Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Phish Saturday May 28 2011 at Bethel Woods, NY

Bethel, New York.  Many people equate Woodstock with the music greats of the sixties, but the same site is home to an outdoor performing arts center that holds artists who regularly bust a groove.
A quick Theme From the Bottom got the party started and lead into a dance-y NICU, but Cities was the first tune that really revved me up.  I love it when Phish does Talking Heads - the originals are awesome, but Phish brings a new, irresistible energy to them.
Halley's Comet and Bathtub Gin were the highlights of the set.  The solid seven-minute jam out of Halley's started off shiny and exciting and faded into this level that was engaging and cerebral - I could begin to hear the inner workings of the band, especially when Trey backed off lead guitar and let the other guys have some emphasis.

Mike and Fish had some nice spots during Runaway Jim, which preceded a hot, spicy Gumbo.
Bathtub Gin is a fantastic tune, and the band delivered on Saturday night.  I love Page's piano solo that leads into the verse - sometimes I wonder if he's just banging on the keyboard or playing a really elaborate jazz chords.  Either one works. 
The second set opened with a brilliant Down with Disease.  I was on the phone with the lil' bro when the opening murky baseline went down.  I shouted with delight and internally apologized for the damage to my brother's eardrums.

I would venture to say that the DwD jam was the most exciting one of the night.  Trey was totally on and everyone knew it.  There was no lack of creative energy behind this jam.

Free brought about a giant glow stick light show, and Backwards Down the Number Line was sorta fun.  I genuinely like the song, but, as is the case with many of the songs off the Joy album, I like them less live.  Phish released a nice HQ video on Vimeo of the song. 
Backwards Down the Number Line:
Phish - 5/28/11 "Backwards Down The Number Line" from Phish on Vimeo.

 What Phish should have released a video of is that night's Makisupa Policeman.  After totally forgetting the lyrics in the first verse, Trey ad libbed the rest of the song, garnering hilarious results.

There's some pretty serious business going on in everybody's houses.  Page's keys were jazzy, energetic, and sounded kinda old-school.  Mike had this fat, dirty tone to his bass that made everybody go wild.  And Fish?  His house had Harry Hood.  I vote the segue from Makisupa>Hood as the best of the weekend.
A high-energy David Bowie ended the set.  I always think that Bowie is sort of indulgent - for the listener.  It's climactic, funky, and retains a sense of the structure that all of the monsters have (think: YEM, Divided Sky, etc.)  Me like.

 The night was capped with a quick cover of the Beatles' A Day in the Life as the encore.  Somewhere in between pushing my way through a hot, sweaty Shakedown Street and singing along to the encore, I knew it was summer.

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