Sunday, August 16, 2009


By Pauly
New York City

Phish had an off night when you compare the Merriweather show to Hartford, second night at the Gorge and the last two nights at Red Rocks. They had several peak moments in Maryland, but for the most part, the show was not up to snuff considering they have been melting faces across the country wherever they have been playing. Hartford was such an amazing performance that they outdid themselves. No matter what, Merriweather was going to be stale compared to the magic that transpired the night before.

Another sober show for me. We had like 12th row Fishman side. Great sound. Not too much space to dance. By itself, Merriweather had several highlights including a few hard-rocking bustouts like Axila and The Sloth. The show also marked the debut of a new Fishman tune called Party Time which got everyone shaking their ass (compared to the emotional trainwreck and schizophrenic Time Turns Elastic where 1/3 of audience sits, 1/3 talks or checks their email, and the 1/3 heads to the bathroom or beer line). It sorta reminded me of a MMW-tune. Here's the thing... the band is named after Fish for a reason. The band really operates through him as much as Trey is the frontman and loves to steal the show. Fishman wrote Party Time, so it's something that has been festering inside him that he wanted to unleash. It's his music (not a complex Trey composition like TTE or weird Mike country tune or one of Page's ballads) so he played it with tons of passion and high energy. The rest of the band fed off that and we were treated with a gem. I hope Fishman writes more tunes in the future. I'd rather hear Party Time played three times in a row than sit through another anemic version of TTE.

Getting to the show was a royal pain in the ass. I made a rookie move and never factored in NJ Shore traffic and overall I-95 malaise. A 4-hour drive took 6 hours and I was on traffic tilt from the time I left NYC. My only solace? Lots of weed and a trip to Waffle House in the middle of nowhere, Maryland.

G-Rob and his brother flew up from the South and were in the lots just as they opened when I was still in South Jersey cussing away at all the moronic drivers. I finally arrived sometime after 5pm and had less than an hour of lot time. I found G-Rob and Andrew and we were ready to throw down for Phish's next to last show on their summer tour.
8/15/09 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD

Set I: Crowd Control, Kill Devil Falls, The Sloth, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Axilla, Foam, Esther, Ha Ha Ha, Party Time, Tube, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Strange Design, Time Turns Elastic

Set II: Tweezer > Taste, Alaska, Let Me Lie, 46 Days, Oh Sweet Nuthin', Harry Hood

Encore: Good Times Bad Times, Tweezer Reprise
Andrew would have won $20 if they opened with Kill Devil Falls. I had a feeling they were going to open with it but the band huddled for a few seconds before the start of the show and played a head-scratching Crowd Control. I told G-Rob that they should play TTE to start a show because everyone is so happy to see Phish that the first 5-10 minutes is a wank-fest anyway.

Andrew and my buddy Daddy both feel that KDF is a sibling of Chalkdust Torture. You can call it Chalkdust Lite or Chalkdust, Jr. I have been waiting for The Sloth since I last heard it at Camden in 2003. I heard Axilla at Coventry, but I refuse to listen to those shows so it's been a while since I rocked out. I think I hurt my neck because I was headbanging pretty hard.

Trey rushed Foam. He seemed disinterested and distant sort of like when I attend family dinners. Esther was a miss but Ha Ha Ha and Party Time were hits in the juicy part of the show that included a funk-induced Tube and a stellar version of Stealing Time. I really wish I had some liquid for the insanity of Ha Ha Ha. I also love it when Page sings and he gets the Phishy chicks wet with Strange Design. However, TTE killed the first set. Fizzle. Thud.

We were gambling on the songs, as per usual. I lost $20 to G-Rob when they opened the second set with Tweezer. Solid version, but the guy next to me was shitfaced on beers and molly and he tried to dance on the blue folding chairs using me as a balance. Um, yeah, that didn't work. I was very annoyed and punched him in the kidney. Luckily, his buddy told him that he was being a dick and everything settled down about five minutes into the song.

I love Page's work on Taste, but it lacked the bite that it used to have. Sort of like drinking a flat Bloody Mary. Needed more booze and more spice. Alaska was better than average but then the set lost any of it's momentum with Let Me Lie. It's the new Velvet Cheese.

When Phish broke up, I used to go apeshit when Trey Band played 46 Days. It was methadone and I needed any sort of fix. They finally broke it out this leg and this version included a strange and eerie jam that started off mellow and quiet and built to a crazy crescendo.

I was floored when I got to see/hear Oh! Sweet Nuthin at Shoreline and jizzed myself for this tighter version. I'm a huge fan of Velvet Underground and it's a nice change up from hearing Rock and Roll (although the boys jam the fuck out of R&R!). I just like to hear Page sing.

Harry Hood saved the up and down show. Yes, Hood to the rescue. I was sort of bummed that I heard Good Times Bad Times and Tweprise again. Didn't I hear that at the GORGE? Ah, I'm just being petty. I can hear those two songs every night. After several misteps during the night with some questionable song selections, Phish closed out the Merriweather show with four solid songs. Too bad two of them were covers.

Overall, it was a solid show but could not compare to Hartford or some of the shows out West. Phish had outdome themselves. I was spoiled. We were spoiled. I had tons of fun and was glad to catch a show with G-Rob and Andrew. As we walked out, all four of Phish's tour buses passed us. Trey's was first and he waved.

Well, now it's just one more show to go. The Mothership picks everyone up at SPAC. See you there.

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