33 in 33 #8 06/20/2012 nTelos Pavilion, Portsmouth, VA (Jason Notareschi, @jnoid23)
Selection: “Harry Hood->What’s The Use?”
Memo’s “Other Jams” Memo: Another good “Tweezer”
From Jason Notareschi:
When I chose to sign up for this project there were only two shows left to pick from… both shows from Portsmouth, Virginia. I did not attend either of these shows, nor have I listened to a single note from either of them yet (I plan on listening to my songs, “Harry Hood” and “What’s the Use?,” for the first time in a few minutes). All I really know about the shows at Portsmouth is that they are where the tucking antics started, and that the shows were also available to stream. Knowing these things I am not expecting much out of these songs. But keeping expectations low is something I have been doing more and more of lately when it comes to Phish. Not because I don’t think they can deliver, but because when you head into a show expecting specific songs rather than anything more than having a great time and seeing some awesome music you usually end up disappointed (by no ones fault but your own).
When going over the set lists I ended up picking “Harry Hood>What’s the Use?” for a few reasons. First, “Harry Hood” has been one of my favorite songs since I started listening to Phish. I saw my first “Harry Hood” at my third show in Cincinnati on February 21, 2003 (my first show was 12-5-99) and I have seen 24 in all. The build to the peak of the song is what defines Phish to me and is something that is blissful when experienced live. “What’s the Use?” also has the ability to possess your soul, often bringing you from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other in only minutes. Combined together, we will see what they have to offer.
00:02 Ahh, those first few notes by Fish that let me know one of my favorite (but probably not quite in my top 5) Phish songs is about to begin. If I was going to base my prediction for this version off previous 3.0 Hoods, this could go one of a few ways: either start strong and end weak, start weak and end strong or make it the entire way through at a pretty awesome level. I see that as a pretty good description of 3.0 Phish, on any given night some part of the show is going to be amazing musically but witnessing a show that delivers the whole way through is not always in the cards.
1:00 A nice extra slide down the keys by Page combined with a fast-paced beat from Fish and Mike lead us into the audience participation portion of the song. Of the 24 times I have seen “Harry Hood” here is my breakdown of participation: 14 times I have yelled “Hood!”, six times I have yelled “Balls!”, three times I have yelled nothing (I hope the audience all does this someday, but I am not holding my breath) and one time I don’t remember.
1:44 Where do you go? Great question. Composed sections of songs don’t seem to be a problem for these guys very much anymore and when they do make a mistake, I don’t really care. This part of the song always gets me filled with anticipation for the dark part of the song that starts at…
4:20 It only lasts for like 40 seconds, but it is an essential part to making the next X-minutes what they always are.
5:13 Enter orbit with a call from Trey’s guitar. Brief Plinko play. Honing in on Fish while everyone else sits back to find their place. The best jams come when no one leads but everyone follows.
6:04 Just as Page starts to enter with a low rising note Trey rips off a few notes of his own. Not a big deal, nothing was developing and they both happened to come in at the same time. What happens next, is why the band is what they are today, as Trey cuts it off and allows Page to continue (while Mike adds a few notes of his own). Too many times before Trey would take over with too many notes. But Trey is no longer a Padawan. His light saber is now green. He is now a Jedi Master.
7:02 We hear the first hint at the climax of the song, but still a ways to go. Fish adds something light to the beat and we get another set of echoing notes from Trey.
8:00 No more build to the normal Harry Hood peak, instead it turns a little dark again. Almost sounds like the freaky music from some old horror movie with the frantic tempo Fish is keeping. Mike drops a bomb and I don’t know how we are going to get to the end of this.
9:00 I know “What’s the Use?” is coming because I picked what songs I was going to review, but at this point it sounds like it may be starting. Sure enough at 9:50 Trey plays those first few notes while Fish is going a million times faster still playing Hood. Page steps in so Fish can get back in time and with no peak to Harry Hood we are now officially in…
“What’s the Use?”
No words in this one, someone I know is going to the ladies room. “What’s the Use?” brings you down low then bounces you back up to the treetops and at the 11:55 mark there is an absence that could leave you hollow. Phish never leaves you down there for long though when less than 30 seconds later Trey pulls you out with the first of a series of soaring (though certainly not perfectly executed) notes that reminds you why you enjoy this band and all that comes with it. As the crescendo comes to a close Page adds some glorious notes as Fish picks up another beat. Unfortunately it is “Wading in the Velvet Sea” (I only know because I looked), but fortunately my partner in crime will have returned from the bathroom for one of her favorite songs.
After 15:00 minutes I can say that was definitely different than most “Harry Hoods” and my take on the “What’s the Use?” is it’s probably below average. I was slightly disappointed that the climax to “Hood” never came and felt that “What’s the Use?” was kind of unnecessary (if you know what I mean…). There are few places I would rather be than at a Phish show and when I am there, I sincerely do my all to live in the moment and not critique the live experience. This is a review of a few songs and my conclusion of “Harry Hood>What’s the Use?” basically sums up how the Phish experience is to me at this point.
Every show or song has the opportunity to be great (well maybe not every song), but the placement of songs in a set list seems to make or break the show. There is no question Phish is playing at a high level, arguably the highest in years, but a show only comes off as “great” when it delivers from start to finish. The beginning of this “Hood” started strong (like many shows), but where it ended was to be desired (also like many shows). Sometimes it is the other way around, where a show (or song) starts off dragging but whirls into a rage before you know what hit you. Then on some occasions Phish delivers from start to finish, blowing your mind from the first note until when the house lights come on, and likely for hours after.
And that is why we keep coming back. Because we know that Phish can bring us where no other band can. We know that on any night we can be brought to a place, where for a few hours everything is right, and everything that is wrong can be forgot about. When that experience is lost is when I will see my last show, but until then I will continue to take in as many as I can.
Jay is a sportswriter/reporter in Rochester, NY focusing primarily on local high school athletics.
Jay’s High School Directory
Freshman basketball 1, JV basketball 2, Varsity basketball 4, JV Baseball 1, Varsity golf 2,3,4, Prom Committee 3, Float 1,2,3,4
Favorite Ghost: MSG 12/31/2010