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 I have to say that The Forum was absolutely nothing like I'd expected it would be; I'd heard it was old, rundown and outdated, but it was none of those, apparently having just undergone a renovation completed earlier this year.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.
(Ceiling of the Forum during "Divided Sky." Borrowed from Surrender to the Flow's FB page.)
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.