, attached to 2016-01-15

Review by Franklin

Franklin Impressions from couch tour...

First set:

ASIHTOS sets us off on a quasi-ocean-themed show, and is wildly successful in setting the tone. This opener wasn’t really about getting everyone revved up musically but seemed to be the band’s way of saying “We’re playing next to the ocean. That’s awesome. Get hyped.”

My Soul goes as well as it can, I think. Martian Monster gets another outing… I’m beginning to feel like this one is somewhat overplayed, especially when there are so many other good Halloween songs just sitting in the basket, unsued (Birds, Bridge, Shipwreck, etc.) By the seventh or eighth time you’ve been selected to explore the planet mars, you know what you’re going to find. Although, every so often you do find a sandwich on mars, which is always fun.

Ya Mar is tight and the perfect song for the atmosphere. Jonathan puts some extra mustard behind Halley’s in what’s a really solid, compact version. These two make a great pairing.

The > into Fuego is BONKERS. Just a glance over from Trey to Page and we’ve completely shifted gears. This was obivously rehearsed and it payed off. I don’t think people have been that stoked about the opening to Fuego in a long time (read: a year.) It’s a very good, straightforward version that Trey really tears up before going back into the Whoa part. Recommended listening, especially for that transition.

Theme was fun, especially with the botched lyrics. We’re a strange fanbase… we love it when they mess up. Free is even more majestic than usual, and Bowie was probably a fitting tribute, but my computer freaked out and I had to reset it and missed the whole thing.

Altogether, a first set consisting partially of standards and partially songs that didn't get quite enough love in 2015. Well-played, but nothing revolutionary. Sometimes that's all you need.

*****

Second Set:

If you have not listened to Quadrophenia in full recently, I really recommend that you do. There’s so much power in that album, especially if you do more research into the mod culture of London from like 1962-67ish. Fascinating stuff that says a lot about identity and growing up and fitting in and believing in yourself. These are lessons that everyone can take to heart, and a song like Drowned becomes so much more powerful when you feel the entire force of the album behind it. Gordo really gets the vocals on this version for the first time in a while and the whole rhythym section is giving it its all. If ASIHTOS was about getting the crowd pumped about being next to the water, this song was a reminder that Phish is for fun, but Phish is also not messing around.

The -> into What’s The Use? is certainly an interesting phenomenon. I waver on this song a good deal… one minute I think it’s gorgeous, one minute I think it’s boring. I think we clunked into this particular one a little bit too much; the time signature change is a lot to swallow sometimes, and this might have been one of those times. The most contested part of this show will undoubtedly be this transition, and I think that the band could have built a lot more momentum by saving something like this for later in the set, but they’re Phish, so they know what they’re doing.

I wasn’t sure if they would play Sand to be honest. Seemed too obvious. But here it is, and it’s a rip-roaring version that has not one, but two great jam sections. It’s all of the gnarly, dark funk that makes Sand one of the most special songs in Phish’s repertoire, and the dip into the second jam section is surprising and delightful (although, I guess if you’re reading this review, it’s not surprising anymore. Whoopsies.)

The -> Ghost is buttery and exciting. It’s one of those moments when you listen to the show and think “wow, that Downed, WTU, Sand was really great, they could mail it in and it’d be a fine show.” And instead they play Ghost. An elegant version that serves its spot in the set well, not really going into outer space but still straying as far from the ranch as a Ghost of its length should.

2001 is longer than it has been and has some really great noodling. Wolfman’s is -stellar-, with a gracious little vocal jam that actually propels the song’s momentum forward. Then they played Possum.

Shine a Light is a great song for this spot! A really wonderful singalong to bring the crowd together after an intense, rainy, cathartic second set. Wonderful choice. Same goes for the R&R encore.

I think that if there’s one takeaway from this show, it’s that 20-minute jams are not the only thing that makes a good Phish show. In relistening to a lot of this summer’s highlights for the bracket, I’ve noticed myself leaning toward really high-quality, shorter jams (meaning those in like the 13-15 minute range) rather than the ones that go on forever. I don’t think that we have any legendary jams on our hands, but I do think that the Sand is a really good exemplification of what Sand is all about, and the same goes for Drowned. Altogether, it’s a very cohesive set. The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts, for this show. I’m sure that anyone who was down on the beach tonight will agree.


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