Thursday, August 06, 2009

Amateur Night at Shoreline

By Pauly
Sunnyvale, CA

Shoreline is one of my favorite venues in California because so much magic is transformed onstage and the audience gets smothered by a little extra special music. I caught the last seven Phish shows at Shoreline (not counting the two benefit concerts they did) and I wasn't going to miss out on this one.

Two Phishy Shoreline moments that stand out included two members of The Grateful Dead sitting in with the boys from Vermont. In 1999, we were treated with Phil Lesh and Warren Haynes for an off the hook Cold Rain & Snow and in 2000, Bob Weir joined the band for a smoking West L.A. Fadeway. That show was special because they opened with Carini. And in 2000, for the last show before Phish went on hiatus, there were rumors circulating that they would play a third set... and perform Abbey Road. Of course, that was just lot fodder. In 2003, they opened one of the shows with YEM. What the fuck? That was my reaction.

With plenty of Shoreline memories, I was looking forward to having a couple of new memory burns. I woke up with Carini in my head. I had a gut feeling that they were going to bust that out.

After the four-night run at Red Rocks, we sobered up enough to fly from Denver to LA on Monday and then we drove up to NoCal on Tuesday night. We pulled into the lot as soon as we could because I had two of Kid Dynamite extras to get rid of. He hooked me up with four lawns and I needed to move two of those. One guy was literally giving Shoreline lawns away in the lower lot at Red Rocks.

My girlfriend had never seen a show at Shoreline before, so she was in for a treat. We met up with my buddy DJOcean and his wife, Jen. Their last show? Coventry, VT. Yeah, they were excited.

Since we have a huge ride ahead of us to get to the Gorge, Nicky and I opted for a sober show. I spent all of Hampton and the majority of the first leg of summer tour surprisingly sober (a little ganja here or there). I wanted to remember every bit of the reunion shows so I kept my head clear and since I had to drive a lot for the first half of summer tour, I waited until Bonnaroo to unleash in the inner monster.

DJOcean arrived early and we parked in the same lot across from the venue. I had two extra Gorge and two extra Shorelines to sell and instantly shifted gears. Right away, I found out that the going price for lawns were $20... at 3pm. As one wook told me, "I'll wait until the show starts and then I'll get in for free."

Luckily, DJOcean found a couple of girls selling t-shirts who were looking for Gorge tickets, They had rejected buying 2 at face for $120 so I dropped my prices to $80 for a two-day pass. They quickly said yes and offered me a combo of cash and a t-shirt. I didn't quite like what they were selling and opted for cash, "Unless you ladies have any Adderral?"

I continued to wander through the lot with my extra Shoreline tix. When you're hawking goods, dealers slither up from all angles. There was tons of molly in the lot with very weak traces of anything psychedelic. One wookette offered me $20 worth of mushroom caramels for my extra and I asked, "Do you have any Adderral?"

She left her stash at home. "Go get it!" I barked. Alas, she disappeared into the crowd.

After one lap in the lot, I turned down enough molly to light up Detroit for two weeks straight. I set up camp in front of our car. DJOcean and his wife joined me and my girlfriend. The ladies drank Margaritas prepped by Mrs. Ocean in the front seat of the car. I just sat down with a seltzer water (no booze for me) and one lawn ticket thrust high above my head. The molly slingers would not leave us alone. Lot prices were $100/gram. Sunday at Red Rocks, the prices had plummeted to $75/gram. The lot was flooded with so much molly and that's all anyone wanted to trade for the extra lawns. But they were not mine... they were Kid Dynamite's extras... so I was seeking cash or any sort of pharmies that I'd like to do. One crusty-looking kid with dirty fingernails and a Cheese shirt offered me 1/8 of DMT for $60.

"I only did it once before," I told him. "And I saw aliens."

"It only costs you $60 to see the aliens again."

I found one kid selling "Melt Your Face" t-shirts. He offered up $20 and a t-shirt. I told him that he had a deal. At that point, it was past 4pm and not one person was interested in paying anything above $20. Then I got lucky. My girlfriend bought cookies from one hippie girl with a basket. She had made drug-free treats (2 for $1) to sell for some sort of charity. Anyway, her friend was looking for a ticket and offered me $50. Wow. Talk about getting lucky.

At 4:3oish, the market value of two lawn tickets were $40 total. Somehow, I finagled $70 and a t-shirt for Kid Dynamite. I love working the lots like I used to back in my 20s. I managed to score two Vicodins and 10 Percosetts for $40 which I'll save for a later date.

Of course, the prices for lawn tickets would continue to plummet. By the time I walked into the show, one guy with five or six extras was pleading people to name any price. We headed into the show to find a decent spot on the lawn as one employee insisted that the power would be shut off at 11pm. It was going to be an early night of Phish. On our way in, a Jesus Freak with a sign was condemning Phisheads for their evil lifestyles. One kid asked him about Jerry Garcia and the Jesus Freak screamed, "Jerry Garcia is in hell!" The entire crowd booed.

"It smells soooo good up here!" said one girl at her first ever Phish show as she walked across the lawn. Yeah, everyone was partying hard up on the lawn with lots of California kind bud wafting around.

As soon as Phish took the stage, a grey military plane flew over the venue. There's a military base and airport nearby, so I figured that's what was up, but a part of me wondered if the federales were spraying Phisheads with some sort of chemicals to makes us act less like freaks and more like good wholesome sheeple. The planes steadily continued to land/take off during the first set.
8/5/09Phish, Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA

Set I: Golgi Apparatus, Halley's Comet, Chalkdust Torture, Divided Sky, When The Circus Comes, Time Turns Elastic, Ya Mar, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Suzy Greenberg, David Bowie

Set II: Backwards Down The Number Line >Down with Disease> Limb by Limb, Oh Sweet Nuthin, Cities> Maze > Mike's Song > Simple > Weekapaug Groove

E: Let Me Lie, Bold As Love
The first set opened up with a crowd pleaser Golgi where everyone sings along. It's always an impressive moment at a show. I was waiting for Halley's Comet and it was a personal highlight of the first set, except that it was short version and the band did not take time to explore some craziness. Instead, they jumped back into the loving arms of their fans with Chalkdust followed up by Divided Sky. The first set started out hot, but then lost some steam mid-way with When The Circus Comes, Time Turns Elastic and Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan. Ya Mar was the only song within that 30 minute period that held my attention. I gotta say, I was a little uninspired until the boys saved the set with a funkified Suzy Greenberg and a monumental David Bowie (with a few minor flubs). First set started and ended strong.

The lawn was quite the scene and a mixture of different types of people. You had your young parents with their kids running around along with Silicon Valley geeky Google types milling about. And then you had your standard LA/San Fran hipster douchebag with an iPhone who yapped too much. Plenty of hardcore older hippies and wooks mingled with a slew of frat boys and other curious souls. The cheap tickets (nearly free) meant that anyone off the street could walk into the show unlike the ridiculous prices at Red Rocks, which kept the riff raff away. In short, it was amateur night on the lawn at Shoreline. Too many chatty drunks and people who could not handle their drugs. One wasted 40-year old something hippie chick in a pink boa was sucking face with a dude who looked like Leon Spinks.

And then there was the shirtless frat boy with a crew cut and cargo shorts who barreled through the crowd and almost knocked me over as I jotted down a few notes. He grabbed one guy in an arm lock and I assumed they knew each other. Nope. Spunout frat boy flopped on the ground for a few moments until he saw one girl lying down on the grass. He jumped on top of her and started kissing and groping her. The girl's boyfriend was not thrilled and he punched the dude a few times and another friend helped pry the guy off the girl. The frat boy was obviously spun and had no clue that he was molesting someone. He wrestled with the boyfriend during DWD and the frat boy got bodyslammed. Hard. He was out cold for a few seconds before he sprung back to life and their fracas almost spilled over to our blanket area. I told my girlfriend to get back and stand behind me and DJOcean. The frat boy dove four or five rows ahead of us and took out two people sitting down. A few minutes later, security rumbled by with a flashlight and we never saw shirtless frat boy again. I'm assuming he missed the second set and spent the night in local up somewhere.

He's lucky this was a Phish show and not a Metallica concert. He would have gotten stomped to death by a bunch of pissed off Metalheads.

Yeah, it was one of those nights which made up for a average first set. The second set highlights were a dirty Down with Disease and Fishman's playing on Limb by Limb. I friggin' love Lou Reed and Velvet Underground, so I was pumped to hear Page belt out Oh Sweet Nuthin'. Sad that Phish needs to play cover songs to display Page's skills (E.G. Loving Cup, Bold As Love, Rock and Roll). I was at Vegas in 1998 for Halloween or the only other time they performed Sweet Nuthin.

And the second part of the set? Pure smoke and the reason why I go see Phish. Cities is going to be the highlight of the tour. I missed it at the first night of Jones Beach, but was happy to catch this sizzling version. Mellow funk.

Page stepped up on a spooky Maze and I thought they would end the set because of the curfew. Nope. The boys kept up the intensity with Mike's Song and a welcomed Simple in the middle of the Weekapaug sandwich. My only complaint? It seemed rushed.

Let Me Lie is the new Velvet Sea, but they didn't cheese out on us and we got a two song encore with a cover of Jimi Hendrix's Axis: Bold As Love. I love it when Page sings. Anything.

Nothing can compare to Red Rocks or previous shows with cameos with members of the Dead. But by itself, this Shoreline show will standout because of Cities.

Next up? Getting to the Gorge safely.

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