Selection: “Harry Hood>Architect>Mike’s Song>Simple>Weekapaug Groove”
From RJ Bee:
I arrived at the Merriweather shows following the previous night’s deluge at Jones Beach, which was one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had at a show. I had gone to Jones Beach on a whim, having been in New York for work. So, I met up with some great, new people and headed out to JB for what ended up being a wet, wild and, eventually, wonderful show. (Still thankful for being driven out there by the fantastic @Phish_Forum.)
After that, heading from New York down to the MPP shows felt like going home. I was meeting one of my best friends, Patrick, with whom I’ve seen so many shows, and my sister-in-law Steff, whose numbers are creeping up too. We were going to one of our favorite Phish summer tour spots: the Columbia Sheraton, or to be more specific, the Columbia Sheraton Pool. It’s the best. (Oh, guess what? 4 weeks from today we’ll be BACK!)
The first set of this show was fairly standard, but had some really nice tunes to hear, including “Destiny Unbound,” “Yarmouth Road,” “Halfway to the Moon,” and of course a fantastic “Melt.” At the end of “Maze” Page talked about how much they love playing at Merriweather. We all felt at home.
Fast forward to “Harry Hood” in the second set. Without fail, the moment I hear Fishman’s intro, relief washes over me, tension disappears. No matter the show, the situation, whatever, it is the song that makes me forget everything but the moment we are in.
This “Hood” was particularly special. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling when the jam started, I looked first to the people to my left, Steff and Patrick. Then I looked across the pavilion and out into the lawn, out into the sea of people. Everyone was immersed in that moment, together, sharing in this beautiful music. 18 years in, and I’ve never felt more at home at a show than I did right then.
Every fan has their own moments with the band. It’s one of the things that keeps us coming back. Music, people, and emotion all meld into one. Unforgettable moments like these are what make Phish a unique experience.
Back to the music. Page and Trey have some really nice, delicate interplay in the “Hood” jam, and they’re really feeding off of each other well. Trey builds it up with a chord jam that quickens the pace, building toward the inevitable payoff. We are lucky fans. Trey’s soloing toward the end of the jam is made even more powerful by the “Divided Sky” tease, bringing us momentarily into another soul-lifting song that never disappoints.
The peak of this “Hood,” like so many others, left us all with our arms raised to the sky: joyous appreciation for this cathartic moment. The energy with the band and the fans is symbiotic; we are in this together. You can feel good.
A little bit of a spacy outro the “Hood” melts beautifully into “Architect,” my favorite of the Summer ’13 debuts. At the time of this show, my wife was 7 months pregnant, and I couldn’t help feeling that the lyrics were speaking to us and our lives and what was about to happen to us. It’s true, “it turned out better, so much better, than we ever did expect.” We’ve raised a glass to the Architect several times since.
So here we are post-“Architect,” I’m completely emotionally fulfilled, refreshed, calmed, and here we go into “Mike’s Song.” Change gears! From gazing into the ether, to karate chops and jump kicks.
Sorry, there’s no second jam in this one, but still a nice, high-powered, albeit brief version. Fishman is driving the train. Around 6 minutes in there’s a bit of a whale-y jam led by Trey, pushing toward the peak. You can hear the crowd when Trey hits that note around 7:15, and it peaks a few more times. Peaks upon peaks. The roof of the pavilion is coming off!
Then, “Simple.” I know “Simple” is Patrick’s favorite song, but I’m reminded of that during the first verse as he spins around gleefully, fists pumping. I got my “Hood,” he got his “Simple.”
This “Simple” doesn’t get too far out there, but when it gets to that blissful, playful place, we’ve been delivered a great song. We’ve got it “Simple,” indeed. The end of this version is unique because Trey starts another chord jam toward the end. To me, this sounds like the “Weekapaug” chords, leading us into the next song well before the actual transition. It gives a little life to the end of “Simple,” including a nice, short jam led by Mike and Trey, before delivering us into the final piece of this Groove.
This “Weekapaug” really is grooving, lacking any real driving jam. Trey is hanging back, playing chords, letting the rest of the band control the direction. This groove made for a celebratory feeling to this group of songs. Mike closes it with a typically nice bass section, and Trey finally chimes in toward the end to help bring it in for a landing.
The band loves playing Merriweather. We echo that. Can’t wait for MPP ‘14. Just please play “Hood” again.
From RJ Bee:
RJ is the co-founder of the Helping Friendly Podcast, along with his partner in crime Brad. They tweet from @hfpod. He lives in Washington, DC and helps run a mission-driven communications firm there. He spends most of his free time with his wife Rachel (also a Phish fan) and his son Miles (yep, named after THAT Miles). He’s been seeing Phish since 1995 and sees no signs of easing up anytime soon.
The guys at HF Pod have been a great addition to our community. I had a great time as a guest on their program. They couldn’t be nicer guys and should get a lot of credit for how regularly they put out new content. Thanks for all you do!