After missing a couple fun-packed shows in Portsmouth and a barn burner of a set list in Cincinnati, it was about time to get my ass in gear and get back on tour for the Pennsylvania>Blossom run. After heading to Wal-Mart for 8 cases of discounted water, five 30 racks of beer and a bunch of other goodies for the road, we were off. With my crew in tow and fellow Tripper Gillian's car fully stocked we left New Hampshire at 11 p.m. The was a long one for a start to finish drive, 12 hours to be exact and while some outside the scene might call it insane, this is what I simply know as Phish Tour.
We got to the Burgettstown lot at about 3 p.m. and were located right near Shakedown Street next to a couple of heads who had been seeing shows since 2000. They graciously shared some heady beers with us before the show, sharing laughs and reminiscing about past tours. Next to us a couple of undercovers busted some kids for selling beer. The lot was strange, filled with a combination of tour wooks and businessmen who seemed to have threw on a tie-dye in exchange for their collared shirts for the night. But a strange lot doesn't mean a bad show, and in Burgettstown we got a pretty damn good one.
The night started with a bang with Funky Bitch, but all energy was lost when it was followed by Numberline. Fortunately this may have been the only down point in the set, with Phish tearing apart the first set. They came right back with Gumbo, not jammed but still a good one with the classic piano outro by Page. But the real fire started up with a lengthy Maze, displaying some superior guitar work by Trey. Torn and Frayed, a favorite cover of mine, put an immediate smile on my face and led into Moma Dance. Things were pretty solid to start the night, and there’s not much better than a funky Moma Dance to get the blood flowing. One highlight of the first set came with Scent of a Mule. This one went over 11 minutes and included an extended middle section with each member of the band showcasing the skills. At one point Page even put himself on the Theremin, with a raucous cheer from the audience. 46 Days followed but the set ended in triumphant fashion with the first YEM of the tour. This was a 20 minute heater that included a great tease of Scent of a Mule from Trey. The lack of YEMs this tour really built the anticipation and Phish delivered on this one. Set one was done and things were looking pretty damn good.
Set two started with a nicely jammed Gotta Jibboo, but the real fun began with a stellar Mike’s Groove featuring Simple and Light in the mid section before a crazy 10 plus minute Weekapaug. The Groove was 40 minutes of serious Phish raging. The Mike’s was played with inspiration but never went too far out of the box. I am still waiting for the Mike’s Song where they include minutes 9 through 15 of jamming. That, however, is for another show. The experimentation came amidst Simple and Light, with the highlight being Light. Light, while not my favorite tune, always has an exploratory jam that is unique from one attempt to the next. This one had a calypso style jam that at one point made me think of the Worcester Harry Hood from 2010. The Weekapaug was raging for much of it, slowed down for others and went far out there for much of it. It is a must listen and this sent the second set into crazy territory. Seven Below melted right out of Weekapaug and was played with precision, boasting a good 9 minutes of jamming that has become customary of late for this song. Bouncing Around the Room and Julius were fun, but the set ended in epic fashion with a glorious Slave to the Traffic Light. Phish has been playing some great Slaves throughout the past couple of years and this held up as well. Slave is one of those songs that is composed and jammed, and when the two are combined right, it is a seriously beautiful tune to be a part of. Check out this set, it’s a must listen with some classic Phish jamming. Phish encored with Lizards, a song I had been waiting for since I last heard it in Amherst during 2010. Trey forgot the words at one point, but that didn't necessarily ruin the song. The place went nuts during his little flub and Phish had just finished another fantastic show. One thing that can be said about Phish this year is that they are not afraid to pull out some crazy jams while busting out tunes they haven’t played in awhile.