, attached to 2011-02-19

Review by vtspeedy

vtspeedy I ended up in the front row rather by accident, and was utterly blown away by this performance. The first set was fun, Trey was in a great mood, Tom Marshall showed up as noted above, and the build from solo Trey to the full band was fantastic - a drippingly gorgeous Velvet Sea with the ladies provided a different read than the typical Phish version, then Ray joined in, then the whole band. Even so at half time, I was happy, but not floored.

Then it happened. When the band fired up Money, Love and Change in full throat electric mode, the energy in room quite notably took two big steps up. And kept climbing for the duration of the show. Ocelot dove off a cliff into a surprising and swirling jam, quite unexpected. As the bank fired up Clint Eastwood there were squeals of surprise from the audience, and as the snaky groove got traction, the room started to coalesce into that one-mindedness that only rarely comes to visit. Strong versions of Night Speaks and Sweet and Dandy followed, perhaps taking a step back from the deepest level of bliss that was circling the room looking for an opening, which the following Ooh Child provided in spades. The "right now" chorus by the ladies reached an incredible emotional peak that the room soaked up and returned to the stage, creating an amazing feedback loop that everyone present felt. Windora Bug brought the energy level back down a notch, giving everyone a break while maintaining a deep, loping pocket chaired by Tony.

What happened next was astonishing. The opening bass riff of Sand kicked off and the room erupted. Again, over a precise and deep pocket set by Tony and Russ, with a very funky clav from Ray, Trey proceeded to give a master class in how to build a solo, starting from a very spare, careful example from the earliest days of plinko, into a whirling, snarling, loaded maelstrom of words fail me, wow. And when you can't take any more, the horns step in with some lines that just push it all to the breaking point.

The rest of the show, through the Cayman encore, was top drawer as well. The crowd was entrained, there was electricity crackling around the room. My buddy and I sat in our seats for a good half an hour after the show trying to process what had just happened. For me the true test of a great show (that I attended) is whether or not it stays in rotation, and whether a replay takes me back into the room. This one does. Sand even caused me to rear end a car in front of me a couple of weeks after the show, because I was just lost in the jam. Oops. A year and a half later, the show is still in high rotation, although the current summer of 2012 Phish tour is rudely elbowing its way in. But that Sand. Oooh, child, right now. Take a listen.


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