Because of *ahem* legal troubles as documented in my last .Net review I’m not permitted to leave where I live, and I don't live at the United Center, so this Phish show recap was generated in my living room instead of the NBA’s largest arena. The band came out to roars and applause but I didn’t feel compelled to stand up and instead chose to remain on my ass in my pajamas. No Hawaiian shirt, no face gems, no dudes offering me a finger dip into their mysterious baggies; just pure, unadulterated couch. And I still had a better seat than 8,000 of the nosebleeds.
The band launches into “Runaway Jim,” and I imagined all the disorderly conduct of the concourses morphing into sprints to be in the room for the first song. Indoor Midwest shows have some of the loudest, most appreciative crowds of all time, and I could tell through the TV that this was no exception. As it was nearly Halloween, the band followed this with “Martian Monster”; with its calls for blasting off, it stands as the unofficial-official DMT-smoking song of nerds everywhere.
Next was, “Sample in a Jar.” You know, the song Phish was trying to release as a hit single even though the lyrical content centers around the storing of urine at room temperature and then “sampling” it as it ages. A practice that is actually not universally recognized for its health benefits outside of our niche community. It’s another jammed out “Sample,” which inspired confidence in the rest of the evening. Next was “Weigh,” which takes erotic asphyxiation two steps too far.
Damn I hadn’t seen “Corinna” since before the pandemic. And I still haven’t! Because I was on my ass at home. Nobody was bumping into me non-stop because they’d lost their capacity to recognize where they end and I begin. Nobody was getting kicked out of the living room for tripping too hard! Actually, nobody was getting kicked out of the United Center for tripping too hard, either. Chicago-lifer MrDougDoug informed me that the venue boasts a sensory overload room, complete with beanbag chairs, bubbly lights, baby toys, and art-you-can-touch. Staff have been trained to identify those experiencing a “sensory overload,” not unlike the “Intense Psychedelic Response” staff memos that leaked prior to the Fare Thee Well concerts. Chicago: way ahead of the game in the ethical treatment of Spunions.
Man, I would’ve danced the shit out of that “Tube-46 Days-NICU” if I wasn’t home on my ass in my pajamas. Once they take this location monitor off my ankle it’s over for you bitches.
“Most Events Aren’t Planned” which is true, except for Phish shows which are booked at least a few months out, and especially Phish shows in which they reliably play a bust-out cover every night of the tour. However, N2 of Dayton, when they played, “I Am the Walrus,” the comparative rarity was actually “Cool Amber and Mercury.” Which reminded me:
WHERE IS MY TIDE TURNS?! What happened to pandering to the recovery crowd? Have our emphatic proclamations of redemption inspired by Trey’s heroic story arc become too much for him? Well, whatever the issue, I think with the help of his vocal coach he could really slay “Tide Turns,” and I’ll keep holding out hope.
"Life in slow motion, feet are in the clay-" was my cue to run to the bathroom to beat the setbreak lines. I got there in seconds flat and had the place to myself. And somebody even left free tampons!
I got back in time to rage the end of “More.” Then I turned on all the lights in the living room and milled about. Did some dishes. Set break is weird with nobody to talk to.
Second set opened with a “Chalk Dust” that went Type II sometime after the six-minute mark. The band made succinct inroads over different textures and terrains, which left them at a lick-laden blues-rocky peak. They never return to the end of CDT and instead embarked on “Oblivion” which was a well-executed version, while the shortest to date.
“Melt,” on the other hand, had about nine minutes of excellent, scaring-the-hoes out-ness, which Fishman and Page eventually chose to drive away from murky swamp of dissonance and into an early-electronic-soundscapes kraut jam with bleep-bloops and wimp-womps the likes of which I’ve technically never seen!
“What’s the Use?” into “Everything’s Right,” was poetic, if not poignant, and a substitution I accepted in lieu of a heady “Tide Turns.” Someone on Twitter pointed out that Everything’s not Right, unlike at the time of the song’s composition when all was Right in the world. When you aren’t abusing your hypothalamus and wearing a sequined cape, yes, the song can be misconstrued as toxic positivity, but that’s always been true. It was true in 2017 when much of the western world was reeling because a few rockstars had crossed the rainbow bridge, it was true through every election cycle, every forest fire, every lockdown, every overseas conflict that effected somebody else, and yes, it’s true even now. But the song comes from the purest place of hope and nowhere else, because cynicism and Phish go together about as well as New Yorkers and deep dish pizza.
Somewhere outside the United Center I envisioned a man who was kicked out of the venue (or never entered in the first place) seated on the ground getting first crack at the nitrous mafia. He lifted his head slowly, removed the balloon from his balloon hole, and in a voice inhumanly deep and dark like the bottom of the ocean, slowly remarked, “No Quarter... No way...!”
Yes, way. While not technically the biggest bust-out cover of the night, it felt huge. Well, it almost felt huge, but I had to keep the volume down because my family was sleeping upstairs.
Late second set “Fluffhead” which is French for, “Sorry we didn’t jam for thirty minutes, please don’t tip over our tour buses.” The audience clearly accepted this apology. It was a Saturday, anyway. Saturday isn’t about sojourns into deep space with 800 chord changes. Saturday is the party night, for going all out on energy, dancing like a maniac and scaring the hoes. But honestly, I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t there.
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