A Phish run isn’t always remembered for it’s extended, multifaceted jams. Sometimes the band creates the memories through a connected set of moments over the course of a weekend that speak to us in a different way with their timing and poignancy. Sometimes the collective sum of those moments is far greater than any individual highlight like, say, a thirty-six minute jam. On Phish’s third straight year playing Dick’s in Colorado, those moments were early and often. Whether a debut cover came out of left field or a rare Gamehenge tune made its appearance, the band intended to delight us from the first note of “Ghost” which began the three-night run.
And Phish certainly sculpted some great improv this past weekend. Without it, the feel-good moments cannot connect with the crowd in the same way as I mentioned earlier. 99% of the time I’ll take Type II over a bust out — but I felt more inspiration, admiration and surprise when they covered “On the Road Again” and “Easy to Slip” than I would have ever thought. I woke up Monday morning still humming the cover tune Phish carefully chose over the weekend. Just as the lyrics from “Garden Party” stamped Phish’s NYE run last year, Willie Nelson’s words hit me like a ton of bricks inside that joyous soccer stadium.
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is makin’ music with my friends
It is one of Willie’s most popular tunes, and as Phillip Zerbo of Phish.net points out, it was actually already on the Phish radar as Mike and Trey played the tune four times with Marco Benevento and Joe Russo as G.R.A.B in 2006. The song’s lyrics mean more now than ever. Thirty years of going down the highway as the best of friends.
Phish is our band and the memories we all see and make together (Woo!) is why the community is such a special one. Yes, we chase songs and jams but the real link to it all is we live and share the experience together. Phish doesn’t just make us feel a part of the show; we ARE a part of the show. From the glowsticks, to the woos, to the request signs, to the bitching about “Show of Life’s” song placement, the costume wearing, the guy selling pork belly tacos with lime-avocado sauce, The Waterwheel Foundation, The Right Way — we are all included in this band of gypsies that Willie Nelson so thoughtfully described, for better and worse.
Embrace it, but only The Right Way.
On Friday fans put their fundraising to work through CrowdTilt, raising enough money to hire a plane to fly over Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a banner that read “READ THE BOOK”, an obvious reference to one of Phish’s rarest Gamehenge songs “Icculus.” To put it in perspective, I had never seen the song until that night, going 104 shows without it’s presence. I actually went out of my way to NOT CONTRIBUTE thinking I’d somehow jinx the campaign. Well, what do you know, Trey Anastasio early in the first set begins his Icculus speech, references the writing in the sky and the band goes into the first one in two years. It was a surreal moment for everyone involved. Those who ponied up the dough had an extra twinkle in their eye all weekend long. The “I” in Icculus was also part of a grander plan. The latest theme in a show of setlist shenanegans that continued Friday’s Dick tradition. It’s already been reviewed and gushed over but over the course of the evening the band spelled something, this time in reverse with each song letter. It didn’t contain the same amount of mind-numbing jams that 8/31/12’s Fuck Your Face show had, but it still had that same puzzle-solving-feeling and included Phish debuts (“Easy to Slip”) and bustouts (“Oh Sweet Nuthin'”) that we fans revel in. MOST SHOWS SPELL SOMETHING.
They certainly do.
On Saturday, Phish delivered the show and jam of the run in “Chalk Dust Torture” and yes, the Woos made another appearance at the request of Big Red who was patient from the start. You could tell the band was going to make this a signature moment from the get-go. And if you didn’t, well Mike Gordon’s footbell around the nine-minute mark was the unofficial start button. Fishman takes it from there and we are on our way. The build-up to the start/stop/woo was infectious and carried with it an energy that felt like the Tahoe Tweezer (No, not as good, but in the same ballpark right outside of Cooperstown). The band rode the torturous wave playing “2001” into a rare late set “Tweezer” that created one of the better dance parties I’ve had in my section in some time. LazyLightning55 has this impressive video of “Chalk Dust” which is below:
On Sunday Phish handled business and included another debut in a cover of Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It”, an obvious reference to Colorado’s marijuana laws. The best part of this debut was it being sandwiched in the Mike’s Groove allowing “Weekapaug” to ride a reggae feel for a few moments. Sunday’s show wasn’t without a few crunchy jams either. “Carini” is mostly known for it’s harder edge but this version hit the cosmos with a driven delicacy, almost toying with our emotions as it rose and ebbed with Trey’s guitar work. Whatever Fishman is doing, he needs to keep doing it because as far as I’m concerned he was the MVP of Dicks, navigating soundscapes and driving the jams forward with a beast-like ferocity all weekend long, hell all Summer long.
Towards the end of the Dick’s run our leader Trey Anastasio emotionally and genuinely thanked everyone on what a great tour it had been, almost coming to tears in the process and making me better understand how important the collective whole of our community is. It has certainly been a banner year for Phish and ending Summer at Dicks with three days, one epic jam, four bustouts, many woos, amazing friends, a grassy knoll to relax on, shakedown to explore; nothing really comes close to beating the ‘sum’ of these wonderful parts.
See you in Atlantic City for more Wooing but until then, here’s a refresher on the weekend we just witnessed:
Phish Dicks’ Picks 2013:
8/30/13 “Most Shows Spell Something”
Ghost – The first opener of it’s kind since 1998 put everyone on alert!
Icculus – “I look up at the sky and I see planes flying by carrying messages…”
Ocelot – One of the best versions Phish has played to date.
Easy to Slip – This cover from Little Feat’s Sailing Shoes was a debut.
Sand – The Jam of Night 1 with 2001 teases
Say Something – This is what I thought they were spelling…Crunchy jam too!
Oh Sweet Nuthin’ – Can’t get enough of the Velvet Underground. First one in 120 shows.
8/31/13 – “Most Complete Show of the Run”
Buried Alive – Gametime.
Fee – First and only Fee of 2013 (so far)
Halfway To The Moon – Thank You Page. [VIDEO]
Bathtub Gin – Dave’s Energy Guide FTW
Chalk Dust Torture – Easily the jam of the weekend (w/ WOOs) [VIDEO]
Tweezer – After hearing the Woos in Chalk Dust, it was only fitting we get this late set walk into the Freezer.
On The Road Again – Just like “Garden Party” this cover speaks to the band and community in more ways than one.
9/1/13 – Most “Lumpy” Show of the Run
Meat – Yeah, Dicks, yeah.
Divided Sky – The pause was long enough for me to take a piss without missing anything! We Love Dicks!
Carini – The second best jam of the weekend.
Piper – Guy Forget quoting and Woos!
Saw It Again – This was my good buddy Golgiiguy’s 100th show and his only wish was a “Saw It Again.” Granted!
Legalize It – First time played. Just like “Night Nurse” in 2010 this reggae tune was perfectly placed.