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Monday, August 27

Review: Phish - Long Beach Arena - 8/15/2012

California Rock N’ Roll
Phish started off the second leg of their summer tour with a bang this past Wednesday, with an overall kick ass performance in Southern California. Opting to change venues from last year's Hollywood Bowl, the boys brought their A game to the Long Beach Arena, with over 10,000 fans following faithfully behind.
To speak of the venue itself, it's safe to say it came up short in many areas. Fans had to fight through ridiculously long lines for floor wristbands, beers, and bathrooms. The crowd was a bit rowdy and showed their antipation for the first show of Summer 2012 Leg 2 with more anxiety than usual. Tense chatter was abundant throughout the floor and seats which was somewhat distracting for those who were there to focus solely on the music. Yet, that comes with the L.A. crowd, and now as we all know Justin Bieber was there with his entourage in tow. These minor annoyances aside, the greater phandom was ripe to hear what Phish had in store as they took their tour into August.
Set I opened with an unexpected “Suzy Greenberg.” that was fun, but what really got things going was “Cities.” Funky, and energetic, it could've gone on longer, but it set the tone for the rest of the performance. “Kill Devil Falls,” another predictable choice, was a good warm up for Trey who had a rocking solo during “Cool It Down,” which was noticeably improved from the version player previosly this year at Deer Creek. “Rift” moved things right along, and was also played well with only a few noticeable flubs.
One of the dirtier highlights of the set was “Stash,” showcasing the bands ever-improving ability to play as a unified one. As for the “Bathtub Gin” that followed, it was out of control. End of story. It was, arguably, the best version played thus far of 3.0. Feeding off each other in all the right ways and making it look effortless; the band really began to get into the groove of things. “Quinn The Eskimo” topped off the first set, which was enjoyable, no argument there. But leaving the audience clamoring for more was what it really accomplished, and compared to the mind blowing second set that was to come, it was just mediocre. 
“Rock N’ Roll” jump-started set II and at an impressive twenty-six minutes, could easily be the best jam of 3.0. Followed by “Ghost” into “Limb By Limb,” the first three songs defined what Phish is all about: pushing experimental boundaries and taking the audience on an emotional, non-stop, energy filled trip. The peak during “Ghost” had the crowd going off and the transition into “Limb by Limb” was smooth, creating a different type of energy without losing momentum. By the end of the almost hour long rage fest, the band had the audience floored, and kept them that way with a drawn out “Guyute”.
Almost serving as a break for the audience, “Dirt” overflowed with emotion. It's studio-like execution suggests that it was practiced beforehand, or maybe they're just that good... Both options are equally possible. The jam during “Harry Hood” went farther than any other of 3.0 (a matter of opinion) even though it was peakless. “Good Times, Bad Times” was a safer set closer but was the perfect end to an explosive set. “Julius” as an encore didn't do enough justice to such an incredible performance, but it was dance-y and they nailed it in every way. It’s hard to complain about any of the negative aspects of the show simply because there were so few. When the band walked off stage and the arena lights came on, the energy in the room confirmed that the second leg opener was nothing but a knockout. 
Since their return in '09, the boys have only become more in-sync. Maybe slowly, but definitely surely, each member has grown and the band has collectively reached a new level of playing. If they continue on this wild path of improvisational improvement, there’s no telling what the future of Phish will bring.

Set 1: Suzy Greenberg, Cities, Kill Devil Falls, Guelah Papyrus, Cool it Down, Rift, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Bathtub Gin, Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)
Set 2: Rock and Roll, Ghost > Limb By Limb, Guyute, Dirt, Harry Hood, Good Times Bad Times
Encore: Julius  
Words: Andriana Rogers
 © Phish and The Dead - a Grateful Music Publication