Sunday, August 2, 2009

Phish - Day II

Different day, different weather, different vibe. Day two found Phish in an even more musically serious mood. With stormclouds threatening, they opened with a nostalgic trifecta of songs “Runaway Jim,” “Chalkdust Torture” and “Bathtub Gin” which put the crowd in the partying mood. The band and the weather then took a big left turn. The title track to Trey’s new solo album, “Time Turns Elastic” is dense, complicated and full of prog-rock twists and turns. Clocking in at almost 17 minutes the song got more and more intense, ending with another heroic guitar workout by Anastasio, while the sky started to spit, then drool, the pour. It rained with increasing strength throughout the remainder of the set, which ended with a spacey, almost scary “Split Open and Melt.”

The rain continued through the set break with increasing severity, finally letting up after about an hour. The crowd was definitely a bit dispirited and in need of some big musical energy. Phish, as usual, did not disappoint. Opening appropriately with a high-energy version of The Who’s “Drowned,” they jammed effortlessly into the Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless” which drove the crowd into a near frenzy. The energy dipped a little during the two new songs “Joy” and “Backwards Down The Number Line” which has a beautiful, melodic guitar figure at the end, and promises to be a winner in the future. Then, audience and band held their breath for an instant as the band launched into the rare and highly anticipated classic “Fluffhead.” One of their most complex and change-riddled songs, they pulled it off without a flaw. It was truly a reward for the faithful, the loving, the damp. The set ended with a great version of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” which they debuted at Red Rocks in 1996 and still has all the power and resonance it originally did. 

Soaked, but not satiated, we went home with nothing but tomorrow on our minds.

--Paul Epstein

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