I think the reason I keep going to Phish shows (this run puts me close to 45 slowly shedding n00b status?) is because I always go in hoping that I’m going to see the best show I’ve ever seen. And my favorite band threatening to play the best live music I’ve ever heard is a very tempting dragon to chase, and it is oh-so rewarding when you get that big show you were after. Reading ‘13, Mann ‘15 N2, Magna N2, 12/30/16, each felt like “the one” and then I was privileged to witness five nights of consecutive brilliance at the Bakers Dozen, Double Chocolate through Holes. One aspect of the Dozen that I got a kick out of was everyone wearing the “13” shirseys, we really were all on Team Phish, seeing our team on what has clearly become as close to “home field” as it gets for this band, on stage at MSG, cheering as we saw victory after victory for the good guys.
Which brings me to the Hampton Coliseum, and tonight’s show. I understood the bands history at The Mothership, but the GA energy is something I was not prepared for, likewise the camaraderie shown by the phans to whom ever happens to be their seat- or floor-mate. Truly special.
Phish comes into Saturday night in Hampton after a full-on Fri night scorcher complete with a tent pole 23 min evil phish Golden Age jam. Ah Saturday night Phish. You will be a shred - filled rocker practically every time but will there be meat on the bones, as they say.
Folks there was meat a’plenty. Your reviewer is approx 20 rows back on the floor center-Mike-side.
Opener is the third(?) funky slow breed of Llama and Hampton is immediately a funky dance party. The intro to Fuego rings out, and this two-hole Fuego did not disappoint, getting the Coliseum rocking and joining in the “millennial whoa-ing” vocals before giving way to a short but sweet outro to cross the 11 min mark before melting into Jim. And it was a very nice Runaway Jim with a briefly extended middle section and rocking Type I jam taken past the 12 min mark. Next we get a surprise first set Bug (don’t feed it), fun to see Bug unusually placed and Trey nails the crescendoing glory notes of the Bug jam before a surprising segue into Mound, and the Hampton crowd is fully supportive as it obliges the Mound intro’s arms-above-head slow clapping. Mound gives way to this set’s next surprise, the multibeast riding jewel of Wilson’s foul domain, Tela. Trey does not nail this Tela but “it doesn’t matter” as Page and he drive the ballad to its traditional cathartic peak. Then 46 Days picks up where Walk Away left off bringing fist pumping heat before threatening to descend into a Type II deepend.
Instead Trey lightly strums a familiar series of chords. Is it ? Yes Hampton it is, your first set closing Fluffhead, taking the crowds energy and focusing it into a laser beam , arming the Mothership for battle. Did this Fluffhead have flubs ? Yes. Do those flubs matter one bit? No they do not as Trey brings the room to as ecstatic a peak as I think I’ve witnessed as he wipes the fluff-balls off our heads.
A raging Saturday S1 in the books.
What will we get to open our 2nd set? Disease or Crosseyed ? Drowned or Waves as a reflection of the rainy day in southern VA? Nope it is Sat night and phish is back to continue rocking your face with First Tube. Trey shreds and the place is literally bouncing, energy immediately back up to 100 where we left with Fluff. While Trey is wresting the traditional feedback-screech of triumph as he holds his guitar up for us to admire, your reviewer thinks to himself, I think the only way the roof could be blown any more thoroughly is if this goes into Tweezer.
They go into Tweezer. The floor of the Coliseum becomes a many-limbed dancing monster as the band tears into a Tweezer jam of massively rocking proportions. Peak after peak, this Tweezer jam was the business and gets to sit on the shelf next to Hampton 2013’s Tweezer as a most worthy successor. 18 min mark reached, Tweezer gives way to a gorgeous soulful Dirt landing pad. Number Line has the folks on the floor hugging and linking arms as old and new friends together decide what it contains: a short but powerful jam. No Mans comes up next, and it is a treat as a deep-second set rocker, as we let the band know we’re happy that they’re here. No Mans jam crosses the 12 min mark before the heavy drum stomps signal for Cavern. Tough to take care of your shoes on the Coliseum floor, it is a sticky situation down there. Set closer Cavern right ? Incorrect, and the next-to-last surprise setlist choice of the night is a late set Gotta Jiboo. Jiboo takes little time getting into bliss-jam mode and shredding. Will it end the set? No sir, you get a quick Oh Kee Pa Ceremony (which Trey forgets how to play, but do you really have to ask if it matters?) before a straight-ahead rocking Suzy , complete with Page going off and Trey giving us some serious arena-rock sustain to end the set.
Shine a Light as the sole encore is the last trick from this Sat night set list which will not conclude with the traditional Tweezer Reprise, making us all wait until tomorrow for the bomb to drop.
Team Phish wins again.
Phish has two outstanding shows in the books in Hampton 2018. Your Sunday show, never to be missed, and Tweeprise, loom, along with the possibility of one of the strongest 3-show runs (along with Alpharetta) in recent memory.
My 14th show. And I saw seven (7) first timers. This show was incredible. Prior to making the trip to the Mother Ship, I texted my son and phellow Phish phan and said: "I'd be happy for ONE of Runaway Jim, Fluffhead, or Gotta Jibboo." Imagine my delight to hear ALL THREE!!!
I took a friend and it was his first Phish show. We were on the floor all night. There were incredible peaks in several songs. The energy was off the charts. By the time Set 1 was nearing an end, a raging 46 Days was just the perfect tonic for what came next -- FLUFFHEAD!!!! Yes! After missing it by one show several times, and what a superb version. It was a full, epic Fluffhead with credible playing and a full on rock 'n roll "big finish". Loved it!!
What was also unique and special to me was after this FIRST set, the band members bowed for at least 1-2 minutes -- soaking up the fan support. It was incredible to witness.
Set 2 picked up where they ended with a rocking First Tube. Gordon killed it. Tweezer got the house rockin' -- happy Phish fans everywhere. This version deserves a deep listen. Some BEAUTIFUL jamming after the main composition. They really took this jam to some special places. The next three songs were really well-placed in my opinion. Dirt, BDTNL and NMINML were VERY well-played. Then Cavern -- which is always fun, wherever it lands in the sequence. I couldn't believe my ears when the first strains of Jibboo crossed over the expanses of the Mother Ship interior -- lifting my spirits higher and higher -- the jam on this took a while to develop and whether Trey was trying to "find it" or whether it was intentional "tension and release" is irrelevant. The jam caught fire and my first Jibboo ended STRONG. I thought that might close the set. Oh Kee Pa came nest and set up a sizzling Suzy Greenberg to end an incredible set. I was a bit surprised that there was no double encore. Shine a Light was going into Tweezer Reprise, right? Wrong! But the crowd was so appreciative. This concert was a blast start to finish. I loved every minute of it.
I thought this show was good, not great. Always fun to be in the room, but this one had some major ups and downs. First set had some great highlights: Jim nearly broke out to type 2 but got TreyDD’d, 46 days was fierce and Fluffhead was an absolute treat to end the set.
The second set kicked off with a band with First Tube. I haven’t seen that song pump up a crowd that intensely since MSG 09. Tweezer was majestic. Beautiful, inspired jamming with a high register, major key section that was prettt breathtaking. Gotta Jibboo felt like it had a little extra mustard on it but didn’t really break the mold. The second set seemed like it was about to end a few different times, but Oh Kee Pa > Suzy was the best exclamation point we could have asked for.
Ultimately I didn’t think this show could find the kind of relentless energy and adrenaline we got on Friday, but the band and crowd all had a fun Saturday night.
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