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Chicago 3 Recap: An Inconvenient Troupe

Posted 1 year ago by TheEmu - 42 comments Link: http://phi.sh/b/51ed50cf

Disclaimer: I watched most of this show via webcast, but the stream died during “Gin” and really only got going again for me during “Lizards,” so I had to fill in the gaps by listening this morning. Now let's do it.

The show starts with a fan request as Trey asks what a “0-172 Dinner and a Movie” sign means, and then announces that “This is for you!” “Dinner and a Movie,” not seen since Deer Creek last year, is slightly undercooked and direct to video, but typical opener “AC/DC Bag” is right behind to get the set’s musical boulder rolling down the mountain. As “AC/DC Bag” dissipates, Trey holds on to the last and highest note while Fish leads us into the “Maze.” This is the kind of strong, complete rendition that makes “Maze” a great first-set tune. Page dances all over the organ, with attentive compliments from Trey, who then fires off a picture perfect solo to bring us back home. “Mound” is up next, and is a bit of a struggle in places, but “Funky Bitch” is served up Chicago style, with a deep Mike crust, swimming in Page sauce, and secret Anastasio spices.

Bathtub Gin” begins with a laugh, as Trey’s attempt to start the first verse is interrupted by extended Page histrionics. The Chairman spins several times and tries to hit every key on every board he has before taking a bow, to everyone’s delight. “Bathtub Gin,” like other tunes that have been around for decades now, has gone through several incarnations, beginning as a deconstruction exercise before evolving into a full-blown jam monster. In recent years, “Gin” has become more of a straightforward rocking song, coming to a boil steadily and blasting off some steam as it does here with two smooth peaks. “Wilson” is well played, and also sounds understandably a little rushed and a touch angry as the rain has started to fall in Chicago yet again. “Water in the Sky,” never a more appropriate selection, is also quick and clean. Then, with meteorological chaos unfolding, the band launches into “Boogie on Reggae Woman.” By now, even on tape, you can clearly hear the storm; if not the actual wind and rain then the crowd buzz and the band’s reaction to it. Instead of dampening this Phish performance, though, the deluge fills it with life. Mike’s bass solo in this “Boogie On” wins the first set, no contest. It’s more ferocious than any supercell and it amazes me that its heat didn’t turn the whole island into a steam bath. As if the weekend hadn’t been odd enough to this point, Trey opines that it would be great to have munchkins out tarping up the equipment instead of roadies. Finally, drawing “Boogie On” to a close, they make an attempt at starting “Run Like an Antelope” before an announcing that they have to stop for a while. Trey makes sure to note that it’s not his idea, and Page vows that they will return. Certainly one of the wilder ends to a set that I’ve heard.

An enormous cheer greets the band as they make good on their promise and take the stage for set two. “Energy” makes its third appearance and this time goes from the potential of Alpharetta to a kinetic, type-II jam. There are several enjoyable moments and hints of where versions may go in the future. Listen to the fluttering from Page that is echoed by Trey and Mike around the 10:30 mark, for example, or the weird and darker shift that almost occurs around 11:15 thanks to some fat notes from Mike. My favorite part of the jam, though, is the last 90 seconds; not because the jam is over, but because it’s the most adventurous it gets before moving on. “Ghost” sounds like they know they’re working under tight time constraints, and therefore the tempo is fast. Yet it’s a very tight, great sounding version with focused work from all four band mates. This “Ghost” should be high on your list of proofs when you need to show why jams don’t need to be long to be awesome. It’s fantastic, complete with cool “Seven Below” section and a heavenly segue into “The Lizards.”

Nothing makes the hair on my arms stand up like hearing the crowd reaction to an “Oom Pa Pa,” and rarely has one been more deserved than this one. Now, what to say about this “Harpua?” It was awful and wonderful. First, it features the cast of The Second City, who Mike and Fish had joined on Friday, as a supposed group of Philadelphia fans who have been holding a sign that says “Poster Nutbag the right way.” This improv bit develops into a rap about Al Gore, erectile dysfunction, puppies and kittens. It’s more or less a train wreck, as the Second City gang seems out of their element at a rock concert, but I would say it’s worth hearing in a “you’re not going to believe how terrible this is” way. Mike’s narration, on the other hand, is a moment that goes in the “Harpua” Hall of Fame, with a plaque bearing the inscription, “Oh, fuck, there’s a dog here.” Even if you think the Second City appearance is terrible, a Mike story is always must-hear. We often use the word “treat” in these recaps for rare tunes, but for “Harpua,” I feel a word like “joy” is more appropriate. I certainly will be elated if I ever hear one live, Al Gore boner rap or not, so I’ll admit, I’m jealous. With story time over, the band polishes off the show by completing the first set’s aborted “Antelope” and quickly fitting in a “Character Zero” encore with thanks to the amazing fans that stuck it out to the end. And all of this in time to beat the 11pm curfew. Wow.

While I have been and always will be a proponent of reviews and recaps from an archival music perspective as opposed to recapping “the show” as a live experience, you obviously aren’t going to know what it was like to be there by listening or watching a webcast. I’m looking forward to hearing those stories, because I can only begin to imagine how it must have felt to have half a show cancelled on Friday, get a three set show on Saturday, endure a monsoon on Sunday and be ultimately rewarded with “Harpua.”

And how about this band? Through a tour that has been plagued with problems thus far, they have been playing very well and getting stronger with each stop. It has to be hard as a musician to play your best when it seems like you can’t even make it through a single show without someone showing up to collect two of every animal. Even on this crazy, waterlogged night, Phish produced musical gold with “Boogie On” and “Ghost,” as well as opening up new options with “Energy.” It’s exciting to guess what’s on tap for tonight in Toronto, and then it’s Westward, Ho!

Comments

spainkiller Reply
Perfect. Thank you.
Score: 2
rusty Reply
"swimming in page sauce" lol. I enjoyed your funny review. Thanks.
Score: 4
TheProfessor Reply
"Through a tour that has been plagued with problems thus far, they have been playing very well and getting stronger with each stop."

It really impresses me. Whether I'm at the show, listening the next day (or 30 mins after the encore), or reading reviews, it all puts a smile on my face. They go above and beyond for the fans. This is shaping up to be quite an eventful and memorable tour.
Score: 2
BCKicker540 Reply
took me a minute to get the "inconvenient troupe" title, nicely done
Score: 9
ColForbin Phish.net Staff Reply
ColForbin Just put on Bathtub. ROFL at Page. So great.
Score: 8
lumpblockclod Phish.net Staff Reply
lumpblockclod Best. Recap. Title. Ever.
Score: 14
mikh2wg Reply
mikh2wg Didn't get to see the show or the webcast or anything but on tape the 2nd City part of Haprpua doesn't sound any better or worse than previous Harpua antics. Like I Kissed a Girl. Were the performers obnoxious in some other way? Seems to be something I'm missing here.

Great review, Emu. That Ghost really is something.
Score: 4
PhreePhish Reply
Despite the monsoon, an absolute blast! People really didn't get what was going on with the Second City Troupe (outa towners), but I knew it was them right away. As Mike said, "that was odd."

Contents of my wallet are still laid out and drying off. I figure my shoes will take a bout a week.

Hey Phish, next time can you play UIC Pavilion or even the Allstate Arena here? I've had about enough 'outdoors' that I can handle for 3 nights!!
Score: 4
mathyou Reply
Whether you thought the Second City folks were funny or not, ya gotta appreciate Phish attempting a middle of the year "stunt" kindofa thing.

Eh?
Score: 10
theresoundingecho Reply
The Second City stint was very awkward when the lady made the "right to choose" comment. I'm not sure if she was trying to be funny, but it got zero response from crowd...Mike Gordon phrased it best when he said, "That was odd." Thank goodness Mike saved it with a jaw dropping narration. Great show!
Score: 5
BOBinonthesurface Reply
Great music front to back, also did anyone else hear a ghost tease in the energy jam? I turned to my buddy and said I bet ghost is next I think I just heard trey tease it, while looking at the band as if to say, u heard that right? Lets do it next
Score: 1
whatstheuse324 Reply
whatstheuse324 Nice review, @TheEmu. I had the webcast last night, lost the signal as Gin was getting going, got it back halfway through Water in the Sky, lost it again until Boogie On was half over, and then saw the stage evacuation during the aborted Antelope, (at least it was in the first trimester ;) ...) I never got the rest of the show back again.

I wanted to touch on all of the bitching and moaning that was going on the Facebook message board during the webcast. Listen people, it was unfortunate that everyone lost their signal, including me, but get a grip. No other band that I know of provides "Couch Tour" like Phish. Couch Tour is the greatest invention since chocolate and peanut butter. I have purchased webcasts for almost every show that they made available and will continue to do so. Was I bummed that I couldn't get to see the whole show? Yes, but I also know that Phish will make good, like they already had this weekend, and have always done. Anyone that had Friday's webcast got a code for a free future webcast, even though we got a set and a quarter already. Saturday was an amazing three set display, and anyone that got the webcast last night is able to watch the show in its entirety at their convenience from the archive.

I am providing a link to a hilarious stand-up bit from Louis CK, who addresses first world problems similar to what people last night were dealing with. Hope you enjoy. Phish rules.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpUNA2nutbk

Score: 14
voopa Reply
voopa Great, great review.
Score: 2
OrangeSox Reply
OrangeSox Following in with another positive affirmation for the review @TheEmu. High road all the way!
Score: 0
nichobert Reply
nichobert Getting stronger with each stop?

I like this tour too, but nothing from Alpharetta or Chicago is hitting my top 5
Score: 2
funkbeard Reply
Not enough love for the Harpua. Second City kicked ass. If you don't get their style of humor, then it passed you by. Everything I've read about their appearance being a train wreck is not backed up by what I heard on the recording or watched on youtube. It's competently done, and is only the third Harpua since 1.0 to boast real energy and near-perfect execution. The tornado reference brings back memories of some classic versions (12/29/96?). Admittedly connected with the SNL style of humor, you kinda either love it or hate it. But it was that style, and their story was clearly well-informed by Harpuas past, and made for a great charactature for the history of the song.
Score: 4
Just_Ivy Reply
Just_Ivy This whole Chicago run was one was for the ages. The stuff that spawns myth and legend, perhaps...

"When we saw Phish play Northerly Island back in '13, it had already rained for 60 days and nights straight even before they took the stage! The heavens could only hold back for so long after Gordon summoned Thor himself and all his thunder! The EPIC battle between the God of the Heavens and the Gods of ROCK took place before our very eyes for three full days. The first day's retreat was handily recouped on the second, when Phish played 3 full sets over the course of ~4.5 hours! On the third day, however, the winds blew their hardest and the rain fell in amounts that only could be described as "biblical". We gasped as our heroes initially yielded to the very Elements (Set) they had glorified not two years prior near the exact spot where we bore witness to The Reckoning. Our fears were quickly replaced by joy though as the Foursome rallied forth and smote the ruins of the mighty Sky God into the depths of Lake Michigan. At last, thoughtful improvisation had triumphed over listless musical wandering. Good had defeated evil...

...and then they played Harpua!!!"

In all seriousness, though. I've got to hand it to Phish for going above and beyond for their fans. They didn't owe anybody a thing for Friday's cancellation after the first set or the lengthy rain delay on Sunday. But they gave the fans something for their troubles anyways. Phish is good people.

Sunday's show will be remembered mostly for it's wacky Harpua that so many in attendance wanted to see firsthand (and add to their stats). But there's strong musical content in this show as well. The first set Boogie On is a real booty-licious gem with Mike refusing to stop the funk train. The real goods show up in set 2, though. While the Energy has some length to it, it's the tightly-played, liquidy Ghost -> The Lizards that I found most impressive.

This is a great recap (I'm biased)! It's not only an accurate play-by-play of the music but manages to captures a bit of the emotions that even those of us on couch tour were feeling...

"We're all in this together...and we love to take a bath."
Score: 13
funkbeard Reply
@theresoundingecho said:
The Second City stint was very awkward when the lady made the "right to choose" comment. I'm not sure if she was trying to be funny, but it got zero response from crowd...Mike Gordon phrased it best when he said, "That was odd." Thank goodness Mike saved it with a jaw dropping narration. Great show!
Weird, because I swear I heard people laugh. Her timing couldn't have been better. Hell, I laughed.
Score: 1
HarborSeal Reply
I watched the video. The Second City performers were unbelievably boring. Mike's reaction, on the other hand, was HILARIOUS. And then his Harpua narration playsd so artfully off the past tellings of the story... I suppose he had the home field advantage, so to speak, but last night he made the comedy pros look like amateurs.
Score: 2
PhirstPhargoPhan Reply
Second CIty- Not so funny. Not to cool. This is what phish is all about. spontaneity and the unexpected. But I have one issue with the woman who used the opportunity to advocate an issue that divides this country. Weather or not you believe in Life or choice, the spiritual stage of the band should not be used selfishly to advocate issues that divide brothers and sisters in the phamily of Phish. Three words to you sister- OUT OF LINE. Thanks Mike for turning that train wreak around for a memorable Harpua! Second City- Have some respect for the Phree Church that is Phish.
Score: -1
mattyk Reply
for all those not feeling the women's right to choose comment I'd say it was supposed to be another Al Gore joke as it is an issue he advocates for
Score: 2
waxbanks Reply
waxbanks @PhirstPhargoPhan said:
But I have one issue with the woman who used the opportunity to advocate an issue that divides this country. Weather or not you believe in Life or choice, the spiritual stage of the band should not be used selfishly to advocate issues that divide brothers and sisters in the phamily of Phish. Three words to you sister- OUT OF LINE.
just wanna jump in and say that -- speaking for no one but myself -- i think your comment's kinda bullshit and i'd hope thinking adults wouldn't start from literally ridiculous framing like 'whether you believe in Life or choice.'

looking forward to hearing the show.
Score: 11
voopa Reply
voopa I though it was a cue to abort the skit.
Score: 1
AlbanyYEM Reply
AlbanyYEM Perhaps the greatest gift of being human is that of rationality, the ability to see patterns in the world and to derive meaning from these insights. Yet there is also the danger of seeing things that simply are not present; patterns fraught with deep meanings to oneself that are simply not there in the world. So with the caveat that this is all just speculation (or madness), I'd like to provide a lame analogy as to what exactly happened in the Harpua, mainly piggy-backing off of what @JumpMang has already stated in the review section proper of the show.

Is humor meant to be consumed and immediately reacted to? Humor itself depends on the recognition of such patterns, as something unexpected that nicely acts as an outlier--showing us the patterns themselves. Stat geeks like myself are obsessed with Phish patterns (length of jams, quality of jams, bustouts, etc etc), and thus are obsessed with contextualizing a show to fit into certain categories that we use to consume the music. We carry this with us to every show. This is, paradoxically, categorizing a phenomenon (jams) whose entire spirit is meant to transcend categorical delimitations. It's a fine line between expectation and appreciation. Getting back to humor, the whole point is to show the absurdity of the human condition, the patterning, the expectations. We laugh because we are caught off guard, thinking we know what is coming, and of course realizing our error. That's the joke. Put like this, (though it is all good natured) ultimately every joke is on us.

Even humor itself has levels. Things that are lightly shocking put us into a place where we easily recognize the joke, and the butt of the joke is something we don't particularly hold sacred. Maybe some light conventional behavior that ultimately serves no purpose could work here, something we're not attached to. Yet humor can also strike home on a much more challenging level (think Kaufman, Lenny Bruce, or Carlin). Satire in particular is an enormously effective tool to use as a mirror to show us ourselves, our culture, our absurdities, our injustices. If one knows of oneself, one can ask the question--why? Is this the best way to be? Am I acting for a reason, using my mind to see better patterns, caring enough to change?

Alright, alright, I know this is quite the rant so I'll get to the point. Harpua has always been the ultimate in the 'what the fuck?' moments as far as Phish goes. Honestly ask yourself, WHY do people seek out the 'holy grail' of Harpua? I would hope it's about surrendering oneself to the absurdity of life and the freedom that entails, rather than simply because it is the ultimate Phish delicacy, the finest of rare Phish morsels. THIS particular Harpua I felt was of a much, much deeper level than the glorious surreality of Harpuas of yore.

I've got two points on the Second City bit of it. The first is that they are supposed to be terrible, that they are the 'straight man' portion of the set up that allows Mike to absolutely slay his narration with his impeccable timing and quirk. There are many instances of the banding acting themselves in a very 'what the fuck?' manner, if not downright making fun of the lameness of the whole bit. Second City people do some ridiculous, unfunny, and just plain weird bits and Phish (Trey, Mike, Fish at least, not sure about Page) rightfully take potshots at their nonsense. The Second City people were unexpected, but they weren't funny because they showed us nothing (in themselves) much less anything true about ourselves. On the surface, the comedy bits worked (see @JumpMang for the original point here) because they had both the straight (though still strange) routine and the wise-ass cracks by the band members.
It's like the tension and release in the jam--an almost musical back and forth that leads to the 'release' and funniness of the band itself, hilarious because of the tension invoked before. The Second City people let themselves be the butt of the joke.

Now the second part I'm probably reaching on, but I like where it goes so I'm just gonna say it. If the Second City people were that bad, made to be the butt of the joke, and generally had no other purpose on stage, then does this humor challenge us on a deeper level? It definitely caused some uncomfortable moments between a symbol of actual fans themselves (the Second City people) and the band. Could the Second City folks represent some darker part of ourselves that needs a cathartic exposing to the light of day? I certainly think so. The sign said "Poster Nutbag the RIGHT WAY." Think about what that means for a second. It was certainly a jarring moment when the 'fans' who were thoroughly clueless as to the chemistry of the band literally took over the stage and made the performance their own--relegating Phish to an afterthought. In every sense, the 'fans' had their own agenda and LITERALLY substituted their own narration for the bands'.

Truly deep humor can make us uncomfortable because it shows us things about ourselves that we perhaps are not entirely proud of. I think the Second City joke certainly showed me something about myself and my tendencies to judge the shit out of every single decision the band makes. Am I entirely clueless as to what the band wants to be--do I want them to be entirely what I want, entirely on my own terms? The simple answer is yes. Yes I do. And they are not that band that I want them to be, though they show frustrating glimpses of going where I want them to go. The irony of people judging the Harpua bit (deriding its length and the lack of jamming time) while entirely missing the point of the joke is just masterful. The subtly, depth, and freight-train-hitting-a-bullseye accuracy of this humor is starkly poignant and a thoroughly matured reaction to the band's aging and the fanbase.

The patterns we see are often obscured by the patterns we wish to see. To let go of them and enjoy life, sometimes we need reminders. I reserve my right to enjoy the jamming shows more than others, but I cannot pronounce the bands' intentions for them, or miss the excitement of something new, the new without which the band would die.
Score: 18
marshbirder Reply
Not a fan of that Harpua at all. It was so awkward. If I can be picky about a Harpua :) I want to hear a song in the middle, not some weird skit that wasn't funny. Plus I think Toronto deserved it more than Chicago, but I wasn't there and won't be there tonight...
Score: 0
BigBrotherD Reply
Great review. Glad the emotion in the house during Boogie On was apparent even to those couch touring. Note: The munchkin comment was something along the lines of "wouldn't it be a lot nicer if it was raining munchkins," and was, shortly thereafter, clarified as "munchkin doughnuts." (As opposed to little people)
Score: 1
ColForbin Phish.net Staff Reply
ColForbin Image

The visual to Page's antics in the Gin.
Score: 12
glowstickcampfire Reply
@AlbanyYEM said:
Perhaps the greatest gift of being human is that of rationality, the ability to see patterns in the world and to derive meaning from these insights. Yet there is also the danger of seeing things that simply are not present; patterns fraught with deep meanings to oneself that are simply not there in the world. So with the caveat that this is all just speculation (or madness), I'd like to provide a lame analogy as to what exactly happened in the Harpua, mainly piggy-backing off of what @JumpMang has already stated in the review section proper of the show.

Is humor meant to be consumed and immediately reacted to? Humor itself depends on the recognition of such patterns, as something unexpected that nicely acts as an outlier--showing us the patterns themselves. Stat geeks like myself are obsessed with Phish patterns (length of jams, quality of jams, bustouts, etc etc), and thus are obsessed with contextualizing a show to fit into certain categories that we use to consume the music. We carry this with us to every show. This is, paradoxically, categorizing a phenomenon (jams) whose entire spirit is meant to transcend categorical delimitations. It's a fine line between expectation and appreciation. Getting back to humor, the whole point is to show the absurdity of the human condition, the patterning, the expectations. We laugh because we are caught off guard, thinking we know what is coming, and of course realizing our error. That's the joke. Put like this, (though it is all good natured) ultimately every joke is on us.

Even humor itself has levels. Things that are lightly shocking put us into a place where we easily recognize the joke, and the butt of the joke is something we don't particularly hold sacred. Maybe some light conventional behavior that ultimately serves no purpose could work here, something we're not attached to. Yet humor can also strike home on a much more challenging level (think Kaufman, Lenny Bruce, or Carlin). Satire in particular is an enormously effective tool to use as a mirror to show us ourselves, our culture, our absurdities, our injustices. If one knows of oneself, one can ask the question--why? Is this the best way to be? Am I acting for a reason, using my mind to see better patterns, caring enough to change?

Alright, alright, I know this is quite the rant so I'll get to the point. Harpua has always been the ultimate in the 'what the fuck?' moments as far as Phish goes. Honestly ask yourself, WHY do people seek out the 'holy grail' of Harpua? I would hope it's about surrendering oneself to the absurdity of life and the freedom that entails, rather than simply because it is the ultimate Phish delicacy, the finest of rare Phish morsels. THIS particular Harpua I felt was of a much, much deeper level than the glorious surreality of Harpuas of yore.

I've got two points on the Second City bit of it. The first is that they are supposed to be terrible, that they are the 'straight man' portion of the set up that allows Mike to absolutely slay his narration with his impeccable timing and quirk. There are many instances of the banding acting themselves in a very 'what the fuck?' manner, if not downright making fun of the lameness of the whole bit. Second City people do some ridiculous, unfunny, and just plain weird bits and Phish (Trey, Mike, Fish at least, not sure about Page) rightfully take potshots at their nonsense. The Second City people were unexpected, but they weren't funny because they showed us nothing (in themselves) much less anything true about ourselves. On the surface, the comedy bits worked (see @JumpMang for the original point here) because they had both the straight (though still strange) routine and the wise-ass cracks by the band members.
It's like the tension and release in the jam--an almost musical back and forth that leads to the 'release' and funniness of the band itself, hilarious because of the tension invoked before. The Second City people let themselves be the butt of the joke.

Now the second part I'm probably reaching on, but I like where it goes so I'm just gonna say it. If the Second City people were that bad, made to be the butt of the joke, and generally had no other purpose on stage, then does this humor challenge us on a deeper level? It definitely caused some uncomfortable moments between a symbol of actual fans themselves (the Second City people) and the band. Could the Second City folks represent some darker part of ourselves that needs a cathartic exposing to the light of day? I certainly think so. The sign said "Poster Nutbag the RIGHT WAY." Think about what that means for a second. It was certainly a jarring moment when the 'fans' who were thoroughly clueless as to the chemistry of the band literally took over the stage and made the performance their own--relegating Phish to an afterthought. In every sense, the 'fans' had their own agenda and LITERALLY substituted their own narration for the bands'.

Truly deep humor can make us uncomfortable because it shows us things about ourselves that we perhaps are not entirely proud of. I think the Second City joke certainly showed me something about myself and my tendencies to judge the shit out of every single decision the band makes. Am I entirely clueless as to what the band wants to be--do I want them to be entirely what I want, entirely on my own terms? The simple answer is yes. Yes I do. And they are not that band that I want them to be, though they show frustrating glimpses of going where I want them to go. The irony of people judging the Harpua bit (deriding its length and the lack of jamming time) while entirely missing the point of the joke is just masterful. The subtly, depth, and freight-train-hitting-a-bullseye accuracy of this humor is starkly poignant and a thoroughly matured reaction to the band's aging and the fanbase.

The patterns we see are often obscured by the patterns we wish to see. To let go of them and enjoy life, sometimes we need reminders. I reserve my right to enjoy the jamming shows more than others, but I cannot pronounce the bands' intentions for them, or miss the excitement of something new, the new without which the band would die.
Score: 0
glowstickcampfire Reply
@AlbanyYEM

"I would hope it's about surrendering oneself to the absurdity of life and the freedom that entails, rather than simply because it is the ultimate Phish delicacy, the finest of rare Phish morsels. THIS particular Harpua I felt was of a much, much deeper level than the glorious surreality of Harpuas of yore."

First, I just want to say that I posted an empty comment as a response to your post somewhere on this feed of comments, and I haven't figured out how to delete it. My response to you was:

You have a talent for expressing your thoughts. And I agree. It was pure humor. The trick was to surrender to the flow.

Score: 3
Poizon45 Reply
Poizon45 The Paige spinning around photo above is awesome, that was one of the highlights of that show for me!!! And enduring a monsoon is accurate, at one point they started selling garbage bags to people when they sold out of ponchos. Had a blast though.
Score: 0
MySoula Reply
MySoula Great review. CK5 really did some quality work at the end of Energy, which would have happened when the stream was down. You could tell the band was pretty frustrated with the conditions as well but glad to be able to finish it out (listen to "surrender to the flow" chuckles and "storm's gone" line where you could really see/hear relief that everything passed). Lightning was definitely in the area during the break, glad it wasn't called. Rain was an inconvenience (came fast, hard, from every direction, and was flowing ankle deep down the floor) but I wouldn't trade that experience for a dry, non-harpua night.
Score: 0
GinSoup Reply
If you cant see that the 'women's right to choose' bit was a reference to trey's right to abort, then people must have to explain jokes to you defeating their comedic value in the first place
Score: 1
schvice Reply
schvice @AlbanyYEM said:
It's like the tension and release in the jam--an almost musical back and forth that leads to the 'release' and funniness of the band itself, hilarious because of the tension invoked before. The Second City people let themselves be the butt of the joke.
This is an excellent point. I don't know if Second City intended to be the butt of the joke or not. That doesn't mean much though, because great humor doesn't always make that obvious (e.g. everything Andy Kauffman did, ever).

I would love to see one of the mixtape artists around here create a mix of only the "tension" moments from some classic Phish performances. I'm quite certain it would be terrible. That tension/release that Phish is known for is kind of a jazz move that they practiced extensively and turned into something all their own. And for good reason -- it's a very effective way to elicit emotion without the use of words.

Very often, you'll hear Trey playing a solo that is solid and fine, but not exhilarating. Then, he'll suddenly play something that doesn't fit. You're never quite sure if it was a mistake or not, but it doesn't sound right and that makes you a little uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because it sounds bad, but also because somewhere deep down inside, you feel a little bad for him, like he's screwing this up and you're witnessing a trainwreck. If you were just coasting along before, you're pulling for him now, but you're a little worried. With your attention invested and your panic reflex now firing up the adrenaline production, he then resolves it (often up to a new peak in his case), and you can feel your whole body relax a little and you just melt right into it. As with the classic literary device, the introduction of a little danger makes the subsequent narrow escape all the more triumphant.

That same series of events could be used to describe what you probably felt watching that Harpua. So was the Second City gag good or not? I don't know, and I don't care. If you're into Phish, you're probably not the kind of person who's too concerned with the concept of what music is "good" or "bad," right? I mean, I don't know if I'd say that 8-14-93 Antelope madness is "good," but I sure do love it and I'm so thankful that it exists.

By the way, if you play an instrument and don't already employ this principle, try it yourself (as taught to me by a great jazz guitarist I once knew): Next time you're wailing away on that same old Stevie Ray blues riff, keep playing that same pattern but slide up a fret for a bar or two. Instant discord, unease, tension. Then drop back down and enjoy the release.
Score: 1
Mrpalmermusicman Reply
Good or bad, it got everyone talking. Which in the end...is good. Yes?
Score: 1
SaSS_y Reply
SaSS_y I love Phish for the mix of music and comedy. Their concerts are truly bang for my entertainment dollar.

That being said, I thought the "Harpua" antics prior to Mike's narration were weird. If it was meant to hold a mirror to fan behavior, I get that, but I thought it was weird. Kinda cringe worthy. Consider though the totality of the weekend, and the fact that we got in succession two of the greatest song endings in rock and roll (Lizards and Harpua), and the show is worthy of many relistens. I know i will.
Score: 0
mgouker Reply
mgouker A good short show - I don't think they were going to play anything else after Harpua besides GTBT, so its length shouldn't really be a point of debate. The rain was the problem, but we probably only lost a couple songs and we feasted Saturday night, so it all works out.

Set 1 was well played - loved the Maze and the Boogie. I love that they are playing Mound more often. Dinner and a Movie was a little ragged, but it's great to hear anyway. Set 2 ENERGY-> Ghost was pure gold. Nicely done! :-)

As for the Second City bit, I thought it was great. The audience plants made me scratch my head because they looked so out of place. Then when the rap started I wondered about the topic choice. Al Gore isn't that relevant - was this about the weather? Climate change? If so, bad choice because thunderstorms in July in Chicago and the South are typical weather. There are thousands of better examples of climate change. In any case, after the rap they left the stage and Mike told his story. I thought it was just ok - I love Mike's oblique approach to the world and I was waiting for something a little more cosmic than "Oh Fuck, It's a Dog."

GTBT and Zero rocked hard. Nice icing on the cake!

Finally:

@PhirstPhargoPhan said:

But I have one issue with the woman who used the opportunity to advocate an issue that divides this country. Weather or not you believe in Life or choice, the spiritual stage of the band should not be used selfishly to advocate issues that divide brothers and sisters in the phamily of Phish. Three words to you sister- OUT OF LINE.

I disagree. It was a great platform to advocate a woman's right to choose. Many people still don't get it and I can't open your eyes if they are nailed shut, but it is far from a foregone conclusion that anything most of us in this culture believe (a woman's right to choose, freedom to walk around neighborhoods while being black and wearing a hoodie, access to affordable health care, an end to the war on some drugs, peaceful right to protest against wall street/government cronyism, an end to American militarism, same sex marriage, access to untainted food and water, public transportation networks, a more equitable distribution of wealth, et cetera). We have to band together. I admire the Second City performer for making that comment and using the stage as her podium. Do what you can too.

Peace from Florida,

Michael
Score: 0
mgouker Reply
mgouker ok, I didn't finish my thought, but it's pretty clear, right? Don't take anything for granted because nothing is certain. Ever. Be safe out there. Forward to the sunny GORGE!!!
Score: 0
funkdubayous Reply
Can someone please enlighten me. What does an Al gore rap about erectile dysfunction have to do with doing Harpua right? I felt like I was robbed of a great historical moment of phish history when those actors came up on stage. it seemed completely rehearsed.
Score: 0
planetneutral Reply
planetneutral @funkdubayous said:
I felt like I was robbed of a great historical moment of phish history when those actors came up on stage.
I think this gets close to the heart of the problem that some people who were in attendance have with this Harpua. When the interaction about the signs started, we felt like something authentic was happening. When the illusion really started to crumble (detectable much earlier on the stream than from my own vantage point in front of the soundboard, I might add), I felt uneasy, and from there it continued downhill into a bizarre, uncomfortable couple of minutes. Yes, I get the many layers of mockery and can totally laugh and appreciate it...from a distance. In the moment, I felt burned for buying in to the premise and it didn't feel good. It never does when the joke's on you. That's not the feeling I'm going for at any Phish show, much less in the middle of the Harpua that rewards dedicated fans who stayed around despite getting pelted with rain and sleet in the first set. Seems like an odd time to be sending that message. Mike did bring some authentic in-the-moment classic Cactus, but the weird vibe from those "sketch"y moments was hard to recover from.
Score: 1
AbePhroman Reply
If you don't like this Harpua, it's probably because you're a hater and Trey basically called you an asshole. The band plays the "right way"
Score: 2
AbePhroman Reply
You still don't realize thry were bad on purpose? To prove that most fans have no idea. They bashed all the haters about the repeats.
Score: 1

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