Kill Devil Falls was unfinished. Trey teased Gumbo during Sanity and Antelope. Twist included a Smoke on the Water tease from Trey. Hood contained teases of Funk #49 as well as Ramblin' Man and Have Mercy teases from Trey.
I like to spin the the dead center of the back hall of this venue. When all goes well you can see every member of the band enough to see smiles and nods from that spot and also see all of San Francisco unfolding right outside the doors. I think I've done that nearly every set of every show at this venue (except for 8-19-12 II where my friend Casey talked me into a balcony seat, and that went really well -- the Way is not an unvarying way).
There's this wonderful spot in the middle of the venue which is a line of symmetry roughly at the I in phish on the marquee of the venue that's a perfect place to ride huge waves of phish kinetic waves. It's not my spot, you can dance there too, but man do I like it.
It's a perfect spot to spin circles of devotion and healing through the crowd, but then again I've always had an over inflated view of the importance of that sort of thing (and probably my own role in it), having come up in the grateful dead scene when there were many more folks who had this practice all spinning in unison.
Last night this spot made a terrific viewpoint for a huge scene outside, filled with far more freaks than our own little circus: The Giants were suffering a major game 6 defeat in Kansas City, broadcast in technicolor right outside Phish's grand San Francisco tour perch last night to tens of thousands, many of whom had long since left for home when the band started into a down right triumphant Crowd Control. The Mike's Hydrogen Groove was stellar and a sign we were in for a series night of fireworks fit to lose a world series game by.
Wingsuit is the least favorite of my new phish tunes, mostly because as an avid Squaw Valley skier, this one always takes me a little too vividly towards the memory of Shane McConkey one of the gods of my sport who died far too early in wingsuit crash. So much to lose. A good metaphor for the need to "make good decisions" (as I always like to heckle phans to try to remember outside the show -- something I was doing last night a lovely young man pointed out how hard it was to take me seriously saying that when I was so completely covered in glitter, but I'm getting ahead of myself). Maybe the metaphor is a little too close to what I do by putting phish right in the middle of a high functioning otherwise pretty boring existence. It's my way to fly.
Wingsuit isn't my favorite bit of psychedelic dim sum, but I certainly did not spit this one in my napkin. Even my least loved new tunes are incredible monkey bars for the band.
Man do I love Water in the Sky though. No complaints on the song writing here or the mental image it conjures in me, because you know, that stuff matters?
Plasma made another surge around it's new found stomping ground.
And then into Halfway, which *is* my favorite of the new tunes, though it really is older sibling to the other Fuego songs and has the confidence and swagger to make the old family truckster hum down the road.
Poor Heart was a mid set victory lap somewhat akin to Rocky Top 8-19-12 II, but you draw your analogy where you want. This was fun.
The Gumbo was strong and Sanity loaded the bases for Antelope to knock at least a few RBIs in for a first set that had everyone talking phish over sports at set break.
It occurs to me that I've got to head off to work here in about half an hour, and this long and rambling review is almost better deleted.
Kill Devil was a rocking second set opener, even though this one seems first setty as did the very beautiful and well executed Mist.
Fuego seemed at home in this set and didn't make me cringe a bit in terms of selection . It just worked.
This whole show really did Twist everything around including song orders, and the results are just incredible. Every single song in the first deserves it's own set of analogies and hyperbole, but you'll want to make sure not to miss the Twist > Jim > Hood. Yowzers. I caught SPAC and Mann this summer and know I'm west coast biased but the Hood took us somewhere close to the level of raw and open true improvisational incredibleness we found last summer in the Tahoe Tweezer.
And the only way to defend that comparison is to point out what my old friend one said
but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
Next time you're at a BGCA show, stop by and spin a few circles with me in the back.
Root root root for the home team, if they don't win go see phish!
One thing I have really appreciated this tour is the band not taking the easy way out when jamming. I mentioned this after the first two shows and the theme has continued. Trey and the boys know how to bring the hammer down, build tension or funk things out, but this tour has a very fresh sound. Listen to the Twist last night or the Ghost from the night before for two examples. Many of the cliche licks and riffs played during the summer and in year's past have given way to a quest for something fresh. When taking big risks, you're not going to hit the mark every time. When forging a new sound, there are going to be times in the wilderness. The band is playing with less ego, but that can sometimes lead to a directionless search for the sound. This was not the case last night. I applaud the boys for challenging themselves and continuing to grow, even after 30 years together.
The morning of Oct 29 was chilly and overcast in suburban St. Louis. Hump day was upon us and Halloween was in the air. Despite the bustle of commuters and students, the day began rather calmly.
The previous night, however, saw its share of commotion. Across the river The Insane Clown Posse rhymed and shuffled about to the delight of hundreds of Juggalos in Sauget, Illinois. Across the state The Kansas City Royals had forced the World Series to go to a game seven. Across the country Phish was deep into their fall tour. Night two of a three night stay at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was in the record books.
However, Nick went to bed early that night seeing how he still had a bit of a cough. But expectations were high the next morning as Nick downloaded the no-spoilers MP3s.
Nick thought, 'If these files sound half as good as they look, we are all in for a treat.' His pen and paper were ready to go (see attached) and he gave his coworkers a look that let them know he is not to be bothered today.
Set I started out with the infrequently played, but still poignant Crowd Control. Nine times Crowd Control has been played in the 3.0 era of Phish and nine times it has kicked off the show. Nine times. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F0rPFASUXY ) The lyrics may not have the same impact they had in 2004, but the message is still clear: Whether or not there's a devil in the crowd, Phish was in control.
The vibe of the night was set with a vintage Mike's Groove in the second slot. No experimenting with slower songs in the middle; no spreading out the songs across sets; no half-assed segues into the Groove. Just a classic Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove the way mom used to make. The jam out of Mike's was short but packed a punch. Weekapaug Groove allowed the people to get their dancing feet warmed up but unfortunately didn't give them time to break a sweat.
Some short-sided fans may say the opening piano notes of Wingsuit killed the momentum the band had going for them. But I'm sure they shut their fat mouths at the 4:30 mark when Trey leads the band into a wall of sound which stayed erect for the next 4 minutes of this underrated song.
Water in the Sky gives everyone a light breather. With a brief mention of the 'everglades' the crowd lets the band know they still have not forgotten the Florida millennium show that took place almost 15 years ago.
The centerpiece of Set I came in the form of a song Trey and his side projects have been playing for a decade. However this would be only the second time Phish has played Plasma. The lyrical portion is bouncy and engaging. But by minute three the extended jam portion creeps in and brings the energy into darker territory. Hopefully this new Phish version of Plasma is here to stay.
Halfway to the Moon gives Page the opportunity to be in the spotlight while keeping the tone of the show somewhat somber.
Perhaps feeling that crowd was getting bored with all this feel-y stuff, Trey forces in a brief and oddly placed Poor Heart.
The serious vibe returned with Gumbo. But with every Gumbo comes head bobbing and then all out dancing. Page returned to the spotlight around 3:40. He and his clav brought chunky bits of groove down from the sky in a very rare (these days), but very welcome ending to Gumbo. It took a couple listens to realize the rest of the band was secretly setting up a segue almost no one would have predicted. Gumbo sneakily and successfully segued into…
Sanity, which brought the set back around to silly-town. In the brief space after the first verse Trey laid down a tease of the main Gumbo theme. From the crowds reaction, it was clear they were paying attention. After we are reminded that 'stars suck' and a series of 'boom-pows'...
The band caps off a huge set with Antelope. Luckily in 2014 this song has not overstayed its welcome. We are taken high up the mountain and dropped close to the peak. It was here at the resting spot and before the lyrics that we are given another Gumbo tease. The crowd eats it up. The band sets back into high gear and closes the set with an impact.
It was at this point the house lights probably came back up. Jason was probably sweaty and had to remind Dot and Walker there was still another set.
%%%%%%%%%% SET II %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
A dark figure approaches the front door of Set II.
VISITOR: Knock knock…
SET II: [nervously] Who...who...Who's there?
SET II: oh my god
SET II: oh please no
SET II: Kill Devil Falls! What are you doing here at the front of Set II? What a surprise!
Yes it was. The band ensured this wasn't a typical, first-set, type-1-jamming Kill Devil Falls. Because as soon as 3:50, the typically fast-paced, energy-driven jam took a turn for the dark side; the type-2-jam side. By minute 10 it was clear our jumpy little rookie had been called up to the main roster. The jam veered completely away from any familiar structure. Then the last three minutes of this impressive jam went full ethereal.
While not a full-on segue, KDF broke down and devolved into the rare Mountains in the Mist. We didn't realize it in the moment but the last several minutes of the previous jam was settling us up for this gentle landing. The vibe was calm. The song placement was perfect.
We come to a complete stop, but the band decides to get us back into space one step at a time with the intricate Fuego. The whoo-ohh-ohhs reestablish the crowd/band connection. Then the jam begins. This song is less than a year old, but the jam is very mature for its age. After the band feels like it has launched the crowd high enough, it lets go. The last couple minutes we drift about happily while the band decides the next destination.
It sounds very clearly like Julius, but wait...Trey changes his mind and it starts to sound like Slave to the Traffic Light, but they played that the night before...Ok, back to Julius. This song seems to usually camp out at the end of sets or within encores. The placement here is welcome and I'm genuinely interested to see how it affects the balance of the set. Upbeat and soulful, Julius always delights.
Twist. Placed in the second half of the Second set? That's what I call Twist: After Dark. This will be big. I feel it in my bones. As they say in the song: "Whooo!" Early on in this jam we get those held notes from Trey that recall the Wingsuit jam last set. But then we start heading into a free-for-all. The Twist theme is held loosely while each band member goes off. Soon they settle back into a mutated version of the Twist theme around minute 8. This theme flails around for a bit. But they quickly get tired of playing with their monster and put it away all at once. The whole band jumps into a fairly serious tone around minute 9 like we're tip-toeing around graveyard and don't want to wake anything. The serious tone sticks around a couple minutes and goes from reflective to ominous to enchanting...This jam has it all!!
Continuing to experiment with the placement of songs, the band dissolves Twist into Runaway Jim! The mood picks back up into bouncy and hopeful. Before they even get to the 2 minute mark, we get Jim-Jam-One. It's the quite, focused type. BLAM BLAM BLAM back to reality. And onto verse two. The band presses forward and the crowd sings along. It's soon time for Jim-Jam-Two. This one is pure creative chaos. Right when it seems we've spiralled into the nether regions, the band reigns us back in with one more refrain...but the outro gets dark and...slow....and unnerving...what's happening you guys...
Bam! Bursting out of the muck is Harry Hood! They stretch out the intro because they know we'll listen. Harry! Hood! Harry! Hood! The composed part does its thing and then drops us off for the build. What a build it was. It starts a bit faster than normal getting right to the point. Some weird teases/notes occur early on. Then there is a whole shift. The pacing of the build stays the same but we end up on a much darker path. Then they just jump off the path completely. Fuck it. Let's see where we end up. After a couple more minutes of exploration you would have no idea this is still Harry Hood. Somehow around 12 minutes they band finds a dimly lit path. It's new and small but feels familiar. It still manages to bring us right to the finish line. The guys made it sound like they knew about this back road the whole time. The outro twinkles with noises but decends heavily. Now its a free fall back to earth. That's the end of Set II.
A brief 'thank you' from Page is followed by the opening piano notes of The Rolling Stones' Loving Cup. While this song can feel like an afterthought at times, the placement here was what we needed. After all this show's ups and downs, twists and turns, mix-em-ups and joke-abouts, this straight-forward, meat and potatoes, familiar rock song was the perfect closer.
The first sets this tour have been getting better as the tour goes on, and this is no exception, both in terms of song selection (hard to sneeze at a Classic Groove, even if - horrors! - that second Mike's jam still eludes us, Plasma, and a nifty segue out of the usual Gumbo jam into Sanity), and the playing overall (nice and tight, and the Gumbo in particular turns into an It's Ice-like Page showcase before said nifty segue). Wingsuit continues to impress as it builds Skynyrd-style to its big peak at the end, and Antelope is as good as it always is. Lots to like here, if nothing quite stands out the way, say, that really cool Destiny Unbound from Chula Vista does.
Set 2 starts off with Kill Devil Falls, which you easily could have assumed would be a nice energy boost to kick things off (like the next night, for instance), but instead the band moves into a nice groove at Mike's insistence, with Page going dark on the piano and Trey moving to the effects. Fish turns on the Bunson burners and things kick into higher gear, with Trey switching to chords and Mike firing off his meatball effect, then Page switches back to electric piano and Trey moving into a spacey realm. Mike switches to a droning note as loops fly and Fish switches up his beat, and the jam comes to a relaxed close before Mountains in the Mist come in. So that's a pretty good start, right there.
A nice and muscular Type I Fuego is next, then a surprise call with Julius (which I like as a second set energy boost, as it was back in the day), then the highlight of the night in an unbelievable Twist. Out of the usual Twist jam (and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Smoke on the Water tease), Mike starts going to *his* effects as Trey fires off sharp wah-wahed notes...then the band suddenly find themselves in a different kind of jam space, Mike taking the lead with a contemplative bass line, Trey adding sympathetic notes with Page going back to the electric piano and Fish dancing around the rhythm as he so often does in the best 3.0 jams. Trey nearrrrrly teases Long Tall Glasses, but this isn't the place for it; the jam rolls forward with the inevitability of the tides, with Trey's gorgeous playing melding seamlessly with Page's also-gorgeous playing and Mike (who has entered a 5/22/00 Ghost-like zone of serenity) underpinning everything. This is just unbelievable music, one of the most truly unique jams the band has played in this era, and all the more so because they trend towards upbeat and melodic and not this kind of "groove out of the 10/31/98 Wolfman's" downbeat and dark that they would have reveled in during 2.0. I wouldn't say it's the jam of the year, not in a year where the 7/13 CDT exists, but it's real high up there and demands hearing.
Trey kicks into Runaway Jim next (adhering to his usual "take 'em down and bring 'em up" 3.0 policy), and it's kind of weird with Fish taking a bit of a break at the start, a few kick drum shots and cymbal taps aside, and it's a fine version with Trey on point once again. And then, just to cap off a brilliant set, Hood almost immediately moves into a fierce rocking groove (again thanks to Mike), with Trey machine-gunning chords and Page tickling the ivories, then shifts into a nifty dance rhythm as Page goes to the organ and Fish brings the woodblock into the mix. This is some truly feel-good music, Page really having a ball Billy Preston-ing it up, and then as though a switch has been flipped the band slides back into Ye Olde Hood Jam and comes to a nice finish. Loving Cup is Loving Cup, but who really cares at this point?
Final thoughts: a thoroughly enjoyable show, easily the best of the Fall run pre-Vegas. The second set, in particular, is built like a Swiss watch and features two very good jams and a "slap headphones on your head like Natalie Portman in Garden State" Twist. Find you some spare cash, and head to LivePhish tout suite.
It's an oversight to not label this Kill Devil Falls as a "highly recommended" version. It broke from its common and conventional form immediately and with incredible results. Reminiscent of some of the recent places Chalkdust Torture has been going over the past year, this version still blazed a trail, but most particularly because this is NOT a song where the unexpected is expected. 10/28/14 is a high watermark for the band thus far this year, and this tune set that second set up. It's place among versions of itself as well as 2014 jams should not be overlooked.
They spit hot fire all night. I am a cynical phish head, but I have been very impressed with their playing, especially Trey. This band is at its best when it has leader. It really sounded like they felt in control of the music instead of wrestling with it. Gumbo sanity antelope was a nice way to end the first set.
I'm honestly glad I'm not going to vegas. By the time they get there it's going to be too much to handle. I'm even scared for tonight!
Btw, trey did a very obvious Tweezer tease at the beginning of Julius.
Never posted a review on here, but I'd like to use a post from PT I made (uncut, despite the fact it may not make complete sense) that I think sums up my experience of the show well...
I also had a lot of fun. I'm from Vermont, had been to SF a few times priors. I feel more kinship with SFers than I do with many of my cohorts back east. Love that town despite it being hollowed by the tech industry these days. Stayed and raged the shows with a friend I hadn't seen in 4+ years, met a lot of her cool friends, generally just had a blast partying with good beer, wandering around the city, eating solid food and going to museums. The fact the Giants also won the World Series while the shows were in town added to the fun. You could really feel the energy in the city those couple days - Tuesday is was downright excitement, Wednesday was uncertain nervousness. A cool x-factor any way to take it (seeing shows or no), but I do think it was that energy after the loss that led to Tuesday night being the best *standard* Phish show of the tour (Halloween is the undisputed champion, for obvious reasons). The collective energy of the city and the Phish crowd as well had an impact of the band it seemed.
Unfortunately for you OP, BGCA 2 really took the cake for me. Loved aspects of all 3 shows. Loved all 3 shows overall. But that Hood to end Tuesday's show summed it up for me. One last send off after a bad loss to a hopeful and historic city. I usually hate Phish's standard "masturbatory rock ending" tool they employ often, but after its second wave in that Hood it was clear they just wanted to keep playing that night. A truly flawless set, in my opinion. A rocking Loving Cup (quite oddly the only single song encore of the whole tour... as if to say "let's just let this night be") and they sent you off back into a city so sacred to the Phish world.
Afterthought but Bill Graham is quite possibly my favorite venue I have every seen Phish, giving the hallowed ground of MSG a run for its money.
This Twist is easily in the top 5 jams of the year, maybe number 1 (for me it competes with SPAC Fuego, Randall's CDT, Dick's Simple, and Vegas Sand. It's hard to say which one of these 5 is number 1). When the boys make a discovery as magical as the one they make at the 8:47 mark, wellp, all I really wanna do is cry. Pure group mind spiritual soaring at that point.
As someone who only listened to the mp3 and is now writing a review two weeks after the show, there's not much use in writing a full-on review here. I want to make one important point though: The KDF Set 2 opener was dope. I've been wanting KDF in that slot for a while. KDF has a lot of potential for Type-2 magic, and we get a healthy dose of that here. This KDF should be, "highly recommended" or at least "noteworthy." Also, at this point, how does KDF not have a Jamming chart? Wiggity wiggity what?
WOW WOW WOW. What a show, seriously! I only get a few shows a year these days, so I was beyond excited. To add to that, this was my girlfriend's first show EVER, and on top of that the SF Giants madness downtown at that point just added to the awesomesauce that was these few days of Phish.
I started laughing right off the bat when Crowd Control dropped as last year they pulled the same stunt. What's up with SF drawing this song out of the band? Well this year it was definitely the SF Giants crowd melding with the Phish crowd in the same few square blocks around BGCA, but last year? SF just has an epic crowd apparently (no arguments from me there).
You KNEW immediately the show was going to be tits when Mike's got pulled outta the gate immediately after CC. Fairly solid 10min 3.0 Mike's, and what do you ya know - the only true Mike's Groove of the year (maybe so far, maybe not as NYE is still coming) with IAH blending in to the Mike's finish. This was great as my girlfriend absolutely LOVES this song. Slamming Paug to finish the Groove, and then the first breather of the night.
I've got 3-4 fav's off the new album, and Wingsuit is definitely one of them being that it is by far the closest to Floyd (especially on the album) that Phish has ever sounded. Besides the silly flub by Mike at the end (which was in no way detrimental to the song), I was in absolute bliss for those 10 minutes. I love the Floyd explosion that is the end of Wingsuit. SO GOOD. I'd recently been singing Water In The Sky in my head a lot so that was a fun rambler to swim in after flying high in my Suit.
Plasma was fairly unexpected at first as they'd just played it in Eugene for the first time, but it gained a warm welcome by the SF crowd. I wouldn't complain about hearing it more often personally. I'm a big fan of most of Page's tunes so HTTM was sweet to hear live. Poor Heart you can never go wrong with and then BOOM:
That Gumbo!!! Damn what was up with Page?! Killed it on the clavinet! Loving Gumbo to begin with and then getting a Page crushed extendo version?! Stoke. Only issue with that was that Trey kept trying to bring in the Sanity that followed and Page just wanted to keep going! TREY...STFU and let the man ride his glory! Great rendition of Gumbo into a mostly clear transition into Sanity (looking like SF may be the new town for Crowd Control and Sanity, both played back to back years in the same show). Sanity is always a fun sing along and gets me laughing my ass off. You could tell the set was coming to a close soon by the end of the Sanity, but they yanked Antelope out of the bag there at the end. Absolutely kickass rocking Lope. I remember my friend Trevor saying towards the finish line of Set 1 that we just got a full on Set 2 in place of Set 1 this evening. I then attempted to explain that to my girlfriend as the set break music came on and we went outside to puff a bowl.
Bowl smoking hit the spot, and by the time we got back inside the lights were dimming, so we smashed in the crowd to find our spot more mid-center, a bit towards Mike's side. In no way shape or form was I expecting the KDF riff to start out Set 2, nor was anyone else. I think this has happened twice now, ever? Can't say I was stoked at first as KDF is one of those 'Meh' Phish tracks for me personally, but goddamn did they once again prove me wrong this year by taking KDF and bringing it up to the big boy S2 opener slot and then going even further by diving into it Type II jam style! I often wonder what it would sound like if Phish (esp. 97-99 Phish) made electronic music. The answer to that question is the last 4-5 minutes of the SF14 KDF. Beautiful bliss that as an ambient musician I could've listened to for the entire set, but they had a PERFECTLY placed Mountains in the Mist waiting for us to continue the psychedelic chill vibe for another 7 minutes. Those 20 minutes were pure Phish bliss, and then BOOM again, the Fuego piano notes drop, letting you know it's about to get slamming again.
Really tight and crunchy Fuego capping at about 10 minutes. This being another of the few fav songs of mine off the new album, I was giddy that me and my lady got the two big guns off the album in one night. Julius was a bit of a surprise mid-second set (for these days), but welcomed as a loud and forward sing along the whole BGCA was ready for.
THEN - Twist. This Twist is it. Another fantastic reason why all of us addicts keep coming back show after show. A track I'd plop down in front of any non-believer and just ask them to attentively pay attention to the magnificent playing set before their ears. Twist has always been a personal fav, and this was my first - STOKE. Having seen such great heights in 2013, and not really seeing much of anything in 2014, I wasn't sure where it would go...but it ended up being the THE Twist of 2014. Intricate, jazzy, fun, and heartfelt, this will be a Twist I listen to until my deathbed, or played at my death celebration. Hints of the electronic gorgeous side of the KDF 40 minutes before poked through at points as well. Page and Trey gently playing off of each other for blocks at a time with Mike and Fish creating the space to do so. Brilliant jamming from four incredible musicians. They don't even go back into the Twist theme they were so content on where it went. One of the best songs of the year IMO.
Fairly unexpected was the late Set 2 after an epic Twist Runaway Jim. The beginning is one of the softest ever I'd think, and I wish they would've played on that a bit, but you can tell Trey was ready to pick it back up, forcing Fish to catch on and bang the song out. (Side Note: Can we expect Crowd Control, Sanity, and Runaway all in the same show in SF every year now?) Fun and jammy Jim it was (no crazy glowstick war this year), ending in more ambient bliss (theme of the night??) and then out of the glitter, another BOOM: Hood.
Hood had a big year. Being only 6 songs into the set those of us in the know had a little feeling this could be a big one, and GODSDAMN, it was. There are a few movements within the Hood that really stand out, but honestly as a whole the whole song moves along seamlessly as one piece, taking you on an up and down journey through multiple builds and even plains of Phishy goodness. Listen to this Hood - cherish this Hood. It is right up there with the other big Hood's of 2014, possibly beating them out. Another blissful ambient outro of the Hood and Set 2 closes.
Goddamn what a night. The thanks and the first chords of Loving Cup from Page put that huge smile on my face and a solid Cup of Love ends what was IMO on of the best shows of the year, and definitely the show of Fall Tour. Download it, buy it, whatever you need to do, but as a Phan - you want this show. I promise!
This was the best show at BGCA since 8/19/12. KDF, Twist, and Hood all spectacular and the first set is no slouch whatsoever. Loved, loved, loved this run! The Mike's Groove in the beginning of set 1 was such a treat, as was the Gumbo->Sanity. They really took the gloves off for set 2, however, coming out blazing. Probably the best KDF to date- I'm not usually a huge fan of this tune, but this version made me a believer.
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