What a night a difference makes. The mellowness of Thursday was the perfect set up a Friday night rager.
Our crew got off to a slow start and gathered for a team breakfast in our hotel. The service was super slow, but we had time to catch up. The Joker had a so-so show on Thursday due to some personal things that bogged him down. He vented. We listened. He felt better. By the way, his new business venture, the Hippie Travel Agency, might shut down before we even get to Telluride. The hardest part about being pros on the road and tour vets with PhDs in the lot... often means that your friends who don't have their shit together often rely on you to make their shows more enjoyable. We all aim to please, but sometimes, it gets a little tough trying to accommodate every who wants to run off and join the circus. Sometimes you have to make your own fun.
After breakfast, we all split up. Wildo has his girlfriend in town. My girlfriend had a wedding to attend in LA and she skipped the last two shows to drive back to LA. The Joker and Carrie went to pick up posters, while Benjo and I hung out with the Friedmans. They had a room at the semi-sketch Super 8 that used to be a no-tel motel back in the day. The place was crawling with Phisheads. We decided to park and walk -- and had a good 30 minute journey from their hotel through campus and up to the Greek. We stopped along the way for beers and was sorta surprised to see so many people standing in line so fucking early. Without a lot scene, heads decided to stand in line on Page Side even earlier than Thursday. Shit, do we have to get to the show at 10am to get a decent spot?
We drank in line using paper bottles and one dude wandered over, "Where's Shakedown?"
I told him there were no lots but to walk up and down the street in front of the Greek and search for whatever he needed. Tickets were going in excess of $200. Not too many extras floating around. One guy offered up sexual favors for a ticket...even gay favors.
When we eventually got inside, almost every bit was filled up -- and it was only 5:30pm! We opted for a prime spot on the lawn rather than try to fight the tarp people for empty spots. We actually had a spectacular view of the stage, the city below, and the bay off to the side.
"This is a proper Greek theatre," said Benjo. "I've been to real Greek Theatres in Europe and this looks like one."
Before the show started, lots of empty spots on the lawn on the super slope that makes Alpine Valley look like a mesa. I dunno how people gutted that out and dance on that sharp incline. Guess they were super fans and excited to see Phish anywhere, despite the damage to their joints and knees. One young heady Momma was doing her best to walk the steep hill and carry both a beer and a baby bjorn. She almost slipped but she perfectly steadied the beer so none of it spilled.
A few wooks tried to hop the barbed wire fence in the back of the Greek. One female cop was waiting. She tackled the fence jumper and cuffed his scrawny ass. As Benjo noted, the cops didn't care about any weed smoking. They were just busting the folks trying to sneak in.
A couple of girls brought roses up to the front of the stage while Psycho Killer echoed on the PA. Could that have been a friendly warning that some talking heads were up on the night's menu? Inspired by the song, I picked Cities in my set 1 fantasy song selections with Benjo. I also had ACDC Bag, Chalkdust, and Ocelot. Um, yeah, I got a little lucky and nailed three out of four in the first set.
Chalkdust opener was predictable and scored me some good cash. Friday was Disco Sister 1's birthday. Her favorite Phish tune is Guyute, and she's been wanting to hear it at all of the shows we saw together -- but it an elusive song for her because she kept missing it. Although she missed it again, the boys still played in on her birthday. That's gotta count for something right, DS1? (PS... Happy birthday!) The Joker felt it was one of the better versions he has heard in a while.
Trey has an ocelot on his new Languedoc guitar. In the past he had images of his dog Marley, but now it's an ocelot. I wore my green Ocelot shirt and it's always good to hear the song you want to hear. Otherwise, I'd have to wear the shirt until they played it. This version was a little more bluesy.
Hearing parts of Ice reminded me of shows from the mid-90s. And then things seriously picked up with Cities. The first few notes of the Talking Heads cover invigorated the crowd. Within seconds it was a frantic frenzy in the crowd. The boys kept up a smoking jam and for the first time since the Greek shows begun, I thought, "OK, the rust is finally off. Time to open it up."
The crowd energy surged as they busted into a Mothership jam with stimulating Kuroda's back lighting on the structure behind the stage. They boys kept up the funk and ripped into MoMa Dance. Benjo had picked it for our pool and when they started the song, I muttered, "I'd gladly pay you $5 to hear this song!"
They ripped up MoMa, as expected as a dense fog rolled into the Greek. It was kinda spooky, but in a good way. After the grooving Cities, they wanted to maintain the kinetic energy achieved during their ass-shaking dance party. I could even see the Joker and Carrie wearing the disco ball helmets in the middle of the fracas on the floor. Kuroda's lights would bounce off the helmets and sparkle.
After two straight upbeat tunes that got everyone on their feet, the boys took it down a notch with Gin. The mellow version was a sincere compliment to the high-octane funk from Cities > Moma. I dug parts of the jam before it was time for a few dippies before Faulty Plan. That newish tune is always hit or miss for me. When they nail it...they really fucking blow it up. But sometimes they miss or the song is ill-placed in the set. Benjo was kinda funny when the first few notes of Faulty Plan were played.
"I don't like this one," he said matter-of-factly. However, the Greek version quickly won him over. That's what I love about Phish -- I could hate a particular song but on any given night they can win me over with a version. To me, that's the true test of a musician -- if they can make something listenable that I'd rather not hear.
As Phish finished up Faulty Plan, Benjo was dancing it up with his arms in the air. "This was great!" he exclaimed as they closed the short 72-minute opening set.
At the set break, i sat down and found a lost paperclip that escaped me somewhere during Guyute. I was so pumped to find a "poker" for my one-hitter for the rest of the set. Benjo updated me about the wook patrol near the back fence. More wooks were trying to sneak in the back and the cops were waiting in the shadows to bust them.
We enjoyed the rest of the set break checking out the view from top of the lawn and smoking tuff on some finger hash from Vegas. We also drafted out fantasy songs for the second set.
It was Page's time to shine with a Rock and Roll opener. Rocking, uplifting, delicious jam. Nice interplay with Mike and Page during the last part of the jam. The segue into Ghost was a bit... sloppy... but I didn't care. I was happy to hear it.
"That's for me," boasted Benjo who had selected Ghost for his fantasy pool.
The fog rolled in, beams of Kuroda's lights bounced off the thick parts of the fog as the Ghost jam delved off into some space-funk. And another botched segue as they stumbled into Mike's Song, but who cares. Glad to hear it. No Hydrogen, but they snuck a savory Simple into the mix before a seg into Backwards. I went to the back of the lawn and twirled around with the spun out girls. I took a leak during Show of Life because I was holding it in the entire show. Not one piss song until then. We smoked heavy upon my return.
The fog returned for Seven Below and I was giddy at the prospect of that tune being a vehicle for an intense jam. I kept thinking about that Seven Below > Ghost jam from Albany, which is some of the best Phish I heard in the 3.0 era. Just as my expectations grew -- they abruptly changed direction and wandered into Weekapaug. More fatty Mike bass as he led the charge down the groove highway. The freaks quickly followed.
YEM was the anchored of the second set which had only one lull -- Show of Life. Solid version with a couple of loose corners in the jam. The boys finished strong.
Encore was a smoking Good Times Bad Times. Love it when Page tries to hit those Robert Plant high notes. Trey ripped the shit out of the solo, as per usual. Overall, the mellow night on Thursday set the pace for a raging Friday. One could not have happened with the other. I have no idea what we're gonna get on Saturday, but at this point, as the saying of the trip has been... "who cares!"
Late night epilogue... headed back to the Friedman's hotel for a quick fiesta. Then we made it back to the Marina. I got us home safely. As we walked down the hallway to our room, I could hear music pumping out. Ah, the Joker was back and I entered our room with a dozen people in the middle of the post-party. We recorded a couple of podcasts, went out to the docks, got hazy-digital (thought I saw a UFO hiding in the purple clouds), and then let the evening wind down. We made pre-party plans for the final show on Saturday and now we're waiting to blast off.
Two down. One more Greek to go.