Thursday, December 30, 2010

Worcester Dispatches: Back on the Train

By Pauly
New York City

I almost didn't make the show. Benjo had both of my Worcester tickets, but he lives in France. He planned on flying into NYC on Monday morning and we were going to drive up to Worcester for both shows, then drive back to the city for the MSG run. Alas, the blizzard screwed up air travel across the northeast and European grid. Benjo's flight got pushed back to Jan 1st. He negotiated a hellacious flight into Boston (Brussels > London > Chicago > Boston) that would get him into the States almost two hours after the second Worcester show ended.

I wasn't going to make the trek by myself until my buddy Senor called and persuaded me to take the train to Providence (where he lives), and then he'd drive to Worcester (located less than 45 minutes away). Senor driving plus the train meant that I could get schwasted and not have to worry about being a responsible driver. How could I say no?

I pulled the trigger on the show at the last second. I was in NYC and hopped on a subway to Penn Station, then evaded a K-9 unit and thousands of disgruntled train passengers before I boarded an express train to Providence and ate some pharmies. Senor picked me up at the train station and drove right to Worcester. We got into town around 7:40 and parking was a bitch. We got the next-to-last spot in some shady lot behind a hospital.

Senor had two extras which he dumped for 20% below face. Most tickets were going for less, but Senor scored four killer seats. He didn't tell me how good the seats were until we got into the show. We were two rows off the floor on Fishman's side and about ten feet in front of the stage. Right away, I spotted the Rhombus and two signs requesting "Dog Log" and "Weigh."

We had to kick a couple of wooks out of our seats and got settled in a few minutes before lights went down. Kill Devil Falls might have replaced AC/DC Bag as an opener in 2011. By the time the chorus came around, our section was sprayed with a beer shower. Senor hopped it was beer. I told him not to worry at an indoor Phish show about an aerial urine bomb. At a Panic show, it would probably be piss.

I had a seat on the aisle and the aisle was packed. One girl couldn't stop gushing about the sound. "Soooo much better than seeing Phish outdoors," she continuously said.

The country Phish tune of the night was My Mind Got A Mind of Its Own, and I got faked out at the beginning, which sounded a lot like Uncle Pen. But I'm not a redneck, so all country songs sound similar to me.

Trey looked like a little kid playing around with his mini-voice recorder that had a bunch of pre-recorded barbs from Sarah Palin. He unveiled his toy during the opening section of Alaska. It was hard to hear everything through the audience speakers, but I'm sure it sounded much crisper in the live release.

After Alaska, Trey and Gordo had what Senor described as an "animated chat" that last for a good ninety seconds. She Caught the Katy ensued, and that tune was the first curveball of the night. Gordo sang the vocals for Katy, which offered up a bit of country and a bit of funk. Country-funk. I always think about the Blues Brothers (more so than Taj Mahal) when I hear that song. Page nailed a wicked solo.

The boys threw the crowd a bone with a heavy hitter in Wolfman's. Page seized control early on with a funkified clavinet orgy that inspired a glowstick fracas in the crowd. The deeper the funk -- the more the crowd went nuts and tossed around the glowsticks with an increased fervor. Wolfman's was one of the highest energy peaks of the show.

Trey spoke to the crowd about surprising Tom Marshall with a song that they co-wrote together called Pigtail. Tom had no idea Phish was going to play it. I have to listen to it a few more times to formulate an opinion, but my snarky gut says that it's much better than the uber-ghey Summer of 89.

Trey's voice sounded pretty scratchy. Someone (via Twitter) said that Trey had a cold, which was why he sounded bleh. At least it was not the result of freebasing. The last time Trey's voice sounded off like that was when he was crocked to the tits during the disastrous Vegas 2004 run.

First part of Stash was uneventful and I spent the time zoning out on the lights. That's one of the things about Stash -- if I get bored with the jam, I can easily amuse myself with the lights because CK5 gets a little crazy during Stash. The end of the Stash picked up a ton of steam and they finally got the jam cooking. Trey had his mouth wide open. I swear that I saw drool.

"Is this a new song?" joked Senor when Bouncin' got played. Nope, I said. It's a Pauly Takes A Piss Song.

Rift was a shot in the arm late into the set. Well placed and well done. Glad we got that gem. I thought a mediocre version of Stealing Time was going to end the set, but the boys huddled in front of Page's setup. They debated an acapella song and settled on Birdwatcher. Much better choice than Grind. Everyone on the floor in front of Phish busted out their cameras and cellphones to capture the moment as a puddle of glowing lights illuminated the area in front of the stage.

Set 2 opened with a thrashing and head-banging Carini. A wookette snuck into the aisle to dance. She was next to me and I was getting whipped by her natty dreads as she violently shook her head back and forth. I was bumming out a bit about the dread lashing until she finally moved up a spot and danced in the front row (blocked off from the floor).

Backwards was standard. Nothing to report otherwise until Back on the Train. The Worcester version had a bit of snow-funk thrown into the mix, which might have been one of my peak moments in the second set.

Senor was jumping up and down at the end of Limb by Limb. Because we were so close, I took advantage of being able to watch Fishman utilize every inch of his kit, as he demonstrated his version of multiple African drummers.

"I want to do this when I grow up," one guy next to me said to his girlfriend as he pointed at the stage.

I got whipped again with the wookette's dreads during the Wedge. It felt weird to hear the Wedge played somewhere other than Colorado. We got a spacey and rare Frankie Sez, and the low-energy tune morphed into an even slower, plodding cover of Neil Young's Albuquerque.

I figured that I'd get a Hood when we stopped just outside of Worcester and I saw a Hood milk carton. Sure, there's Hood milk all over New England, but that's just how my mind works before a Phish show. I seek out any Phish-related sign and make a connection (whether it fits or not).

The middle section of Hood got a bit lost. Here's my theory: Trey was tripping out on the wookette in front of me. She was getting down and dancing and Big Red was fixated on her. Check out the video and you'll see Trey staring off to his left. What you won't see is the hottie grooving out. After getting a better look, she was more attractive than I expected. Trey wouldn't stop staring. I was getting uncomfortable because the jam kinda stalled. At one point an anxious Page looked up and tried to figure out why Trey was lost. Yep, the magnetic pull of a Phishy chick mesmerized Trey until he finally pulled out of it.

I caught an intense version of Bug to close one of the sets in Alpine Valley this summer, and the boys attempted to replicate that feat in Worcester. I love to point at the band during the "overrated" parts. The Hood-Bug combo was an interesting and intense way to end the show.

The solo encore was Shine a Light and Trey didn't sound too good. Sure the song is soulful and a raspy, bluesy voice would be a nice compliment to the song, but Trey's scratchy voice didn't mesh.

Overall, I went into the show with very low expectations. Heck, I wasn't even supposed to go and only went at the last second because I rarely get to hang out with my buddy Senor. I have no clue what our schedules will be like next year, so I welcomed the opportunity to throw down in Worcester. We had fun. I got schwilly. What more could I ask for?

I really can't think of a better way to spend a Tuesday night aside from seeing a Phish show. Thanks to Senor for the hook up (ticket and the ride).

One down. Three more to go. Get ready for some MSG insanity to end 2010 and to start 2011.

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