This show was webcast via Live Phish. Skin It Back was played for the first time since August 11, 2015 (113 shows). Camel Walk included Skin It Back teases. BOTT included a Streets of Cairo tease and Possum included William Tell Overture tease.
i believe that this was an above average great phish show. stay with me here.
going to start with the second set. the second set, on paper, looks bad. and also, admittedly, even being in attendance there were some low moments. obviously hearing the line is never good. following it up with wingsuit (a song which, when placed correctly, can be very effective) was not the best choice. rise/come together actually was segued into very nicely, but still not my favorite song.
that being said, the waves and the light are absolutely incredible jams. must-listen phish in my opinion. furthermore, the fourth quarter was quite good; your pet cat rages, what's the use is moving every time, and possum slaps. more encore - dang. maybe encore could've kept the momentum going. but the crowd was relentless and seemed to will the band back on. they delivered with a sick YEM - some nice peaking from trey, and then a rather good vocal jam (this from a guy who doesn't like vocal jams). tweeprise was missing - i wonder if they forgot or have some sort of plan...
ok, now the first set. simply put, this was a nearly perfect set of phish, especially for a first set. stealing time is a fun opener, but the set really starts going when the drop into skin it back (first since 8/11/15 at the mann). this version rages - trey shreds. personally, i think brian and robert is a nice song to hear. timber contains a nice, albeit short, jam. then, simple begins. to cut to the chase, this is a magnificent phish jam. serious, serious hose the entire time. a sick minor funk jam leading into huge major peak. and it just kept going. each member dominates, but trey really shined here. truly MUST-LISTEN jam. mexican cousin is a fun come-down. camel walk! a fun song- what! a camel walk jam! very cool, some great fishman playing here. back on the train rages as per usual, and the raging continues with a simultaneously rousing and chilling rendition of i saw it again. an incredibly constructed set.
if you only have time to listen to one set, certainly listen to the first. however, i strongly recommend checking out the waves and the light.
What an incredible run. it was my first time at the mothership, and phish absolutely delivered. can't wait to see what's in store the rest of this tour!
Before I begin my review, I want to let the readers know that I was in attendance and was overall blown away by the band's performance. They were a completely different band (in a good way) than this summer, and overall this was another solid Hampton run. After raging hard for 2 nights, the crowd (and myself) were much in need of a rocking, hardcore, classic Phish throw down -- and boy did they deliver during the first set. There really isn't anything you could ask more in a first set...and who doesn't love first set-second sets? Skin it back really got the place grooving and set the tone for the rest of the set. B&R slowed it down for a brief moment before kicking it into second gear with Timber. Timber was short, but groovy. Simple is next and boy is it a monster. My favorite Simple in recent history. They waste no time getting to the jam segment, which had several themes including a dark funky jam featuring Trey on the wah pedal, and several minutes of their newly developed sinister fall 2018 type II jam style. The jam ends with a multi-tiered, non-telegraphed peak which sent the Mothership into a frenzy. It is so refreshing to see them regularly jam in the first set, for me it makes the show more exciting and unpredictable. Mexican cousin was a fun little rarity which lead into Camel Walk. Near the middle of Camel walk Trey gives the "lets keep this going" signal and it erupts into another funk-wah jam. Saw It Again was an absolute head-banger, ending in a cacophony of sounds akin to the bakers dozen "I am the Walrus." It was one of those times where you could feel the music rattling your bones. That capped off arguably the best first set of the year...and left us all itching to see what they'd do in set two. Trey was the clear leader this weekend, really being patient with jams. He's clearly been practicing and getting to know his new pedal board and toys.
As incredible as the first set was, the second set was equally as lackluster. With the kind of energy they built, and the theme and direction they seemed to be heading, none of the songs chosen in the second set built on that energy. In fact, the song selection took away from it, in way. The songs are well played for sure, but there wasn't really any flow. Waves was a great jam, albeit an odd set II opener -- that said, it's always fun to get songs in unusual placements. The jam in waves is beautiful at first and eventually develops and moulds into the more haunting, dark space that was found on many occasions this weekend. the -> R/CT was smooth as butter, but that was the first indication of where the set was ultimately going. Light was next and boy that jam really got the place rocking. Definitely one of the highlighs of the night. That said...the song proper of Light is way to fluffy and added to the flat song-selection (whereas, say a Mikes Song, Rock & Roll, C&P, etc would have really brought the energy back). The back-to-back second set killer combo of The Line > Wingsuit sealed the deal for this set. After The Line (much like BDTNL the night prior), they seemed to just patch the rest of the set together. Your Pet Cat was well-played and jammed out a touch more than usual, and of course WTU is nice, but nothign mind blowing or energizing. Possum was one of the better versions I can recall in 3.0 -- the intro was extended and they even briefly touched into that type II space, but after a set that kind of took the wind out of the sails, it felt like a weird, "easy" choice. More as an encore felt fitting for the set that just happened, and by then any semblance of the energy that had once been there was gone. Coming out for a YEM double encore was cool, but, almost fittingly, they called for the woo's, which this reviewer absolutely despises.
Overall the show was really enjoyable, every single song was well-played, and the crowd energy was off-the-charts. All is good in the Phish world after this weekend, and I can't wait to see where the rest of the tour takes them.
Phish had piloted the Mothership though two very different magnificent shows on Friday and Saturday night. Into a black hole of dark ferocity Friday night, and rocketing among blissful cosmic peaks Saturday night. CK5's drone-firefly ballet creating an ever-changing porthole into different dimensions.
And then it was Sunday. A supernova Tweeprise *must* be incoming as part of an all-timer Hampton Sunday show. How would it go down?
Your reviewer is directly behind the stage, towards the top of the stands center-Mike side. This was your reviewer's first time behind the stage, and if you haven't had the opportunity, CK5's lights are remarkable to behold from the band's vantage, painting the crowd and arena in circles of light and star-bursts.
Lights go down and Phish takes the stage to the roaring Mothership passengers who are ready to be beamed up. And Stealing Time is your opener, the Joy-album 3.0 rocker catching everyone a bit off-guard it seemed to me, as a "huh" moment passed almost visibly through the crowd: "this isn't exactly the opener I had hoped for/expected..." Spoiler: this sentiment would become a theme. Stealing Time does not care what you wanted and is its normal rocking self. The band conferences, perhaps sharing a Cliff Bar and some cold green tea, and out comes the opening scratchy-groovy tones of Little Feat's Skin it Back. As others have mentioned, Trey is visibly pumped to be busting this tune out for the Hampton crowd, and happiness (giddiness?) from Trey would also be a theme this evening. The band nails Skin it Back with aplomb, settles into a nice grooving jam, and Trey teases the sword dangling over our heads by subtly weaving in the Tweeprise progression. Brian & Robert follows and supplies a beautiful quiet reflective interlude. Timber emerges next and the Hampton crowd is immediately into it, swaying with Fish's rhythmic pounding. The Timber jam fades and the opening notes of Simple ring out.
The moment Simple's traditional light ethereal post-"skyballs and saxscrapers" jam drops out into space (a minor key? your reviewer is no musician, let alone musicologist), a sense of momentousness gathered. The band spends a good while in soft spacey abstractness, not the scary variety a la Friday's Golden Age, but open and exploratory. Mike and Fish push on the low end while Trey and Page explore the cosmos. And then Trey, as he does in many of 3.0's finest examples of bliss jamming, finds a musical phrase, latches on, and pulls the band and the crowd together up towards glory. Towering celebratory peaks resound again and again through The Mothership, and the energy between band and crowd is palpable. The Hampton Simple is as satisfying a jam as I have experienced live and is, without question, a hear-at-all-costs version. We've all made our own journey to see this band, and each individual in the Hampton crowd exults with the band as they show us, once more, why we put our time, effort, resources, and love into this band and their music.
What comes after the sublime joy produced by the Simple jam? Why it's your Mexican Cousin (my first time seen), brought to you by your friends at CID Entertainment, and you can kiss your Mexican cousin at Phish Riviera Maya 2019 (tickets on sale now, second mortgages available for qualifying buyers). Next up is Camel Walk, which Hampton pops for, and the band takes the camel for a very nice funky walk, extending the song close to the 10 min mark, much to the crowd's delight. The camel hops Back on the Train and we bounce along for the ride. Trey turns the BotT coda jam into a mini-shredfest, working the crowd back into a frenzy before the band drops into Saw it Again. Another first time seen for your reviewer, this Saw it Again is a flamethrower, screaming vocals feed into a tremendous cacophony soundscape, treating us to yet another fist-pumpingly powerful first-set closer.
One cannot help but marvel at the rapid turnaround of Phish first sets. If there was one consistent source of criticism about the 3.0 era, it was the seeming lack of first-set vitality. The turn-around since the Baker's Dozen last year is nothing short of remarkable. In the last several runs/tours we have numerous examples of both creative set-list architecture and epic jamming in the first set. And you can add Hampton 2018's first sets to this trend, with Sunday's Simple in bold and underlined.
If we are going to have epic jaw-dropping jams in first sets, perhaps some recalibration of our second set expectations is also in store?
Phish opens the second set with Waves, another *huh* moment as this was not the Sunday Set II opener that perhaps many had looked for. Instead of a high-energy opener a la Disease or Crosseyed, or the still-dangling Tweeprise, the first jam-section of Waves washes over us, bringing a still beautiful but more understated and certainly more peaceful and delicate vibe. The second Waves jam section crescendos nicely, reaching out to the 14+ min mark, energizing the crowd as the band very smoothly segues into Rise/Come Together, another first timer for yours truly. Rise/Come Together is a song that I will admit did not *do it* for me after listening to tapes from its previous outings, but in person I get it, and it helps that, to my ears, this version straight up rocks. It is triumphant. We are a part of this band, and they us. And we come together and rise as one.
The opening chords of Light ring out as R/C's jam fades, and Trey's vocals resound through The Mothership ("and the light is grooooowing brighter now"), offering a precursor to a very successful multifaceted jam that clocks in around 16 min, which appears to be the current comfort-zone for kick-ass Lights these days (looking at you Camden N2).
And then we get hit with The Line.
I've borne witness to many Lines at this point, and a few that hit mid-second set. Those mid-second set Lines are... tough to swallow. They really stick right in the craw there, when that craw really was more interested in another mid-set jam vehicle to keep the exploratory momentum of Waves and Light. So here's the moment where, I think from my point of view and from what I've seen from many others as well, you either can continue to try to enjoy the experience that Phish has chosen for you on this particular evening in this particular venue, or you can sink dejectedly into your seat, fume to your neighbors, take a piss break, or do whatever else you feel you need to do, and, consciously or no, sever the energy-link between yourself and the band. I try hard to pick the former route as many times as I can, but I understand the latter and there have been some nights when I too have gone that route.
Tonight I do continue to stand, and sway, and enjoy The Line, and I am rewarded with what I thought was a very nice uplifting within-the-lines coda jam. Not quite jumping-up-and-down with energy a la The Line from Cinnamon night at the BD, but still quite enjoyable.
Then Wingsuit hits. I enjoy Wingsuit and the Floyd-esque guitar soloing opportunity it offers Trey, but mid-Sunday Set II at Hampton immediately following The Line, I was less than thrilled. Again, despite straining against my expectations, Wingsuit's jam soars, soulfully uplifting those in the crowd who had not given up on the set.
At some point while Wingsuit was winding down, I shit you not, I received a text (via a bump on my watch) from my cat sitter. I look up from absent-mindedly checking what was up with my furry feline friends, and "in the time of the Ancient Egyptians until today, many people have been cat fanciers. You are such a person." Am I being wiretapped by The Phish? Are they actually telepathically connected to us, as I think all of us have suspected at some point? I do not know but I am laughing maniacally as the caterwauling screeches send us into staccato/plinko jamming of Your Pet Cat. And it is a groovy cat, allowing the Hampton crowd to shake off some of that pent-up energy.
After letting the cat out, we are asked What's the Use?, a question that I do not know the answer to but one that I always am glad to have posed to me by this band. Although I do like to hear/feel WTU? emerge organically out of a jam, the opening chords have a sort of system-shock capability when engaged in isolation, removed from another song's jam context. The Hampton crowd does hush during the exalted orchestration, albeit not as thoroughly (this was not "hear a pin drop" territory a la Magnaball). And, with WTU?'s power expended, it is time to dance our asses off for the Possum that I think we all felt coming for the entire run. This Possum raged, plain and simple. Long drawn-out intro complete with some William Tell Overture from Trey, an extended Trey solo that saw him briefly take the band into spacey pre-Type II territory, and then the thunderous return executed perfectly. Your reviewer suspected this could be the moment they hit us with that Tweeprise, but the moment passed, and so it was *obvious* that Tweeprise would close this Hampton run, putting an exclamation point on the weekend.
Returning quickly to the stage, the band opts for More. I enjoy More as an encore and was pleased to belt out with my fellow Mothership passengers that, as we are vibrating with love and light, there must be something more than this. Obvious seg into Tweeprise right? *Buzzer* / *Price is Right failure chord*, Trey takes off his guitar and the band is taking bows. Of course we are clapping and yelling, the band deserves accolades and appreciation for this run had it actually ended at this moment, but the Hampton crowd is NOT WILLING TO LET THE SHOW END. The entire crowd continues to stand and scream, at the top of their lungs, after the band had exited. Mike's bass tech walks out, ready to get on with his post-show breakdown routine. The crowd does not like this man. They continue screaming. The house lights DO NOT COME UP. The bass tech freezes, as if unsure how to proceed. The crowd knows that second encores in the Phish universe are beyond rare, and yet we are not leaving and we are screaming for the band to come back out. AND THE CROWD GOES ENTIRELY APESHIT AS THE BAND WALKS BACK OUT. And, of course, Trey counts off YEM. If the Mothership could take off we'd have been beyond the solar system before the pre-nirvana section ended. To this reviewer's ears (attached to a head and body that was literally jumping for joy and emitting more maniacal laughter), YEM's composed section was close-to-nailed, with a thrilling sustain-note peak. The building shakes and resounds as we command unseen foes to wash uffize and drive us to firenze. As Trey and Mike did their synchronized bounces for us, the sections of the crowd they were facing popped in sequence. Trey rocked the traditional guitar solo. Mike destroyed the traditional B&D coda. And the vocal jam was rhythmic weirdness, as only Phish can pull off. The band bows.
What a show. What a weekend. What a band.
There would be no Tweeprise (despite the crowd's best efforts at conjuring a third encore). That's ok, I hope that Nashville gets Tweeprised and this Hampton energy transfers over to those shows and the remainder of this Fall Tour. I'm confident that it will, and although I wish I could attend more, if not all, the remaining shows, I will treasure this Hampton run and re-listen for a very long time to come. Good phishing everyone.
Something told me that Sunday night at Hampton would be one for the Book. So I packed my wife and son (their first shows) in the car and we high-tailed it to the Mothership. Tried to watch the Saturday show at the hotel, but technical difficulties made for a glitchy stream cast. A lot of my favorites were played Friday and Saturday, but YEM was still on my list. Little did I know . . .
The energy in the building was bubbling and ready to burst. Everyone was geeking about predictions - so when they crushed Faulty Plan, it really set the tone. There were now blank spaces where our minds should be. We were open and ready for anything. And we got SKIN IT BACK! Oh, the funk was everywhere. It felt swampy and the music seemed to ooze all over us. Trey was in top form and Mike was melting my skin off. Perfectly executed. "Skin it back", in Southern parlance, means to roll up your sleeves, dig in, and get to work, which is why I was surprised by the B&R that came next. I've always loved this tune, but it was a let down after such a raucous opening.
Timber is one of my favorites and has eluded me until now. My tour buddy got one at Starlake before we drove to IT and he got one after being miracled at DeerCreek 04 while I had to listen from the fence. Again, Mike really laid in and drove the groove. Page's piano was right in my face and it seemed like he finally got comfortable. The jam was short, but full of layers and rich interplay, and Fish doing what he does best. My son was sitting on the floor organizing his glowsticks when we heard the opening notes of Simple. He jumped up and almost spilled everything; it's one of his favorites - Skyballs and Saxscrapers and forgetting what song they are playing after the 8 min mark. Great exploratory jam; spacey, funky, with some SIB chords around 10 mins, after which Fish picks up the tempo, Trey and Page have some nice ideas and we all stretch our ears to discern where they could possibly be going. Key change at 15 mins gives Trey a chance to lift the groove and the crowd goes nuts. Page is attacking the piano and Fish is rocking out. The ending is a bit of a flub, but the boys laugh it off, Trey gets some cues from the crowd, and they goof on Mexican Cousin. Must've known I had taken a shot before the show. Rare tunes tonight for sure. Then . . .
CAMELWALK!! Another tune my tour buddy got at Starlake03 and I have never seen. Straight forward funk jam, with another SIB call, that seemed like it was going to take off before Trey just up and ended it. BOTT kept everyone dancing and, again, it seemed like they wanted to blow the roof off, but kept the lid on. At least they ended together.
Oh, wait! Did they want to blow the roof off?? Well, SIA is just the vehicle for such an endeavor. This one was eerie and wild and pushed me over the edge. The show could have ended right there for me. I was spent and spinning. The volume in the pit had been a bit much for the fam (even with ear plugs), so we moved to find seats at the back of the Coliseum.
There has been a lot written about the lack of energy in the second set. For me, it was welcome. They blew my face off during the first set and I really enjoyed sitting back and letting the waves of sound and lights wash over me. After the IT Waves, I always welcome this song as a chance to hear some really interesting Type II. This one stayed on the path, though, until the end when it picked up and sounded like they could launch into the much anticipated Reprise, but Trey began the chords for Rise/Come Together. This is a solid tune and reached some good peaks at the end. Light kills; the tempo changes, the funky grooves, the interplay - this was really good.
People can complain about The Line all they want. They have to leave some classics for the rest of the tour. Wingsuit was actually well-placed, in my opinion, 'casue it feels good, there's nothing to say and nothing to lose. Trey and Page really lay it on and the ending soars. Mike releases his drill, YPC brings the funk back, and we are all dancing again. But, then, the breaks are put on with WTU?. I can't handle the swings. Possum closer breaks my neck, but doesn't quite rage, and we are still waiting for YEM. There must be something more than this.
Double encore YEM and it was worth the wait. Now my family has some context for when they hear vocal jams on tapes. Speaking of tapes, get the AUD of this show. The SDB is too clean; the venue is missing from the recording. A lot of the sounds that they were playing with had to do with the reverb, which doesn't come through on the SDB, and neither does the crowd.
The band proving once again that We got it simple, cause we got a band.
Monumental jam, a patient battle for momentum in the mid-section but when this one gets going it is unstoppable (at least until trey rip chords using the main theme but I'll take it) The crowd was whipped into an absolute frenzy from what I could see from the couch. Camel walk also had a stellar funky jam, he made it downtown to the disco and danced his ass off. Haven't listened to set 2 yet. But that first set is peak phish, so perfect.
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