Squirming Coil is a quirky and wonderful song but it always feels weird to me played in the middle of a set. Last night was no exception. Played well but strange placement.
Now, this is important: I am no musician and I don’t pretend to know how incredibly hard it must be to play these complex songs on this level every night. That being said, Fishman absolutely needs to stop killing Punch You in the Eye. It is, perhaps, the most popular live Phish song that is played in regular rotation. The opening “wikki wikki” gets the energy flowing in a building quicker and stronger than any other intro to a Phish song. Deservedly so as the song absolutely hauls. But Fishman has butchered that middle change twice now – at Hampton and again last night – and it hurts.
Dirt and NICU were their usual selves – the latter upbeat and dancey and the former a little choppy at first but eventually beautiful.
A nice Ghost, that was funky, spacey, jazzy and straight ahead rock and roll all in the span of 14 minutes, followed and the first set closed with an Antelope that was solid but never quite kicked into high gear. Something about this song still seems to be missing a little bit. Always enjoyable but not quite the monster it once was. Perhaps it is the David Ortiz of the Phish catalog – always respected and revered even if unable to reach quite the same heights.
Last night was supposed to be the rain-free of the three nights at Jones Beach. But the slight drizzle falling throughout most of the night gave the band a reason to pull out Drowned in the second set, making it well worth it. The set opened with the new, which is the old, Water in the Sky. Not a bad little ditty but sort of sucks as an opener. A nice Birds of a Feather, which has really grown into a launching pad for some great jamming, specifically Trey shredding, was next and got every moving in advance of Drowned, which featured some thick, chunky Gordon action that had the entire venue vibrating. The song petered out, as it usually does, but the end had a funky creepiness to it that I enjoyed.
The opening chords of Meatstick sort of had me cringing as my last memories of it involved a disastrous Meatstick/YEM hybrid in Vegas 2004 and a dance for some sort of world record and a whole lot of wasted show time back in 1999. But last night it was a slick, funky dance party. And you can tell that the band really enjoys playing it, especially busting out the Japanese lyrics.
Time Turns Elastic has its moments but overall I am not impressed. Wasn’t impressed with the studio version and was pretty bored with it last night. I don’t like the thought that it’s going to be showing up in a lot of setlists this summer but that’s a reality.
Waste, with the exception of the people around me singing the harmonies at the top of their lungs, was a great chance for the band to collect its breath and energy for an absolutely brilliant You Enjoy Myself to close the second set. The beginning segments, which to say the least have given the band trouble post-hiatus, were tight and seemless. Page took control of a jam early on by setting a nice funky groove down and Mike’s bass solo prior to the vocal jam was booming. All in all one of the better YEMs I’ve heard since the hiatus.
An upbeat Rock & Roll closed out a solid show that continued the steady improvement from show to show that the band has shown since returning at Hampton in March.