Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Phish Day 2: Rock & Roll Miami

The second wave of Phish hit me... and I left with a wide grin and seeing one of the best sets of Phish in a long time!!

12.29.03 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
Set I(1:01): Piper, Foam, Anything But Me, Limb By Limb, Wolfman's Brother, Poor Heart, Cavern
Set II (1:35): Rock and Roll > Twist > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Ghost > Free, The Divided Sky, Good Times Bad Times
Encore 1: Waste
Encore 2: The Squirming Coil

I kinda had to rush to the show after playing poker with Jerry at the dogtrack in Hollywood. The traffic was kinda bad on the way to the venue. Again, I decided to park underneath the arena for $15. I found my seat rather quickly and was not pleased. I was up in Sec 403, behind the stage, six rows from the top! Yeah, those were nosebleed seats and I decided to move up closer. Zobo and Chad were hanging out in Section 122, also behind the stage. Zobo called me to say that the coast was clear and I should come down. I had my stub from the night before (Section 124) and quickly flashed it to the usher and breezed through. I waited until there was a group of five or six people and mixed in with them before I made my move. I got in with no problems and cut through the sections to get to Zobo, who actually sat 4 rows back behind the stage. Since the section was on the corner or bend of the circular arena, the first row had one seat, the second row had two seats, the third row had three seats and Zobo was sitting in the fourth row with four seats. I plopped down in the third row and I could easily see Page play all night. If he turned to his left while playing his piano, he would see me waving at him. It was a huge difference where I was sitting! I realized that although Zobo and I were at several of the same Phish shows in the last few years... the last time we got a chance to hang out was in Osaka... where we actually stood next to each other at a Phish show. It was very cool to party up with the second most popular American in Japan. All the Japhans were randomly seated throughtout the venue.

Set 1... Normally I am not a huge fan of Piper so that's why I totally enjoyed their high energy version. It was amazing and outstanding. They boys ripped it up and they showed no signs of a lull in between shows. They came out firing and Piper sincerely blew me away. I was hoping to hear Foam and although it wasn't the best version I heard, but I loved every second of it! When they finished up, Trey turned to Fishman and said, "Wow, that was great!" Yeah, I was that close that I could see everything on stage. It was a cool perspective for sure, because I finally got to see what it was like to be on stage and looking out at the crowd. Anything But Me was sweet and mellow. A perfect smoke up song. I've become a big fan of Limb by Limb post hiatus. Some good versions out there after I finally gained respect for that tune in Japan. Wolfman's Brother smoked! The boys were on for sure and they funked it out a little bit. They threw the crowd a definite crowd pleaser with Poor Heart and all I really wanted to hear was Reba! Cavern to close was hot, hot, hot!! I was expecting one more song, and was disappointed when they ended the set after just an hour.

Set 2... I must say that the second set was some of the best Phish I had heard in some time. All I have to say is... too bad you fuckin' missed it!!! To think... I almost blew off the Miami shows!!! Going to Miami was one of the best trips and ideas I had in a very long time!!! Someone recently asked me (in a slightly condescending manner): How long was I going to continue to follow Phish? If you saw what I saw... you'd never want to miss another show. My answer... forever, as long as they keep playing the way they've been doing so the past few shows! They hit some moments, some rare moments, and made me realize why I follow them all over America. They are truly a special band with some of the most gifted musicians in the world. To play something completely different, yet structure is unreal. I dunno how they can keep kicking out great show after great show... but this past few months, I got to see some of the best stuff that Phish had to offer up in years... listen to the tapes and the CDs... you'll see what I'm talking about and multiply that by ten thousand and you'll get a faint effect of the magic of Miami Night 2... Rock & Roll opened the set and I love when Page sings!! It was cool and I was loving life. They segued into a mellow and weird Twist where I swear that Trey was playing some crazy bluesy licks that he had busted out the night before during the Miami Jam after Suzy Greenberg. Just when the crowd got a little bored with Twist, Fishman took control and started busting out the back beat to Boogie On Reggae Woman which was a sweet and delicious version and if it weren't for the drunk kid in our section who drew the attention of asshole Draconian security guards... it would have been perfect. When the secuirty gaurd asked the kid to see his ticket, he pulled out his wallet and cash and then opened up a box of tic-tacs. "Do you want one?" as he seriously offered one up to the security guard. He didn't show his ticket so they bounced him. I had to "shhhh!" him a couple of times. Anyway, the Boogie On was tight and the Ghost was sick!!! Zobo called it! And I'm always a fan... love to hear it at every show. The jam out was stupendous and I kept wanting more but they slowly segued into the fifth song since the set started... Free was rocking and Trey was pulling out rock star antics. He and Mike had a crazy and intense jam when they faced each other and just went off together on a sick and loopy jam... I'm looking forward to hearing it again... but it got the crowd even more pumped up! When they finished their tear... in fifty minutes they did not rest once and played five straight songs!! Most groups can't even throw together enough material for a fifty minute long set... let along play for fifty straight minutes. It was an amzing beginning to a set that I will always recall as one of my favorite sets all time! The crowd applauded for two minutes while they decided what to play next. Divided Sky was one of the best versions I saw since the hiatus... something they had been improving upon each time I see them play it. The boys stood in silence for three minutes while they counted off during that middle-to-end part. The jam out was insane and Zobo and I kept looking at each other giving the "wow" look back and forth. Good Times Bad Times blew me away and Trey was jumping up and down on that one. An excellent closer to an excellent set. They sounded so much better after they got used to the sound system! Now I only prayed that Phish would not cheese out with a slow encore tune... and they came back out for Waste which was OK and again, I hopped that it would be followed up by a heavier tune. When it ended they walked off stage. The crowd would not leave and kept cheering louder and louder. The walked right back on stage a few minutes later and they broke out Squirming Coil. Again there is a lot of misunderstanding, not on my part.... but for some of you think that I hate Coil... which I do not. I always felt that Coil was not a good solo encore song... and anytime they played it outside of an encore... then I was thrilled! I mean... I love Page piano solos! And for a while at every show I went to, Coil was the encore... which was a waste of 13 to 17 minutes!!! Anyway, as part of a double encore, I was not displeased. I was excited because I knew I was just 25 yards away from Page and I'd get to see him play a sweet solo at the end of Coil. As he was playing, one by one the rest of the members of Phish walked off stage, leaving Page along to play and accept a thunderous applause after he finished up!

Afterthoughts... Four sets down... 5 more sets to go!! Great second set for sure, one of the best shows I saw this year!! Got to hang out with Emi and her friends from Japan after the show when we all went back to Zobo's suite on South Beach and partied hard for a couple of hours, before I slowly made my way back to Miami Shores, along Biscayne Blvd., past Little Haiti and past all the hagged out hookers, and their bad make-up jobs, illuminated by the hysertical glow of the neon lights.

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