25 in 25 of 2016: #3 06/25/2016 Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL (Chris Winter, @cwinter327)
Wrigley night two was a special night for me even though I wasn’t at the show. While many of my friends were getting down in Chicago, a group of us were not able to kick off the 33rd year of the Phish until that Sunday at Deer Creek. About an hour before the lights went down at Wrigley five friends and I packed into a mom van and set off heading southwest from Buffalo bound for Noblesville Indiana. The van was too old for an auxiliary port. As an alternative we had two JBL Charge 2 speakers fully juiced that we ran in the middle of the floor. The show began as we reached Pennsylvania with a strong Moma Dance that would kick-start a standard first set.
One highlight of the first set was a very strong Divided Sky. My expectations for jamming are never too high in first sets. Any serious jamming in a first set is always welcome. This set seemed to fall into a groove of quick type 1 jamming if anything and then on to the next song. So it goes.
We made a pit stop for restrooms and snacks at set break and were throwing ideas around for what would be heard in the second set. I proudly declared that I was feeling a Carini on the way as well as a Steam. I’ve developed a theory that if a multi night run is being webcasted, the band will play Steam. It doesn’t always happen but their intent seems clear. All that fog on stage looks awesome: Why not do it for the webcasts? A dear friend and possibly the number one Tweezer enthusiast that I know was certain of a Tweezer. Admitting that it would mean we wouldn’t get one at Deer Creek, he said it would be “just his luck.” It came to pass.
Before I get into the Carini that blasted off that second set let me first say a few things about the set that followed. A gambling man would be smart to always bet on a second set, second slot Tweezer as being the strongest jam of the show. I thought this Tweezer fell short. It started with a bang coming out of the Carini but the band never seemed to find what they were looking for in the jam.
Nevertheless as quickly as that fact may have entered our minds and the minds of the audience at Wrigley, it left.
“Is this Fluffhead”
“OH MY GOD THIS IS FLUFFHEAD”
Everyone in the van went wild. After all they had not played Fluff in over a year. High-fives were exchanged. “Meatstick Sean” let out a good loud: “FUCK NO TWEEZER OR FLUFFHEAD TOMORROW.” So it goes.
This isn’t the band’s first rodeo, and whether that Fluffhead was planned or not it served as a great recovery from a lack-luster Tweezer (they are few and far between.)
The rest of the second set played out as one might expect. A short Piper; a short but strong steam; Wading In the Velvet Sea to slow things down; a standard Hood with a strong finish; reprise, end of set. The “I am the Walrus” encore was a pleasant surprise and I am happy to say that I have friends who have seen both they have played.
But now to the important stuff: The Carini that kicked off the second set was absolutely the strongest jam of the night. I know some require a certain minimum length for a jam to be considered great. I do not. What I look for in a jam is cohesion, exploration, and noticeable development. This Carini was favorable to all three requirements. As soon as the boys went Type II it was clear they had direction.
The transition to Type II begins at or around 5 minutes and truly turns at 5:35.
From the intensity of the song to relaxed ambience is the clear objective. Soon this ambience becomes blissful.
Gordo sets a nice foundation that Page and Trey take advantage of, working back and forth. At this point it is difficult to tell whether or not this jam will explode, or stay grounded in the ambience.
Everyone begins to explore and the intensity is creeping in around 7:30.
Building, building, building… 8:45: Mission control we have lift off! Everyone has found their groove. Trey transitions from chords to rhythmic fluttering notes. Gordo and Fishman are exploring as the jam explodes into pure ecstasy. Trey returns to chords and the jam begins to unwind. Fades off into TWEEZER.
I’ll be the first to admit that this probably isn’t a show that many will relisten to unless they were there and it was particularly special to them. With that said don’t pass over this Carini. It’s awesome.
Plug: I grew up and spent the first 24 years of my life in and around Buffalo, NY. Two months ago I moved to Syracuse with my girlfriend and 2 year old son. My first Phish show was June 22, 2013 in Toronto with a dear friend who happened to be in the very back of the van with me on the way to Deer Creek. Since that first show I’ve seen 22 more shows and am happy to call Phish my favorite band to see live and obsess over.