Day Two of BGCA began with us dropping off laundry (verrrry necessary) before getting an excellent meal at Burma Superstar on Clement Street. With this being my seventh day on the road, and after having eaten plenty of great food along the way, this was probably the best meal I'd eaten thus far. The rainbow salad was exquisitely arranged, with about fourteen different fresh ingredients; the pork and pumpkin stew balanced the sweetness of the pumpkin with succulent pork chunks; the catfish chowder was quite unlike anything I've ever eaten. Oh boyyyyyy... getting really hungry just typing this.
Stopped for a minute at nearby Green Apple Books, where I scored a copy of the infamous Sonny Barger's autobiography for a cool five bucks and change. Next, we hopped back in the car and headed across the Golden Gate Bridge towards Muir Woods National Monument, hoping to do a little hiking and sightseeing - in particular, this would be my first time seeing redwoods up close and in person. After receiving questionable advice from a puzzlingly uninterested park ranger ("Yup, all the trails are the same." Uhhhhh what?? No, they aren't!), we set off on what turned out to be a very brisk five-plus mile hike up the mountain and back, taking the Ocean View trail to the top and the Sun and Dipsea trails back down.
We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge again back into the city, grabbing banh mi and summer rolls at Saiwalks on Steiner Street. Although these were probably the priciest Vietnamese sandwiches I've ever seen, they were also quite possibly the *best* I've ever eaten - plenty of meat, complemented by crispy veggies. (Also, who knew that sriracha came in packets?) Highly recommended.
The City of San Francisco had announced that they'd be showing game six of the Giants / Royals World Series on a huge screen at Civic Center Plaza, right in the midst of where phans would usually be wandering around at "shakedown" preshow, and Salvador and I were eager to see what the interaction between Phish phans and baseball fans would bring. By the time we arrived in the second inning, however, we were met by a largely despondent fanbase; the Royals had jumped out to an early 7-0 lead from which the Giants would not recover. We noted a much stronger police presence in the Plaza, and decided to head in early to get good seats upstairs, extreme Page side, speaker worship.
The show began with "Crowd Control," one I *always* seem to get (I've been in attendance for the last *5* versions), followed by - SURPRISE! - a rippin' "Mike's Groove." This one rocked harder than anything from night 1, with a little extra mustard in comparison to an average 3.0 version, and had us thinking that tonight would be special (it was). Later in the set came my first ever version of the TreyBand standard "Plasma," a song debuted by Phish at Eugene. I like this as an addition to the rotation - it certainly has jam potential.
The closing "Gumbo" into "Sanity" into "Antelope" was probably the best first set sequence seen during this tour - Page absolutely owned his solo during "Gumbo" in a manner reminiscent of the excellent 12/29/13 MSG rendition. "Sanity" was the year's first version (first since BGCA2 last summer, actually), met with screams of approval from the sweaty crowd. And the "Antelope" incorporated a "Gumbo" tease from Trey, while bringing the room to a fever pitch at its climax.
All in all, probably the finest first set of the tour overall to this point, with great song selection and scorching playing during the classics. And after spending night one on the floor, we were loving having plenty of room to rock out upstairs. Sweet mother of mercy, is BGCA a great venue!
Second set led off with only the third "Kill Devil" second stanza opener ever. This was the longest version I can remember seeing, and probaby the best one, too. The type 2 ambient spaciness was quite unlike any version I've ever heard - always good to hear them putting a new twist on the standards. "Fuego" in the middle of the set was once again fine, clocking in at over 12 minutes, but as I've said before, the next essential version of "Fuego" will be the first one the band has played. Sorry, but that's just true. "Julius" next, and once again, I'm going to remind anyone reading this blog that this exists.
After a year in which "Twist" re-ascended to the status of supreme jam launchpad in 2013, the song has had few truly memorable versions in 2014 thus far. This one, however, clocks in at over 14 minutes, emphasizing the full-band jam style that was employed so frequently during the SPAC and Mann shows from the summer, if yer into that sort of thing. A rockin' "Jim" benefited from extra length as well as the element of surprise song placement-wise. Nice! And although several '14 "Hood"s have taken dark, type 2 detours not necessarily associated with the song in years prior, this one goes deeper than any I've heard before. Really an incredible version, and even though I need to re-listen after tour to confirm, this might just be the greatest "Hood" I've ever witnessed live (apologies to the Went "Hood").
Following a quick "Loving Cup" encore, Salvador and I walked back outside to the Plaza, hanging out in "hot dog alley" in front of the Wells Fargo for awhile before taking off towards Toronado. We both noticed that we felt oddly charged up after this show, especially considering how much we'd exerted ourselves while dancing. This sort of post-show-adrenalized feeling happens every so often after truly special shows - especially unusual considering that we were stone cold sober, although that would change shortly at Toronado, haha.
Really, really loved this bar. After night one, we told our cabbie to take us to an area that has bars; he dropped us off on a block that had four *closed* bars. Toronado reminded me of some of my favorite Brooklyn dives, with an awesome heavy metal soundtrack, great beer selection, and bartenders / staff that are total assholes, haha. After a few pints, we befriended a girl whose hilarious tour stories had us literally doubled over with laughter. Eventually cabbed it back to the motel after what was, top to bottom, just a great frickin' day.
One of my fears about this tour was that I'd find myself getting (still yet) more jaded. This is the most intense touring schedule I've undertaken, the first time I've been away from home for more than two weeks at a time, and I could've seen myself losing some excitement over Phish with all the inevitable "The Line" and "Wingsuit" repeats. But, much to my delight, the exact opposite has happened. These guys are the best. Bring on night three!!