There are two ways you can view Phish shows—through the experiences, and through the music as it exists as an artifact after the show. As Phish fans, we go to shows to collect experiences, to have good times with our friends and family, and of course, to see great music. Sometimes, we go and we realize that the experience was great, but that the music doesn’t hold up quite as well later. Sometimes, the opposite is true. And sometimes, both things align and the Phish world is in a state of satisfaction and bliss. Hampton 3 was one of those nights.
The whole weekend was a great time, but of course the anticipation for the Sunday show was high. In the lot yesterday afternoon, it felt like the first legitimate day of Fall in the Mid Atlantic region, so I felt like we were really, truly experiencing Fall Tour.
GA venues can be stressful. You run in, you grab your space, and you wait. But what if you get in and you’re late? What if you miss your favorite section? Shit! Well on this day we got in and about 30 of us got an actual entire section. This would be where we’d spend the next 6.5 hours together.
You can say what you want, but a “Stealing Time” opener really set the tone for some rock music. All weekend, Trey was just up there having a blast. Watching from low Mike side, you can just see how incredible that guitar is. He barely touches the thing and we hear the notes across the arena for days. This was a really nice start. From this entire run, you can tell that Trey is having a blast and is almost giddy to be up on stage.
Speaking of giddy, you can really see right before “Skin It Back” that Trey was truly thrilled to be playing that song. They must have practiced it, too, because it was an excellent version with great vocals and a nice jam on the end. This jam continued the weekend’s theme of psychedelic rock with a little space thrown in. What does that tell us about Halloween? We have no clue.
The highlight of the set, though, was a 21-minute “Simple.” This was primarily driven by Mike and Fishman, with Page and Trey playing supporting roles throughout, until about 13 minutes in. Up to that point there is just a nice funky rock groove. But at that point, the song could have fizzled or transitioned into another ballad, but Trey picked it up and took the reins and drove it to multiple, blissy rock peaks. This, to me, was the most organic jam of the entire 3-night run. The room was absolutely pulsating. Multiple peaks, halfway through a first set? I’m in.
Following the Simple, there was a little cooldown but with another bustout, “Mexican Cousin” (first time since Mexico 2016). Perhaps this was a little reminder that there are still tickets available for Barcelo Maya 2018!
“Camel Walk” makes its first appearance of 2018, and it had a really nice, funky jam as well. There weren’t very many jams this run that were basic, 4-5 minute exercises. This song would typically be in the 4-6 minute range, but this version was almost 10 minutes. This funk jam was completely incredible. Parliament for Halloween, anyone?
We were ready for more.
“Waves” was an interesting pick for a second set opener, which probably didn’t match the energy of the crowd due to the quiet nature of the start of the tune. But that changed as they went into a jam, continuing a great line of Trey-driven jams.
This was followed by the fifth ever “Rise/Come Together.” This is a song that some may be skeptical of, but go back to this. Although it was only about six minutes, this featured some of the heaviest and nicest Trey jamming of the entire show. It turns out Trey loves playing these songs. Let’s make sure to remember that.
“Light!” Yes. One of the few repeats of the tour, this brought the second set to a breaking point. The 16-minute jam featured some quiet back and forth between Mike and Fishman, with Trey and Page playing over the rhythm. Around 9 minutes, Trey again takes the reins and pushes the rock peaks. Then the last several minutes just featured some dark, psychedelic jamming. You guys like Phish?
Here’s where things got interesting. Who wanted to hear “The Line”? Based on the people sitting down around me, almost no one. But Fishman was pounding on the drums, and I found this to be a more energetic version of this pee break song. It does make you think about song placement. As I said to my friend Jonathan, this was a questionable call. How can you recover from this?
“Wingsuit” followed, which was a nice jam that I like hearing but not exactly what people were hoping for. Is this a 3rd quarter flameout? If you saw Trey talking to Fishman before “Your Pet Cat,” you’ll know that he was incredibly excited about playing this song. It was a nice late second set groove, followed by another beautiful “What’s the Use?”.
One note on “What’s the Use?”—please be quiet.
An energetic “Possum” closer was followed by what I found to be a wonderfully cathartic “More.” I love this song. Many people around us were not as happy as I was, but hey, that’s Phish. But guess what, there was more coming.
I’ve never seen a double encore. They’re as rare as double rainbows. But this time, we all knew that if we yelled loudly enough, maybe they’d come back. And we all had been feeling “You Enjoy Myself” all night. It delivered, and I think Phish came back and showed us that sometimes you do get something more than this.
This run bodes extremely well for the rest of the tour and for Halloween. We were delivered a great experience and a wonderful weekend. It’s a collectible that I’ll hold dear, and one of those times when I feel incredibly lucky to be a Phish fan. The experiences keep coming, and the older I get the more I realize that this is where we go to release, be together, and have fun. Will it hold up on tape for you like it does for me? Maybe so, maybe not. But that’s why we keep going.
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