, attached to 2019-07-14

Review by Praxis926

Praxis926 Wow, its been five days since this show and I am still buzzing from it. This is my first review, and I’m not the most articulate person, so bear with me. On the way to the venue my wife, friend, and I were speculating/debating on what the night would bring. The last Sunday show they’d played at Alpine (8/9/15) was a show for the ages. My buddy thought that because of that, and numerous other factors, they’d play it cool and include a few bust-outs, but not at the 8/9/15 level. I was adamant that Sunday was going to be on the level with 8/9/15. I thought there’d be a good number of bust-outs (2-3) the first set, then the second set would feature a lot of great playing, but in more of a “normal” setlist way. Well, we were both wrong.

As I stood on the lawn watching them walk on stage, I had no idea what to expect. I was hoping for a Soul Shakedown opener but figured that what they chose would be indictive of how the show would start to unravel. As they started to play their first few notes, I was confused as I thought it was Landlady, but also thought there was no way they’d be opening with this! Welp, they were. After Landlady was finished, there was a pause as the band discussed what to play next. The anticipation grew every second as to what was next…a bust out…..a standard….a GOTF song……but no……someone darn near no one would have called….freaking Olivia’s Pool. I was in shock. I looked around at others to see if they knew what was happening. Many did, many didn’t. But those who did, couldn’t believe it either. Almost 700 shows since this was last played. Wow.

At this point, we knew we were in for a ride. Next come a song pairing I’ve been chasing for years which is TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY. At this point they could’ve played The Line 6 times in a row and I would’ve still been ecstatic. Meatstick was a fun dance party as always & Vultures was “wootastic”. Spock’s Brain blew me away once again. This wasn’t even on my radar as I NEVER thought I would hear it live. I figure the Mexico bust out this year was a one-and-done. I wish they’d play it more as it’s a super fun and catchy song. Another two white whales of mine were next which included a short take on Pebbles and Marbles followed by the always fun Glide. As Trey started About to Run, my buddy and I turned to each other and said, this is the only GOTF song that was a fit for this set. IMO, it’s the best GOTF song (not withstanding what was to come second set). Strange Design was a fantastic way to slow things down so we could rest, and I’ve said multiple times it is criminally underplayed. Following that was Timber, which I will ALWAYS take, especially at an outdoor show in Wisconsin! Next comes I Didn’t Know with John Sullen Mellon Collie Fishman. At this point you could just hear how much fun the whole band was having in their voices. Good Time Bad Times brought the unreal set to a close.

During set break, I sat in stunned silence for a minute, trying to digest what I had just witnessed. That set includes multiple songs I NEVER thought I’d hear, nonetheless in the same set!! Now the question was, will this continue, or will the second set bring us back to reality?

Second set started with Mercury, which is one of their best new songs. I wondered if it would make it to the heights of the Mercury I saw in Vegas 2018, but 12 minutes in Trey moved onto Ruby Waves. At this point, I’ll admit it, I was disappointed. I thought this was going to be a standard set with minimal jamming and a lot of rip-cording by Trey. Well, I am happy to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. My goodness this Ruby Waves. There were MULTIPLE times during the ensuing 38 minutes that I was asked by my wife and others around me if this was still the same song. I almost second guessed myself at the 30-minute mark that this was really happening.

But I need to backtrack a bit because this part is one of the two reasons I am writing this. At around the 21-minute mark of Ruby Waves, they started to get into this heavy groove. This kept developing over the next few minutes into an intense explosion of heavy, dark Phish like I’d never heard or felt before. It’s something that just doesn’t come through in the recording or the video of it. In the video you can see a part where the camera pans to the audience and there’s glowsticks flying EVERYWHERE. This minute or so build-up and release by the band was one of the most intense moments of music I’ve ever been a part of. It’s like the audience all at once had a collective build up and release at the same time as the band. The crowd, the music, the lights, everything lined up perfectly at that moment and it was something special. Pure unadulterated intensity. I will never forget that moment.

As Ruby Wave peaked multiple times and kept on going, it finally dissipated into a short Twist, which was followed by another beautiful sequence I’d been wanting to hear which is Swept Away > Steep. This went into a dirty, and I mean filthy version of Death Don’t Hurt Very Long. I was there for the Kasvot Vaxt set in Vegas, and this version was VERY different. The whole band just put a lot of extra “stank” on it, which was shown by the fact that Trey was drooling at the end of the song. We all know this because Fishman called him out on it saying, “you know it’s good when Trey drools”.

There are things you always chase as a Phish fan. Your first Harpua, Forbin > Mockingbird, etc. On most people’s list, there is also Icculus. Now to put this into context, since 1986, Phish has only played this song 27 times (including this show). Think about that for a minute. 27 total times in 33 years. That makes Harpua seem like it’s been overplayed. So all that to say, it’s on everyone’s list, but most people realize there is a snowball’s chance in hell that it will ever get played. And then it happened. As those first notes were played, my jaw dropped and I looked over at my friend who was also in shock. Is this really happening? After that first set, and a 38-minute Ruby Waves, there’s no way we are also getting Icculus. But we were. My friend and I hugged as we came to terms with what was really happening. The joy I felt in that moment was unreal. It was a “high” like I haven’t felt before from hearing a song busted out. As always, Trey’s narration was hysterical, and it’s always fun to hear Trey drop a bunch of f-bombs. When the band plays songs like this, it makes you feel like you’re just hanging out with the 4 of them having fun as you can tell how much fun they are all having in the moment.

As that ended I stood in stunned silence. Well where do you go from there? I don’t know, how about another bust-out of Buffalo Bill! Then why not follow that up with the first ever Icculus Reprise!

The following YEM was the only song I really felt coming the whole day (minus Tweezer Reprise). BUT, even that wasn’t standard as it included a freaking ->Catapult >Wedding Proposal Explanation > Contact > YEM.

The encore of More > Tweezer Reprise was great as the lyrics to More are always great to hear. But those bass bombs by Grodo In Reprise were the loudest I’ve EVER heard him do. He definitely put a little extra into them.

The ride home that night I was in shock of what I had witnessed. The next day I woke up with an extreme feeling of joy and happiness that I have never felt the day after a show. I’ve never ridden the “high” of a show for well over 24 hours. I mean to this day, 5 days later, I am still on cloud nine. I’ve re-listened to the show daily and it keeps getting better. Every re-listen of Icculus I get goosebumps. This type of show is the reason I’ve been following them since 2003 and listening to them since well before that. I will never forget this show and I am happy that I was able to experience it with my wife and great friend. Thank you Phish for everything you do. You have brought so much joy into my life and I can never explain how much it all means to me.


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