Clinton in any way, shape or form, I need to take this opportunity to tell you that you are as much the problem as anyone else in America and what would best for all of us is you put down your phone or tablet device and walked directly into oncoming traffic. All your support of Hillary means is that you are as invested in the current state of America’s broken economy, dangerous institutions and pathologically violent cultural values as ISIS is. You are rich, fat and emotionally stunted. Seriously, Fuck You. Thanks, Zac.
As an astute observer of the band that is called Phish, you hear two things about Phish’s concert career in Atlanta: that they play great music here and the area around the venue is fucking dangerous. Again if you are basic, which most Phish fans are, you talked about this for three months leading up to the shows.
If you really just want to see Phish play great music front to back in a venue where they have some sort of historical context to do exactly that, than Lakewood, scene of some of the very cherriest concerts in their history is your spot. Rub it. Circle it. Stimulate it. Spit on it and pull its hair. My safe word is Voldemort. And I’ve never ever used it.
I landed in Atlanta after a very early morning flight from Dallas where I was still so fucking high that when I walked through the scanner at DFW I was quite sure that the whole machine would explode from the force of my vibrations, and TSA agents would swarm me, demand I give up my LSD and take my vape pens away. I’d give up without a fight demanding an IPA waterboarding session.
Alas, I made it through “security” and several hours later, woke up being spooned by a strange man in an elegant hotel room in a very rich, very white suburb filled with tall buildings and people with miniscule hopes, and dicks.
Wook-lawyer friends of mine claimed to have seen me on some sort of train tram thing on the way from the airport but I don’t recall a thing about that. I know it was warm and sultry when I landed and I remember trying to talk this young black lady into a quick sexual imbroglio on line for coffee. Black women are so hot. I remember my nipples being erect and my balls feeling extra pong-y, as if my body had knowingly produced extra semen for a weekend in the South. Like Sherman, I planned to raze the city along with my friends, Tweezer, Carini, Andy, Ghost and Cocaine and Cocaine. I vowed to orgasm on as many surfaces as possible.
“Strange Wook #1” and I ate a club sandwich in bed, fucked and left @that_guy_chino with the bill, absconding downtown in search of real culture, fresh meat and small Japanese men with which to sing karaoke and binge drink, throwing up into planters in hotel lobbies. Mission Accomplished.
Was there a fucking pool party at some point? I don’t know, but if there was I definitely pissed in the pool. I do remember singing Lean on Me with Tom Marshall in an elevator at one point late one evening. He’s tone deaf btw. I remember nitrous tanks and lizard people and delivering a wook baby in one of the parking lots before Saturday Night’s show. We named him Tweezer. I bit off the placenta and made tea with it. #Reprise
Apparently, people think the “Kill Devil Falls” from Friday Night in Lakewood was a terrific jam. I’ve heard the term “turning point for tour” bandied about by small dickless men and vapid, unoriginal wookettes. I’ve listened back a few times, as is my duty, and I just don’t hear it. Sure it is long, but it’s not hard. There are some unique segments for sure but they are walled off from one another. It was quite obviously exercise, but a good, enthusiastic sort of workout. Burpee Pushups, Sprints, solid core burning. Walk out of a session like that and you feel like you can fuck anything. For two minutes.
Phish is the greatest rock and roll band of all time. They are so beyond compare that they often enough arrive at a musical place where they can do pretty much whatever they want–most of 2015 is proof of this–but knowing they still had a long Summer ahead of them, this particular jam feels more like live practice. Exploring some new sounds and elements, easily segueing together nicely, falling and ensconcing themselves into some common jam elements and rhythmic treatments. Where they find themselves in the 12th minute is interesting. Trey’s delicate tone roving like a ferret, darting in and out of hedgerows, heaths, thistle bushes and groove pockets. Mike has some interesting things to say underneath it all, pushing the tonal center ever so slightly. His flanger creates some drama and reverberation, emptying out the bottom half of the total sound wave. Fishman and Trey are the stars here though. Good things are afoot when these two link up.
As good as the jam is, the real reason people talk about this show is THE SHOW itself. It’s really never about a single jam now is it? Prince Caspian opener? Hmmm. Can’t really ever talk shit about Prince Caspian can you now? There’s a small part of me that believes Phish is methodically going through their catalog of songs that people love to bitch about, epically jamming them and one by one picking off the haters, silencing them forever. If you complain about shows, parking, tickets, travel, money, breathing or warm meals in anyway, you are an ungrateful cur and should go fuck yourself.
Anyway, Prince Caspian had me wet. Whether it was the heat, humidity or my dangerous sexual compulsions, I was leaking pheromones from every orifice like some sort of Wook Megyn Kelly, and as I got acquainted with the venue as I am wont to do, found some better with ideal sound (and drugs) aka vibes. I saw a girl I liked and thought about what eating her out would taste like. Good to be back on tour.
The whole first set fucking kills it. Absolutely one of the most spirited and unique first sets of the year–is something a stupid phish blogger would say, and mean it. I know from what I speak.
That Caspian opener and “The Wedge.” Who doesn’t love The Wedge? Even TREY likes the wedge.
Unrelated: I think about Trey’s penis at least 10 times a show. Anyone else? I think about his thrusts, and imagine his soft yet remarkably well formed tush pumping in and out. Sometimes I think he’s wearing a cocktail dress and if I get really high–almost never happens btw–I start hallucinating that Trey is slinked over Page’s piano like a cocktail lounge chanteuse or a feral Ocelot in heat. I dunno, maybe I’m weird? BTW: Trey is the only member of Phish that I think sexually about by the way. I’ve tried it with Mike and I think he and I are probably too alike in that way.
Two new songs in the first set, “No Man’s” and “How Many People Are You?” Both played ferociously. Then they play Ghost and the place goes batshit crazy cause ya know Lakewood, Ghost, yadda. If you don’t know what I am talking about you need to do more listening to phish and less reading and tweeting. Phish fans should be barred from tweeting.
Trey peaked Ghost so hard that I had to put a clothespin on my right nipple while gasping for breath and throwing leg kicks like a stoned DMT frog. Rift sucks. But Mike’s Song definitely does not. In the first set, “Mike’s Song” does definitely not suck. Second Set either. Have they ever encored with it? They should this year. Hear that Trey?
Mike’s > Tweezer > Weekapaug > Tweezer Reprise encore this year. Do you have the balls? I DARE YOU.
Then they played Kill Devil Falls and just because most people’s acid was running smoothly and there were no arrests or Republicans in sight, this jam gets all sorts of plaudits and opinions and adjectives and ideas thrown its way. Martian Monster is awesome and decadent and an easy crowd-pleaser. Maybe a rare second set Bathtub Gin with a few extra kicks of special sauce? Whatever. Great show, amazing weekend, Phish is the fucking best. They turn me on.
Author’s Note: In lieu of the editor’s requirements for gifs, I have asked, and been granted the right to make a short statement. In this year of intense political engagement and awareness, I believe that the live music community can also look inward to ensure we are doing our part to build a better future. This is the meaning of progress. You’ve got to believe its getting better all the time. I do. Do you?
Aside from years of troubling reports and compromises between band and fan, it’s quite clear that there’s something rotten in the State of Denmark/ Gamehendge. Read Steve Siegel’s piece on The Barn Presents and then tweet at me with how guilty it made you feel. It’s quite obvious to anyone with a pulse that there have been a series of decisions and adjudications by our favorite band with regards to ticket sales, arrangements with corporations of ill repute and a general trajectory towards papering over all the potholes in Prussia with money, money and more money. Now I’m not calling Phish money grabbers or anything like that, that would be unproductive, and I also don’t think its true. Phish is merely a symbol. I for one, prefer to focus on solutions in our quest to build wooktopia. It is possible.
We need transparency. We need audits. We need investigations. We need kangaroo courts and show trials. And we need to know just what the fuck is happening in the world of concert ticketing. There is so much health and vigor in our large and growing patch of the live music community. Mainstream music is starting to look and act a lot more like US, then we them, but in this transmutative process, we’re picking up some ugly habits. And we needn’t. Phish is not only perfectly suited to this task, morally and ethically it’s their obligation to show leadership. As Jerry has said, and Trey recently repeated, the mere act of getting on stage with a rock and roll band is a revolutionary act. Quite true. And bravo to Trey for staying out of the political fray (republican).
But let’s remember from whence we came. This is the motherfucking counter culture and if you believe, which you must, that rock and roll can save the world, it’s about time the best rock and roll band of all time initiate a solution. You can spare me any arguments against this, I’m not going to listen to you. Have you even listened to yourself lately?
We know there is a problem. Now it is time for us to do something about it. Together. Band and fan. Let’s do something with our magic, with our power, with our dollars. Let’s solve this problem. Let’s have an honest conversation about things like ticket prices and show demand, venues, corporate power and influence, scalping, management companies and a defanged media colluding to fuck up something pure and real and honest and true and good, the live music community. Phish is at the very top of an amazingly healthy and vibrant live music universe with as bright a future as any other growing industry in America, except cannabis. Of which there is excellent “brand alignment” as us branding douchebags like to say.
To ensure the future health and sustainability of one of America’s best forces of good, dancing and music and good times and psychedelics and Twiddle, I want and expect Phish to lead us down the Golden Road of Unlimited Devotion. See you on tour, wooks.
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