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Wednesday, July 11

Bobby Martin's Phishing Trips:Jones Beach, NY - 7/4/12

On Fourth of July, Phish lot was buzzing from the night before which featured a huge Sand>Golden Age. Tickets were literally on the ground and anyone who wanted to go to Jones Beach to see Phish could have. Multiple friends of mine scored miracles and I hit the re-release so I wasn’t even thinking about that.  There was a sense of energy growing before the show with every expecting a true heater. On the fourth of July the common fan would expect two things: visual fireworks and musical fireworks. This Independence Day, we got neither but Phish still managed to make it an interesting, well played show with plenty of first timers for me.  Personally I loved first set, but I have heard from others they were nearly put to sleep at times. Maybe because there were four songs I had never seen live before. Maybe it was because everything was well played featuring bust outs and good ole’ straight forward shredding. Maybe it’s because I’m not jaded and I still remember how to have fun. I’d have to say all of the above.
The set started off hot with a ripping Alumni Blues featuring a Dave’s Energy Guide tease. Right away I was thinking that things started off right. I was assured of this when they busted out Hold Your Head High, which had my buddy Kenny immediately turning to me and saying “When the hell was the last time they played this?” Well, that was Halloween 1998 and this rendition was certainly pleasing and setting a good tone.  The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday>Avenu Malkenu> The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday was classic Phish and a first timer for me. I went nuts over the bust outs galore that we were experiencing so far. Kill Devil Falls followed but didn't really bring the heat like it thought it might due to the nature of the show and the energy being exhibited both on stage and in the crowd.  My first Bittersweet Motel came up next, which was also the first played since Red Rocks in ’09. The smile on my face could not have been bigger, giving me flashes of the memory from the Midwest run involving Burgettstown due to the line “Halfway between Erie in and Pittsburgh.” I looked around and the sun soaked fans, dripping in sweat with delirious looks on most of the faces, were clearly pleased. But most were probably wondering where the jams were… which brings us to Moma Dance.  While it was played to precision, it came without an extended jam. This is one song I wish Phish would get back to making a bit more interesting. It’s one of my favorite songs to dance to, but lately hasn't shown much variety. It would be great to hear a Moma Dance ala Brooklyn ’04 again. If you don’t remember that one, check it out because it is pure grimy funk into dark rock. This one, on the other hand, had the place grooving hard but never went to space.
After a standard Gumbo  Phish hit us hard with an 11 minute, high energy David Bowie. This was a nice mid-set placement and would eventually prove to be one of the better jams of the night. But for some reason, and no offense Alaska, they decided to give us with Alaska>Susskind Hotel.  Normally, this would make anyone cringe and having you wondering what in the world they were thinking. But be sure to check out this Susskind Hotel. It is certainly the best one I have heard live in person and there’s not a better one out there played by Phish. The jam only went for about 7 minutes, but it was inspired and had an energy I have never witnessed with the song. This nice little jam eventually wound down and led us into the coolest part of the night.
Fishman took out ol’ Henrietta and took center stage with Trey moving over to the drums. He fully admitted that he might not remember the words, but then followed with that it won’t even matter. Fishman ripped right through Purple Rain and Jones Beach was going absolutely batshit. Fishman continued the hilarity by changing lyrics with the word “tuck,” which has become this year’s little joke, much like 2011’s “House” gags.  Clearly this was my first Purple Rain, and the first in 314 shows. With set one done I wasn't sure what to expect for the second set, but I thought it might involve some crazy type 2 jamming or at least letting the interesting on stage antics to continue. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
The second set started out with a serious list of songs that in 1997 would have probably been the entire set. Boogie On> Tweezer> Twist> Taste was pretty awesome but everything felt a little bit held back. Tweezer was a great type 1 rocker that I thought could have gone in insane directions if Trey held back and let a jam build around him. While Trey has been great about this in 2012, it wasn’t the case here. A raging Tweezer opted out for a mediocre Twist into Taste. When Quinn the Eskimo came next I started to get slightly worried.  The following Quinn the Eskimo>Julius>Rock and Roll had absolutely no exploratory jamming but were played straight forward keeping the energy high. I am all about one directional rocking if it features machine gun Trey and keeps things interesting. But when Phish dropped into Horse>Silent, the set had begun to flop.  The Harry Hood that followed was fun, but nothing spectacular. It at least had me thinking that there was a chance. Harry Hood was followed by Shine of Light>Show of Life. Enough said. I like these songs, but it is all about placement.  On July 4th, at the end of second set, I don’t think there is a single person that would say that this set of songs would have gladly been replaced with say… Reba?  Phish finished off the set with a beautiful Slave to the Traffic Light. It was a nice ending to a set that had me literally yelling for joy at the beginning of songs, but slightly disappointed with the outcome of the way it was played. This Slave, however, was played just right from start to finish.  The major disappointment in the show for me was the fact that there were no encore fireworks. I was literally flabbergasted, and it takes a lot for me to use that type of adjective. The whole time during Sleeping Monkey I was waiting for Tweezer Reprise with fireworks. I imagined it to be epic and wooks saluting America valiantly. Instead, there was nothing… What the &*%^

-On a final note, one has to remember that this was a Phish show on July 4th. While it may have been the weakest show of the summer thus far, I had a blast and I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I would have rather been.  
America, &*%^ Yea!
Bobby writes for the online site:, faithfully known as the Phish Examiner
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