, attached to 2013-12-30

Review by solargarlic78

solargarlic78 The Kill Devil Falls opener seemed inevitable. We had joked earlier about “missing the KDF opener.” The jam in KDF started out sparse and quiet – building off the minimalist energy of 12/29 – with Trey playing some quick sharp rhythmic chords. From there it went to its KDF place (soaring Chalkdust-like rock peak), but it was a good start. Bathtub Gin was next. It was great. Every Bathtub is great. But, people don’t like to talk about how stale 3.0 Bathtubs have become. It’s always (almost) in set 1. And, it’s basically the formulaic build to a peak….every….single…time. They do it well. Most of the time the reviews will claim after every single Gin, “That was an above average Gin.” But, they all can’t be above average right? As someone who has seen some downright epic Gins (8/17/97, 7/29/98, 2/22/03), here’s an idea: Open a second set this summer with it. And play if for 20-25 minutes and take it beyond the peak and into some interesting type ii territory. Just saying. This all said, I can honestly say 12/30/13 WAS an above average version. Trey and the band really locked into a melodious theme that had the crowd going ape shit. Next – Wombat! So much fun. This is like Tube on steroids – so much thick funk. Yarmouth Road featured Trey doing the Sugar Shack (“Wait…how does this Mike song go again????”) routine. He even tried to practice the lick before the song started, but to no avail. 46 Days was a standard rocker and seemed unnecessary to me after KDF and Gin reached similar places, but Lawn Boy was a nice cool down song. Mike’s solo was particularly nice. Heavy Things is pure joy to me. Trey’s solo sounds very Jerry-esque and I kind of love it despite the cheesy pop of it all. PYITE as you know by now was brutally flubbed. Trey tried to count it off fairly quickly out of Heavy Things, but the band wasn’t quite ready. Then, Trey completely got lost in the Landlady section. Oh well. It’s a hard section. It happens. These guys aren’t gods. Sample actually had an above average solo at the end and Jibboo was a bit awkward as the closer. It never really was able to pick up much steam.

Set II. With few jam vehicles left, Phish launched into Chalkdust. Essentially, since Dicks ’12, Chalkdust has been reliably going type II in the second set (even if briefly ala the Alpharetta version). This is a great development (perhaps Gin could do this as well!). This particular Chalkdust was not Dicks ’13 version, but it was still fantastic if a bit schizophrenic. The jam quickly left Chalkdust territory and went into a soaring melodic (and oddly dissonant) major key soloing from Trey. As the jam winded down it seemed like it might end, but Trey brought the jam out of the ashes to then explore something like 10 separate themes in the span of 8 minutes or so. But, even if it felt rushed, it just showed how effortless Phish can transition between keys, styles and grooves these days. Mike was the MVP of this jam by the way. An early set Mikes followed getting every excited for “Is this the time Mike’s gets jammed out????” No. Even more bizarre than the lack of type ii jams in Gin, is the status of Mike’s these days. Still fun and high energy. Devotion to a Dream is a nice little ditty that we should enjoy before we can’t stand to get live in concert anymore (this will happen mark my words). Ghost came next. Not much of an exploratory version, but it featured some really amazing expressive and melodic soloing from Trey. He was purposively thematic with his lines – and that is preferable to just playing lots of notes really fast. Weekapaug had some thick funk transition into more thematic melodic soloing for Big Red. Fantastic stuff. Simple was a bit of shock out of ‘Paug (apparently only time since 1999). The type I jam was laid back and beautiful and the little ambient outro was beautiful even if it didn’t reach the heights of say 1/1/11. Next – Harry Hood. I guess there are no piss breaks in this set! This one picked up where Ghost and Weekapaug left off and featured Trey really purposively developing a thematic melody and pushing it and pushing it to its logical peak – and then – and only then – was the band allowed to return to the standard DAG chords of the end of Hood. This wasn’t exactly a type ii Hood ala 8/5/13, but the melodic territory Trey found was somewhat “out” of the normal D major Hood territory it seemed to me. A nice Cavern set closer fake out into a First Tube that sounded awkward at first – but once again laid the basis for more melodic thematic soloing from Trey. The encore was Slave. I think this is the third time in 2013 where Phish has paired Slave and Hood late in the second set. It’s an odd choice because both jams are soaring, major key melodic beauties. Yet, it’s also a kind of embarrassment of riches. I simply love these two songs and if Phish wanted to play a set 1 entirely of Hood and set 2 entirely of Slave I probably would not complain. Overall, I personally feel this show was not as good as 12/29. A weaker first set and a bit more meandering improv in set II - but it was far better than 12/28 and a very solid commendable effort for 2013.

Lots of speculation and rumors swirling around for tonight. I’m always hoping for something new and interesting, but it might just be three sets of standard Phish songs – which will be fine by me (as long as they play Fuego at some point).


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