[Editor's note: This Grand Prairie recap is by phish.net contributor Matt Burnham. –PZ]
On Wednesday, Phish played their first show in the greater Dallas area in seventeen years. Not since the hallowed summer tours of 1997 and 1998 had Phish graced this part of the country with its presence. In fact, up until the Austin show this tour, no second set had been played in all of Texas since 1999. After an unbalanced (and hot!) show on Tuesday, the band finished up their Texas Two Step by taking over the Verizon Theater at Grand Prairie. As Trey noted, the venue was about 20 miles east of his Ft. Worth birthplace, making this more of a hometown show and building extra anticipation among the crowd. Adding to this, the Verizon Theater is by far the smallest venue of the tour and acoustically without equal. And it was indoors and air conditioned providing a reprieve from the Texas sun and heat.
Energy is obviously very important when seeing live music. It's the unwritten communication method between the crowd and band. Playing in such a small and controlled space really seemed to energize the band – the energy and interplay between the crowd and the band was like nothing I've seen before. Feeding off of this energy really propelled the band on Wednesday.
On Tuesday night Phish’s performed their first gig at the 14,000-capacity Austin 360 Amphitheater. It was their twenty-third show in Texas, with the first on 10/25/90 at The Showbar in Houston, and most recently on 10/8/10 at the Austin City Limits festival. Great performances litter the Texas roster, including the famed Bomb Factory show on 5/7/94 and the two-step at the Starplex Amphitheater in Dallas on 7/25/97 and Austin’s South Park Meadows on 7/26/97. Nobody was expecting cool breezes for this late July Texas show, and the 8:34pm start time saw the band and fans doing their best to manage a sweltering 95°F.
Welcome to the 193th edition of Phish.Net's Mystery Jam Monday. The winner will receive an MP3 download courtesy of our friends at LivePhish.com / Nugs.Net. To win, be the first person to identify the song and date of the mystery jam clip. Each person gets one guess per day, with the second “day” starting after I post the hint. A hint will be posted on Tuesday if necessary, with the answer to follow on Wednesday. Good luck!
While I’d never recommend to anybody that they make spontaneous plans to visit Dallas, necessarily, the argument for jumping onto Phish tour amassed another body of evidence with last night’s show at the L.A. Forum.
We are four shows into the summer swing and the band is deliberate, playful, and right where they belong – namely, deeply engaged with one another. Trey and Mike’s onstage bromance – manifested in lots of face-to-face interplay and even a little instrumental spooning – flowered further last night.
[Editor's Note: You may already be familiar with @UCPete's wonderful recap of last night. But Shoreline inspired another of our friends, and we hope you appreciate her thoughts as well. -charlie]
with the third concert of summer tour at shoreline, it seems the band is continuing in a very interesting and most excellent direction. while the first two opening concerts of summer tour at the bend gifted a veritable plethora of new songs, last night's concert revealed many superb moments of unified musicianship and improvisation with a setlist of familiar compositions. my overall impression was one of hearing and observing a definite and desired unity within the band.
in considering the shoreline concert as a whole, i heard at some given moment each band member centered in individual excellence. in my mind, the jam band concept is at its best when it is more like that of any great assemblage of jazz musicians. A democracy with a designated leader, respecting and allowing the other "voices" to take their turn and moment where-ever and whenever that moment spontaneously happens. i felt and heard such excellence last night, particularly in the second set.
After two strong tour-opening shows in Bend, during which the band surprised the crowds with seven debuts and displayed a confidence and tightness not normally seen until the middle of tour, Phish rolled down the coast to California for the band’s fourteenth show at Shoreline Amphitheatre in the last 23 years, and first since Summer 2009. Though oft-maligned by fans for its poor sightlines and sound from the lawn, Shoreline has an undeniable cachet to fans of the Grateful Dead and fans of Phish alike. Concert promoter Bill Graham essentially built Shoreline for the Dead and even modeled its construction after the “steal your face” logo (see this photo and compare it with the logo), so it’s no coincidence that the Dead played Shoreline 39 times from 1987 - 1995.
Phish has honored the Dead on numerous occasions at Shoreline, from the 7/31/97 “Happy Birthday to You” tease in “Weekapaug Groove” for Jerry’s birthday (August 1st), to the 9/17/99 “YEM -> Jam” featuring Phil Lesh on trampolines, to the encore with Bob Weir on 10/6/00, the penultimate show of Phish 1.0. In fact, 9/17/99 and 10/6/00 were my first two shows, so Shoreline and its connection with the Dead will always hold a special place in my heart. And with Trey’s recent foray into the music of the Grateful Dead, it makes sense that Phish opted to visit Shoreline instead of Bill Graham Civic Auditorium this year, especially given that they were only to spend a single night in Northern California this tour. Were we in for another Dead sit-in? Would we hear a Dead song?! Let’s find out...
“Look, man I've got certain information alright? Certain things have come to light, and uh, ya know, has it ever occurred to you, that uh, instead of uh, you know running around, uh uh, blaming me, given the nature of all this new shit, you know it, it it, this could be a uh, a lot more uh, uh, uh, uh, complex, I mean it's not just, it might not be, just such a simple, uh--you know?”
I had been asking for Phish to play in Bend for five years. Finally it has happened… to great effect. During the weeks that preceded the two Phish shows at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, several things were prevalent in the news. The region was embroiled in a sweltering and seemingly interminable heat wave. Due to a well-written but inarguably stale (to a geologist) piece in The New Yorker, the impending destruction of the Pacific Northwest by a massive megathrust earthquake and the accompanying tsunami it will spawn finally became a point of concern for everybody. Recreational cannabis is now legal. The New Horizons probe was beaming back our first high resolution views of the ice mountains and hydrocarbon lakes on Pluto. El Chapo is once again on the loose and threatening current Republican Presidential candidate front-runner El Donald with assassination. A robot passed a self-awareness test shortly after another had killed a man. Trey was playing guitar with the Grateful Dead. In other words… new shit was coming to light… and things were getting deliciously weird.
Heading into my fourth consecutive summer tour opener, I feel like I've been to enough of these launchpad shows to learn what to expect: nothing, just enjoy the moment. As tours progress and the band gets tighter and more oiled simultaneously, the shows tend to get better; it's been almost seven months since the band walked off the stage in Miami after a successful run of shows. Since then, Trey famously performed as sideman for another band of lore, and Mike had a well-received tour with his revamped touring ensemble. In any case, there's a certain excitement in the air when these guys walk out on stage for the first time in a while. The fans of course add to that energy, but you can also see it on the faces of Mike, Page, Fish and Trey when they plug in and get set to hit that first note of summer. Enjoy the friends and fans who travelled from afar to see the boys from Vermont, and chances are, Phish will offer up a surprise or two that you hadn't anticipated.
Bend is a hip, smallish city located on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains in central Oregon. The cool/crunchy downtown reminds me of Burlington, VT in some ways, and there's tons to do in the area. The Les Schwab Amphitheater is small by Phish’s standards with a capacity of 8,000 and offers the appeal of both a picturesque Western setting and relatively intimate size.