Permalink for Comment #1378469344 by BobbyPine

, comment by BobbyPine
BobbyPine Despite overflow crowd that seemed ready to let loose, night two at Camden just never really hit its stride. The security at the venue certainly did not help matters as it took many (easily thousands) people over an hour to get in (we began making our way through the line well before 7:00 and still managed to miss Mike's. The BB&T security went from patting every single person down after going through a metal detector and emptying everyone's pockets to just letting everyone in once the show started. Really, why bother? Thousands of people missed the beginning of the show, and for search people right up until it takes way too long and the band starts, at which point everyone gets let in? What a joke. This is already not a great venue as the pavilion is a concrete monstrosity. The band looks like its playing beneath a giant bunker.

Security and venue issues aside, the first set was a fun if rather uneventful run through some older faves. Divided Sky was a nice nod to the volatile weather of the past few days, as Phish is wont to do following a clearing of clouds after heavy storms. Everything's Right offered the most interesting jam of the first set (and quite possibly the entire night), although Trey seemed to pull out of it just as some darker Type II areas were being explored. Papyrus is always a welcome friend and Roggae featured some pretty playing. Nothing stood out as overtly memorable in first set, although the 46 days closer featured some old school fiery Trey magic. The fireworks at set break made it feel as if we were in for a something we were being primed for a real blowout.

Then...the second set. Listen, I love a five or six song second set as much as anyone, but I'm also not someone who believes that a 10 song second set can't have just as much magic/interesting playing. This ten song second set just felt...disjointed at best. Blaze On was a solid opener that usually provides a good springboard to go just about anywhere. On this night though, they seemed to try to go nowhere. The transition to a conventional run-through of NICU was a bit clunky. Golden Age got rip-corded before any real exploration could be had. Then the Ruby Waves, DDHVL, Rift (second set??), Beneath the Sea of Stars, Waiting All Night stretch was just...confusing. There was not much, if any, flow and Trey seemed far too content to sit back (on this night, Page pretty much took the reins, which appeared to surprise him more than anyone) and play chords. Weirdly, Page and Mike didn't seem all that keen in taking the reins for long stretches either. And then there's the song choice/sequence, particularly, the Beneath the Sea of Stars --> Waiting All Night section, which just seemed to stymy a Saturday night crowd looking to really groove. The tempo and mood of both songs were so close that their being played back-to-back felt beyond redundant. Even the Ghost that followed was pretty subdued and was once again cut short before anything in the way of exploration could even begin.

By the time S.A.N.T.O.S. came around, Trey even seemed to acknowledge that the whole night went by without the band really attempting to cut loose. He did his level best to completely tear up the solos in SANTOS, but those 7 minutes of minor pentatonic virtuosity offered only a fleeting glimpse of the energy that was largely lacking for most of the night.

The YEM encore almost seemed like a bone thrown to the audience for the plodding previous 90 minute set. Even the YEM was just pretty run-of-the-mill.

Ok. So, they can't all be winners and clearly Trey wants to include the GOTF/Kasvot material into Phish. As with everything, it takes trial and error and it's important to give the band leeway to figure it out. Unfortunately, with these tours all being short, it becomes difficult for the band to figure out where and how to slot (in this case) 31 new songs into the rotation. As a fan, when you can only see the band but so many times every year, catching a night like night 2 at Camden can inevitably feel disappointing. But it's important that they keep growing and trying new things. Nights like 6/29/19 make nights like 12/29/18 possible. It's still a privilege to see these guys playing at such a high level this many years in. Since my first show as a 16 year-old in 1998, the band has privileged me to far too many awesome memories to ever hold a dud like tonight against them...because like always, you know the next show is gonna rage. Onward! is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

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