Coming off the heels of a particularly strong three show stretch, the question coming into last night's show in Reading, was could Phish sustain the momentum, or were we in for a relative letdown, much like last week's Rochester show? Looking at what had been played over the last few shows, it looked like we were due for a "Disease," "Piper," and "Hood" centric second set (we went two for three), with the show-before-Halloween factor lurking as the wildcard. Would Reading deliver?
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Phish Fall Tour makes a stop in Reading, PA tonight. According to the 2011 US Census, Reading at the time was the nation's poorest city, with over 40% of its residents living at or below the poverty line. It has since lost that title to Camden, NJ but remains one of our nation's most impoverished places. Phish fans can help, thanks to the efforts of .net user @YorkVilleBeerLover. See the forum thread that got it off the ground here.
The Greater Berks Food Bank will have donation bins right inside the venue entrance, so make a quick stop at the grocery store before you hit the lot and bring some canned food donations! It's cheap, it's easy, and it helps those who need it.
Things that are acceptable include any unopened, non-perishable food items (canned, boxed, bagged, bottled) as well as unopened personal hygiene items (soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste).
They cannot accept the following items:
- Home-made foods (canned jellies, canned vegetables, cookies, etc.)
- Expired, opened, or damaged items (damage that would affect the quality or safety of the product – rusted cans, cans with dents along the rims, bagged items with tears, etc.)
- Items with no labels
If you are not going, read this post after the gig, or otherwise can't help at the show but want to donate cash, you can do that here.
Spread the word and hopefully we can show the city of Reading that Phish fans want to make a difference.
Fans attending the shows in Atlantic City this week should be advised of the following Public Safety Notice from Boardwalk Hall:
For fans attending any of the 2013 Phish concerts at Boardwalk Hall, please make a note of the following information:
* There will be a strict no bag policy for these shows. No bags of any kind will be permitted into the arena.
* Public parking at Boardwalk Hall will not available from 10/30 through 11/3.
* One 20 oz. factory sealed or empty plastic water bottle per person will be permitted.
As I was taking the train up from Grand Central through Connecticut Sunday afternoon, the sunny autumn day was punctuated by the news that Lou Reed, Velvet Underground founder, noise rock pioneer, occasional hit songwriter, and denizen of the downtown avant-garde, had died at age 71. There are many artists of that era whose deaths would be a devastating blow to me personally; while Lou Reed wasn’t really in that pantheon, I felt strangely sad and affected nonetheless, as though an epoch of rock and roll was somehow ended. I wondered what Velvet Underground tunes Phish would play that night, and secretly hoped we’d hear my favorite VU tune, “Venus in Furs.”
Phish owes a lot to Lou Reed. Obviously there’s the matter of the band’s 1998 Halloween album, the Velvet Underground’s 1970 masterpiece Loaded. Yet it’s hard to imagine the “Storage Jam” from SuperBall without Metal Machine Music coming first. So when Phish returned to the Hartford Civic Center after 14 years, continuing their fall theme of re-christening the old haunts of their late 90s indoor tours, everyone was expecting some kind of tribute to the late master – maybe a reprise of the Dick’s appearance of “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’,” maybe a “Sweet Jane” or “Who Loves the Sun” bustout. I was still caught off guard by the rollicking “Rock and Roll” to open the show, the first time it had done so since 12/29/98.
After Friday night's stellar show, I'll admit to facing this assignment with some amount of trepidation. I was worried about having to review a show that in all likelihood would be below the heights reached on the 25th. Well, let's say that there was no reason to worry - last night stands at least equal and maybe above its partner, and the two shows were of such high quality that we will be talking about the Worcester '13 run for years to come. Now, on to the show!
I was anxious to see what changes the DCU Center (née Centrum) had made, especially after reading Parker's excellent preview. Well, if any of you were worried, it is the same old Centrum - a cozy little barn of a hockey rink that has been the site of many amazing Phish shows. The concourse was a little cleaner and brighter, but bathroom lines were still long and getting in and out of the building was still a long and annoying process. Sound on the floor was great, although when I ventured into the stands during Prince Bathroombreak Friday night, things were a little boomy and echoey.
The colors on the trees are mostly faded. It’s cold outside. The Red Sox are in the World Series. And Phish is back at The Centrum. Life is good. Short and sweet here, for a blow-by-blow visit the excellent JamBase Skinny.
Shit-show Friday afternoon traffic led to a very late start even for Phish standard time – at a half hour after the scheduled start time the floor was barely half full. Everything about this venue “outside the ropes” (concessions, bathrooms, Worcester as a place) is still a pain-in-the-ass, but everything inside was relaxed, cozy, and happy!
The “Waves” > “Carini” combo is exactly what you want out of the critical third quarter frame, this has it all, 23-minutes that oozes sexy crunchy grooves, and taken as a whole every bit as satisfying as the Hampton “Tweezer.” If “Carini” isn’t the most consistent go-to jam stalwart, I’m not sure what is – so damn good, every single time. The “Caspian” was a soul-crushing moment, and the “Number Line” didn’t help matters. But then every ounce of potential disappointment transformed as our lovable Vermont heroes opened the books back up on the jamming through “Ghost” and the “Disease” > “Sneaking Sally” combo. Everything that came after was gravy, but the sheer quantity of songs gave everyone a hook to hang their hat on. Good points, bad points. Good times, bad times. Sometimes it was hard to get emotional footing through the roller coaster, but that which was good, was great.
Of the many elements of the Phish.net feature set, one that often catches my curiosity is Trey's Notebook. It identifies songs most likely to be played at each show, given songs played in the previous year but not the previous three shows.
For upcoming shows, it's an algorithmic prediction ("Here's what you might expect to hear...") that often works remarkably well, such as predicting 68% of the 22 songs played three nights ago in Rochester. But for previous shows, focus on those percentages themselves rather than the list of songs, and Trey's Notebook becomes a measure of the extent to which Phish's setlists are predictable.
That varies widely, as this first chart illustrates. A handful of early shows were completely predicted (100%!), but many were predictive #fails (0%). Shows in 1990-93 were generally less predictable than shows before or since, largely as a function of the repertoire expanding during that period. And there's a general pattern, marked here with a fifth-order polynomial trendline, in maroon, though nothing stark. (Note that this scatterplot replaces an earlier, clunkier lineplot.)
I’m not going to lie: I fucked up.
The “why” isn’t important. I just did. I flat-out forgot I had volunteered for recap duty tonight, and I have been so dually preoccupied with work and a gnarly case of the crud to even realize there was a webcast. Yes, I made it home and dialed in the feed in time to catch the very beginning of “Limb By Limb," but if I tried to pretend I knew what happened before then (apart from what songs were played), I just couldn’t live with myself.
So I asked some other staffers about the first half of the first set, and here’s what they told me:
One replied, “I’m not streaming.”
Another offered, “I had technical difficulties for half the set. Then I got really high off a candy. Now I’m hiding under a Slanket.”
From the editors: For this installment of our fall tour recaps, phish.net staff wanted to extend an invitation to Lenny Stubbe (aka @lastubbe on twitter, and phish.net) to offer his perspective on Tuesday night’s return to Rochester. Lenny is a longtime Phish fan and Deadhead from Buffalo, NY. He was an early Usenet contributor who wrote a handful of articles published in DeadBase, phish.net and The Phish Companion. Lenny also occasionally contributes to UpstateLIVE.com. Lenny is an avid taper and collector of live music with a passion for preserving audience recordings of all existing Phish and Grateful Dead shows, many of which he shares on dead-phish.com.
Has it really been 14 years since Phish has played Rochester? If you take Canandaigua out it certainly has. You would think Rochester, like Buffalo, which has also not seen the band in some time, is one of those upstate New York towns that would have seen the band a ton over the years. But Rochester has actually seen just a handful of shows: a University of Rochester cafeteria on 4/20/91; The Warehouse on 9/27/91; Auditorium Theatre on 2/9/93; and the War Memorial (now the “Blue Cross Arena”) on 12/11/97, 12/5/99 and last night, 10/22/13. Amazing when you think about it, as Phish ruled the east coast early on and often.
Starting with this week's 165th installment of Phish.net's Mystery Jam Monday, inaugural MJM emeritus @RabeldyNugs will be your guest host for a few weeks. I suggest you invest in Q-tips, because you will need all the help you can get with Rabeldy running the show.
As usual, this week's 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! (You'll need it.)