Woke up for day 3 at Hampton feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, despite the hilarious shenanigans of the previous evening / early morning. I felt that night two's show compared favorably with the best shows I saw during the summer (MPP2, BGCA3, and my all-time dark horse SPAC2), and that overall it was a big improvement over night one, which still contained one of the best jams I've ever seen live (sweet mercy, that "Carini"). But if the "never miss a Sunday show" adage is to believed, the best could still be ahead of us.....
Sunday, of course, means it's time to start drinking early and watch football. We started off again at Kelly's Tavern, cozy and comfortable through the early NFL games, leaving briefly to check out a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings. Long story short, Buffalo Wild Wings was obnoxiously packed, so we wound up back at Kelly's less than an hour later (but not before some random dude crossing the boulevard accurately called me out for being from Brooklyn, presumably due to my Western-style shirt). We returned to Kelly's, merrily eating and drinking for several more hours.
Eventually we moblized and sauntered over to The Mothership, encountering nothing but kind, eager souls along the way. Once again, tickets for the show appeared to be greatly oversold, as the ticket tree outside was flourishing in full bloom. After a particularly off-color hypothetical conversation with some total strangers on the subject of innovative / unusual ways to smuggle items into venues (hint: dangle), we entered, staking out territory way far up Mike side.
The first "Julius" opener since summer '04 (which I was also in attendance for) starts the show off, and as long as I went to the trouble of making this page, I might as well link to it every time "Julius" comes up in a show review, right? "Funky Bitch" in the two-hole is an early first set fave. (It should be noted that early on, Mike's voice sounds much better than it did during night two's gratuitous throat-shred fest, although he's still not at full strength. Let's just hope they save "Drowned" for later in the tour :-> ) "Back on the Train" is, as always, another tune I love in the first set, and this version boasts some extra length at over 9 minutes, with the peaks sounding an awful lot like "46 Days" and featuring some "McGrupp" teases from Trey. "Roses" is another solid song selection, and as always it elicits a hearty roar from the crowd during the "get in your car and choose the land of the brave and free" lyric. True dat! This version included a little somethin' somethin' tacked onto the end, which naturally had everyone in the building hoping for a rare (and much sought after) jammed out "Roses," but alas it was not to be. With "Sample," you always know what you're getting, and I should know - at the time of this writing I've witnessed the last *eight* performances of this song. "Ginseng" serves not only as the show's first bluegrass tune, but also as the first inkling that Mike's voice may have a rough night ahead... hopefully, the second set will have plenty of improv! (Spoiler alert: it does.)
"46 Days" plays nicely in this slot, with Trey wrangling some ungodly squeals out of the 'doc during the peaks. "D Sky" comes next, and I'm on the record as asserting that there's probably no better first set anchor, period, than "D Sky." This version is particularly notable for the extended pause before "the note," during which one of my favorite moments from Fall Tour went down, as seemingly every other person in the venue raised his / her lighter aloft (see below for a picture I stole from .net forums). This incredible intermission allowed us all to realize that, possibly, this could be a show for the ages. The first "Bold as Love" since BGCA3 (only the second of the year) closes a fun first set with still yet more great peaks courtesy Trey. Good shit.
We had retreated slightly during the first set, finding ample room mere paces from where we had been standing during the previous night. When the lights went down at the start of the second set, Trey asked the gaggle of striped sweater-wearing phans in the front row if they were dressed in "jail stripes." No, they were dressed like Waldo, but despite (or perhaps in spite of) this Phish chose to lead off the second set with the jail-themed "Paul and Silas," which included a nice bass solo from Mike.
The room collectively went fucking bonkers as the first notes of "Tweezer" materialized. With the Phish community still very much abuzz on the subject of the "Tahoeezer," it's likely that no song was more highly anticipated during the Hampton run than "Tweezer." When the jam starts around 5 minutes in on this version, the crowd emits a hearty roar knowing that we could, in fact, be at the precipice of greatness. The improv begins with a very minimal funk groove, with Page funking it up on the clav before 7 minutes. Trey's bluesy soloing has us in very typical, fun "Tweezer" territory thru 9:50, when Mike joins in with some meatball of his own - very patient, minimal, spacey funk groove through 10:30. Next, some full-band hey-hole, from which an ominous groove emerges, very similar to the brooding 12/30/12 Carini. This thuds along for a minute or so before the chill-ass funk groove from earlier returns. Lots more of Page on the clav, and Trey chiming in with rhythmic, uh, "beeping." Mike's staccatto figure at 13:30 returns us to the earlier ominous groove - closer still yet to that 12/30/12 Carini. Trey goes atonal at 14:15, evolving this dark groove further, adding some distorted squeals. The volume of this groove increases until 16:15, when Trey brings us back to familiar dark, bluesy soloing. Brown note from Mike at 17:30, and things get scary again - Trey nails some incredibly haunting tones at 18:10, leading into some creepy freakout territory. Sounds like a "No Quarter" tease from Page starting at 19:10, with hints of a near-"Swept Away" / "Steep" tease. Trey steps up his volume briefly at 21:30, but things stay somnambulent thru the ending, at long last signaled by some huge, sweeping synth arcs from Page. Crowd goes fucking wild. This is one of 2013's defining jams, and also one of the year's longest at 24 minutes. Where it ranks among the top 5 "Tweezer"s of 3.0 (among them Tahoeezer, Dick's '11, Hartford from the following weekend, and 12/28/12 MSG) depends on your level of appreciation for "patience" within a jam.
Instead of dealing us a quickie number to bring us back to earth, we get "Golden Age," always a threat to go totally off the rails. The improv starts 7:45ish with a groove that emphasizes the similarity between "Golden Age" and "Manteca" - always hoping for some shoemouth, brah! The jamming continues in this manner before spacing out by 9:40. At 10 minutes, Trey leads the band back into the ominous jam from the previous "Tweezer" over the "Golden Age" / "Manteca" rhythm. We get a full on "Streets of Cairo" tease at 10:40, before Page takes the reins with some funky leads on the clav from 11:10 through the 12 minute mark. Gradually the overall volume and intensity increases, and the crowd mirrors it by steadily building into an appreciative ROARRRRRR - amazing to hear ~10,000 people going absolutely apeshit at this patient, tight little groove. Page steps back up at 13 mins, and at 13:30 this groove dies out a bit, finding itself in a really creepy space at 14 minutes. Fishman steps back in briefly at 14:40, and the last couple of minutes are noisy, hectic, weird, and again, dark.
Both the "Tweezer" and the "Golden Age" showcase some of the finest "patient" jamming I can remember being present for. Of course, when trying to find the proper adjectives to describe Phish's bread and butter, plenty of people (myself included, I have to admit) tend to use the term "patient" as a euphemisim for "boring" or "uneventful." These two jams, however, are gripping and dramatic despite not having huge peaks, and if one has an appreciation for what can result when Trey, Mike, Page and Fish are all listening to each other closely, these jams are not to be missed.
So, we're three songs and nearly 45 minutes into the set... and they drop a "Piper" on us?! Un-frickin-real. A series of beautiful Trey leads start up around 4 minutes in, and what follows here are the most energetic moments of the set thus far. At 6:20, we get some classic rock jamming which once again sounds like "The Real Gin" (as during the best moments from the previous night's excellent version of "Ghost") but instead Page's baseball stadium-worthy organ merrily leads us into Phish's first-ever performance of BTO's "Taking Care of Business." From where I was standing, it appeared as though literally *everyone* on the floor was pogoing with sheer joy - probably my favorite overall moment of a weekend jam packed with great ones, topped off by a positively rippin' solo from Trey. (As the owner of a very, very small business, I probably appreciate the "look at me I'm self-employed / I love to work at nothing all day" couplet as much as anyone else in the room.)
"2001" is a perfect song choice at this moment as a means of keeping the energy level cranked up. Upon listening back, the groove seems a bit laid back, very much understandable considering the intensity during the near-hour of music prior. "Sand" next does what "Sand" does these days, packing a punch in a 9-10 minute package, with a nod to the dark jams in "Tweezer" and "Golden Age" earlier in the set, which actually closely resembled "Sand"'s main riff, come to think of it. And "Slave" fills the role of night two's "Hood" as both the second set's closer and as the evening's resident tearjerker. Also, it's a bit of a tip of the cap to those first March '09 shows at Hampton, when they played "Slave" in the exact same slot as this one. (Remember the dude who hung the "SLAVE" sign at different spots around the Mothership throughout that weekend?) Once again, perfect song placement and glorious execution.
"A Day in the Life" and "Tweeprise" in the encore is a logical conclusion to an outstanding weekend. Of course "Tweeprise" is the perfect excuse to rock the fuck out one last time and leave *everything* on the floor, which we gladly did, pogoing and hugging and grinning and cheering.
Post-show, we headed back to Kelly's once again, this time being thoroughly patted down before being allowed to enter - of course, we realized security was actually looking for knives and / or guns, so we were in the clear. :-> After a greasy post-show meal (I had a very fatty reuben) and cheap-ass mixed drinks, we retired back to the post-apocalyptic hustle and bustle of the Days Inn. I chose to join the fray for an hour or so before turning in for the night, exhausted and satisfied.
So, where does this run rank? This was the second greatest 3-night run I've ever been attendance for EVER, only topped by the three legendary nights over Labor Day at Dick's '12. I would see six more shows following Hampton during this Fall Tour and the entirety of the New Year's run at MSG a couple of months later, many of which were truly special experiences, but this particular show trumps all of 'em - Best Show of 2013, indeed. As I've said before, the playing at Hampton through the end of the year is, to me, the finest, most consistent era of Phish since the halcyon days of Fall '97 / NYE '97 / Island Tour '98, for reals.