Saturday, August 14, 2010

Phish Recovers from Telluride Hangover; Smokes the Shit Out of Deer Creek

By Pauly
Noblesville, IN

"Do you have any Peggy?"

I had just sold two Dharma patches to two schwasted sorority girls on Shakedown. They were huge fans of LOST and fresh off of DMB tour. They were also looking to blast off.

"Peggy? What the fuck is that?" I muttered.

"Peggy. You know... ecstasy."

"Ohhhh... you mean Molly?"

Giggles all around. "Oh yeah, Molly!"

I told her to keep walking and look for wooks with sideways flat-billed hats. On Thursday, Shakedown was somewhat dry. Friday was a different story with the low overflowing with goodies. One wookette worked out a deal as we sat in the back of Mr. Fabulous' van.

"Man, this is the cleanest van I've ever seen," she said.

"That's how we roll. Undercover in a soccer mom van."

I've written in the past how the lot indirectly affects the band and the show. After all, the audience and Phish have always had a symbiotic relationship. Deer Creek is a perfect example. It took me a while to figure out what happened with set 1 on Thursday -- and it was evident all around... Phish had a post-Telluride hangover. We went from the pristine and cool mountains of Colorado to the sweltering cornfields and suburban hell of Indiana. How could you not be bummed out just a little bit. While Phish was nursing their hangover during an atrocious opening set at Deer Creek, the crowd had become hostile. Everyone seemed to be raging drunk and a bit cranky after sitting out in the heat for endless hours without any party enhancers to pick up the crowd. All of that changed in less than 24 hours. By the time Phish took the stage on Friday night, everyone was primed to party down and cooking hard on the superfluous treats that had flooded Shakedown and spilled over into lots.

The supporting cast of characters for this show included the Cincy crew: Mr. Fabulous, Iggy, Meg, and GMoney. My girlfriend was also in the mix and enjoying her last show before she had to fly back to LA the next day. We were digging the cloud cover as temps were a tad lower than the day before. I traded a patch for an Indio poster and a Mexican Cousin t-shirt. My friend Kentucky Lori came by and told us funny stories about dreams she has about making out with Page.

My girlfriend and I had pavs again, in a good section with quality people around us. Everyone was dancing and not a single talker, which makes me happy at shows. The lawn is cluttered with douchenozzles who yap the entire show, but we were fortunate to have respectful phans around us who were grooving and getting down.

Standard Chalkdust opener got everyone off and running and I was fairly schwilly after Pete gave me two shots of vodka infused into a slice of watermelon. For some reason I was also swigging Captain Morgan's out of the bottle at our camp before heading into the show. Toss in a shroom chocolate and some "Peggy", and I was rocked to the tits. I had taken the previous night off while still trying to recover for raging hard at five previous shows, but all bets were off for the last night at Deer Creek.

Chalkdust is Trey's favorite song and he kicked the show off with all smiles. Guleah Papyrus was a nifty changeup. Don't get to hear that often. Solid Page solo. After My Sweet One began, I got flashbacks of 93-94 tour. The opening trio of songs brought back instant memories of my early days of seeing Phish in the South in the early 90s.

I dig some of the heavy metal riffs in Axilla. Hard rocking Phish kept up the energy. Fishman hijinks followed with I Didn't Know. First vac solo this tour.

Walls of the Cave popped up out of nowhere when Page pecked away at the piano for the opening notes. I've often wanted to hear that 2.0 song instead of TTE. I can see how Walls might have killed the momentum for some. But I was loving it, even though sections were rusty. The guy next to me wondered what song they had seg'd into during the "silent trees" bit. I politely informed him they were still playing Walls.

Stash was edible and had a few deviant moments, but they got lost in a foggy jam. Fishman punched his way out and everyone followed. Gordo's Train Song was a well placed mellow tune and allowed me to catch a breath and smoke a bowl. I was almost bummed out when I thought I heard Caspian coming but luckily it was Backwards Down the Number Line. After catching Backwards live over 20 times (including Trey solo), I prefer to hear in the first set (shorter jam) than in the second set.

Ocelot was another curveball. A three-peat after Berkeley and Telluride. I almost wore my Ocelot shirt, but was saving it for first night Alpine. Much slower tempo compared to the bluesy jam in Berkeley. Dare I say, Deer Creek's was the oxy-faded version of Ocelot? Stellar build up to the jam. I wrote in my notes, "Phish finally shook off their Telluride hangover."

"Curtis Loew is a bad ass deep cut off an excellent Skynyrd album," said G-Money. "I noticed it was the older heads who really went nuts over that song."

I was surprised that we didn't get a Wilson in Telluride, but glad to catch it at Deer Creek. A supreme crowd pleaser. They did not disappoint. I thought they could have ended the set right there, but we got an extra treat... a high-octane Possum closer, for the 13th song of the first set of the rare Friday the 13th show. This Possum was intense and more powerful than the previous two versions I heard this tour. My notes read, "Phish is back on track. Smoked the shit out of Possum."

I was betting heavily on a Halley's Comet set 2 opener because of the recent meteoroid shower. It came a day later than I thought. The previous version at the Greek irked me because the jam got cut short. Just when things get sizzling, Trey pulls the plug on the jam. I've come to realization that those meandering 20-minute jams are a thing of the past. Same thing happened at Deer Creek as they delved into Light, a new jamming vehicle for sure, but not like the dance-your-ass-off-grooves of Halley's. Kuroda unleashed a flurry of purple lights in Light for an ensuing Purple Jam before a seamless segue into 46 Days. Extremely soulful playing from Trey in the 46 jam out, coming straight from the heart and gut instead of those masturbatory jams where he sprinkles the crowd with his semen.

The frenzied pace continued with Maze. Page was mashing and thrashing in a spectacular build up reminiscent of days of old. The crowd gave the boys a standing ovation after that gem.

Meatstick was another tune that came out of left field. My first one was back in July 2003 at Lakewood in Atlanta. At first, I thought it was a cover of Fire on the Mountain, but it was the Meatstick. Later on during the 2000 Japan tour, friends of friends taught the band the Japanese lyrics. Always good memories of that tour when I hear Meatstick. I was hearing a few Mango teases and sure enough, they launched into Mango Song. I got flashbacks of painting the hallways of my fraternity house in 1993 while blasting the Mango Song off of Picture of Nectar on repeat.

Feisty Fluffhead got the crowd riled up, especially the ones who got lost during Meatstick >Mango. Crowd favorite. Lots of jumping up and down in the pav. Thought that might close the set, but they dug into their bag of tricks for a surging Julius. Trey didn't hold back on that one and spooged all over the first six rows. No one seemed to mind. Big Red is sure loving his new ax.

I was hoping for a Psycho Killer encore in honor of Friday the 13th, but the boys tossed out a nostalgia-heavy Contact which included a monster Page funk-infused jam. The double-dip of Slave was a welcomed treat. When Phish plays your favorite song, it is always special night. In fact, Phish played three sets in a row without a "Pauly Takes a Piss Song" and after a shaky start to the Deer Creek doubleheader, the boys almost lost me but eventually won me back with three rock-solid sets. They left Deer Creek with momentum, and I'm hoping that spills over into the Alpine Valley run.

Deer Creek fini. Seven shows down. Next stop on the psychedelic circus... Alpine.

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