26 in 26 of 2019: #7 06/21/2019 PNC Music Pavilion, Charlotte, NC (@taopauly, @coventrymusic, Pauly McGuire)
Flew LAX to CLT. My California dollars go a long way in the Carolinas. Crushed dank BBQ at Midwood Smokehouse with the Kentucky crew. Loaded up on local produce. Headed to the preparty. My friend A-Rock turned 40, which is why I went to Charlotte for a weekend-long celebration. She rented a party bus. Swapped downers for uppers with CLT soccer moms, then shared stories about my shrink on Sunset Blvd. who had a man-bun and a loose prescription pad.
Cruised through Shakedown. Forgot about the ungodly heat and humidity in the South. Extra lawn tickets were as low as $20. Bumped into a friend and ex-college football player. He offered me Toradol. “For your back,” he said. Easy pass. I was in search of hippie party favors, not SEC-jock pharmacopoeia.
Sloppy amateurs chugged lukewarm White Claws at the end of Shakedown, next to a sweaty Chad in a NUGGETS jersey who sold shots of Fireball with a makeshift sign: “NAME YOUR PRICE.” I said, “Mark Price.” He clearly wasn’t a Cavs fan.
Another friend (who also played college football) gifted me shrooms. He stealthily slid them into my pocket, but no one was watching. “God sees everything,” he said before disappearing into a sea of cargo shorts and shirtless frat daddies.
The Kentucky crew and CLT friends were scattered about, including a huge contingency on the lawn with all the unwashed masses. I had a solo ticket somewhere in the pavilion, which was actually an aisle seat. Security in my section were an odd couple: a retired grandpa who DGAF and a vigilant Karen. She had serious control issues and checked every ticket stub. Twice. Fascist Karen provided a wook-free environment for Section 103.
Have Mercy opened Set 1. Only the sixth time played since 1999. First time since Bakers Dozen. The bustout opener set the tone of the first set and the remainder of the show. Started to feel tingly, which was a precursor to a bad case of the shroom sweats during Gotta Jibboo. Relaxed-paced Free in the three-hole, before a quick country-nod with Ginseng Sullivan. All flirtatious foreplay before a first-set Tweezer wild rumpus. My shroom-addled mind drifted through three lanes of cerebral traffic and shit was about to go sideways. Yup, second-set wasted in the middle of the first set. But fuck it, bring it on. Let’s get weird, CLT-style.
Tweezer developed into a mellow jam accented by a fight bell. An earnest noob-centric segment of the crowd really wanted to woo, but in a rare instance, Trey did not goad them on. The Tweezer jam took an unusual route through Passing Through as I stood drenched in sweat. I really should’ve brought a towel and an extra shirt for the second set.
After a stand-alone Ya Mar, Set 1 ended with Mercury > Tweezer > Say It to Me SANTOS. Just when they started to get bored with a soggy Mercury jam, Trey reintroduced Tweezer with Mercury sprinkles. The weave slowed down to a near halt before Trey launched into SANTOS. The crowd went berserk. Everyone loves those Kasvot songs, eh? Lost. Liquid. Divided. Light. We’re all SANTOS. Even Fascist Karen tapped her foot for four bars during SANTOS before unleashing a horse-collar tackle on a wookette who bumrushed her geriatric colleague.
At setbreak, I bumped into a college friend. We never keep in touch, but randomly meet at Phish shows. He introduced me to his wife, but I was spun cookies and sweating profusely. I hate when I’m thrust into an awkward conversation with normies. They always ask me about being a writer in LA, and all I can think about is Horse Meat Disco, bad plastic surgery, and redonklously overpriced cocaine.
My buddy Andre swooped in and saved me. Reunited with the Kentucky crew, who had an entire row to themselves near the back of the pav on Gordo side. Oodles of groove space, aside from a passed-out SpreadChad who was missing a Croc. We nicknamed him Croc Solo.
Set 2 kicked off with Runaway Jim. A pleasant surprise. Jim fell out of the rotation in 2012 and relegated to being played only couple times a year. Only the tenth time played since 2014’s Vegas Halloween run. I couldn’t remember the last time Jim opened a second set (FYI… Dick’s 2012). From the get-go, Jim exhibited old-school vibes. Forgot what song they were playing. Twice.
The 19-minute Jim clocked in as the longest jam of the night. It also marked the second-longest of 3.0 behind the infamous Runaway Jim from the Fuck Your Face Show from Dicks 2012.
The deeper the jam went, Page’s synth work created multiple launch points to something like No Quarter or 2001. Gordo hinted at DWD, while Fish subtly went to the high hat to point toward the Bowie/Maze vector. Instead, Trey guided everyone back into Jim with an abrupt, but soft landing.
Scents and Subtle Sounds was another unexpected treat, especially weaving Tweezer into the end as a bridge to a thunderous Sand dance party.
During Sand, our friend Devin grabbed a vape pen out of my shirt pocket. He is subject to random drug tests and would never imbibe for risk losing his job. However, that shithoused drunk made a suboptimal decision. He hilariously hit the vape pen hard a couple of times, but it was turned off. He was so hammered, he did not realize he failed to inhale anything.
Soft and tender Lifeboy up next. I always dug Phish’s indictment on 1980s televangelists disguised as a love song. God never listens to what I say, but thank God there’s Twitter and a prayer hands emoji.
Ethereal vibe with ASIHTOS. Page seized the coveted spot at the start of the fourth quarter with Taste.
Next up, 20 Years Later, Trey’s nostalgia-soaked “I shouldn’t have snorted that” rehab tune, which set up a crowd-pleasing and raucous Possum set-closer.
Phish encored with More > Tweeprise. Trey pandered to the love and light crowd and wanted to send his devoted followers back into the bleakness of the real world and into the humid Charlotte night with a replenished soul full of hope, unicorns, and moonbeams.
Has it really been two years since this fun night in Charlotte? The two memory burns that stood out the most, after relistening to this show 730+ days later, were the crowd’s reaction to SANTOS and the lengthy Jim jam, where I got lost once again. Lost. Divided. Light.
Pauly McGuire aka @taopauly is the twisted mind behind @CoventryMusic. He wrote two books during the pandemic, but neither were about Phish. Check out his rock-n-roll novel Fried Peaches at tinyurl.com/PaulyBooks. FYI… setlist art by @taopauly, and ‘Mercury’ painting/artwork by @aroccoart.