, attached to 2016-07-18

Review by JMart

JMart This was a strange show for me.
The Bill Graham runs are usually highly anticipated, but this year only two days after a monster Gorge run, and starting on a Monday, I'll admit they almost feel like an afterthought. That was certainly the case as I put on my game face and got on MUNI for the brief ride to Bill Graham.

The place was packed and fairly rowdy and things got off to a good start with MM and then Halley's. The first set featured what I thought was excellent song selection, and solid if mediocre execution. I was happy to see the tour debut of Ya Mar, but I will echo the reviews above when I write that, while the instrument switching is about as cool as HYHU is, there's a reason why HYHU is rare and the instrument switching should be as well.

Golden Age is not my favorite, but it is a great set opener and the crowd really dug it. Fantastic lights the entire show. Really digging the new setup. The Sally is going to get a lot of press and rightfully so. Clearly the highlight of the night and where you should go if you're going to listen to anything from this show. Fairly straightforward jam gives the peaks you came to hear.

Overall, a pretty decent show, especially, as above, being placed where it is on the tour and on a Monday. Three thoughts:

1. it sure is nice for them to be playing cover tunes again. I love Phish originals obviously, but I like to live in a world where I can hear Ya Mar, Sally, Golden Age, and Circus on any given night.

2. One of my bigger complaints over the past 4 years has been the direction the songs take, with many of them ending plodding, mid-tempo pentatonic scale runs by Trey with a few isolated peaks that are telegraphed from way far away. This was certainly the case with more than a few songs last night. Like someone said earlier about 7/15/16, when you hear so many so-so shows, the nights where they step out and play with energy and creativity sound so fresh. This band *can* do the ear bending, out there music from earlier days, but have settled into being a more straight-ahead ROCK band the past few years, and seem content to stay there.

3. I really don't like ending reviews negatively, but I have to say this: sometimes their song selection...it's like they're consciously trying to ruin the energy. At this point in their career, they've *earned* the right to play My Sweet One >The Line as the third and fourth songs in the second set or to peel out of a vicious Mike's jam only to grind into Farmhouse, but WHY? Why would you make that choice? I do not understand it.

Focusing on mindfulness and enjoying the music as we head to the fourth show in five days...


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