[Thanks to our guest recapper Dana Slattery (@tweezeher). -Ed.]
Spring tour feels a little like Summer tour, doesn’t it? Considering some recaps for this short sprint of shows boast it as the first leg of the Summer 2022 run, and I myself had been gently corrected with torches and pitchforks after a post to CashorTrade, it seems debatable. After a 3-night run on the coast of Alabama, and 2 scorchers on a tennis court in South Carolina, the Birkenstock tans on the dusty Deer Creek lot (Ruoff Home Mortgage Center to the layman…) look, feel & likely smell like a Summer tour.
Is it sun stroke or is the nitrous just good? After 2-nights of Phish and 3-days of Phish lot, the lines become blurred. Both were in seemingly endless supply in Indianapolis this weekend. The Sunday show started 90-minutes earlier than the previous 2, bringing a feeling of ‘Let’s get this show on the road’ and "party time." No one is interested in driving back through the mid-west with a trunk full of whatever you brought to the lot. So, yes, deals.
As I marched into the venue with my own freshly garnered Birkenstock tans for the third day, I had no ticket but didn’t bother sticking my finger in the air. Changes in Phish’s ticketing service this year did away with PTBM [Phish Tickets By Mail] and physical tickets in general. There were no extras on lot, but the box office was open. I got my lawn ticket, dumped my water bottle and walked through the gates.
As we walked up through the moat (the undeniable in-between rage zone between the lawn and the pav), the crowd erupted in a unanimous, hoarse roar that to me said ‘Never miss a Sunday show’. We were tired, but we were hungry for whatever Phish was serving. The first notes of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" rang out over the hills of the lawn, and I watched a woman in the ADA section in a Beatles t-shirt with her father burst into joy. An unprecedented opener. Trey’s tone washed over the hills like aloe on our sunburnt shoulders.
The band switches into "My Soul," which I had heard at soundcheck earlier that day while staring at a tent blown 50 feet or more into a tree by 1 of [at least] 2 tornados that blew through the lot on Saturday afternoon. We scaled the lawn and joined a corner pocket of families blowing bubbles and dancing. The kids are visibly hysterical and inspiring adults nearby to loosen up a little bit too. We’re all here to party!
After a quick burst of My Soul, the band segues into "Rift." It is LOUD. At one point, my boyfriend shows me the decibel reader on his phone and shows me that anywhere you go in the venue, the sound remains consistent. I remember the sound at the rescheduled New Year’s run at Madison Square Garden last month, and I am glad I drove 15 hours to get here.
An unremarkable "Horn" gives us all a moment to breathe, and precedes a funky "Wombat." Boogying across the paved walkway at the top of the lawn with the spinners & sitters, you really get a great view of how much fun everyone is having. Fish’s vocals make Trey break and giggle through the lyrics. How can you not laugh?
"Evolve" trickles in after a long-teasing intro, the first TAB show of the night. The crowd settles down a bit and enjoys the harmonies. As soon as we sat down, the unmistakable notes of "Guyute" lifts us back up. The rumors were true! Even @guyutegirl didn’t think it would happen. We descended the hill & the jam descended with us. By the time we got to the moat, it was evident we picked the right time to leave the hill and head into the crowd. It’s truly a beautiful sight to see the dustiest mid-western wook you’ve ever laid eyes on, dancing with complete reckless abandon to a "Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring" tease woven into an anthem about a pig. Phish rules.
The moat continued to rage, and I was hypnotized by the billboard sized screen playing the live stream that was focused on Trey throughout an outstanding solo during "Limb By Limb." I don’t think he blinked once the whole time… The song choices thus far were short, sweet & energetic. "Mercury" brought in the first 10+ minute jam of the night. As the band + crowd chanted along ‘The net’s unbreakable. Don’t worry about falling”, someone pointed to the sky behind us Paragliders? Fish’s drum-pad solo took the jam to an even more surreal place. Surely, Phish couldn’t have known 3 paragliders would be descending onto the campgrounds right at that moment… could they?
A funky outro takes us into "Moma Dance." I didn’t take many notes as I was too busy getting down in the moat. The early start time meant an early set-break during the daylight. (Set breaker is weirder in the daylight) At this point, the ushers are beginning to look overwhelmed. We walked into the pavilion without showing anyone our tickets, and found our spot for set 2.
We secured a spot with an incredible view of the stage, plenty of room to dance, and great neighbors. It’s set 2 on Night 3 of 3. No one gave us a hard time whatsoever. The lights went down, and the opening notes of "Sand" poured in. I jotted down the time it started to keep track of the length of what I suspected would be the jam of the night. After not long, the jam goes Type 2. All of a sudden, it was very dark out. A combination of Kuroda strobes & synthesizers brought an Alien Abduction vibe as the sun went down. An approximately 10-second bass bomb from Mike electrified the crowd, and an usher near us handed a child a bundle of ground-scored glow-sticks. Give the people what they want! The jam went even further and eventually descended into what sounded to me like echo-location inspired delay-pedal jamming. Was Trey still dreaming about flying dolphins? The crowd seemed stunned. After 34-minutes of Sand, the opening riff of Sigma Oasis brought a wave of energy you could see radiate throughout the lower pavilion and pit, which at this point was basically all pit. People in our section began to do parkour on the stairs and rail, which was ill-advised, but fun to watch…
"Sigma Oasis." Fishman is as locked in as a human drum machine, partnered with washes of oasis colored strokes from Page create a beautiful & chaotic painting. Thoughtful jams continue on what has become a marathon. And as soon as we accept that we’re already there, we’re back to where we came from. The band dives back into Sand for a minute or two before coming down for "20 Years Later."
Mike and Fishman hold down the final minute and a half of "20 Years Later" with a welcome deep funk groove and the pavilion seems to be shaking. After a breezy "Mango Song," "Rise/Come Together" signals that our journey together is coming to an end. The kids once stomping dirt clods to "My Soul" on the hill are asleep on blankets, and there are no more glow sticks to throw. The band and the crowd are on the same page here. We’re spent; but basking in the glory of the weekend as a whole. A funky "Free" brings the Second Set to a close as fireworks begin to go off on the lot where the party still has a few more hours left in it.
Shortly after leaving the stage, our band reappears as a barbershop quartet & approaches the mic for an intimate moment with "Grind." I think you see so many videos for these songs because people who haven’t stopped dancing finally have a moment they feel like they can keep their feet on the ground… We get one more laugh out of the band along with a beautiful harmonic exit from the first encore. Finally, they reassemble in their rightful positions on the stage & bring the show to a final close with "Slave To The Traffic Light."
The sun has set on Deer Creek and the Spring Tour, but will rise again in just a few short weeks. Spring Training is over and we’re ready for the pro season. Bring on Summer Tour!