Tuesday, June 30, 2009


By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I have eaten some odd things in the last few weeks. On Phish tour, I found myself living off of food prepared in parking lots (veggie burritos, grilled cheese, PB&J) or random greasy meals in eateries featuring Southern cuisine (Waffle House, Cracker Barrel, et al).

And in Las Vegas, I'm either eating high off the hog or low off the hog, depending on the time and circumstances. I went out to dinner with Nicky (it wasn't her birthday but ended up her birthday dinner by default) at Burger Bar which features high end Kobe beef burgers. And inside of a five day period, I ate at In-N-Out twice and All American Burger thrice (although I ordered the Buffalo chicken sandwich --- it needed more blue cheese).

I ate a sandwich from the Poker Kitchen that is anywhere from 33 to 50% smaller than last year's sandwiches. And I only ate one buffet. It was at the Gold Coast and cost $6.95. Since I was a guest of the hotel, I got $1 off. Wow. $5.95 buffet. They had a Spanish breakfast section and the chorizo and eggs were actually very tasty on a lukewarm biscuit.

The 24 hour cafe at the Gold Coast has been replaced by TGIF. That makes me a little sad. Sure, it's a 24 hour TGIFs and even serves breakfast in the morning, but it was inside that old coffeeshop/cafe where Otis ate two Keno crayons back in 2006.

I got creative at the diner we sometimes go to a few minutes away from the Rio. I ordered a bacon grilled cheese with two scrambled eggs on the side and add the eggs to the sandwich. It tastes much better than the breakfast sandwich they offer. Sometimes, you have to be creative.

The booze is almost non-existent this summer along with the pills. I left the demure Vicodin addiction on the road somewhere in Alpine Valley, WI. Although I shook it before the WSOP, I dabbled a bit on Phish tour. Nothing serious, just a little something to take the edge off during those mind-bending nights.

I have mixed feelings about the closing of the Tilted Kilt. It shut down last summer which means that I don't drink at all on dinner breaks, but I actually miss the food options that they served there. I absolutely miss the spicy ranch dressing that they made from scratch. Oh, and they served us super fast because we were huge tippers. These days? It's so hard to get decent service. It feels like I'm sitting in a cafe in Europe and dealing with a waiter who could give a rats ass about us.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Tour Gallery Complete

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Daddy jams out on the banjo

I finally uploaded a gallery of pics from summer tour which included Bonnaroo and all places in between. Check out the gallery here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vagaries of Vegas

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

It's been a rollercoaster of emotions since I've been back. The most stability has been in my writing and I'm back on a course that I originally set a few months ago. After a minor detour, I'm back on track and mentally prepared for the final two/three weeks of the WSOP. However, I had to endure a mixed bag of emotions over the last few days that tested all of my fortitude.

There are plenty of hustlers and big time industry players who show up at this time of year in Las Vegas. I get pitched dozens and dozens of products. I'm sought out by numerous sleazebuckets who want to exploit all the hard work I created on Tao of Poker and pay me peanuts to do the same for them. At this point, I know within five seconds of their pitch if they're gonna get shot down or not. In the end, most of the talk is just that... people who think they are big shots when in reality they're nothing more than vultures and parasites looking to make a quick buck in poker.

Despite all that bullshit, there are some juicy and legit deals floating around the hallways. I nailed one down while most of my colleagues were swamped with work, or getting shitfaced, or losing their paychecks at the tables (yeah, there's a reason why people are poker media and not professional poker players - but for some reason those degenerates are utterly clueless. They're lambs being led to the slaughter, but the worst ones because they are so blinded by their own distorted view of self-awareness).

I knew the deal was upcoming regarding a French version of Lost Vegas, but that momentous day finally happened. Benjo introduced me Jerome, to a friend of his who will be publishing Lost Vegas in French. I had no idea how big of a deal Jerome's company was until we spoke about distribution and I did a little research on my one. Think the French equivalent of Borders, and that's where Lost Vegas will be sometime in the Spring of 2010.

Holy shit.

The book hasn't even been published yet in America, and I already made a tentative deal to have it translated into French. Of course, Benjo will translate and it which makes me even more excited. He has a firm grasp of the English language and understands how I write, which is essential for a flawless translation.

That news elated me to no end. I was already bumming about the prospects of being back in Las Vegas when I have zero desire to be here. I'm only here for the money (which makes me a whore) and to promote my book (which makes me a pimp).

Nicky has had a horrendous summer. Her birthday always falls in the middle of the WSOP, and it's sort of like celebrating your birthday in the middle of a prison sentence. She's been full of tears this summer more times than I can count, which of course, makes me go a little crazy because I want to pummel all the idiots who send her on tilt and make her cry. As the adage goes, "You make her cry, then I make you cry 100 times harder."

Alas, nature of the business. She's a tough chick and has more talent than almost everyone in the industry, so I keep reminding her that there's a reason that she gets flown all over the world to cover poker tournaments while the rest of her colleagues get stuck humping dead end jobs.

I've been trying to inspire her by example, and I think she's finally getting it. Hopefully she's been seeing the benefits of working independent of the system which is the main reason I was able to take off for three weeks in the middle of the WSOP and hire out writers to do my job (I should say, keeping the flow of the Tao of Poker) for me. Poker media are exploited by their employers and abused by the readers who shit on the reporters for providing... free coverage. It's a no-win situation.

At this point, I can sense that Nicky's frustration will get her ass in gear to finish her screenplay by the end of this year. Plus, there are a few more side projects that I'm interested in working on after Lost Vegas gets published that I'll definitely bring her into. In addition, I had several long talks with Iggy during our Phish sojourn and we're both excited about working on a joint venture in the very immediate future. I can't wait to discuss that in more detail with him and launch our project.

Sometimes, it's hard to see the light when you're bogged down in the darkness. As soon as she takes a step back, she'll realize how much more opportunity there is and that freedom is significantly more important than a paycheck.

Las Vegas is a dark city. If you read my poker blog, you know that. And after you read Lost Vegas, you'll see more examples as I dive down the rabbit hole and confront my inner demons on the streets of Sin City. It wasn't pretty, but I survived to tell my tale.

The darkness also traps people. There are so many malcontents running around poker that it took me five years to see how entrenched they are. Skipping a few weeks and returning midway was an enlightening experience. I was astonished and mortified at what I saw. The sadness. The depression. The melancholy. And of course, I showed up the opposite. It's amazing what some time away from the darkness will do.

Alas, I was missed by my friends and colleagues, and that always gives me an ego boost. We all want to feel relevant in some way or another. I'm sure what they didn't miss was my SOP mood swings. I can get super grumpy at times and there are hours, days, and weeks when I'm on uber-tilt, usually by the content thieves as my blood boils while I write yet another cease and desist email from some website in Russia or Finland who has been jacking my shit.

Luckily Otis skipped the first half of the WSOP which will minimize his tilt, but the downside is that I can't maximize his tilt for a hefty profit! We returned to Lime Tossing, a past time that has become quite popular. It's one of the few things that I look forward to every night.

Degenerate citrus fruit tossing? Only in Las Vegas.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Life at the WSOP: Jeff Goldblum Is Not Dead

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I'd hate to say this, but the biggest chatter at the 2009 WSOP on Day 29? The death of Michael Jackson.

And the biggest story that most poker media were busy researching? Did Jeff Goldblum really die?

I was in Las Vegas in 7-7-05. If you don't know the significance of that date, well let me share an excerpt from my upcoming book Lost Vegas that described that day...
7 July 2005

I woke up hungover and dehydrated after I drank until the wee hours with AlCantHang, Otis, and Grubby celebrating my final table appearance in the Celebrity/Media event. AlCantHang had crashed on my couch and was already awake when I woke up.

"They bombed the London subways," he said and pointed to the TV.

CNN flashed various images of the carnage in London as the citizens of Great Britain suffered their own version of 9/11. For Brits, the tube bombings would always be known as 7/7. We were glued to the TV all morning as 9/11 flashbacks haunted me. I lived in New York City during 9/11 and the London bombings brought back unwanted memories of confusion and anxiety.

When you heard tragic news in a vacation destination such as Las Vegas, it did not affect you in the same way as if you heard it in your hometown. Once you stepped foot inside a casino, you tuned out the rest of the world, therefore any tragic events failed to anchor roots into your sentimental side. Visitors had not watched CNN, checked the internet, or read a newspaper in days or even weeks while feeding their gambling addictions.

Most of the people that I spoke to that morning had no idea that there was a terrorist attack in London. They could tell you which baseball teams won the night before but had no clue about the bombings. They really didn’t care. It wasn’t personal, that’s just how things were in Las Vegas.

Kids dying in Africa? Who cares? Hit me.

Another IAD killed two marines in Iraq? Who cares? I’m all in.

Earthquake toppled towns in China? Who cares? Let it ride!
Yes, it's true. The majority of current events often cease to exist in a black hole of a city like Las Vegas. Degenerate gamblers could care less about the tragic stories on the alphabet news networks, which included the London Bombings in 2005 and the shenanigans in the Iran Election in 2009.

However, the moment that word got out about Michael Jackson's death on Thursday afternoon, the news spread faster that a case of the clap in a Manila whorehouse. Within minutes, it was the only anything anyone was taking about. And that's not just at the WSOP. Some Twitter geek figured out that at one point 30% of all tweets on Thursday involved Michael Jackson.

But it seemed like everyone was talking about Michael Jackson... at the tables, in the press box, in the hallways, and even pros via Twitter. Heck, Annie Duke wrote a blog post about it and Melissa Hayden was in near tears when I saw her.

Some of the table banter among players was more of the heartfelt "RIP" type as Michael Jackson fans paid remembrance to their hero, while others lashed out at the absurdity of honoring the death of a pedophile freak show. Plenty of old and newer jokes were passed back and forth.... "little boys pants half off".... "choked on 12 year old nuts."

I offered up a prop bet to Homer. Brits are always cheeky with their puns and I bet him that he couldn't get away with posting five different headlines using Michael Jackson songs. And I promptly lost. I now owe him In-N-Out Burger.

As we were still processing the news of Michael Jackson's passing, I got the first message about the death of Jeff Goldblum. There was not any info on the news/entertainment/Hollywood gossip rags. Deaths comes in sets of three. Farrah Fawcett passed away earlier and MJ was second. Was Jeff Goldblum third?

I called Joe Speaker, who happens to specialize in obituaries at the L.A. Times. He told me that they have thousands and thousands of pre-written obits for almost every notable celebrity. The older celebs or ill ones are ready to be published within seconds of their expiration. He even said they have obits written for the young Hollywood types who live super fast such as Lindsey Lohan, just in case they happen to OD on a speedball at a resort in Palm Springs.

My source could not confirm Jeff Goldblum. My friends in the poker media were running into dead ends with Google searches. After an hour or so, it became apparent that the Jeff Goldblum death news was simply a hoax. Once I started reading about Harrison Ford dying, I knew it was a load of horse shit. Why? Because like his character in the Blade Runner, Harrison Ford is a replicant.

Alas, in the side show carnival that is the World Series of Poker, the strangest of the strange could not help but talk about the Greatest Freak Who Ever Lived.

Editor's Note: This originally appeared on Tao of Poker.

Friday, June 26, 2009


By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The King of Pop is nevermore. Luckily, Uncle Ted paid homage to the gloved freak during a sizzling performance of "Billie Jean" at Bonnaroo...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Tour Reviews

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Here are the some of the show recaps that I wrote while on Phish tour. I saw 12 shows in all and scribbled down nine recaps. I wish I had more time to polish them off, but I was short on time traveling in between venues. I wrote the Great Woods recap in the parking lot at Camden and I wrote the Pittsburgh and Deer Creek recaps the morning after in the back seat of Iggy's pick up as we drove to the next shows.

I never got around to writing about Knoxville or specifically about both Bonnaroo appearances. Stay tuned.

Anyway, here you go...
6.04.09 Jones Beach, NY
6.05.09 Jones Beach, NY
6.06.09 Great Woods, MA
6.07.09 Camden, NJ
6.09.09 Asheville, NC
6.18.09 Burgettstown, PA
6.19.09 Deer Creek, IN
6.20.09 Alpine Valley, WI
6.21.09 Alpine Valley, WI

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shane Nickerson and Twitter

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Shane Nickerson's take on Twitter had me in stitches recently, especially latest post about The 46 Stages of Twitter.

And here's one of my favorite Nickerson videos which includes a rant about Twitter...

F Twitter from Shane Nickerson.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back Home to Patch My Bones

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The last three weeks on the road included intensive travel...

Las Vegas > New York City > Jones Beach, NY > Providence, RI > Mansfield, MA > Providence, RI > New York City > Camden, NJ > Alexandria, VA > G-Vegas, SC > Asheville, NC > Gatlinburg, TN > Knoxville, TN > Manchester, TN (Bonnaroo) > Nashville, TN > Louisville, KY > Cincinnati, OH > Covington, KY > Cincinnati, OH > Burgettstown, PA > Weirton, WV > Noblesville, IN > Lake Delavan, WI > Alpine Valley, WI > Milwaukee, WI > Las Vegas

With the exception of two flights (Vegas > NYC and Milwaukee > Vegas), I drove to all those destinations and points in between. 20 states in 20 days, including 12 Phish shows in nine different cities.

I'm road weary.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tour Finale

By Pauly
Lake Delavan, WI

After a 15-show summer tour (the first leg), the circus had come to a halt at Alpine Valley. I was fortunate to catch 12 out of those 15 performances (I missed Fenway, first night at Jones Beach, and St. Louis) and one or two of the shows I caught (Deer Creek & Asheville) have already solidified themselves as high water marks that Phish 3.0 will be chasing for the rest of the summer and hopefully, for the next few years.

The day of reckoning fell upon us, on Father's Day of all days, as it all came down to the grand finale at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin after thousands and thousands of heads followed their heroes from Fenway Park in Boston via the North East Corridor (Jones Beach, Great Woods, Camden), and through a Southern swing (Asheville, Knoxville, Bonnaroo), and eventually ended up in the Midwest (St. Louis, Burgettstown, Deer Creek, and Alpine Valley).

Yeah, Wisconsin is a lovely state, but I only get to see it when Phish comes to town. I was among the numerous souls who made the sojourn all the way to Wisconsin. Tour closers tend to be overrated by unattainable expectations from fans, not in a bad way, but in a good way because everyone sorta expects the band to do something a little special before they go back into hibernation for several weeks. I've learned over the years to just accept each show as it's own individual treat thereby eliminating any unnecessary expectations on the band and the music.

However, I was still cognizant that Sunday's show was the last show of the tour and hopped for something special and out of the ordinary.

For the first time on this leg, we didn't haven't to wake up and travel. Instead, we slept in and enjoyed the amenities at our lakeside resort. After an adventurous brunch, we played mini-golf. We had several bets going including an overall skins game among seven people including Daddy and his Hey Bub crew. I also gambled heavily against GMoney and Iggy. I ended up shooting the worst score out of my crew, however, I won several clutch skins including a hole-in-one on the 13th hole. I actually hustled my friends for a few bucks before we even got to the lots!

The lot scene at Alpine Valley is among the worst on the tour because of the wafting aroma of pig shit from the adjacent farms and the Nazi-centric tactics of the local law (which included a mobile jail on the premises), so we pre-partied at the lake. We also took Daddy's advice and drove to the venue as late as possible in order to snag a parking space close to the exit so we wouldn't have to wait 2 hours to get out. That sacrifice meant that I only had a few minutes in the lot to sell my extra lawn ticket. Since I had gotten $50 for my extra the previous night (almost double what I expected), I was prepared to give away my extra for free. While standing in line to take a piss, I unsuccessfully negotiated a trade for Xannies from a chick I was pretty sure was coked up to the tits, but she her brain was fried and she muttered things that I could not understand and the deal fell through. I ended up snagging $20 for the extra from a guy standing behind me witnessing the trainwreck of a conversation.
6/21/09 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI

Set I: Brother, Wolfman's Brother, Funky Bitch, Divided Sky, Joy, Back On The Train, Taste, Poor Heart, Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Time Turns Elastic

Set II: Crosseyed and Painless > Down With Disease > Bug > Piper, Velvet Sea, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Slave to the Traffic Light

Encore: Grind, Frankenstein
We had lawn seats for the last show and secured a decent spot ten minutes before show time. While we got settled in, a chick stopped in front of us and puked. She had tons of eye makeup and a very expensive hand bag and quickly left after she vomitted.

"See you on Dave Matthews tour!" I shouted as she stumbled away.

One of the guys in front of me tried to cover up the puke with an empty nachos container. That didn't work and a wookie ended up slipping on the puke five minutes into the set. Wookie wipeout on the lawn. It wasn't pretty.

The boys opened the show with Brother and one by one, several of their children wandered out to the front of the stage. The babies were held by an adult and the rest of the children all hopped into an old school metal bathtub for the duration of the opening song. That was Phish's way of paying tribute to their children... on Father's Day.

Brother was followed up by... Wolfman's Brother. The version did not necessarily stand out, but I appreciated the brother theme to open the show. For the third song, Trey pointed out that he noticed one fan held up a sign for the last two days so they decided to play one of the two songs he had been asking for (Funky Bitch and Sneaking Sally). The boys ripped into Funky Bitch which was the first time they played it in the Phish 3.0 era. We heard it sound checked in Burgettstown and they finally busted it out.

Iggy commented that the crowd resembled a Sunday church congregation during Divided Sky as thousands of fans thrust their arms up to the heavens.

Joy is a song that fails to move me one bit. I smoked tuff and watched in amazement as GMoney befriended a spun-out wookie who held out a vial of liquid acid. The wook gave GMoney a puddle. Actually, the puddle was so big, it was more like a small pond of liquid sunshine rested in his palm. The wook offered all of us a hit and he ingested puddles of his own. I lost count at four. The wook was hardcore and ready to blast off.

The Taste jam was one of the highlights of the first set. Melodious Page. Nothing makes me happier. The first hour of the set was rocking, with the exception of the new song. However, I was totally disappointed with the last thirty minutes of set 1. I not the biggest fan of TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY and Time Turns Elastic is the new "Pauly's Gonna Take a Piss Song." I rallied the troops at the beginning of TTE and told them that was our best bet to take a leak and reload on beers. We timed it perfectly so we caught the last half of TTE which is far superior to the initial ten minutes of that new song.

Shit, after an amazing start of the show, I found myself utterly bored with the last thirty minutes. I would have loved a fatty Mike's > Simple > Weekapuag instead. Alas, I prepped for the second set. I knew that the boys would not leave me hanging.

I gotta say that Crosseyed and Painless > Down with Disease was one of the highlights of the entire tour. Blew me away and my crew is still talking about it the morning after. And that was just the first half of a heady four song sandwich.... Crosseyed and Painless > DWD > Bug > Piper. There was only one flaw in the second set... Velvet Cheese... but they played it well and I focused in on the grin on Page's face as he belted out the lyrics.

I was a little bummed out that I missed Boogie On in St. Louis and kinda expected that we would not see it. That's why it was a pleasant and funky surprise. Everyone knows by now that Slave is my favorite Phish song, and I feel part of a special club of Slave fans because they don't play it frequently. To hear it as a second set ender makes the moment even more special. I stood up on the lawn in quiet reflection during the Slave jam. Flashbacks of all my favorite memories from this tour and Bonnaroo. It's been several years since I embarked on an extensive Phish tour and I missed living life on the fringe.

For the encore, the boys gave us an acapella Grind, followed up by a funkified cover of Frankenstein. Page played his keytair, while Mike donned a flaming bass, and Trey slapped on a five-necked guitar. Phishy hijinks. They're still having fun and as I wrote yesterday, when Phish has fun... they play better... and then I have more fun.

I wish I had more time to write, but I'm pressed for time. The boys are officially back and you just have to listen to the second set at Alpine Valley and hear for yourself. I'm super excited for the second leg of Phish's summer tour, especially Red Rocks and The Gorge.

That's it for now. I'm signing off from Lake Delavan, Wisconsin. I'm driving to Milwookie and flying back to Las Vegas to return to work covering the World Series of Poker. One circus ends, and another begins.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Alpine Valley Vol. 1: Ghosts and Probation Officers

By Pauly
Lake Delavan, WI

"LSD is fun... isn't it?"

"Those were low doses. Imagine if we had five?"

I love the morning-after conversations among my friends. Phish concerts are epic journeys in their own right let alone the effects of the party favors that send most people shooting down the rabbit hole at 120 mph. My buddies sat on rocking chairs on our porch over looking a majestic Wisconsin Lake, or a "watering hole" as our redneck friend Daddy would say. They recapped the events from the previous night. Even though those moments happened hours before, they recanted them with a semblance of glory like Vietnam veterans piecing together their epic war stories.

The hotel/lodge we're staying out is located on a golf course with swanky tennis courts. It's way too classy for our crew and it's definitely weird to see several members of the hippie circus invade a tiny little country club community. The influx of tour rats into this Wisconsin hamlet resulted from the spill over from the two Phish shows scheduled at Alpine Valley to end the first leg of their first summer tour since 2004.

We woke up in Indiana on Friday completely drenched at sunrise. We fought the perils of the mud, collapsed our drenched tent, and made the arduous trek from Indiana through Illinois and towards Wisconsin. We ate at Chaka Barrel and were utterly demoralized by Chicago traffic which cut our two-vehicle caravan into half. Mr. Fabulous had the navigation device and his computer took him on a wild goose chase through the back roads of Illinois and Wisconsin, while Iggy, GMoney, and I were caught on the highway to hell with nothing more than an old highway map and a several hits of liquid sunshine. Iggy was tilting pretty hard as he handled driving duties while GMoney and I smoked tuff through the graveyard of automobiles that slowly crept through the congested roads encircling Chicago.

Alpine Valley is a place of mixed emotions for me. Phish always performed some of their best shows at the venue, but the massive lawn sloped at such a tough angle that it really killed your knees and back by the end of a two-night run. Plus, the local federales are a bunch of overzealous Nazis. They sent out hordes and waves of undercovers (as one Disco Sister warned... some were even in dreadlocks because it was hard to distinguish between friend and foe). The long arm of John Q. Law curtailed any sort of vending at Shakedown. In addition, they revoked heads' party passes left and right by handing our tickets for possession of mary jane and possession of paraphernalia. Alpine Valley was always known as a hot spot... but with these depressed economic times, the local municipality had a reason to generate even more funds... which meant a harder crackdown on Phisheads.

Despite the Draconian measures at Alpine Valley, we decided to pre-party at our lakeside cabin. Daddy and his Indiana crew also stayed at the same complex. He brought over his banjo for a ripping jam session on our porch. We eventually loaded up the van and headed to the venue somewhat late. I had less than one hour to sell an extra lawn ticket. The night before, extra lawn tickets at Deer Creek were going for as low as (Free > $20). I wanted to get around $30 for mine since I paid $60.

One shirtless wookie offered me $25 or five Klonapins. Since most wooks were looking for a miracle, I almost sold it on the spot. I held out and ten minutes later, a different kid bought my ticket for $50. I was surprised when he handed me the cash, since there were hundreds if not thousands of extra lawns floating around the lot.

My girlfriend scored me a pavilion seat (in the same section as Daddy). The rest of my crew had lawn seats and I headed down front to rage out. Daddy arrived with one of his boys from Hilljack, Indiana. They are a rough and tumble bunch and know how to fuckin' party. One of his "Hey Bub!" crew dug through a bag of shrooms. He accidentally dropped a stem on the ground. A random guy walked by and stepped on the stem, crushing it into several dozen small pieces. Without even blinking, the Hey Bub guy scooped up the broken shrooms and popped them in his mouth. That's how the Hilljack Indiana boys roll.

"Make sure you blog that," said Daddy.
6/20/09 Alpine Valley, WI

Set 1: PYITE, Runaway Jim, Stash, Yamar, Bathtub Gin, Kill Devil Falls, Train Song, Farmhouse, SParkle, Antelope

Set 2: Waves, Sample in a Jar, Maze, Makisupa Policeman, Ghost > Lizards, YEM > NICU, Prince Capsian, Waste, Fire

Encore: Character Zero
The boys took the stage a good 45 minutes late as Gordo sported his trademarked sleeveless black t-shirt. For the first night against the green-shaded backdrop of Alpine Valeey, he went with the purple pants look.

They kicked off the show with a courtly version of Punch You in the Eye, both a delicious and tantalizing appetizer for the Alpine two-day feast. I took that song choice as a bold statement... Phish was not fucking around.

Jim and Stash were well-sculpted repeats for me. I caught them both a few times already on this tour, so I used both songs to smoke up, chat with Daddy, and watch the crowd. I get off witnessing the elation of fans who are seeing Phish for the first time. Brings a tad of warmth into my cold darkened heart which had been jaded by the decline of the Phish scene in the Phish 1.0 and Phish 2.0 eras.

I love to hear Mike belt out the tunes and I also dig the reggae and calypso side of Phish. Yamar is a perfect vehicle for both, and the beginning of my favorite part of the first set. The crowd favorite Bathtub Gin brought everyone to their feet and belting out the lyrics. I circled it on my set list because I couldn't stop dancing the entire time. Oh, and that's when everything I had ingested had kicked in.

I have caught several live versions of Kill Devil Falls and it's been getting better each time. Daddy calls the song "Chalkdust Torture, Jr." and he has a good point. The first part has a similar hook, but the second half gives the band plenty of wiggle room for improvisation.

"I love the jams the best," said GMoney. "Especially when they're jamming over different landscapes. I think Kill Devil Falls is played in a minor key, which is a sadder note. One note... a whole different world."

If we were indoors, the high-energy Antelope would have melted the walls. People were losing their minds as Phish closed out the set with a smokin' version. Some dude next to me was nearly jizzing all over the setlist as he looked over my shoulder and scribbled down a couple of notes.

"Best set of Phish ever!" he proclaimed long enough to take Trey's cock out of his mouth.

I rolled my eyes. Sometimes, fans have guzzled so much Kool-Aid that their heroes can do no wrong. It was a hot set, but no way the best ever.

At setbreak, Daddy and I headed up to the top of the hill to find his sister and the rest of the Hilljack Hey Bubs. My cell phone was water logged after the Deer Creek downpour and luckily GMoney gave me his antiquated cell phone to use as a backup so I could send Twitter updates. However, the reception was so shotty that I just gave up on entertaining the Twitheads and just accepted the fact that I couldn't receive or make calls/send messages. GMoney, Mr. Fabulous, and Iggy were on their own somewhere in the sea of humanity, while I hunkered down with Daddy and the Hilljack Hey Bubs.

Smokin' tuff on the lawn and gambling on the opening song for the second set? That's one of my favorite set break past times. Waves was not on my radar and a mellow way to kick things off.

"Perfect name for that song," said GMoney. "Waves has lots of swells. The song swells up in instantly as the song goes along."

"Sample in a Jar? It's the favorite song for Dave Matthews Band fans who are attending their first Phish show," explained Daddy. "The louder someone sings it, the bigger the Dave fan."

Maze was cookin' and out of control, like a bull jacked up on crystal meth inside a china shop. Hard-drivign jams, like back in the mid-1990s. A massive glowstick bombardment erupted on top of the hill as they rained down everywhere. A shitfaced Daddy stumbled around and spotted one on the ground. As he bent down to pick it up, a small figure leapt out from the darkness and scooped it up. Daddy, snatched the glowstick out of the hand of the child, who couldn't have been more than four or five years old. The kid sulked off.

"Dude, you're such a dick!" I screamed to Daddy. "You stole a glowstick from a tour kid!"

"A fuckin' kid? No way, that was a fuckin' troll. I saw the pointy ears on that fuckin' elf."

Makisupa is on my top 10 list of favorite songs, so I always love any show when they break it out. This version was the "call my probation officer" as Trey shared a bit of his self-deprecating humor. Big Red was able to joke about his former opiate addiction and previous troubles with the law in front of almost forty thousand shitfaced heads. I heart irony. Who's got my phamries?

Ghost is one of the songs that I could hear every night. Phish did not disappoint everyone at Alpine Valley and unleashed a pulsating rendition.

"Ghost was so evil, that I had to rub one out in the middle of the jam," explained Daddy on why he was spotted masturbating on the lawn during the second set.

I kept my penis in my pants, but I gotta say, I had a stiffy for Trey at that portion of the show. Thumbs up for the Alpine Ghost. Shit, the boys tore it up with Ghost the entire tour... Asheville, Jones Beach, and now Alpine Valley.

The segue from Ghost into Lizards made me smile. I'm pretty sure that's the first time they ever bridged those two songs. It wasn't the smoothest of transitions but kudos for brazen attempt.

The crowd on the hill was rocking for You Enjoy Myself and I always judged the intensity of the song by the frenetic volume of the fans chanting "Boy. Man. God. Shit!"

They boys skipped the vocal jam and drifted into a peppy NICU. Instead of Leo getting the nod, Trey called for a solo from "The Cactus." That was followed up by a more subtle and soothing Prince Caspian. It was fun to watch an imbalanced Daddy sing along to the lyrics while trying not to tumble down the hill.

During Waste a cute Phishy chick had lost her wallet. She scurried around the top of the hill with a green glowstick in a desperate attempt to locate her wallet. She returned at the end of the song with a more powerful flashlight and kept shining the lights near our feet.

"What are you doing?" asked Daddy as he checked out the curves on the heady momma.

"I'm looking for my lost wallet," she said on the verge of tears.

"Well, if you give me a blow job, I'll let you keep my wallet."

Only could Daddy get away trying to pick up Phishy chicks during Waste. It was her loss. He had over $200 in his wallet including a coupon for a free oil change at Jiffy Lube.

The cover of Jimi Hendrix's Fire was the cherry on top of the Phish sundae sprinkled in molly and rainbows. I loved watching the hypnotic crowd as they boogied down to the scintillating set closer. There's a fine line between Trey demonstrating his Hendrix groove and outright masturbating on stage, but he properly towed that line.

"I love that shit," said GMoney. "The folks lapped up that Hendrix groove."

Phish are show business pros and understand the mantra, "Always leave the audience wanting to come back for more." That's what sucks about a single song encore. They're teasing you and leaving you with just one more small dose of Phish before they take a bow and make their exit. In this instance, Iggy really wanted to hear Character Zero, so I was glad that he got to hear it live.

"It's hooky as hell," said Iggy. "I just fuckin' love it."

Overall, a fun show with a couple of valleys but tons of peaks. Leaving the lot was a nightmare. It took over two hours to exit the venue, so I took a nap in the back seat of Mr. Fabulous' vehicle while Iggy and GMoney drank heavily and befriended a group of wookies with a tour dog. They were grazing in a massive bag of rabbit food.

The boys from Vermont are having tons of fun. The more fun that they have... the better music that they play. And the better they play? The more fun that I have.

One more show to go, before the Mothership blasts off and whisks away all of these space kids, wookies, and Phish denizens.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Walk Away in PA and the Adventures of Pirate Iggy

By Pauly
Weirton, West Virginia

I was excited for the third act of my Phish journey. The first act included four shows.... Jones Beach > Great Woods > Camden during the North East swing. Then I headed down South for the second act including stops in Asheville > Knoxville > Bonnaroo. I skipped St. Louis (ticket was too pricey) and rested up in Ohio for the last four shows.

My crew for the last leg included GMoney, Iggy, and Daddy. Both Daddy and GMoney are Phish veterans with GMoney having the most music seniority out of all of us. He caught almost 97 Dead shows back in the day and he's bred for the tour life. And Iggy? He was a Phish virgin... curious that three close friends of his were fanatical about the band from Vermont. Much like Otis in Asheville, Iggy was more than curious. He wanted to jump into the scene head first. He was looking to see what he missed since his last "jammy" show which was the Grateful Dead in Las Vegas circa 1992. He has not been in a lot in 17 years... and he missed it.

Since Iggy was a former professional gambler he was down for plenty of prop betting. Illicit drug use and degenerate gambling make everything slightly more interesting. We stopped at a Waffle House in bumblefuck Ohio and we set our first wager on our potential waitress... Iggy suggested that she would have "gang tattoos" while I went for the older "missing teeth" waitress. We had neither and it was a push. We also had a prop bet on the number of wookies pulled over by local cops on rural Route 22 on the way to the venue. I set the line at 1.5 and Iggy took the over. I won that bet. Only one group of spacekids were pulled over.

Next prop bet? Van Halen cover songs. I gave Iggy 100-1 odds that Phish would not play Running with the Devil at Burgettstown. I also gave him 50-1 that Phish would not play any Van Halen covers.

We stashed our gear at a hotel in West Virginia because Burgettstown and the PA border was just a few miles way. We arrived relatively early and set up shop. We wanted Iggy to get a full lot experience. GMoney and I thought about getting him a costume, but we settled on a simple eye patch for a pirate theme. It was a perfect way to introduce Iggy to the scene which can be extremely intimidating to newbies. The eye patch helped break the ice. It ended up being a huge hit. Pirate Iggy fielded plenty of photo requests which was odd because the old Iggy was extremely camera shy. Phish was bringing him out of his shell.

A shroom dealer thought that I was a cop because I had a small notebook out while we discussed a potential deal. It was my way of trying to figure out if he was a cop. That's when playing a lot of poker came in handy. The way he shifted his weight and flared his nostrils, I knew that he was a dealer worried that I was a narc. I assured him that I was legit and laughed at the situation. In 163 shows, I have never been accused of being a cop in the lot. In South America, I was accused of being a CIA operative since journalists provide the perfect cover for spooks. Anyway, the deal went down and I scored a batch of very weak shrooms. GMoney was our test subject.

My buddy Daddy and his crew rolled up and we finished out the last hour in the lot catching up on old times and prepping Iggy for his first show. And GMoney was raging and ready to go. His shirt was already dirty before we even went into the venue after slamming several beers. He was bringing his A-game for his first show back.
6/18/09 Post Gazette Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA

Set I: Golgi Apparatus, Chalkdust Torture, Bouncin, Wolfman's Brother, Divided Sky, Heavy Things, Walk Away, Wilson, Tube, Alaska, David Bowie

Set II: Down With Disease > Free, Guyute, Piper > Circus Comes to Town, Harry Hood, Squirming Coil, You Enjoy Myself

Encore: Grind, Hello My Baby, HYHU > Bike > HYHU, Loving Cup
I lost a couple of more prop bets with Iggy including on the start time and whether or not a faded space kid would fall down. She was barefoot and stumbling back and forth on the slanted lawn. Her wookie boyfriend did his best to hold her up but in between spurts of dancing he let her stand alone while he got his groove on. It was those moments when I thought she was about to keel over. I lost the bet when she got too wasted and his boyfriend took her away.

First five songs were part of the similar theme Phish has been doing... unleashing their greatest hits for fans seeing their first show back. My personal highlights were Wolfmans and Wilson. And the bustout? Walk Away first time played since 2000. Iggy ecstatically approved of that tune by the James Gang. He loves Joe Fuckin' Walsh. Who doesn't?

The boys brought the funk with Tube. It was not the best version I heard this tour, but I'd hear it at every single Phish show if I could construct the set lists every night.

Bowie was a little blah. They flubbed the end part but the kid next to me was going ape shit over the glow stick war. He was at his first show and never saw florescent flying around in the darkness before.

Iggy was blown away by the first set. He compared the show to attending church and called Trey "Eric Clapton on acid."

We hung out on the lawn the entire show and although Daddy had pavilion seats, he came up to the lawn for the second set. He was very sloshed and I never saw a fat kid get down like he did when he danced during the funky part in Free. Then he lost it during Guyute.

OK, so I'm short on time, so I'm gonna quickly wrap this up...

First set was rocking until the end when it got sloppy. The middle part of the show was a bit off and sloppy. But the boys got their shit together by Hood and closed out the show on a strong note.

The encore featured several songs including an accapella Grind followed by shortened Hello My Baby. It was nothing more than a set up for old school Fishman hijinks. Trey jumped on the drum kit and unleashed Hold Your Head Up before Fish admitted, "Welcome to the trainwreck portion of the show." He mused that he hoped he could remember all the words to the song.

The vac solo sounded like a deer getting slaughtered, which I fuckin' loved along with all the yokels and slackjawed rednecks in the crowd.

The boys finished off the show with Page showing off his chops in Loving Cup. Solid jam at the end of that.

In the lot, we bought veggie burritos. I got 2 for $7 and Iggy feasted on his first lot burrito. I also hustled him in throwing things prop bets. I had an almost-empty bottle of water and pointed towards a large dumpster. He gave me 20-1 odds and I wagered $5. I nailed it and he shipped me a $100 bill.

As we got our stuff together to leave, two college girls who were ushers at the venue passed us on the way to their car. Their night of work was over and they were commenting on the bizarre scene.

Co-ed Usher #1: "It smells like weed in the parking lot."
Co-ed Usher #2" "In the lot? It smelled like weed inside the entire night!"

All in all, another fun night with old friends. Next stop.... Deer Creek.

You can follow my crew on their individual twitter feeds... GMoney, Iggy, Daddy, and of course I'll be updating the last three shows on Coventry's twitter feed.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bonnaroo 2009: Wake Up and Rage

By Pauly
Cincinnati, OH

I stood in the damp field in the middle of Nowhere, Tennessee at 3am with a gay weatherman from Boston and two co-eds from Raleigh that we dubbed The Disco Sisters. A crush of rolling souls shimming their asses off mixed together with stoic hipsters who wandered by the late night performance from Girl Talk. His set featured a relentless and catchy, yet quick mash ups. The downside to Girl Talk is that as soon as you attach yourself to a juicy groove, you're shoved into a new direction. It's sort of like having really good sex with someone who insisted on switching positions every thirty seconds.

Around 4am my body crashed hard. Maybe it was the heaviness of the mescaline that bogged down my brain or the pep from the Aderrall wore off. Most likely it was a combination of the party favors, lack of sleep, and overall exhaustion of being on the road for ten days in the row as I followed Phish from Jones Beach to Great Woods to Camden to Asheville to Knoxville and finally at Bonnaroo. I spent most of that journey as the designated driver and experienced several sober shows leading up to Bonnaroo, but the grind of traveling and caravaning caught up to me.

I couldn't keep up with the Disco Sisters. They wore me down. As the searing pain reverberated through my knee and back, I craved pharmies. I looked over at the youngest Disco Sister and she was dancing her ass off... much like she had been doing the moment I had met her in Asheville. I wondered if both sisters were aliens. No human could consume that much booze. One of them sucked up warm beer through a straw. That's hardcore.

Girl Talk
Photo by: Backstage Gallery

I foolishly bet that the oldest Disco Sister would vomit by 11:11pm on Saturday. She even admitted that her goal was to drink so heavily during Bruce Springsteen that she would "puke all over herself." I held her to that promise and figured that she'd loose steam by the third night of Bonnaroo. She proved me wrong and I lost out on a few bucks.

Seriously, those Disco Sisters know how to fuckin' party, man.

I made several prop bets during the course of the weekend and won more than I lost. Phil ended up winning the puke pool when he was the first one to blow chunks. Luckily for us, it wasn't until early Sunday morning when the first member of our 20-person crew puked. Phil lost his mud after he tore into a bottle of Vodka. I knew he was doomed when I saw the obscure Russian name plastered on a label of the shatter-proof bottle.

The Joker thrives at festivals. He has the endurance and stamina to maintain a heavy buzz for four straight days. Like most of us, he's pigeon-holed into the corporate world during the week, but he unleashes the monster inside during festivals like Bonnaroo. Plus he's a true Renaissance man... one who is there to party but also hustle a little bit. He crafted those sawnky LOST t-shirts and spent a coupe of hours every day hawking his goods.

Alas, the Joker was not without an incident with members of the international law enforcement. BTreotch also had a run in with the Mounties. The local cops were on the outside of the festival grounds and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolled the grounds. On horseback, of course, and rode around in pairs.

The Joker and I wandered down Shakedown when one Mountie spotted the Joker holding out a Wolfman's Brotha t-shirt. He gave him a warning and told him to put it away or he'd lose it. Unfortunately, the next time both he and BTreotch ran into a Mountie, they were not as lenient. They took all of his shirts. Same thing happened to BTreotch. Their t-shirts were deemed contraband by the Mounties and immediately seized because they did not have a vending permit.

Despite the bad beat with the t-shirts, Phil's Bloody Mary business thrived as he successfully evaded the overzealous Mounties. On Sunday morning, he darted through the RV camp ground and carried a tray of cocktails while he ducked behind trailers and RVs.

* * * * *

As we entered Bonnaroo on Thursday afternoon, I was the victim of a cruel practical joke when I got Punk'd by G-Rob. I drove a rental car and was G-Rob's RV companion vehicle except I didn't have a pass. G-Rob was supposed to turn on his charm and convince the security guy to let me in... and if his boyish good looks did not work, we were prepared to bribe the guy. I thought all went well until one of the security guards marched up to my car.

"Are you Dr. Pauly?"

I nodded.

"Step out of the vehicle. We're going to need to search every thing."

The Joker sat in the passenger seat and we gave a look to each other like "this isn't good."

Luckily, I'm a pro festival goer and an expert at making my stash hard to find. As long as there wasn't a search dog, I was confident. I went along with the "bad cop" routine and stepped out of the car. I had a sneaky suspicion that the guy was fucking with me but just in case he was serious, I had no choice but to comply.

He quickly darted inside the front seat and looked through the glove box and the center consol. He looked through some things in the back seat when he asked to look into the trunk. He warned me to stay in front of the vehicle while he searched the trunk. After about two minutes, he popped his head out and asked, "Do you have anything illegal on you? Tell me now. Because if I find it, you'll have to deal with the cops."

"No sir," I said to the security guy who was almost ten years my junior.

He closed the trunk and walked back towards the RV. The Joker and I did not know what to make of the encounter. That's when I noticed that everyone from G-Rob's RV had assembled at the front. Apparently, the security guard was telling them how he gave me a rough time. They all burst out laughing. That's when I realized that he was fucking with me the entire time. Welcome to Bonnaroo.

* * * * *

I was impressed with both RV crews. They set up camp within an hour as everyone pitched in. That what happens when you travel with people who have their shit together. The folks who were not in the RVs constructed their tents, while a few expert campers and engineers rigged a tarp to over over the entire site. We had instant shade from the sun and from the rain.

Uncle Ted was a weatherman in a previous life. We hopped up on top of the RV and shot a quick weather report. Of course, like most weather reports, he was very far off. We were pummeled with heavy rain on two different occasions. I was in the middle of walking into the venue when the heavy rain began. We quickly turned around and retreated to the RVs for shelter. The booze flowed and the Joker took on DJ duties. A dance party ensued.

On Friday, I found Sweet Sweet Pablo. We roamed around a very muddy Shakedown. We returned to camp and played Chinese Poker. G-Rob sat in for a few hands as BTreotch wandered over to check out the action. That's when I got the phone call. From time to time, things fall into your lap when you least expect it. This one was a couple of hits of mescaline. The price told me that the batch was not very strong... which was fine by me. I really didn't want my brain to melt that much that I morphed into Corky from Life Goes On. I popped one which in reality was about a half of a proper dose. I'm glad that I went with just a taste because I found myself feeling very anti-social which was the opposite of what I was trying to achieve at Bonnaroo.

I caught the most music on Friday which included Bela Fleck, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Galactic, Beastie Boys, David Bryne, Phish, and Girl Talk. My non-Phishy favorite was David Byrnes set which included a healthy mixture of new tunes and classic songs from the Talking Heads era. I was particularly fond of a funk-driven Cross-eyed and Painless.

I personally thought that I preferred the Friday Phish set to Sunday night's closing performance. I'll eventually write about those shows later, but for now, all you need to know is that I dug the Friday set. Three straight hours of high intensity Phish.

The Joker won the set opener pool with Chalkdust Torture. And he was the last person to pick.

The highlight of the Friday night Phish was that insane Down with Disease jam. Fishman was really pushing the band in the right direction while Page unleashed his inner funk monster. Whenever a song or jam impresses me, I circle the name of the song on the setlist. That DWD got two circles. That's how much I dug it.

I freakin' loved the Highway to Hell bustout. The last time Phish played it? 1997 (I think and I'm too lazy to look it up) in Germany.

And of course, you gotta hear the You Enjoy Myself > Wilson > You Enjoy Myself jam. I have seen 160+ shows and I can't recall ever seeing YEM broken up into a sandwich like that and I dunno if I ever caught a YEM > Wilson. An epic moment for sure.

On Saturday morning, Broseph entertained us with his recap of the previous 24 hours. He's a highly independent operative and often strays from the herd to check out the scene by himself. He loves to rage solo and gave me the low down on his quest to meet some groovy girls. He told us one story about a girl from Long Island. When she knew that her vehicle was about to be searched, she shoved a bag of weed up her ass. Not her cooch, but in her ass. Supposedly, Broseph smoked a joint with the so-called ass weed.

On Saturday, I caught the least amount of music. I was having too much fun at the RV and camp site. I managed to catch Wilco, Of Montreal, and Gov't Mule. I dropped a hit of liquid sunshine during Wilco. I noticed that the Joker was super spun. He said he took two, so I decided to only take one.

We left the main stage area after Wilco and headed back to the RV to start drinking for Bruce. Except... we never stopped drinking and decided to keep raging back at the RV instead of checking out the Boss. According to friends who went, we really didn't miss anything.

The ladies donned mustaches (made in China with real human hair) and they attracted more attention than when we wore the Dharma/Phish jumpsuits. They posed for endless pics and they were even captured by an official Bonnaroo photographer. Their pic is currently on the Bonnaroo website.

Disco Sister #2 was extremely saucy on Saturday and was hell bent on hooking up with a wookie. Her sister found a suitable suitor named Charlie and she ran off to find him, yet ended up with someone entirely different. The next morning she woke up with a puffy lip, a massive hickey (oddly enough shaped like the state of Florida), and somehow her entire right side was red and bruised.

"What the fuck happened, Rihanna?" I asked.

"That wook was tripping balls on E and bit the hell out of my lip," she explained. The bruised ribs? Just an unidentified drunken injury incurred when she tried to climb on top of a bus to dance.

When the wook came by on Sunday morning, we already gave him the nickname Vampire. She gave him shit about the lip biting. He apologized. She forgave him and they were going steady. She found herself a lot boyfriend.

* * * * *

I heard that there was a drug bust in Murfreesboro, TN where a trio of space kids had 35 pounds of magic mushrooms. They were making mushroom chocolates when cops raided their home. No wonder there was a lack of shrooms around Shakedown. I was sorta disappointed with the blah narcotic scene. During the first Bonnaroo, the influx of illegal substances was pretty crazy and everyone was spun out. I couldn't walk ten seconds without getting bombarded with offers to sell me molly or rolls.

At this year's Roo, it appeared that there was a surplus of cocaine and LSD with a heavy emphasis on the cocaine. Both nugs and shrooms were hard to come by, but I stumbled upon some mescaline. At one point I walked down Shakedown at 2am and I was offered so much blow that I thought that I was walking down a street in Bogota, Colombia.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Roo Pic Dump

By Pauly
Cincinnati, OH

Here's another batch featuring some of my favorite photos from the weekend...

Click here for more pics.
Truckin' - June 2009, Vol. 8, Issue 6

By Pauly
Cincinnati, OH

Yes, it's finally available! I published the birthday issue of Truckin' almost two weeks late. Ooooops. I apologize. Been on the road and finally had a chance to catch up with work.
June 2009, Vol. 8, Issue 6

1. Pink Dragons by Paul McGuire
Charles was skeptical and accused me of being a CIA or DEA agent, not to mention the evil offspring of George Bush. There was a strong anti-American sentiment in New Zealand and Charles epitomized that angst. When I unfurled a wad of multi-colored Australian dollars, he abruptly ended his rant and asked me how much I needed... More

2. Holly of Houston: Google Me! by Johnny Hughes
Holly was a former board member of Houston's chapter of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She had donated $140,000 to the Texas Strippers for PETA tour. Her frequent comments in Texas newspapers were strongly anti-gun... More

3. I'll Read Your Madness Later by May B. Yesno
The agent freezes; there on that glorious bed lay two figures. The face and name was banging a woman. The woman clawing gently on the back of the face and name, eyes silted in pleasure, yet aware enough to look at the agent coming through the doorway... More

4. The Collector by Milton T. Burton
He was questioned by two detectives from the Organized Crime Squad---one older, tall, thin and gray haired; the other younger, short, thickset and bald. Raymond Chandler said they always came paired that way. But the old man didn't read Chandler... More

5. Morrison's Lament By Michael Friedman
Society no longer values the divinity of the self, so I find myself amiss all of the technology, discontent, and terror and although it takes only a moment to imagine that I am free from the nastiness that the universe leaves on my lips with every gut-wrenching soul kiss... More
Seven years. Hard to think that we're still alive and kicking despite the many instances when I wanted to pull the plug and give up forever. I have to sincerely thank the writers for sharing their blood work. Thanks for taking this leap of faith with me. And a special thanks goes out to you, the reader, for your loyalty and support over the years.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bonnaroo Videos: The Highlight Reel

By Pauly
Louisville, KY

Here are some of the highlights from Bonnaroo....

More Bonnaroo Videos: Uncle Ted & Billie Jean

By Pauly
Louisville, KY

We decided to skip Bruce Sprinsgteen's 3 hour set at Bonnaroo on Saturday night and opted for a drunken dance party at our RV site with the Joker spinning tunes.

Yes, I heart Uncle Ted.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Road Videos: Knoxville

By Pauly
Louisville, KY

I was in Knoxville last week for Phish. Here's a quick video of our adventures including the RV that I lived in last week.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bonnaroo Videos: You Enjoy Myself with Fireworks

By Pauly
Manchester, TN

I forgot that I shot this on Friday night...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Uncle Ted = Bad Weatherman; Uncle Ted = Good Singer

By Pauly
Manchester, TN

We found out why Uncle Ted was a former weatherman. His initial reports were way off and we were dumped on last night leading to some flooding, lots of puddles, and random muddy areas.

This video features the Joker on guitar and includes a quick recap of Thursday night's rain along with Friday's outlook...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bonnaroo Weather Report with Uncle Ted

By Pauly
Manchester, TN

Uncle Ted and I shot the first video from the RV campsite... a weather report!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Asheville: Southern Fried Phish

By Pauly
Asheville, NC

Here's my no bullshit assessment of the night....

Asheville was the best show of the tour. Phish smoked the shit out the joint. Anyone you says otherwise wasn't fuckin' there.

That's all I gotta say about the music. Listen for yourselves.

Photo by phishfromtheroad

One thing that won't translate on a bootleg is the heat and the loudness. It was hot as fuck inside the Civic Center and it was one of the loudest Phish shows I heard in a very long time. Had the vibe of something circa 1998. Smallish arena with tons of high energy and climatic moments that make Phish shows worth seeing. That's why you go see them on random Tuesday nights in the middle of nowhere, right? Because you never know what they're gonna do next.
6/9/09 Asheville, NC

Set I: Kill Devil Falls, Moma Dance, Sample in a Jar, Stash, Dog Faced Boy, Gumbo, Tube, Lengthwise (acapella Fish solo), Divided Sky, When The Cactus Are In Bloom, Bold as Love

Set II: Backwards Down The Number Line > Ghost > Fast Enough For You, Halley's Comet > Maze, Alaska, Theme from the Bottom, Golgi Apparatus, Possum

Encore: Loving Cup
On paper... this looks slightly above average. In reality? The best show this tour.

Even the new songs? Stellar versions. Alaska made one helluva Phishy debut while I heard Kill Devil Falls for a third time in five shows. They're getting better at it.

Personal highlights included the first set... Southern Fried Funk... with ass shaking Moma and Tube and even a few moments of Gumbo.

Second set? Pure smoke... Ghost and Halley's > Maze and Possum as they fed off the frenetic energy of the crowd.

At one juncture, Trey busted out a little story telling and explained the origins of three songs... Dog Faced Boy, Gumbo, Tube. Apparently, Trey wrote those songs after he snuck a peak at Fishman's road journal. Two of those are some of my all time favorites. And Phish played all three in a row... which feature two consecutive show with Tube. A rare and funky treat indeed.

Everyone seemed to have a good time, especially Otis who attended his first ever Phish show. Talk about an epic show to be your first... ever. We had a cool crew this time... with the Joker, Otis, G-Rob, Timmy, Mrs. G-Rob, Phil, and the sisters from Raleigh.

After the four show run for me on the East Coast with some old friends from college, I headed to the Asheville shows with a newer group of friends that I became tight with in the years after the breakup. Every show it seems like I'm going with a friend who is catching their first show back after the breakup.

When the lights went on during set break, popped balloons cluttered the floor and a guy chomping on a bag of mushrooms next to me and a circle of heads passing around a bottle of Jagermeister. The crowd and town really provided a plush environment for Phish to perform in.

Asheville is the Boulder of the South as the Joker would say. I thought it was Wookie HQ in the Southeast. I had not seen that many wooks in a very long time. They all came out of the mountains and descended upon town. Many of them even had tickets.

Amazing town nestled in the mountains. Laid back and welcoming locals. Frantic crowd. All of those factors added up to a top notch Phish show. I'm gonna be using Asheville as a yard stick for all future Phish shows in this era.

Man, can't wait for Knoxville before it's onto Bonnaroo, but I'm digging Asheville so much that I'd like to see Phish play here again on Wednesday.

Timmy took a few pics. Check them here.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Phish in the Hood... Camden

By Pauly
Somewhere in North Carolina

Photo by phishfromtheroad

"Sunday is wear your track suit to the show day," reminded the Joker.

The last time we wore the now infamous track suits were in Hampton for the third show of the Reunion run. And now, the Joker insists that we wear it to Sunday Phish shows.

We had our first lengthy span of traveling this tour. We woke up in Providence, RI and hired Leroy to drive us to Camden, NJ with a quick pit stop in NYC to meet my brother for lunch. We made it to Camden (despite the detour through the ghetto) with plenty of time to hang out in the lot. The Joker's blasted heady tunes on his mobile DJ rig and set up a table (thanks to Senor for the table) to hawk his LOST lot t-shirts. They sold like hotcakes.

Mike Gordon drove past us in a golf cart while two girls tailgating next to us decided to pee in between their SUV and our vehicle. We caught a glimpse of bush. But they were drunk and annoying and we wanted nothing to do with them. They constantly gave the Joker shit about his music selections. They were so spun out that all they wanted to listen to was Dave Matthews Band. They were amateurs and had no idea that Stevie Wonder was black.

At Great Woods, the federales cracked down on vending. At Jones Beach, it was a crack down on drinking. At Camden? It was a free-for-all. I think I saw one cop car patrol the lot in three hours. They let everyone be which contributed to the festive and relaxed atmosphere. Kid Dynamite and his buddy stopped by along with Julius Goat. First time I met the elusive poker blogger turned music blogger. ScottyB from Glide/Hidden Track/YEMBlog stopped by to chill out.

I helped the Joker sell stickers and t-shirts and we were recognized by several Coventry readers. It was awesome running into you guys! If you see us at the rest of the shows definitely stop us and say hello. We'd love to meet our readers and fellow music nerds.
6/7/09 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ

Set I: Chalkdust Torture, Fee, Wolfman's Brother, Guyute, My Sweet One, 46 Days, The Lizards, The Wedge, Strange Design, Tube, First Tube

Set II: Sand, Suzy Greenberg, Limb By Limb, Horse > Silent in the Morning, Sugar Shack, Character Zero, Tweezer

Encore: Joy, Bouncin, Antelope, Tweezer Reprise
We wandered into the venue and even though we had lawn seats, we managed to slip past security and make our way to one of the front sections. We almost pulled off the impossible task until we ran into an overzealous usher. Although we successfully bluffed him the first time, I felt uneasy that we couldn't pull it off a second time in case he came back around. After all, we stood out with the matching track suits and he couldn't miss us. We opted to hang out in a different section where Bruce and Susan hungout. All was good for the first song. But in the middle of Fee, I was asked to leave. The Joker and I decided it was time to head up to the lawn. After all, the lawn at Camden is not bad compared to other outdoor ampitheatres.

I dug the fact that they broke out Fee in the first set and as per usual, Trey flubbed the lyrics. Big Red needs a teleprompter. All that oxy abuse fried his brain.

We also got to hear a few tunes that they have not played yet either on this tour, since Hampton, or since their return. I was geeked out about Lizards. And of course, the highlight of the set was a bong-rattling Tube followed up by First Tube to end the hot set.

Quote of Camden? Overheard during Set 1... "I cant believe I lost an ounce. I need to wait until my doses kick I before I smoke DMT at set break."

I lost my small notebook during set break. Shit, and I was sober too. The third sober show out of four so far this tour. Oh well, if anyone comes across my notebook, please shoot me an email. And yes, I'm waiting until Bonnaroo to let loose.

I refused to piss during set break because the lines were too long, yet the Joker braved the battlezone. We moved to Page side of the lawn for the second set. Page side? Rage side. We hung out in a hip section where everyone was getting down and dancing. Appropriate for a jamming second set.

We wondered what the hell happened to Sand. It was not in the mix in Hampton and fell off the radar... until Camden. Might be the tour highlight so far. 22 minutes of pure sickness. Listen for yourself. Tweezer was another personal tour highlight. Dark and dank. Fishman stepped up his playing at Camden and that improved effort was evident during the plodding jams during Sand and Tweezer.

The encore? Four songs. So I can't complain even though I thought that the new tune was a bit dainty. Reminded me too much of Phishy version of Shine. However, I had zero complaints about Antelope and Tweprise.

Of course, it might have been slightly more energetic than the Jones Beach Antelope, however, that epic Ghost + Antelope = Ghostalope definitely makes the highlight reel of the East Coast run.

The lawn slowly cleared out when the show ended and the Joker and I hung out to let the congestion clear before we made our exit. Garbage cluttered the lawn. You could barely see any green grass and instead tons of leftover trash and empty plastic bottles and cups. Even lawn chairs were left behind with empty drug baggies and empty airport bottles of booze. Dozens and dozens of soiled blankets were abandoned. Some Phishy chick lost her sandals while a group of wookies sifted through all the trash looking for anything to scavenge. It reminded me of little children from a third world country digging through landfills in search of food and clothing.

Four shows down. Several more to go. We have a night off to travel to the South for the Asheville show, which I had been anticipating as the tour sleeper. Stay tuned to find out what happens...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Venue Formerly Known as Great Woods

By Pauly
Providence, Rhode Island

"They wanted me to take them to a club. I'm embarrassed to say that I know what type of club it is. S & M. It cost $135 an hour. I told him to give me $100. For $100, I'll get him laid by a fine whore, then afterward, I'll beat the shit out of him. He saves $35 that way."

We had known Leroy less than five minutes and he revealed several hysterical stories about clients he encountered as a limo driver. That was his part-time gig, mostly on nights and weekends. By day, Leroy was a foodie and a true BBQ master. That was his passion. BBQ. The limo gigs just put a little money in his pocket.

Senor hired a limo to drive a bunch of us from his house in Providence to the Phish show at Great Woods, which was about twenty minutes away in Massachusetts. There was a mix up. No limo. Apparently, the only limo in the state of Rhode Island was broken so we were given a party van instead, helmed by Leroy. We instantly bonded and he kept all of entertained the entire ride with tales about taking clients to Great Woods for different clients. He swore to us that he had an amazing ability to get women to show him their breasts.

We pulled into the VIP parking lot. Leroy parked the bug white party van across from a group of people partying in the lot. He jumped out first and opened up the back. Now, you have to understand the situation... big black guy in black dress pants, white starched shirt, and a skinny black tie. He set up several lawn chairs for us. Five in total. When he was done with that, he dragged the cooler and opened up beers for us. The kids sitting across from us had no idea what to make out of the situation as we stumbled out of the van, led by the Joker, who was blasting "It's Tricky" on his amp.

Welcome to Great Woods.

In an odd coincidence, Some Dude from Hidden Track pulled into the empty space next to us. Small world. He took off in search of food and Shakedown, while the Joker went to pick up his ticket and sell some LOST t-shirts. I hung out with Senor, Javier, and Leroy. At one point Javier asked me if I needed a new sidekick because he was gonna quit his job and he was seeking out a new venture.

According to Some Dude, there was zero Shakedown and no one vending food. Apparently, the cops were busting vendors. At Jones Beach, the overzealous cops focused on busting people drinking booze and selling drugs. They ignored the vending, but at Great Woods, the opposite was the case.

We wandered into the show around 7:30 and all of us squeezed into Sec 5. Chris, a guy from Boston who I met in Japan during Phish Tour in 2000, was seated two down from me. Same row. Another happy accident.

The boys took the stage at 7:38pm as a frenzied crowd could not stop screaming. They gave Phish a five minute ovation before they even played a note.I did not see that sort of enthusiasm at Jones Beach the two nights before, but then again, everyone was so friggin wet.
6/06/09 Great Woods, Mansfield, MA

Set I: Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Nothing, Back On The Train, Golgi Apparatus, Sparkle, Gotta Jibboo, Lawn Boy, Let Me Lie (First time played), Taste, Makisupa Policeman, Prince Caspian

Set II: Seven Below, Fluffhead, Scent of a Mule, Heavy Things, Harry Hood, Possum, Bug

Encore: Contact, Julius
Faulty, one of the new songs, started to grow on me. Solid version to start the show. But I felt that the first two songs were a warm-up to the actual show. As the Joker said, "The concert didn't begin until Get Back on the Train.

Golgi was a welcomed treat and missed the cut in Hampton. High energy. Lots of fans singing along.

The Joker was convinced that Sparkle was Ginseng Sullivan. I insisted that it wasn't Ginseng yet the Joker insisted. He stopped when I said that I'd bet him $100. That's when he knew I was serious!

Gotta Jibboo was one of the highlights in the first set along with Makisupa Policeman. As Javier said it best, "Jibboo is a vastly underrated song."

Let Me Lie is the new smoke a bowl song. Made all the Phishy chicks wet, but I got pretty lit, especially since for the first time this tour. The first two shows were sober shows for me as I took on the role as designated driver. Since we had Leroy, I had the rare chance to get as shitfaced as possible.

I'm not the biggest fan of Prince Caspian (especially as a set closer) but I always give props to a band when they play a song that I don't like, yet blow me away with their version. That's what Phish did to end the set.

Second set started off with an explosion and never let up. Seven Below is one of those songs that is a vehicle for Phish to jump off the deep end of improvisation. That's when the magic happens. A glow stick war erupted out on the lawn (and lawnish area). The boys did not let up with heavy-crowd favorite Fluffhead. High energy and rocking. A more solid version than the Hampton tour opener in March. The Great Woods Fluffhead might have been the highlight of the tour... so far.

The last three songs to end the set? Pure smoke... Harry Hood, Possum, Bug. They just never let up. Stellar playing. Consistent. Minimal flubs. Phish came to play and did not let down.

Senor was thrilled with a two song encore of a crowd-pleasing Contact and a ass-shaking and booty-thumping version of Julius.

There were moments at Great Woods that rivaled Hampton including a sizzling version of Fluffhead All in all, a fun experience. Especially because we had a driver named Leroy to take us to the show. He was awesome and so much fun that we're considering hiring him the rest of the tour to take us around.

Glad that I got to see two shows this tour with Senor and his brother Javier. Three shows down... several more to go. Next up.... Camden. Or as I like to call it... Phish in the Hood.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Drenched at Jones Beach

By Pauly
Long Island, NY

There is only one current band that I'd stand in the rain to see. And that's Phish. It rained. It poured. It pissed and dumped on all of us. Think Forest Gump type of rain, rain that is coming around from all angles! It was nasty but we quickly accepted the mission. Phish in the rain.

We were 90% prepared. I didn't think it would rain that much, that hard, and for that long. It tapered off into showers and stopped for about a ten minute period, but for the most part, it sucked.

However, despite the inclement weather and the uncooperative skies, the band delivered. There were a few flubs and a handful of low spots, but overall they played more consistently than the previous night. And the second set? Near perfection on paper that was well executed on stage.

Due to the torrential downpour, our pre-lot hijinks were limited to sitting in the car and standing under a easy-up of some friends of the Joker and BTreotch we by luck ran into. They were selling ponchos for $5 when the retail price was $1. Talk about disaster capitalism at its finest. The Joker half-heartedly sold t-shirts. It was too wet to walk around so he held up one under the tarp. He had quite a number of sales. I was more than impressed with his product. Click here to see his funky fresh LOST lot t-shirts.

Anyway, Bruce eventually arrived and we enjoyed a wet pre-party as he sold the last of his extra ponchos. As I told everyone, little Chinese girls made those ponchos by hand for 3 cents a day, so they could used to Phish concerts.

I saw more spacekids getting busted by the cops. As someone said in the Maybe So, Maybe Not trailer- "We aren't hippes, we are the kids from space." They wrote plenty of tickets for possession. Even though Shakedown and the lot was not as crowded due to the rain, there was still heavy police activity.
Phish 6.5.09, Jones Beach, NY

Set I: Wilson, Buried Alive > Kill Devil Falls, AC/DC Bag, I Didn't Know, My Friend My Friend, Ya Mar, Theme from the Bottom, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Split Open and Melt

Set 2: Down with Disease> Twist*> Piper> Backwards Down the Number Line> Free, Twenty Years Later#, 2001> Slave

Encore: Day in the Life

* with Oyo Como Va (Originally by Tito Puente and also covered by Santana) teases.
# first time play
Another consecutive sober show for me. No party favors and not a drip of booze. I'll spare you the flowery fluff job of the Phish and cut to the chase. Wilson pleased the drenched crowd. Buried Alive made me all warm inside. Thought they would go into Possum but that was just wishful thinking. AC/DC Bag was well received. I had one of those existentialist moments during I Didn't Know where I realized that I was standing in the rain and listening to a fat 40+ year old guy in a muumuu play a vacuum cleaner. The highlight of the set? A smoking hot Boogie On. The boys brought the cow funk. Melt was rocking at times but parts of the jam lost me. They flirted with the dark side a few times and they didn't veer off into a dissonant jam like they did in Hampton. It struck me as indecisive playing more than anything else. But hey, I fuckin' dig every second of it.

Boogie On and Melt on Friday and Ghostalope on Thursday. Phish is getting into the habit of making a statement to close out the first set.

I hung out with Kid Dynamite during the set break and rains died down, but that was just temporary. The rain picked up as the band re-took the stage and intensified through Piper.

So second set? I dug everything except the new songs. At set break I had four songs on my wish list... Piper, MoMa, 2001, and Slave. I put the vibe out there and Phish picked up on it. They played three of those four. Highlights were Slave and Twist, especially the Santana-laden licks of Oye Como Va, a song originally performed by Tito Piente. Latin Jazz in the rain. I can dig that.

We danced through the bad weather. I gave up on trying to smoke though a monsoon. When I couldn't get anything light or to stay lit, I just looked at the rain pelt my hands and catch in the lights. The rain and the music made it special.

Not perfect. A little sloppy at times. Tight as fuck other times. The band delivered. Two shows down. Looking forward to Great Woods.

On my way out, a tweaker sold me a chicken burrito and I helped the Joker sell some stickers. ABC - Always be closing.