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Monday, October 31

Phish Ramps Up the Tension with Another High-Octane Outing Last Night. By: Greg Heffelfinger

  So far this fall tour, it has seemed to be one on and one off as the band has wound its' way through the south to Vegas for Halloween. After a good show the second night with one soaring jam at the beginning of the second set, they came out last night and laid down a solid show that was so hot even the normally weaker songs were solid.

Hopefully, the one on, one off trend stops tonight. All the money is on a Bowie album but it's so obvious that anyone that knows anything about Phish knows that the obvious is exactly what not to expect. "Space Oddity" isn't even on Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and they've played "Purple Rain" way more times than "Space Oddity". Everyone who has read Trey's recent interview about hanging at the Purple One's house knows how much respect they have for him. But guessing the album is for another article. How cool would it be to see Europe 72' though? They are also due to play something from the 90's. They've hit every other decade before so I'm just putting that out there.
Following the trend set so far, they opened with a cut from last year's Halloween album, this time the call was "The Dogs". Maybe a Pink Floyd reference? They then dropped into a short but deep "Ghost" that got the crowd ready to lose their minds when the distinctive first notes of "Funky Bitch" rang out. Mike threw out all he had vocally and Trey was bending those notes so hard I thought he was gonna break a string. The energy was already bouncing around the room and this blew the lid off the pot. Everything from here on out was quality. A short "Chalkdust Torture" led into a heartlfelt rendition of "Army of One" and Mike led the band through a very well-played "How Many People Are You" that went hard through the changes. This song was the candles on the cake that was "Stash". This song has gone through some changes,with Trey flubbing notes and a lack of exploration over the summer but since Dick's this song has been full-steam ahead. The Atlanta version and now this are at the top of the list as far as 3.0 "Stash" versions rank in my book. I didn't catch any flubs and the jam coming out of it was dark and dissonant and the tension and release that is the song's bread and butter had Trey and the boys toying with the energy in the room. They chose to take that energy and put it into a good "Theme from the Bottom" and even though I would've chosen differently, that's why they are on stage and I'm writing about it. A standard, rocking "Suzy G" finished an uneventful set on paper but an energetic, well-played and enthusiastic set at the show.
The standard call of a "Down with Disease" is nothing out of the ordinary and it's almost just that, a standard opener now. However, this version went so deep and far out that it felt like a disease that creeped up my spine and into my brain. The band was so tight and each member took each other's idea and ran with it and they played it so well that it made me sit up and take notice. I'm not a huge DWD fan but this one is smoking and then it flowed right into "Birds of a Feather" without missing a beat. They moved so far out during the DWD that they made the transition look easy. The intro to "Birds of a Feather" is not very melodic on it's own but the DWD jam just let it slide right in. After a few stutter steps from Fish and teases of the opening, the band jumped on it and it sounded as natural as any segue should. Although I never thought I'd hear a DWD->BOAF. It was one of my favorite jams of the night and I don't particularly like BOAF. Probably because I when I was touring it seemed like they played it every night. Still, this was a killer combo and a great way to start the set.
DWD->BOAF 10/30/16
After a short "Fuego", Trey sang Bob Weir's new song, "Miss You". Sorry but that is a Bob Weir song now. Then came the second of the second set highlights. The "Harry Hood" moved through all it's composed pieces and fell into the jam with easily and without any flubs and the whole band decided to jump into the jam and it was developing at a fierce pace and you could hear the boys cooking up something special. It just had a feeling that there was more going on behind the curtain and maybe that's why there were no "woo's". By the way, what's up with the woo's? The crowd did it at Nashville during Hood. Is that the thing now, whenever the band slows down or has a syncopated jam the crowd feels the need to woo? The band swung from the out-there Hood jam into the rare "Have Mercy" that has only been played fourteen times, including last night. They only seem to bust into it when they are in the middle of some other huge jam, like last night. It's shown up in Antelope and SOAM as well as Hood and I thought it was a welcome treat after a five-year hiatus. 
"Harry->Have Mercy->Hood" 10/30/16
They then dropped back into Hood for the closing segment and went right into "A Day in the Life" to end the show. After a perfunctory but fun "Character Zero" the night was over.
So now it's time to find out what the band has cooked up for us for Hallow's eve. All the interviews with Trey just say, "I'm so excited" but that guy has to be the most optimistic guy on the planet. I've met him several times and the only time he's not smiling or talking excitedly or energetically is when he's got his "O" face on and is on stage playing. They always say don't meet your heroes but Trey is one of the nicest guys ever. So now that night three is in the books, it's time for the unveiling of the cover album. Last year will be hard to top but I have faith that they can do it because this band is on fire and it's going to be a great night in Vegas on Halloween.

Greg Heffelfinger

MGM Grand Las Vegas 10-30-16

This show was webcast via Live Phish. DWD was unfinished. The Birds was quoted after Birds of a Feather. Fuego contained Birds of a Feather and The Birds teases. Have Mercy was played for the first time since June 4, 2011 (221 shows).

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