Fenway Park – July 5th 2019
Tonight’s the night the wheels are turning… Man, talk about hype – this show marks the third hometown show for me and closed a 96 venue gap from my first show in 2009. Where to begin in all of this… I currently reside 3,000 miles away in Seattle, but grew up about 20 minutes west of Fenway Park and this place is special to me as it is to any lifelong Red Sox fan. Combine this with the allure of Phish playing in this magical venue and you really can’t go wrong.
I’d taken the redeye out of Seattle and arrived into Boston with my girlfriend on July 4th. After spending the 4th in Rhode Island with family we took an Amtrak into Boston first thing on the 5th. Now, I am a bit of a poster junkie – just as LawnMemo… so I was dead set on getting that Welker when I saw the print drop. Being so stoked, we dropped things off at the hotel and headed to Fenway to get in line. As most of you know, poster lines (let alone ones for a Welker) can be long – this was certainly no exception! We met up with LawnMemo and some other friends and the line was of course already very long. To keep it concise, we waited for 6 hours in the humid air and hot sun only to miss out on the last Welker by 3 people!! But no matter, not my first rodeo, at least Phish was playing later.
Hometown shows are special, we met up with high school buddies and ran into old friends constantly. My best and longest friend (who will be writing tomorrows review) flew in and came by the stadium – this night was ready to begin. Walking into Fenway is an experience, for those of you who haven’t been, you should put it on the bucket list simply for historical purposes and catch a Red Sox game. Fenway feels like home to me and walking to our seats in the grandstand was a comforting way to enter a show.
This one kicks off with a pretty steady Free and Blaze On to get the crowd mellow and ready to groove. Some other first set highlights include an almost 10-minute Tube with some funk and bliss jamming midway through. The Everything’s Right > Runaway Jim to end set one was also great, gotta love the evil twists that Trey and Mike lay down in Everything’s Right and then finish with a propelling light jam into Jim.
Set break is always an experience and we took it upon ourselves to wander a bit around Fenway and meet up with some old friends and find some Treehouse Julius. Coming back to our seats for set two, we were rearing to go Mike opened the set with the thumping baseline to Sand as the sun was setting – check this one out as it is pretty fun and groovy. Sand was almost my pick for this review, but Mercury took the cake for me. And then… all of a sudden, like a speeding bullet 1, 2,3… AXILLA! Fuck yeah, this song is always a crowd pleaser and this one is solid. Next stop, Mercury and the rivers run deep!
I have always enjoyed this song and sometimes they really rip into it and open it up. Tonight was no exception and though this version may not stand up to 11/02/2018 , 10/29/2016 or 09/05/2015, it still delivers the magic that this band never ceases to craft. After the intro composted section ends around the 7-minute mark we are reminded that the net is unbreakable and the jam space starts to open up with a clearly Mike and Fish-led groove. Trey adds in some melodious modulated echo induced notes and Page carries the rest of the jam with some stellar playing on the Rhodes. Around the 10-minute mark Trey really picks things up and the band goes into some good type I jamming just twisting along with the Mercury melody and weaving in and out of different spaces. At 11:50 Trey kicks it into a higher gear with a dark and stretched out echoplex driven tone, changing the course of the jam. Page hops over to organ and the band steps it up yet again.
Some awesome interplay occurs right around 12:40 between Trey and Mike to the point where it almost sounds like a tease. They hang out on this cool riff for the next minute or so, which sets them up to explore uncharted waters. The course of this Mercury is uplifting, driven by deep and heavy body from Mike’s bass and blissful playing from Trey. The playing from the 14 minute mark to around 19 minutes is pure space bliss – I feel like I am hurdling through the cosmos and watching the ether flow out of the stage. The interplay that occurs leading up to the 17 minute mark is pure Phish – this is why we go, the band and the crowd is locked in. The interplay continues to build with some great playing from Page on the synth (Moog?) and Mike filling in the spaces with deep bass notes. As we scream through space and pass Mercury, then Venus, the band brings us back to Earth by reminding us that we all have bladders and need to empty them during the ensuing Wading in the Velvet Sea.
The rest of this show is great as well – the Fuego is solid (and I don’t love Fuego) and the S.A.N.T.O.S. is fucking awesome, it blew the roof off! End the set with Character Zero and it’s safe to say this was a good one. Encore with Bug > Coil, hell yes.
This one is not high on everyone’s list (and rightfully so, there are some incredible shows in summer 2019), but it still a show that has some great moments and memories. To the poor soul who was twirling into folks near the third base outfield and got tackled by security, I hope you’re OK. To those who want to skip listening to this show, do as you may, but at least give the Mercury a good spin. The night took us to Pino’s Pizza in Brookline where we ran into more high school friends before doing it all again in the one-setter the following night.