[We would like to thank Aaron Presuhn (@presuhn) for volunteering to recap last night's show and agreeing to recap it even though, last minute, he wasn't able to attend the show. -Ed.]
Cuya-WHOA-ga. Yeah, it’s cheesy. I don’t care. I like cheese and that title amuses me. Accept it and move on. I LOVE Blossom. It’s been one of my favorite venues since my first show there in 2010, and the only show I haven’t seen there since is 2015. It’s also the 19th anniversary of my first festival, IT.
But alas, I’m not there tonight. So this review is from the comfort of my couch. Lights off, volume loud, and (relatively. kinda. ehh maybe not) sober. The crowd energy, friend reactions, venue ambiance…none of those impressions are there. And I’m kinda pissed about it. But such is life. The perfect confluence of f**kery conspired to prevent my attendance tonight, and it sucks. Oh well. Here are my thoughts.
The TL;DR version is listen to this show right now if you haven’t. Even though I wasn’t there, I think it’s a strong candidate for show of tour so far. At least in my opinion. If you want more, read on.
Reviewing a show from home vs in attendance is, by nature, a different beast. So you’re getting my initial, taking-notes stream-of-consciousness thoughts here.
There were rumors of the band singing the national anthem the night before at the Guardians game. That didn’t happen. So they come out and immediately move into a capella configuration. Oh hey! We’re getting the anthem after all. Nope. Ok, so…"Space Oddity?" Nah. The 2nd ever "Strawberry Fields Forever." Almost exactly five years after its debut at the Baker’s Dozen. Cool way to open a show!
The first "Crowd Control" of 2022 gets the, uh, crowd, primed for an excellent first set "Punch You In The Eye." Often a set-opener, this was only the 2nd performance of 2022 so far. Always a fun tune to hear!
"46 Days" is up next. This version isn’t super long, but it packs a lot into a small space. The jam started off with some quiet melodic notes from Trey, with Page in the background and Fishman keeping a minimal quiet beat. Trey’s playing some nice notes over Fishman’s beats.
I kind of thought this was gonna go a bit longer, but instead we get a nice, buttery-smooth segue into "You Enjoy Myself." I mean…you can’t go wrong with that, no matter the placement. It’s quintessential Phish.
The post-trampoline jam starts off slow and quiet at first. Then picks up. Some fast Trey shredding for a minute. For the bass & drums section, Mike sounded like an extraterrestrial that was unsuccessfully trying to communicate with a human and being extremely frustrated about it. I loved it. The vocal jam was very short and led us into a “2nd” YEM jam…something that’s been common this tour. Very groovy to start. Then moves into a more upbeat major key Trey-led jam. Page moves back to piano and the jam shifts into minor key. They do this for about 5 minutes and segue into…
"Tube!" Did they jam it? Ehh…no. But that’s not to say that a short Tube isn’t awesome, because it is. The song rocks! I kinda thought the first verse sounded slower than usual...then into a little groovy jam. Fishman was smiling like an idiot. Then back into Tube proper.
"Shade" is up next. This is a beautiful little ballad that I like quite a lot. After the preceding 25 minutes, it’s a well-earned break.
"Reba." This song holds a special place for me. It was the first song I recognized as a Phish n00b at my first show. A strong rendition, played particularly well! A quick run-through of "Cavern" closed the set. Pausing towards the end for some audience appreciation, Fishman MOOing, and an obligatory YEAH…gotta get those sound effects in there.
And that’s it for set 1. Strong setlist, the highlights for me were "YEM" and "Reba."'
2nd set…uh…wow. Told some buddies it was kinda tailor-made for me. If I hadn’t streamed the show at all I would have looked at the setlist and cursed myself for not seeing it unfold in real time. I loved it from home and wished I’d been there in person.
"Free." Would we get a first-song setup version? Or a beast? We got a BEAST. Much like last year’s “Blossom Birds”, this one will surely be the “Blossom Free.” This jam quickly got dark and dirty, within the type 1 confines of a Free jam. I loved the tone of Trey's Koa when he's using his effects pedal. Then we go Type 2. Starts off with a quiet Trey and Mike groove. Kuroda’s LED bars were top-notch here. Some really pretty Trey soloing in major key. The jam slowly picks up and becomes more celebratory, with Trey soloing over some Page piano licks. Then the jam goes dark with a little funk edge. Page-led, laying down some spacy synth sounds, and Mike coming in with some pronounced beats. Fishman is just stellar here, being the glue as usual. They hit on this nice little three-chord jam with Trey alternating between playing melody and chords. It's very fun and danceable. Moves into a Trey-led minor key jam. He's vamping over a slick groove. This picks up in intensity quickly, with Page coming in with the organ. Trey starts a little dueling with Page on the organ. This builds to a nice little crescendo.
We quiet down into some minor-key grooving for a few minutes. Kuroda's LED work is great here. Winds down after about 25 minutes and a quick conference leads us into…
"Esther." Man, this song is such a conundrum. Beautiful melody. Parts of it remind me of The Lizards. But those lyrics. They’re dark. It’s a weird song. But I like it. A relative rarity in 3.0…but it’s having a minute in spotlight right now. I have a feeling we’ll see it again in 2022 yet. From here we go into…
"Blaze On." Here we get a relatively short version. Some very nice breezy jamming for about 9 minutes, and then it got a bit quiet. Trey was doing some quiet soloing, and it sounded like they were searching for something. Could have gone on longer, but we segue into…
"Scents & Subtle Sounds." One of my favorite 2.0 tunes. This one packs a lot into about 16 minutes. Dark, contemplative jamming until about 8 minutes in, then Fishman quickly gets a nice percussive groove going and Trey picks up with some power chords and a few quick whale call blasts. Still in a minor key with the darkness. Trey finds a nice solo groove and the intensity picks up with Page moving to piano. A switch to the major key and we hit a nice bliss crescendo...Trey is getting “machine-gun”. Quite a celebratory peak. We slow down into some major-key ambience. Very spacy sounds and we fade into Trey starting the intro to
"2001." Man…the LIGHTS. Kuroda was wild from home…I can’t imagine what that was like in person! Page's keyboard work here is phenomenal. A short version, I was kinda hoping for more. But you can’t really go wrong with a segue into
"Split Open And Melt." Wow…ok. So this is probably in my top-five favorite Phish songs. I would be happy if I heard it at every show. At this very venue in 2019, they encored with it. That night, I had to drive home 3 hours to work the next day. So I made my exodus after set 2. Got so close to the exit and they play this damn song. Of course I had to stay. That was an excellent version. What about this one?
The jam starts out in minor key of course. Trey's noodling around, kinda sounds disjointed. But in a GOOD way. Chaos. Some whale-calls into some dark spacy ambience with Fishman rumbling in the background. Page is playing chords and Mike is grooving. It’s a glorious cacophony that gets REALLY dark. Kuroda’s acid-trip lighting adds to it immensely. Trey is feeling the darkness, just playing and rocking front to back. You can tell he’s into IT. This is the kind of shit you’d imagine would be playing in the background during an alien invasion. This keeps up until about 11 minutes in. Fishman picks up the pace and Trey begins the movement back into the song proper. Page's organ shines. The ascent out of the abyss is super quick and it builds to an AMAZING peak at the end. I loved every minute of this version. An insane, darkness-filled way to end the set.
We encore with a quick "Bathtub Gin," and endgame. I like my Gins with a bit more time to breathe, but as far as encores go, it was a great choice after that stellar set. Checkmate, Ohio.
Did I say I was pissed about not being there? Cuz I was. You f**kers got a tasty treat. :)
I love this damn band.