Phish: The Compass Points to Dick’s
“Lawn Boy” in Tahoe
After two top-notch shows it was time to return to stunning Lake Tahoe, a place most fans would’ve thought was a one-off gig for Phish back in 2011. While those previous shows were fun enough, both of 2013’s shows exceeded what was previously offered and then some.
Tahoe night one was an inspired dance party with 7,000 lucky fans throwing down just over the California boarder in Stateline, Nevada. With late-night shows planned for both days and the jewel of the Sierra, aka Lake Tahoe available for daytime fun, the band came out sending and clearly passed on the fun they were feeling to the crowd.
A “Wolfman’s Brother” to open the set initially sounded a bit odd as it had just been offered at the Gorge, but the rhythms were so funky any doubt was immediately cast aside with Harvey’s Amphitheater off and running. “Gotta Jiboo” carried the danceable groove and kept the set running with tight takes on “Birds of a Feather,” “Cities” and a raging end to the set in “Tube” >”Walk Away.” However, the highlight of this set came in a unique “Bathtub Gin.” It wasn’t the longest take, nor was it the most out-there version, but the peak served as clear pinnacle moment, making sure everyone in attendance knew there’d be no letting up from the Gorge.
Set two switched things over to more of a hard changing, rock and roll feel for the remainder of the show. A breakout jam in “Golden Age” bled into a huge, rocking “46 Days.” If there was ever any question in this show, the groove laced “Ghost”> absolutely raging “Carini” shook any doubt. The segue continued, into a swift, bouncy “Piper”. The “Mikes Song”>”Slave to the Traffic Light” was a solid way to cap the set.
Rolling into night two, after three incredible shows, would Phish raise the bar once again? In a show that will be remembered indefinitely, that answers any questions if this band can play on a level they once consistency brought 15-20 years ago, and actually does not need a date to place it, the answer is an undoubtable yes.
Another atypical first set showcased an always welcome “Camel Walk”, “Its Ice” and another nicely jammed “Ocelot.” Other highlights include the bands fourth take on the Mike Gordon reggae tune, “Yarmouth Road” and a intricately woven “Stash.” A great first set, truly the seventh well played set in as many offerings, but the opening tune from set two is why this show needs not be remembered for anything other than two words.
Tahoe “Tweezer.” It’s a jam that just doesn’t get old. In fact, as surreal as it was experiencing it in person, the jam gets better and better every time you listen to it. Each section of music is unique, well-thought out and goes somewhere. There’s a clear “Dark” and “Light” jam. There’s a section where it’s hard not to hear some form of 70’s classic rock, one where many of us thought the jam was done-and it still would’ve been hailed as a top-tier jam, and several more layers beyond that. There’s even a spontaneous back-and-forth energy exchange with the crowd yielding a “Wooo!” call-out that saw life in each of the remaining four shows of tour. Phish has produced some mind-melting music over their illustrious career, and while the band and its fans are as esoteric as anything in music, and subjectivity is at the helm in every one of these “best of” conversations and reviews, nothing can take away from the fact that this is one of the proudest things Phish has every created. It was almost hard to listen to the rest of the set after this monumental “Tweezer” but they tried their best, playing only the seventh “Tela” since 1998 directly after “Tweezer.” The set closing “Antelope” was pure fire, as was the rocking “Julius” >Tweezer Reprise” encore. But the singular moment of this Phish era took place on this evening outside the norm in “Tweezer”. It will stand the test of time and continue to receive as much hype as it deserves because it quite simply is that good.