Phish – Tahoe- Night 2 -Transcendent Tweezer & More

A quick recap of Phish’s July 31, 2013 performance at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys, Stateline, NV

Phish played their second consecutive show last night to a packed audience in Lake Tahoe, NV. With three solid shows under their belts to start off the second leg of summer tour anticipation was high. From kids on tour to Tahoe locals uninitiated with Phish madness, the collective feeling was the first Tahoe show was HOT. But NO ONE was ready for what went down during the second set last night. Here are ten highlights from the final Tahoe show with a few things to look out for on the next stop of summer tour in San Francisco, CA.

1.    Takeover. They started arriving on Monday night. Tuesday was a throw-down. By Wednesday Phish had clearly taken over the casino scene in downtown South Lake Tahoe. From “Down with Disease” smoothies at the local breakfast hut, to people who had never heard a note from the band saying they had a great time with all of the “heads” in town, the greater Tahoe area whole-heartedly embraced the takeover brought on by Phish.

2.     A well-played first set. While this show will forever be remembered in Phishtory for what went down during the second set, the first frame of the evening set the stage. Crafting eleven songs that initially took an old-school feel, the set was loose, flowy and exactly what the Tahoe crowd needed to prime themselves for what was to come.

3.    “Yarmouth Road”.  In it’s fourth ever appearance, with the prior three taking place during leg one of this summer tour, this Gordon/Murawski tune is finding its place in the hearts of fans. The reggae infused beats are a perfect first set day groove, and last night’s version was a well-received, well-placed take.

4.    “Ocelot”. This relatively newer Phish tune is one many had hoped would develop into a more improvisational piece overtime. With last night’s offering it’s clear the song is doing just that. Tahoe’s version showcases a light, melodic jam that shows that the band has been exploring the songs spaces and is ready to keep pushing it. Coupled with a tight “Stash” to end the set, “Ocelot” was a clear highpoint of set one.

5.     “Tweezer”. In all reality everything that happened last night is here. To accurately craft words to describe what went down is impossible. The music was simply transcendent. Whether you are a vet from the 80’s/90’s or just finding Phish for the first time, if you were in Tahoe last night, something special went down. It was almost 37 minutes of completely out of the world improvisational play. The super-jams of Phish’s illustrious career have a new partner, but this time things are different. In the late 2000’s the band often took songs deep. In the 80’s and 90’s nothing was “off the table”. However, during many epic jams in the bands career, especially in the later years of the 2.0 era, there were countless moments of searching. This did not happen last night. Every note played meant something. The Tahoe “Tweezer” can most simply be understood as a song with very specific sections of insanely explicit music. The darkest of the dark came first in a filthy, grimy, evil jam.  When the boys snapped out of it the majority of the locked in crowd were instantly sold, wondering what else was in store after an already instant classic. But then came the light. With a score that will be known as the “Dark-Light” jam for an eternity, the remainder of “Tweezer” was so brilliant it can easily be placed against any piece of work this band has produced over it’s vast 30 years of playing together. When the audience got involved late in the song, another instant unforgettable moment was born. If you are reading this and weren’t at the show last night, stop what you’re doing and go have an intimate listen. This is one of the greatest things Phish has ever done-not just in the 3.0 era.

6.    Audience Participation. With “Tweezer’s” “Dark –Light” jam already solidifying its place in the history books, Trey peered over towards Fish and called the band into a break. The result was a loud “Wooo!” by fans that stayed with “Tweezer” for the rest of its duration and found itself coming back later on in the set for “Antelope”, and in the “Tweezer Reprise” during encore. The band has always said they feed off the crowd, so when the audience gets as involved as they did last night you know the band was loving it. Their playing clearly showed this affection, ending up leaving a lasting impression for the ages.

7.    “Tela”. For only the seventh time since 11/24/98 “Tela” represented the come down from “Tweezer”. It’s a song rooted in Gamehendge lore and beloved by most any fan. The beginning was choppy-understandably after “Tweezer”, where the band probably wanted to and was well-deserved to celebrate for a minute- but then Trey, Page, Mike and Fish collectively sent the final score with precision. It was a perfect song selection falling in a place that deserved something special after “Tweezer”.

8.    “Run Like an Antelope”. With a ripping “Twist” and two more come downs in beautifully played versions of “Architect” and “Bouncing Around the Room”, this raging “Antelope” brought the energy back ten-fold. With Trey looking back to Fish for breaks and the audience jumping in with “Wooo!” the night was solidified as a masterpiece.

9.    4-for-4. With the ups and downs from leg one of summer tour but a distant memory, there have been eight sets over four shows played thus far on the second leg of summer tour and each one has boasted something special. Every set has been grounded in extremely well played music. Looking down the barrel of four more shows one can only imagine if this level of playing can sustain and dare I say exceed what’s already taken place. Right now, the possibilities are infinite.

10.    No Doubt. There is now absolutely no room for doubt regarding what Phish can do at this point in their career. Last night’s “Tweezer” stands against anything Phish has ever played. Importantly, it means that that special esoteric something that hooks fans is as alive and well now as it’s ever been. At this point there is nothing holding Phish back as anyone that catches the band live in the now has the potential to experience something extraordinary.

Looking ahead to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA

1.    Magic. Last year, the second set run from 8/19/12 of “Crosseyed and Painless”>”Light”> “Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley” > “Crosseyed and Painless” brought arguably one of the brightest moments in Phish’s 3.0 era. Magic was created last year and the boys are clearly as on fire now as they’ve ever been. Expectations create drama, but with the energy created at the Gorge and in Tahoe thus far, all signs are pointing to more magic at some point over the three-day run in San Francisco.

2.    Indoor Phish. The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium seats 7,000. The space is intimate. It may be summer, and the last four shows have been both outdoors and produced some exceptional music, but indoor Phish is a different breed.

3.    Missing Gems. While many songs are out on the table for the next run of shows look out for “YEM”, “Sand”, “Rock and Roll”, “Reba” and “Free” in San Francisco. None of these have been played on leg two of summer, yet, but they’re bound to see some  action at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

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3 Responses

  1. It’s a tough one against 5/7/94, but in terms of never a searching moment, I’ll take it. Best Phish in well over a decade and I’m as jaded as they come. I dig the “Dark-Lite”jam title. See you on the Haight.

  2. Hey Brennan, awesome article! I’m the owner of the Keys Cafe, where we had the “Down With Disease” smoothie, and I’m super stoked that you mentioned it! So, I take it you stopped by the cafe? Hope you enjoyed your visit, and thanks for sharing…
    Cheers,
    Joe

  3. Read this yesterday and way to call sand, reba, free last night. Thought that was cool. All were highs. Hope tonights another burner.

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