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Saturday, August 27

Phish Shakes some Rust Off and Brings the Jams Out and Puts On of the Best Shows of Summer 2016 at LOCKN Last Night

  Phish scrapes some barnacles off the ship last night and it was a blissful sail through the Phishy seas last night.

Phish got off to an admittedly rusty start last night. First, Trey seemingly lost control of his picks and hit some clams during the opening of "Wilson" which turned into a good solid opener that led to a rare-ish version of "Down with Disease" as the second song of the first set. For awhile, you stopped getting looks of awe from first-timers when you *cough* called it as a second set opener. As they leaned into it to start off Gordon seemingly lost his balance messing with his effects and then Trey came in too early and had to restart the first vocal verse but after that. It was smooth sailing through a nice, tight rendition of the tune. And then, the dam broke and Phish poured funk on the LOCKN audience that swept them right into the late-night set of their choice. JRAD is the choice unless you just have to hear electronica or wanted to spend some time in "Garcia's forest" From the heavy D minor opening of "Free" the band never slowed down. I'm tired of hearing this ripcord shit. More on that later. 

Next up was the always funky,"Wolfman's Brother" that has become a first set staple of getting the funk going. After that,"Tube" had some great work from Page, in particular, and the whole band was showing a willingness to jam that has been missing for most of this tour. With the ending of "Tube", came on of the best, and I can't believe I'm typing this, "555"'s out there. It kept the feeling of the tune before and the shift into the song just took a few looks and a couple of notes and they downshifted into a great version that both Mike and Trey shined on, and of course, the little hairy beast man was all over this tune. I generally don't go into every song from the first set but I feel like this was the most balanced, even and well-played, excepting the flubs, of the tour. 

(courtesy of rolling stone)

Trey stumbled on the intro to "It's Ice" but made up for it by painting a aural tapestry with his new sounds and effects setup. Page was also an eight-armed monster, while Fish and Mike were so tight in the pocket that it sounded like one person. The jam from "It's Ice", the tie for longest song on Rift( with "Maze") after the vocals was the balm on my soul after the previous shows. Maybe it was the break from the wonderful Chula Vista show, maybe Trey needed some TAB time but this jam was deep and dark and dragged you into the ice as your double pulled you down. They charged into the last verse after the drop and it was one of the best versions I've heard since 94'.  The band slipped from the ice off a cliff into "Wingsuit" which was just a beautiful traditional smooth Phish jam. The band played it well and it just sailed along like the title and had a good jam that was followed by another pleasant surprise with a short but sweet "Simple".  Then, I had to listen to another"Space Oddity" to close the set. I would have rather heard them just play "David Bowie" than keep repeating this acapella version. First off, it was cool the first time, when it was seen as the tribute to a recently deceased genius. And in that vein, I could see them finally covering Hunky Dory or Scary Monsters(and Super Creeps) or even Alladin Sane on Halloween. Or maybe, Purple Rain but I digress.  The best part about it is that it means that the band has been rehearsing and are comfortable enough to do acapella songs regularly. However, besides "Dem Bones" I think this has been an overplayed set ending and the recreation has lost that "new car smell" and can't hold a candle to their version of "Freebird".
(courtesy of Jambase)

The second set was a monster from start to finish. Kicking off the set with one of my personal favorite set openers" Punch You in the Eye" fires through its movements and sets off "Blaze On" which dissolved into the tinkling keys of "Fuego". These three songs were all on point and solid versions that were textured and well-played but the meat of the set started when the crowd, still reeling from el fuego of the tune as it jammed it's way into a smoking, "Ghost" that just jams like they turned on the afterburners. This is one of my favorite "Ghost" renditions, jam and all, the song was a masterpiece of band interaction. Trey naturally shreds while Page lays down a musical launchpad for Trey while Mike went nuclear with the bombs he was dropping and Fish never stopped driving and coaxing the band forward.  The jam was a sonic tapestry that was quintessential Phish before the familiar, "Bathtub Gin" riff took off from where the specter left off and after a quick jaunt through the lyrical parts, the band dropped into a dark, twisted, echo of a Gin that mined all the darkest parts of the jam. It's definitely was one of the best songs of this show and in my opinion, one of the best Gin's I've heard in a long,long time. And I was there for the second longest Gin in Lexington,KY that LivePhish.com just released that clocked in at almost 27 minutes! Now length isn't a direct correlation for the quality of the rendition and this one was about fifteen minutes long. As timing is concerned, "It's Ice" and "Wingsuit" were the longest songs from the first set at just over nine minutes each. The second set went from nine to ten to a couple of songs in the teens and then, YEM of course was twenty minutes. I said that to say this. If you need to hear one song from this show it's a toss up, for me, between "Ghost" and "Bathtub Gin", which were back to back. 

The band slipped into a version of "Backwards Down the Number Line" which Trey croaked out the first line and took a step back and came back in full force.  I have seen people cry "ripcord!" because of this transition but it was a transition to a lighter tone and somewhere in an alternate universe, that Gin is still going. It had that much potential but it was a festival, remember. Some people might have needed a break but the transition led nimbly into the tune and once Trey got his voice right, was a standard version of the tune, followed up by a "You Enjoy Myself" with an "Ass-Handed" tease. YEM always seems to pop up at festivals and I'm curious to see what's going to happen Sunday night now that these tunes are off the table but look for "Breath and Burning" or "Tide Turns" etc. It was a pretty standard version of YEM, well, it's a composed piece, but the jam at the end still had the bright coals of the night's funk fire burning and after a short break, the band ended the night with a tight, "Character Zero".

Written by: Greg Heffelfinger

"Ghost" LOCKN 8-26-16 just a touch of "Gin"


Oak Ridge Farm, Arrington, VA



EncoreCharacter Zero
[1] Unfinished.
Teases:
· The Little Drummer Boy tease in Fuego
· Ass Handed quote in You Enjoy Myself
  
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