[Thanks to our guest recapper Michael Ayers (user @yhgtbfkm) . -Ed.]
As I was packing my bags to get ready to drive to Indianapolis, my phone beeped with an email address. The fine folks over here at .net asked me if I would be interested in recapping both Friday and Saturday, as nobody had volunteered for Saturday. They said I could even wait and send both Friday and Saturday in one big review as opposed to doing two. After pondering it for a few minutes I responded back that I’d love to, as writing one long incredibly mediocre review would be far less damaging to my ego than two short, incredibly mediocre reviews. So without further ado..prepare to be disappointed.
Tonight’s review comes to you live (sorta) from the Allegiant.com lawn at Ruoff Music Center, because everything nowadays needs a corporate sponsorship. Unfortunately, no such sponsorship exists for this review (as no company would be dumb enough to invest their money in the drivel I’m about to spew), so if you hate these reviews, I guess just make up some company you want to boycott, I don’t really care.
As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer being on the lawn, not only because it’s cheaper and less crowded, but the lawn is really a microcosm of the Phish community. Case in point, for tonight’s show was a family of four (two parents and two children) on my left, and the poster child for r/tooktoomuch on my right. I love this scene.
The band comes out promptly at 8:05pm; Trey and Page looking like they’re both late for the Catalina Wine Mixer, Mike looking like Robocop in his birthday suit and Fishman looking like…well…Fishman. Theme From the Bottom eases us gently into the evening before dialing up the funk with Boogie on Reggae Woman, including a nice little Happy Birthday tease from Trey for Mike’s 57th birthday (which was also my 57th show). Everything’s Right drops in the three spot, followed by a pair of oldies in Esther and Buried Alive, or, as Tooktoomuch Dude loudly proclaimed “BULIED ALIBE!!!” Bulied Alibe indeed, my man. The set ends with customary versions of Alaska, Mull, Birds of a Feather and Cavern, sending us to setbreak just as nightfall set.
Slightly more than 30 minutes later, the band comes back out (with Mike now donning a jacket that looks like something someone would wear when directing airplanes on a tarmac because of how reflective it was) and jumps straight into No Men In No Man’s Land. This one doesn’t generate too much heat, and the plug is pulled on it somewhat early, but immediately the opening rumblings of Down With Disease start. Disease smokes for a solid 15 minutes (as only Disease can) before Trey ripcords into Joy, eliciting a collective groan from everyone within my immediate proximity (except for Tooktoomuch Dude, who sounded like he was communicating with aliens). Ruby Waves kickstarts the set again, followed by an absolutely wonderful trifecta of The Lizards, FLUFFHEAD (a personal favorite) and Chalkdust Torture. If you have access to the livestream, check out Fish’s antics during the Bundle of Joy section of Fluffhead and his Animal-esque drumming during Chalkdust. Grade A stuff.
All in all, you couldn’t ask more for a Friday evening show to start a run. Solid setlist, nice variety of tunes and the usual antics we’ve come to expect to see from Phish. I can’t wait for Saturday’s show, nor can I wait to read what epic recap awaits (which will also be coming from me).
DC2 was my friends’ first Phish show. They had tickets to prior shows, but opted to skip 6/12/19 to see if the Blues could win game 7 of the Stanley Cup (and we all know how that turned out), and then after a grueling four hour drive from STL to Indianapolis, opted to rest at the hotel instead of venture out last night. Understandable. Unfortunately, as we were running late from dinner, they did not get to experience the magic that is Shakedown.
My friends and I got to our seats right as Turtle in the Clouds kicked off, prompting a strange look from my friend during the dance sequence. I couldn’t tell if he was perplexed why the band was dancing, or annoyed that I was also trying to dance, which really just resulted in me kicking the seats directly in front of me, much to the annoyance of the occupants of said seats. Freakin’ pavs. Bringing some funk next is Undermind, a song which I wish they played more like the studio version. Not that the live version is bad by any stretch of the imagination, I just prefer the studio version more. Something you probably don’t hear a lot of Phish fans saying.
Drift While You’re Sleeping comes in at #3, immediately reminding me of Inebriated Guy from last year. I hope that dude’s ok. Felt like a weird spot for that song, as I think it does really well as a set closer/encore, but hey…they can’t all be winners.
My friend is a huge fan of the movie Jackie Brown, so he recognized Strawberry Letter 23 before I did. Great tune. After that was Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan…and that’s all I have to say about that. Finally diving back into the older catalog comes a nice little run of Runaway Jim, Camel Walk and Timber (Jerry), capped out with a rocking Julius and a Split Open and Melt.
After the lights came on, my friend’s wife leaned over and asked “What was the name of that last song?” After informing her of the name, she just kind of stared blankly at me for a few seconds before going “I felt like we were trying to blast off into outer space.” “Welcome to Phish.”
Wow. Look, I could try to explain why the first 40 minutes of set two are the reason why I continue to travel all over the country to see these guys, but just do yourself a favor and just listen to it. It’s rare enough to get a YEM, but to open the second set? Seriously, just listen to YEM > A Wave of Hope, you won’t be nearly as disappointed in it as you are in this recap (assuming you’re still reading). It’s electric. Giving the folks in the audience a chance to catch their breath, the band dials it back with Bug and then Gotta Jibboo before cranking the intensity back up to 11 with The Howling, the first appearance of a Soldiers song during the DC run. Closing us out with a bang is Good Times Bad Times.
The band comes back out for the encore and, after a few seconds of chatting with the band, Trey launches into a slower, funkier version of Maze. Personally, I do not like normal Maze, so the slower tempoed version was welcome. The band still has some kinks to work out, as you could tell at points that they wanted to play/sing certain portions at normal tempo, but unlike Llama, I think Maze works at this tempo. Time will only tell if they keep this up.
Holy moly, what a second set. I would have been happy if they had walked off stage right after A Wave of Hope (Narrator: No, he wouldn’t have.) but it’s hard to complain about what we witnessed Saturday evening.
As always folks, stay safe and stay hydrated. Unfortunately (for you), I will not be recapping tomorrow’s show, so take care and we’ll catch up with you the next time I’m allowed to do this (which will probably be never again). Peace.