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Thursday, June 9

Review: Phish - Bethel - Night Three

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Two straight fire shows to start a summer tour gave everyone in Bethel the expectation for another smoker to finish off the run. If you consider Bethel one big show, this was one hell of a ride.

The show started off with AC/DC Bag, as many 3.0 shows have. I’m not sure why, but Phish appears to have no interest placing this song anywhere else that it can become a jam vehicle. Either way, it started off the night with a bang and I was certainly please.  Sample came next, which was played its standard way but came out of a good segue stemming from AC/DC Bag. Even though I’m not a huge fan of Sample, it was nice to see it come in a slot other than an opener. Rift was a nice first set ripper, which got the whole lawn dancing hard.

A nice funky Ocelot continued what was a pretty standard set, until they threw in Yamar. Yamar has been a rarity in 3.0 so I was thrilled to see it thrown into the third show of the tour. It was a nice one and Leo ripped it up as usual.  Timber followed this up, to my delight. Timber’s one of those songs that I can’t get sick of, and coming after a Yamar in the first set was outstanding. A pretty standard set was transforming into one that was pretty damn fun- nothing incredible here, but very light.  The fun continued with Oh Kee Pah into Suzy Greenberg, with Page the true star of this segment. He really soloed hard on the keys in the one. Suzy jammed right into a heavy 46 Days, and then melodically segued into Twenty Years Later. Twenty Years Later took me a bit of time to really start liking, but this jam was nasty. Trey’s guitar work was highlighted here.

Curtis Loew was a great surprise, coming before a firey Antelope. It wasn’t anything over the top as far as Antelope goes, but it wrapped up a pretty fun set. It may have been the worst set of the weekend, but I’d still give it a solid B. Phish is still showing that they are very, very on point to start off the summer.

The second set began with a mega Mike’s Song> Simple> Weekapaug. Last year Phish got plenty of flack for the amount of Mike’s Songs they played, and their inability to jam it out. While this wasn’t a classic mid ‘90s rager of a Mike’s, it had some serious energy heading straight through the Mike’s Groove.  The second set was already building up to be huge, and then Phish played Meatstick. Love it or hate it, it’s always pretty fun to get down to Meatstick. While many thought it might be shelved after the shenanigans of New Year's Eve, I felt like this was another good surprise and a statement that they are going to play anything at any time.
Fluffhead came next, and I thought to myself, “Damn, life really is a bundle of a joy.” I looked around the audience and, once again, saw giant pupils and smiles to go along with them. Set two was shaping up to be a ripper.

Phish took it down a notch and played Joy. To be honest, while Joy may never be a highlight to a show, I’m a bit of a sucker for it. After talking to many heads, they would be reluctant to say they even like the song. However, when it is played at a show, especially in a raging set, you can’t really help but smile and sing along a little bit.  They brought the energy right back with 2001, which I wished they jammed out a bit harder. There were some traces of James Brown teases by Trey and I thought this one was going to another level. Instead the jam got aborted for the intro to Light, the band’s best jam vehicle out of their new songs.

Slave ended the set in magical fashion. Before the encore, my buddy Luke came up to me and said, “I really can’t wait for this Tweeprise.” I couldn’t wait either, but I knew it couldn’t be a one song encore. After the short break, they came out and played Loving Cup. While I’ve heard what seems like a million Loving Cup encores, I was thoroughly pleased to hear it again. Hell, I’ve just been thoroughly please with what Phish is playing and how they are playing it.  Loving Cup jammed right into Tweezer Reprise and a fan dressed like Fishman ran up on the stage. To whoever you were, I’d like to say thank you. I laughed my ass off and it was a true testament to how fun Bethel was. You took one for the team there, buddy.

So, all in all, the Bethel run gets a big fat A. As far as the beginning of tours go, these shows rocked hard. In fact, it would be tough to find many three night runs throughout 3.0 prior to 2011 that stack up to it… and we still have the whole summer ahead of us. True bliss.

Happy Phish tour everyone. See you all on the road.

Words: Bobby Martin

Bobby Martin's Writing Can Also Be Found Here: http://www.examiner.com/phish-in-national/amanda-aldridge-bobby-martin