Summer breeze, makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind.
--Seals and Crofts
Well, summer's here, and you know what that means - time to stuff every available nook and cranny with ungodly amounts of fun until it gets uncomfortable. And then cram some more. Time to see old friends, make new ones (if only often just for a few hours), do as much exploring of the natural world as humanly possible, eat like an idiot, and, of course, hop on tour to follow the musical shenanigans of the second greatest band in the world (behind Seals and Crofts, natch) - the one and only Assface.
OK, quick reset here. Prior to the official commencement of Summer Tour '15, I dun seen a grand total of 147 Phish shows. My Summer Tour '15 itinerary is to feature (if everything goes as planned) the pair of tour-opening shows in Bend Oregon, the Cali shows at Shoreline and the LA Forum, and the Texas shows at Austin and Dallas. That's one hell of a leg, and it will be followed in August by the Philly shows at The Mann, both Merriweathers, then Magnaball and Dicks. That's 16 shows. Sixteen shows. SIXTEEN. SHOWS. Deep breath. Now, smile. :->
At the first four shows (Bend1, Bend2, Shoreline, Forum), I would be accompanied by a gentleman who should need no introduction around these parts, the esteemed Salvador Sriracha. Another quick reset: Salvador was my bestie on our freshman year floor in college and my sophomore year frathouse roommate before our penchant for beer pong and class avoidance (and our ensuing atrocious grades) sadly intervened, sending us on our separate ways for something like fourteen whole years. However, fortuitously, Salvador contacted me pretty much outta nowhere in early 2012, and mere months later I was driving him upstate for the awesome SPAC '12 run. Over the subsequent years, I've had the incredible fortune to see a ton of shows and see a lot of great sights in Salvador's company, and this trip was planned with the aim of keeping both of those traditions alive.
So, after taking in some outstanding views Day 1 in and around Salvador's home in Ashland, we woke up for Day 2 of the summer jaunt fueling up with some bagels and flavymilxxx before hitting the road. Heading north with Bend as our eventual destination, we passed through an area north of Ashland dominated by a massive, blue basin of water and nearby rivers. Hoping to get a primo scenic overlook under our belts, we stopped on a whim at Mill Creek Falls in Prospect Oregon. A brief hike into the woods revealed the falls in question - pretty great for a casual little diversion along the way!
Our next stop would be Crater Lake, which... yeah. I mean, if you've been there, you know what I mean, but if you haven't, there's really no way for me to explain without breaking into a Mr. Miner-esque display of self-indulgent idiocy. I had purposely avoided over-Googling images of Crater Lake prior to this trip so as to not spoil the actual experience of seeing it in person, and boy howdy were we rewarded with some amazing views. I can honestly say that Crater Lake is the most incredible thingy / doohickey / whatzit I've ever seen.
We arrived in Bend before rush hour, knowing that we'd need to head over to Les Schwab Amphitheater unusually early due to the rumored 6 PM (!!!!) show time. We set out in earnest around 4:30, with about 2-1/4 miles between us and the venue proper. First, we stopped at Boneyard Beer, a tiny, somewhat badass brewery with its eenie meenie taproom manned by a cool metal chick. Now I'm not terribly well versed in beer-related terminology, but this place and its offerings were totes bitchin, brah. We each enjoyed a flight and some Lemmy-themed conversation with said cool metal chick before continuing along our way. Next stop was Atlas Cider Co., where we enjoyed a couple unusual flavors (nectarine or peach? Something like that? And the other was 2/3 apple, 1/3 blackberry) and some house-baked donut holes. Awesome!!
We walked through the little strip mall style area near Les Schwab before arriving outside Les Schwab and getting our bearings. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and the venue would be packed, 8500 strong. Phans had been repeatedly warned that vending would not be allowed on site, but there were still a few scattered stragglers selling pipes, stickers, and shirts. The venue itself was wonderful - with the river as its backdrop, plenty of folks had rowed kayaks up to get a view.
I'm not going to spend too much time discussing the show itself, which tbh was pretty forgettable. Still enjoyable, of course, but literally nothing of any real re-listen value. You know you're in Mediocreville when the band members' getups are actually more notable than the music - Mike arrived onstage in a Let Trey Sing shirt, Fishman was rockin' some shades, and Trey was sporting a Bobby Rockstar-esque polo shirt. (I have to assume that Trey butchering "Horn" and "Rift" is also a nod to Bobby. :-> ) I should report that The Boys treated us to three entirely new songs, two of which have the potential to be keepers. "Blaze On" reminds me of "Fat Man in the Bathtub"'s funky, shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits Bo Diddley beat, although the lyrics are, shall we say, suspect. "Shade" is a typical crappy pissbreak ballad, likely replacing whatever repaced "Joy" and "Show of Life" in the rotation. "No Man's Land" (or whatever it's really called) is the real winner here, though, funky and powerful, with potential to be the first real jam monster Phish has debuted since "Light". (No, "Fuego" is *not* an epic jam.)
Aaaaaaaaaaanyway, post-show shenanigans were limited to walking to a nearby understaffed gastropub and basically waiting to be served for an extended period of time. Gonna post this entry now before my free LAX internet runs out. Holler atcha soon!