, attached to 2018-10-21

Review by PhillyPhilly

PhillyPhilly Phish had piloted the Mothership though two very different magnificent shows on Friday and Saturday night. Into a black hole of dark ferocity Friday night, and rocketing among blissful cosmic peaks Saturday night. CK5's drone-firefly ballet creating an ever-changing porthole into different dimensions.

And then it was Sunday. A supernova Tweeprise *must* be incoming as part of an all-timer Hampton Sunday show. How would it go down?

Your reviewer is directly behind the stage, towards the top of the stands center-Mike side. This was your reviewer's first time behind the stage, and if you haven't had the opportunity, CK5's lights are remarkable to behold from the band's vantage, painting the crowd and arena in circles of light and star-bursts.

Lights go down and Phish takes the stage to the roaring Mothership passengers who are ready to be beamed up. And Stealing Time is your opener, the Joy-album 3.0 rocker catching everyone a bit off-guard it seemed to me, as a "huh" moment passed almost visibly through the crowd: "this isn't exactly the opener I had hoped for/expected..." Spoiler: this sentiment would become a theme. Stealing Time does not care what you wanted and is its normal rocking self. The band conferences, perhaps sharing a Cliff Bar and some cold green tea, and out comes the opening scratchy-groovy tones of Little Feat's Skin it Back. As others have mentioned, Trey is visibly pumped to be busting this tune out for the Hampton crowd, and happiness (giddiness?) from Trey would also be a theme this evening. The band nails Skin it Back with aplomb, settles into a nice grooving jam, and Trey teases the sword dangling over our heads by subtly weaving in the Tweeprise progression. Brian & Robert follows and supplies a beautiful quiet reflective interlude. Timber emerges next and the Hampton crowd is immediately into it, swaying with Fish's rhythmic pounding. The Timber jam fades and the opening notes of Simple ring out.

The moment Simple's traditional light ethereal post-"skyballs and saxscrapers" jam drops out into space (a minor key? your reviewer is no musician, let alone musicologist), a sense of momentousness gathered. The band spends a good while in soft spacey abstractness, not the scary variety a la Friday's Golden Age, but open and exploratory. Mike and Fish push on the low end while Trey and Page explore the cosmos. And then Trey, as he does in many of 3.0's finest examples of bliss jamming, finds a musical phrase, latches on, and pulls the band and the crowd together up towards glory. Towering celebratory peaks resound again and again through The Mothership, and the energy between band and crowd is palpable. The Hampton Simple is as satisfying a jam as I have experienced live and is, without question, a hear-at-all-costs version. We've all made our own journey to see this band, and each individual in the Hampton crowd exults with the band as they show us, once more, why we put our time, effort, resources, and love into this band and their music.

What comes after the sublime joy produced by the Simple jam? Why it's your Mexican Cousin (my first time seen), brought to you by your friends at CID Entertainment, and you can kiss your Mexican cousin at Phish Riviera Maya 2019 (tickets on sale now, second mortgages available for qualifying buyers). Next up is Camel Walk, which Hampton pops for, and the band takes the camel for a very nice funky walk, extending the song close to the 10 min mark, much to the crowd's delight. The camel hops Back on the Train and we bounce along for the ride. Trey turns the BotT coda jam into a mini-shredfest, working the crowd back into a frenzy before the band drops into Saw it Again. Another first time seen for your reviewer, this Saw it Again is a flamethrower, screaming vocals feed into a tremendous cacophony soundscape, treating us to yet another fist-pumpingly powerful first-set closer.

One cannot help but marvel at the rapid turnaround of Phish first sets. If there was one consistent source of criticism about the 3.0 era, it was the seeming lack of first-set vitality. The turn-around since the Baker's Dozen last year is nothing short of remarkable. In the last several runs/tours we have numerous examples of both creative set-list architecture and epic jamming in the first set. And you can add Hampton 2018's first sets to this trend, with Sunday's Simple in bold and underlined.

If we are going to have epic jaw-dropping jams in first sets, perhaps some recalibration of our second set expectations is also in store?

Phish opens the second set with Waves, another *huh* moment as this was not the Sunday Set II opener that perhaps many had looked for. Instead of a high-energy opener a la Disease or Crosseyed, or the still-dangling Tweeprise, the first jam-section of Waves washes over us, bringing a still beautiful but more understated and certainly more peaceful and delicate vibe. The second Waves jam section crescendos nicely, reaching out to the 14+ min mark, energizing the crowd as the band very smoothly segues into Rise/Come Together, another first timer for yours truly. Rise/Come Together is a song that I will admit did not *do it* for me after listening to tapes from its previous outings, but in person I get it, and it helps that, to my ears, this version straight up rocks. It is triumphant. We are a part of this band, and they us. And we come together and rise as one.

The opening chords of Light ring out as R/C's jam fades, and Trey's vocals resound through The Mothership ("and the light is grooooowing brighter now"), offering a precursor to a very successful multifaceted jam that clocks in around 16 min, which appears to be the current comfort-zone for kick-ass Lights these days (looking at you Camden N2).

And then we get hit with The Line.

I've borne witness to many Lines at this point, and a few that hit mid-second set. Those mid-second set Lines are... tough to swallow. They really stick right in the craw there, when that craw really was more interested in another mid-set jam vehicle to keep the exploratory momentum of Waves and Light. So here's the moment where, I think from my point of view and from what I've seen from many others as well, you either can continue to try to enjoy the experience that Phish has chosen for you on this particular evening in this particular venue, or you can sink dejectedly into your seat, fume to your neighbors, take a piss break, or do whatever else you feel you need to do, and, consciously or no, sever the energy-link between yourself and the band. I try hard to pick the former route as many times as I can, but I understand the latter and there have been some nights when I too have gone that route.

Tonight I do continue to stand, and sway, and enjoy The Line, and I am rewarded with what I thought was a very nice uplifting within-the-lines coda jam. Not quite jumping-up-and-down with energy a la The Line from Cinnamon night at the BD, but still quite enjoyable.

Then Wingsuit hits. I enjoy Wingsuit and the Floyd-esque guitar soloing opportunity it offers Trey, but mid-Sunday Set II at Hampton immediately following The Line, I was less than thrilled. Again, despite straining against my expectations, Wingsuit's jam soars, soulfully uplifting those in the crowd who had not given up on the set.

At some point while Wingsuit was winding down, I shit you not, I received a text (via a bump on my watch) from my cat sitter. I look up from absent-mindedly checking what was up with my furry feline friends, and "in the time of the Ancient Egyptians until today, many people have been cat fanciers. You are such a person." Am I being wiretapped by The Phish? Are they actually telepathically connected to us, as I think all of us have suspected at some point? I do not know but I am laughing maniacally as the caterwauling screeches send us into staccato/plinko jamming of Your Pet Cat. And it is a groovy cat, allowing the Hampton crowd to shake off some of that pent-up energy.

After letting the cat out, we are asked What's the Use?, a question that I do not know the answer to but one that I always am glad to have posed to me by this band. Although I do like to hear/feel WTU? emerge organically out of a jam, the opening chords have a sort of system-shock capability when engaged in isolation, removed from another song's jam context. The Hampton crowd does hush during the exalted orchestration, albeit not as thoroughly (this was not "hear a pin drop" territory a la Magnaball). And, with WTU?'s power expended, it is time to dance our asses off for the Possum that I think we all felt coming for the entire run. This Possum raged, plain and simple. Long drawn-out intro complete with some William Tell Overture from Trey, an extended Trey solo that saw him briefly take the band into spacey pre-Type II territory, and then the thunderous return executed perfectly. Your reviewer suspected this could be the moment they hit us with that Tweeprise, but the moment passed, and so it was *obvious* that Tweeprise would close this Hampton run, putting an exclamation point on the weekend.

Returning quickly to the stage, the band opts for More. I enjoy More as an encore and was pleased to belt out with my fellow Mothership passengers that, as we are vibrating with love and light, there must be something more than this. Obvious seg into Tweeprise right? *Buzzer* / *Price is Right failure chord*, Trey takes off his guitar and the band is taking bows. Of course we are clapping and yelling, the band deserves accolades and appreciation for this run had it actually ended at this moment, but the Hampton crowd is NOT WILLING TO LET THE SHOW END. The entire crowd continues to stand and scream, at the top of their lungs, after the band had exited. Mike's bass tech walks out, ready to get on with his post-show breakdown routine. The crowd does not like this man. They continue screaming. The house lights DO NOT COME UP. The bass tech freezes, as if unsure how to proceed. The crowd knows that second encores in the Phish universe are beyond rare, and yet we are not leaving and we are screaming for the band to come back out. AND THE CROWD GOES ENTIRELY APESHIT AS THE BAND WALKS BACK OUT. And, of course, Trey counts off YEM. If the Mothership could take off we'd have been beyond the solar system before the pre-nirvana section ended. To this reviewer's ears (attached to a head and body that was literally jumping for joy and emitting more maniacal laughter), YEM's composed section was close-to-nailed, with a thrilling sustain-note peak. The building shakes and resounds as we command unseen foes to wash uffize and drive us to firenze. As Trey and Mike did their synchronized bounces for us, the sections of the crowd they were facing popped in sequence. Trey rocked the traditional guitar solo. Mike destroyed the traditional B&D coda. And the vocal jam was rhythmic weirdness, as only Phish can pull off. The band bows.

What a show. What a weekend. What a band.

There would be no Tweeprise (despite the crowd's best efforts at conjuring a third encore). That's ok, I hope that Nashville gets Tweeprised and this Hampton energy transfers over to those shows and the remainder of this Fall Tour. I'm confident that it will, and although I wish I could attend more, if not all, the remaining shows, I will treasure this Hampton run and re-listen for a very long time to come. Good phishing everyone.


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