Heheheheheheh. Ah, 2014: another year where I tell myself 'this is the year my obsessive show-going addiction ends;' another year where I see more shows than anyone I know who isn't employed at a performance space / venue. WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!
A quick list of locations where I've seen shows this year:
--Brooklyn (double natch)
--on a boat circling Manhattan
--Commerce City, CO
--Miami (in 7 days!)
As of this very moment, I've seen 93 concerts this year, and I've got at least three more coming up - Uncle Ebenezer at Knitting Factory Saturday night, Television (first time seeing them) at Irving Plaza on 12/28, and a little up-and-coming rock band who I think are called Assface in Miami on New Year's. The following is my totally subjective, largely meaningless, and wholly amusing (to me) recap of the best stuff I saw in '14.
Oh, and Happy Holidays to all!
The Ten Best Phish Shows I Saw All Year:
1.) Phish, 10/31/14 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
2.) Phish, 7/13/14 Randall's Island, NYC
3.) Phish, 7/27/14 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
4.) Phish, 8/29/14 Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
5.) Phish, 11/2/14 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
6.) Phish, 10/22/14 Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara
7.) Phish, 7/26/14 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
8.) Phish, 10/28/14 Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Fran
9.) Phish, 7/11/14 Randall's Island, NYC
10.) Phish, 8/31/14 Dicks Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
Although Fall Tour officially ended nearly a month ago, not a day goes by when I don't think about what stupendously fun-tacular times I had over the 2+ weeks I spent out on the road. And that's not only because I'm still obsessively listening to the Haunted House set (which I am). In fact, just simply thinking of Fall Tour lifts my spirits so much that I inevitably wind up typing in the annoying, upbeat, eminently punchable tone you're currently reading. BOINGGGG!!!!!
I chronicled my Fall Tour travails in (more or less) real time, day by day, here, but before I forget all of the other wacky stuff that happened along the way, here's one random memory from each stop.
10/21, Santa Barbara
Before the show, I picked my good buddy Salvador up at his parents' home in Pasadena, where he grew up. They have an avocado tree in their back yard, the first time I've ever seen one of those, uncultured yokel that I am. I was afforded the opportunity to pick an avocado using one of these. This gave me great joy.
(Oh 'cado tree, oh 'cado tree...)
10/22, Santa Barbara
While standing in line in the men's room upstairs, a slight miscommunication between fellow line-standers led to one guy yelling, at no one in particular, "red velvet cake is a scam! IT'S JUST FOOD COLORING!!" The things one learns on tour!
10/24, Los Angeles
Say it ain't so, Beafvy. My buddy Beafv had his troubles at this show, resulting in the spilling of many, many beers (and, uh, some other stuff). His behavior was so outlandish that finally one of our neighbors on the actually handed him a bright red card that read, "STOP." Oh, sweet, naive neighbor; if only it were so simple.
10/25, Chula Vista
Well, they can't all be winners. As explained in my writeup of this show, we visited a couple highly-rated breweries before the show. At one, Societe, Beafv and I were unpleasantly surprised to see an assortment of motorcycle fellows out front, several of whom were proudly wearing tee shirts with Nazi "SS" insignia emblazoned on them. Yikes, with a capital "go fuck yourself, you subhuman shitbags."
10/27, San Fran
After lollygagging our way up the coast from San Luis Obispo in the most enjoyable way possible, making several stops at Big Sur along the way, Salvador and I got nailed by rush hour traffic. (Totally worth it.) By the time we checked into our motel, we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a major time crunch. We bussed towards the venue, hopping out a few blocks away from BGCA with the aim of grabbing some quick grub at McDonald's so as to not start the show with empty tummies.
Ahead of Salvador in the line at McDonald's was an elderly man who appeared more than a little down on his luck. He ordered "20 McNuggets for $2.99," although after placing his order he was informed by the manager that, sorry, 20 McNuggets would be $9.99 plus tax. Immediately, Salvador stepped up and offered to buy the McNuggets.
The man was incredibly grateful for this, telling Salvador that "you're my angel, you've come down from heaven." A very nice gesture from probably the best guy I know.
10/28, San Fran
Make sure you read the bottom line.
10/29, San Fran
Anyone who knows what the hell they're talking about agrees that the first *great* show of the tour was SBB2. At BGCA3, we sat next to a dude who told us that he had it on good authority (the wife of the venue owner, apparently) that in the morning pre-SBB2, Trey was running stadiums up and down the staircases inside the venue. Whatever it takes, breh, whatever it takes.
Post-show, we were strolling through the casino towards the elevators, when we came across a gaggle of at least 20 phans performing the "Thriller" dance, synchronized to the song which was being played over the in-house sound system. "Did they all, like, practice this?" we wondered, before coming to the conclusion that, no, plenty of people actually know the dance. In addition to us, a decent size group of onlookers had gathered and were enjoying the revue.
So, I'm still totally unable to adjust to west coast time - on Day 5 of Phall tour I woke up before dawn, totally unable to fall back asleep. No worries though, because I had a ton of stuff to take care of before the evening's show, although I'll spare you the gory details of a morning filled with laundry, solar panels, consignment agreements, and ticket transfers.
Today, I'd be joined by Beafvy, flying in from Chomperville for the afternoon / evening's festivities. Before 3 PM, we were comfortably hunkered down at The Tripel in nearby Playa del Mar, enjoying food from their trendy-ish menu (between us, we consumed a burger and three small plates - duck spread with grilled bread, roasted shishito peppers, shaved brussels sprouts salad) and beverages. They don't do liquor at The Tripel so I couldn't get a bloody, but the bloody beer the bartender whipped up was actually pretty good, considering how horrible the concept seemed to me before trying it.
Back to our ghetto-ass hotel by 5, cabbed it to the venue shortly thereafter. I have to say that The Forum was absolutely nothing like I'd expected it would be; I'd heard it was old, rundown and outdated, but it was none of those, apparently having just undergone a renovation completed earlier this year. By the end of the night, I'd come to the conclusion that The Forum was kind of like a West Coast Mothership of sorts, only bigger - very pretty exterior, spacious floor / plenty of room for everyone, great staff.
Met up with Salvador in the lot preshow, and it was ON. (Haha.) We'd heard that shakedown / vending would be largely non-existent which happily turned out to be the opposite of true (except oddly no food vending at all) - actually a pretty solid, joyously lawless shakedown, all things considered. Ran into several familiar folks preshow (NYC crew, Boston crew, guys at our hotel for SBB, Beafvy's buddy Pibz), and many new people who loved my shirt. Literally every single person with whom I had the tried-and-true "so, where ya sitting tonight?" conversation floor tickets tonight, as did we. Easiest floor tix for Phish ever - Salvador actually snagged floors day of for below face, if you can believe it.
After a mediocre show at SBB1 and a great one at SBB2, we were eager to see what the evening had in store for us. Mixed bag? CustieNoob show? Barn-burner?? The set started nicely with an energetic "46 Days" / "Tube" pairing, and only the fourth first-set "Ghost" of the 3.0 era in the cleanup slot. This "Ghost" was very short, at under 9 minutes, deviating from the usual "composed section > spooky weirdness > soaring rock and roll" blueprint so familiar from recent versions. Not bad, but here's hoping they don't start routinely giving "Ghost" the same treatment "Sand" has gotten over the past couple of years - Phish needs as many great second set jam vehicles as they can muster more than they do tasty first set tidbits.
The first "Divided Sky" of the tour was another major highlight. Drawing another parallel to Hampton, one of the highlights from Phall Tour '13 was the sea of lighters at Hampton3; at tonight's show, Kuroda surprised us by suddenly illuminating the ceiling dotted by small, bright white lights resembling stars. "It's Ice" continued its recent winning streak, bringing a freezer full of hard, nasty funk courtesy of Page and his clav. The set closing "Gin" was truly one for the ages, with a pair of extended "Low Rider" segments in a possible nod to LA's own Cheech and Chong, as well as an extended "Long Tall Glasses" jam. IMHO one of the finest 3.0 "Gin"s along with the 5/28/11 Bethel "Golden Gin-teca," Dick's '13, and the monster version from Randalls1 this past summer.
Second set began with an odd "555" / "Number Line" pairing, leading into an absolute monster of a "Disease," featuring several distinctly wonderful jam sections. In addition to the usual type 1 fireworks, we also got a lengthy rhythmic / atonal jam, as well as a huge rock peak in a manner similar to the legendary Northerly "Wedge" from this past summer. Is it "Paradise City"? "Roll With the Changes?" "Taking Care of Business?" Or just a familiar jam that Phish manages to knock out of the park every so often? Either way, it was totally hose-tastic - highest energy moment of the evening, rivaling the 8/1/14 Orange Beach version for best "Disease" of the year.
With "Fuego" and "Bowie" both benefitting from extra length, the improv kept a-flowin'. The "Hood" in the encore didn't take its detour into type 2 (as so many recent versions have), instead being just a classic "Hood" in its own right with a lengthy, patient intro and a wonderful peak. The boys are back indeed! Great, great night.
Post-show, we didn't really have any options other than to walk the two miles back to our hotel straight through the 'hood on Crenshaw. Happily, there were absolutely zero incidents along the way, and we wound up enjoying some late night tacos from a place near our hotel. Really, really hit the spot after racking up 21 miles on the pedometer throughout the day, haha.
OK, we're going to try to get a head start on the drive to Chula Vista if we can shortly, so I'm out for now. But suffice it to say these last two shows have totally reversed the course of this tour, and we're nothing but optimistic for these next seven shows (of which I'll be attending all of 'em). Tuddd out for now.