PHISH 2nd Leg Over / Hartford Videos & Katy Perry Cover

phish spac posterI began receiving extremely positive feedback, via text, during PHISH‘s recent 4-night run at Red Rocks amphitheater in Morrisson, Co.  People like our writer Memes, who I expect  more critical,  were sending me comments with such claims as “Best shows I’ve seen in 10 years“.  These feelings and viewpoints were infectious, if not unanimous, and continued to grow until Sunday nights tour ender in Saratoga Springs, NY.

For those who aren’t completely up to date or knowledgeable about the tour or PHISH as a whole, I’ll take a brief moment to break a couple of simple things down for you.  The current reformation of the band is commonly being referred to as 3.0.  The group took a 26-month hiatus, which ran from their 10/07/00 Shoreline Amphitheater show to their return  at the MSG New Years show on 12/31/02.  That is, of course, unless you count their SNL and Letterman appearances or random wedding they played between that period.  A little less than 2 years later, PHISH announced what they were claiming to be an official and permanent breakup.   They played their “final” performances on August 14-15 at their festival in Coventry, Vt.  The muddy 2-day gathering was the last of their performances, as the 4-piece known as PHISH, until this year’s 3 day Hampton show run/reunion.  That is , of course, unless you count the quartet sitting in at yet another wedding 11 month‘s ago; this time for their former tour manager Brad Sands.

I was at both of the pre-hiatus final shows and, each time, they really did feel like it might be time for the boys to hang things up for a while.  Many of the fans who were able to hit the really early 90s performances might even tell you that PHISH peaked mid 90s and that everything after 1995 was downhill anyway.  This latest return, however, is already making people think twice about the views that they may have previously settled on with PHISH.  The second leg shows of their Summer tour have gathered an increased momentum for the band as well as their fans, and the reviews coming through are amazing.  I was able to catch both performances at the Gorge Amphitheater, last week, and each night was genuinely mind blowing.  I had no plans to photograph the shows or review them, because I wanted to focus on enjoying myself, but they’ve been hard not to mention since experiencing.  These were the types of performances that, while you’re in the middle of them, you can feel that something is happening which will be referenced for years to come, by those in that circle.  I’m not sure that I’ve felt something like that at a PHISH show since 7-11-00 at Deer Creek.  It was a feeling of knowing that you were witnessing something huge; something that people wait for.  I stood next to one of the most critical PHISH fans that I’ve ever known, while he raged with excitement and claims that they were finally “back“.  Forums like Phantasytour.com, who’s members will shit on anything, did not contain one negative comment in reference to these Gorge shows at all.  This is surprising, since these are the types of sites that are likely to have members urge you to “kill yourself“, after a simple introduction.  It’s true that the Gorge held possibly the best shows of the tour, but it’s more than that; there is a new faith and resurgence behind the fanbase, which is difficult to ignore.

phish pollock gorge first night
PHISH
‘s return is not much different than that of a tumultuous, on again/off again relationship.  You miss all of the magnificent times that you had, but they still feel like little more than distant memories, in the mix of all of the time that’s past and the less than stellar situations that have followed over the years.  You’re both very different people than you used to be.  Coventry was like hooking up with your ex again and having it fall flat.  The gesture was much more than the act, but it helped you move on from each other.  With each return, it’s nice to see each other again, but it’s mostly a forced encounter.  You’ve yet to find anything solid to take their place or move your life forward and you know that you did find magic with them once before, so you try.  There’s even still some left, but it’s much less potent.  The problem is that the encounters that you are having aren’t that remarkable in themselves and you just want something to click again and work how it had in the past.  Eventually you have to except that, however it happened, things have definitely changed a bit.  Now imagine if, after all of that and after you’ve all moved on, you run into that old partner or friend and everything is how it used to be.  You just thought you were showing up for the family picnic, because there were a lot of people that you wanted to see, but the whole experiences is actually magical again.  Well… those are the analogies that I’m using for this run.  A lot of people woke the fuck up to the possibilities again.  Not the least important of which, were the actual members of the group itself.

Technology today is so amazing that we are actually able to listen to the performances and watch videos from it, within minutes of their completion.  There have even been live streams of the shows on the internet.  The second leg of this reunion tour  has been more successful than the first, in critical terms.  The weaker points were considered to be  Shoreline, Toyota Park, and the new material overkill of the Merriweather Post Pavillion stop.  This is obviously due to those shows inability to compete with performances like The Gorge, Darien Lake, SPAC, and the rare bust-outs from the show in Hartford, CT.  Now that the music has stopped, until the 3-day Halloween run known as Festival 8, I wanted to post up some of the footage for those of you who may not have been able to catch any of this tour live, or who just want to catch it again.

gorge night 2 ticket
The Gorge had some amazing points throughout the weekend.  The first night “Bathtub Gin” and “Sneakin’ Sally” hams were ridiculous, but one of the things that stood out to me the most came the second night.  “You Enjoy Myself” is one of the most famous tracks by the group and involves extended jams with hjiynx with trampolines.  Also associated with the track are a-capella vocal jams, which can take concert goers into some pretty fucked up and whacked out territories.  This GorgeYEM” included an amazing vocal jam in the middle of it, with a likeness that hasn’t been seen in a long time.  Once you listen to this, you’re likely to come away with the same question that I did, “How many people were sent to the med tent after witnessing this shit?” [dig those terrifying screams for help that they made sure to mix into the vocals]

Hartford

Another one of the best received shows this year took place at Hartford Connecticut‘s Comcast Theater.  Some cat by on youtube actually managed to catch most of the show on video and with some solid audio, no less.  These are some of the best amateur live videos that I’ve caught on youtube yet.  He’s got a lot of footage from the final 4 shows of the second leg run and we encourage you to subscribe to his feed by clicking here.  For now check out the “PYITE” opener in this video.

Spac ticket
The final show took place at the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center (aka: SPAC) in Saratoga Springs, NY.  The venue is weird because its located in the middle of a heavily wooded state park.  I got into the last PHISH show that was held there, back in 2004, by jumping a 12 foot fence and running like a crack head.  This time around, the boys busted out the heavily prayed for classic “Harpua“.

Last reformation saw a drastic shift in the overall scene.  Tons of young people, curious about something they had only heard about, flocked to the shows in their custied out Tie-Dyes and meat was finally readily available for purchase on lot, which just meant that I got less satisfaction out of bringing it to shows.  After another 5 year break, the scene has got to be riddled with even more confused newcomers, many of which have no idea about “Harpua“, it’s history, or even what all the hype is about.  This live track is usually jammed in and back out of another song, often a cover.  In the past PHISH has been known to cover some, otherwise, terrible shit in jest, (ie. “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit it”, “Tubthumpin'”, etc).  The case is SPAC delivered the usual.  I’m sure that a lot of people were confused by the “Harpua” jam consisting of Trey Anastasio taking control of the drumkit, while Jon Fishman made ears bleed with his version of Katy Perry‘s herendous “I Kissed a Girl”  but.. hey, lighten up folks… it’s a joke.

When I say that I didn’t want to get sucked back into this shit, I mean it.  I haven’t listened to much of the band’s music since their break up, or even thought too much about it.  I didn’t travel very far to see them this time and wasn’t willing to get pulled back into the hype that the guys have the ability to turn on and off at will.  I didn’t care.  They got me though and I’m forced to admit that.  If they were gonna come back and make it “successful” they needed to do so with the very strength that they are bringing now.  I’m not interested in the new album, but the shows are sounding as good as ever.

I hate on a lot of shit and it’s easy to do.  A lot of people hate of PHISH too and you can’t really blame them, based on the universal perception and imagery that spreads out to the general public, but I think that it’s vitally important to affect your environment more than it affects you.  In 1998 I rolled out to the Gorge shows with 2Pac‘s “Hit ‘Em Up” blasting out of the car and sold  meat to people.  This year we blasted Brotha Lynch Hung‘s “Return of Da Baby Killa” out of a boombox and watched Pootie Tang off of a portable DVD player in the tent.  When the PHISH scene is at its most effective, it most similarly resembles a travelling town.  Think about the town that you live in and how many of the people in it that you would actually ever care to kick it with.  How much terrible shit do you choose to avoid or not take part in on a daily basis?  How many assholes do you know?  Now, think of how many places you do enjoy and the people that you do choose to spend time with.  When you get a large enough number of people together in one environment, certain things will organically form and generate.  People will take on certain roles and specific dynamics are created automatically, without much thought or reflection put into it.  There will be naive idiots, people with egos, drug addicts, maternal figures, and the guy who realizes that he can exploit everything by breaking into your shit while you’re away from it.  That’s life.  That’s society.  I enjoy this environment because it is just another one that I’ve found out how to work and get what I need from.  My advice is to leave the rest of the bullshit alone.  The important thing is that, musically, the key elements seem to be returning to a level that any real fan of the music and elabortate chaos has been waiting for, for quite some time.

*{SPAC poster in header glows in the dark and was created by Tyler Sout}*

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

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  • a.misallati

    Contrarian’s Corner;

    I went to the Phisharoo (Bonnaroo ’09) and, yes Phish sounds like Phil & Friends meaning they are practicing, and playing crowd pleasers and actually trying. Funny beacause I really am beginning to loathe Phish.

    For me it’s too little too late.. I enjoy the lot scene and concerts are always fun (perhaps it’s because I am of that mid 80s generation who didn’t listen to a Phish record until ’98)but Phish specifically pisses me off.

    The band are moneywhores (remember the “official bootlegs” that came in it’s own Phish Case Logic?) and they know people will go see them because the Dead don’t exist in any pure form and who will the hippies go to see? But not just hippies,the wide arrangment of dirtybutts you mentioned (druggies, rednecks etc)support the band to the point of underappreciation of the fanbase. They can do anything they want and do no wrong in the eyes of their drug addled phans;
    1. $300 show in the middle of nowhere, only rich kids and locals who saved up a weeks pay can go.
    2. Absolutely shite ear-stabbing covers of AC/DC and WEEN which folks go nuts for.
    3. Ridiculous merch pricing, you know how many rolls I’d have to sell to afford a shirt with town names printed on the back?
    4. The crunchiness of the scene is way worse than the hippies portrayed on South Park “Die Hippy, Die”.

    To me Phish is a bad arena rock band whose shitty vocals arent complimentary like the Grateful Dead.
    My response is that of Peter Griffin watching Paul Riser standup; “someone who has time to fritter away, but not me..”
    Phish is only reunited because of the recession.

    All said, I would have loved to go to the Gorge shows and Phestival 8. I just can’t afford to be a Phish Phan.

  • They aren’t exactly playing “crowd pleasers” though, that’s the thing. The jams are actually experimental and weird again. That’s what i was referring to and probably should have emphasized.

    What can you really expect? You went to Bonnaroo and are mentioning corporate money whores.

    I know what you’re talking about and I’ve been to PHISH shows with you before. Plus, do you think that I pay for these shows like that or buy dry goods gear? You know I don’t. I did that whole last tour and didn’t pay for most of the shows. I gave 10 bucks to a door guy in ATL, snuck into Brooklyn, Spac, etc. We even drove a van into Bonnaroo without tickets or paying before that run started. My whole point is to do this shit right.

    Some people are gonna want to buy expensive tickets and gear and food etc etc etc. That always happens. I don’t think any of your friends do that. Their ticket price is pretty standard compared to a lot of shit. Whatever, I know you so I know that you have to show a different angle, which I actually appreciate.

    As far as this comment “They can do anything they want and do no wrong in the eyes of their drug addled phans

    I think that’s a huge misconception because I’ve never seen a more critical fanbase ever. I’m sure that Katy Perry’s fans are not any where near as discerning.