Last night was the first of two nights for Phish’s return to the beautiful Lake Tahoe area, and the band continued on with their amazing playing that carried over from the Gorge to the delight of the 7,000 people in attendace. This being my first exposure to the band’s playing in 2013 (besides following along on Couch Tour), I was beyond impressed by the band I saw take the stage last night. Following the community around this band has always kept me in the loop, but last night helped to prove a point I was already well aware of even though I let myself subconsciously forget it — Phish needs to be seen, heard, and felt to really make any judgment about how they’re playing, and last night was something you had to see, hear and feel to really digest. And man, it really felt good last night. The band was happy, the fans were happy, and it all coalesced together into a great show. I’m not sure anyone will say that it was “show of the tour” but front to back, it was an amazing show and featured some moments really worth talking about.
But truthfully, aren’t most Phish shows like that nowadays anyway?
With an unbelievably confident first set delivering a great “Wolfman’s Brother” opener, the first “Gotta Jibboo” and “Walk Away” of 2013, plus great version of “Bathtub Gin”, “Birds of a Feather” and “Cities” — this was a first set of hits for me. Then the second set came out blazing with an unbelievably strong “Golden Age” which made room for plenty of experimenting in the second set, most notably in the form of the “Ghost > Carini > Piper” segment of the evening. Not to mention ending the set on a half-finished “Mike’s Groove” which led to a “Weekapaug Groove” encore to finish it off before a rocking “Character Zero” to close out the show. I was beyond happy with everything I saw, front to back, and it seems the band was pretty happy with their playing, too.
As an aside, yesterday’s pre-show ritual for me was way different than what it would normally be. My buddies up here in Tahoe book some rad pre- and post-parties around all the major bands that tour through the area, so I used my NVO cred to get myself a DJ set at the pool party at the Horizon, the casino right next door to Harveys and the usual host of the shakedown lot (considering Harveys’ parking lot is pretty much the venue itself). My buddy Zebuel Early was running sound and got me hooked, and we got asked pretty early on in the day if we were planning on cutting our sound during the band’s soundcheck. Turns out we couldn’t, and turns out I got the pleasure of being the guy playing loud bass music (with plenty of dubstep wobbles) while the band was crushing their soundcheck about 1500 feet away through the Horizon parking lot. Thankfully this was recorded for everyone else to hear, but in the meantime some fans missed my sick flow from Snoop Lion into my favorite Conspirator track. I made my set extra heady in anticipation and the timing just wasn’t perfect, but I still had a blast and everyone in the parking lot caught an “amazing” soundcheck (see below) while fans at the pool caught some amazing spacey loops.
Soundcheck: My Soul, Ginseng Sullivan, Jam -> Dog Log -> Buffalo Bill (lyric mash up with “Jet” by Wings) -> Power of Soul
When we finally made it into the show, I followed my crew into the bleachers straight back so we’d have a good view of the light show for set two. We realized pretty quick that we were near the VIP area featuring none other than Mr. Tom Marshall, a pleasant surprise to see considering he’s usually East Coast based and we don’t hear about him jamming on the West Coast with the band too often. A friend of a friend thought, “ya know, I gotta give Tom a little gift…” in the form of a pin and he walked over and handed it up to Tom as a peace offering / celebrity moment and we all got quite a kick out of it. Tom, being the ever-present “nice guy” behind a lot of Trey’s lyrical success, accepted the gift wholeheartedly and even put it on right away and mugged for hte camera for us. Whattaguy.
Here’s the full setlist for anyone that hasn’t checked it out yet on Phish.net:
Phish @ Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys, Stateline, NV 7/30/13
Set 1: Wolfman’s Brother, Gotta Jibboo, Cavern, Birds of a Feather, Funky Bitch, Cities > Rift > Bathtub Gin > Tube > Walk Away
Set 2: Golden Age > 46 Days > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Ghost > Carini > Piper > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Mike’s Song > Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: Weekapaug Groove, Character Zero
Night two is already coming up fast. Time to wrap up my notes and hit the pool, so definitely download this one and give it a spin if you have a chance. Here’s the show on LivePhish.com.