26 in 26 #5 07/10/2013 PNC Bank Arts Center, Homdel, NJ (Parker Harrington, @tmwsiy)
Selection: “Crosseyed and Painless”
From Parker Harrington:
I’m relatively impulsive when it comes to seeing Phish. Some of my best memories are shows that I commit to with just enough time to stop along route once or twice for gas and other necessities: Zero margin for error, getting lost or other logistical nightmares. On the morning of July 9, 2013, I figured what the Hell and threw my shit in the car, grabbed my passport and headed for Toronto. Having seen a handful of memorable shows in the Great White North, I figured it was time to make a triumphant return. Not more than an hour into the drive, shit hit the fan with a business project necessitating a trip to New Jersey. As luck would have it for me, the Toronto show was cancelled at the last minute. A deluge of rain in the previous 24-hours posed insurmountable hurdles in pulling off the show and saved me from being bullshit that I missed a monster show in Canada.
I’m always optimistic about seeing a legendary Phish show- and can usually find a reason to speculate and reason with myself that they are due for one. I mean Hell, I’ll admit my logic is completely faulty. “Last three shows at this venue have been great, I’m sure this one will too!” can logically sit in my brain next to, “Last three shows here have sucked, totally over-due for a barn burner!”. Nevertheless, my expectation of a great show in Holmdel was high. A storied venue with a rich history on top of pent-up energy on the heels of a very, very rare Phish cancellation seemed like a decent recipe. Scoring killer seats on the re-release at the last minute seemed to cement the “it’s all Hood” thing in my mind.
As my work had long concluded (and crisis diverted on that front), I was able to get to the lot early enough to hang with one of my dear friends that I hadn’t been able to see a show together with since the mid-1990’s. A leisurely stroll closer to the venue paid off in spades as the sound-check was another gem a-la the Bangor monster that I had heard a week earlier. “Say Something” (which would debut later in the month at the Gorge) morphed into an epic reggae-infused, 30 minute jam which I wouldn’t be surprised was the basis of one of the Fuego songs. While I can’t remember specifically much more about it, other than my buddy Drew losing his shit every few minutes, it made it already feel like the price-of-admission was money well spent. Some who heard this check even proclaimed it one of the top jams of the entire summer. (A snippet of four minutes or so is available on The Spreadsheet).
Not really a ton that I remember from the first set even after looking at the setlist other than a pretty sweet Bathtub Gin. Oh yeah, and I remember the always flow-killing “Lawn Boy” that succeeded it. But I digress…. The first set as per usual, was all academic, and leading us to the monster that waited in the second.
Crosseyed & Painless is one of my favorite vehicles to get a second set going. A couple memorable 1-2 punches to start a second set have been Coral Sky’s “Crosseyed -> Antelope” and Star Lake’s “Crosseyed – Thunderhead”. 2013 allows us to add to this elite company with the first time Harry Hood has ever followed Crosseyed in PNC’s epic 30-minute plus duo to start the second set.
A relaxed band, confidant and absolutely dialed-in to each other, quickly developed an absolutely fresh and unique groove that perfectly pieced together- just like the soundcheck. No excessive noodling. No wasted notes. No push-and-pull from any of the band members to different directions. Simply a great Phish jam that worked well from start-to-finish, that worked well from each component, from every band member and from a micro and macro level. Just a seemingly polished and practiced jam even though it was very much in the moment. This is when Phish is at its best. When it sounds like you’ve been there before- when your soul knows where it is going- almost like deja vu- but in reality of course, it is all a trick of the mind- it just sounds so perfect, so right, that it just makes sense and you have one of those flashes that you’ve been there before. Been there before.
I simply love how extraordinarily delicate it was at moments- with Trey barely discernible but still a huge presence and Mike giving just enough bass to know he was there as well. All the while, gradually building and traveling further and further into the cosmos. A spacey, funky, melodic, precise jam all at the same time. Very similar in vein to the Twist from Glenn’s Falls in the Fall. The last four minutes felt like 10. Pulse pounding, frenetic, hellacious and Page just killing it back-and-forth with Mike. If those four minutes don’t float your Phish boat then I don’t know what possibly could. Then, winding down, a moment-of-truth moment- baited breath with what comes next and a perfectly placed early set Harry Hood. I always love Harry regardless of where it sits in the setlist- but early Set 2 is a favorite. And this one was no slouch.
The remainder of the show had some additional great moments including a sublime Sand > Light and a raucous (as always) GTBT, beautiful Slave To The Traffic Light and a fun Cavern. But of course, the gem of the night one of the top tunes of the entire summer was clearly the Crosseyed.
From Parker Harrington:
Parker was lucky to get into Phish back when you could see them play in dorms, fraternity houses, smoky clubs unfit for human habitation, free events in fields and parks, and when there weren’t tickets- just a hand-stamp at the door and a $3 cover. Those were the days. Now, he lives in the Boston area with his beautiful wife, son that wants to make it in Hollywood, older daughter who will likely either be the President of the United States, a WNBA player or a surgeon, and younger daughter who just kills it on the recorder. You’ve never heard Old MacDonald like that! He travels a lot for work criss-crossing all over the place and tweets Phish, Boston sports, technology and other nonsense from @tmwsiy. It’s been almost 15 years since he’s seen “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday” and really hopes that changes this summer. (But hopes he phone doesn’t blow up when it does).
Ghost: I previously picked Radio City in last years recap. So I’ll pick my favorite Ghost of 3.0. which also hails from the Big Apple: 12/31/10.
Parker has forgotten more about Phish then I will probably ever know. One of the OG’s of the community yet still gets as excited as anyone else. Parker is always willing to help with Phish, technology, or whatever he can. One of the good guys!