The indescribably talented jazz rock quartet Phish conducted another music and english tutorial on its traditional silly Friday night Labor Day opener at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Show was a sell out at 30,000 in the petrochemical and animal waste fog of Commerce City, Colorado.
Dick's has retained the illogical field/stands segregation and dedicated up/down staircases -- you can't tell phishheads which way to go on a staircase Dick's! But, for the most part, the crowd seems to have matured with the Dick's over the three years. For example, the field people like the field and the stands people like the stands, even though the field people cannot understand the appeal of the stands to the stands people and the stands people cannot understand the appeal of the field to the field people.
We met our crew Page-side in Section 129, a section populated with knowledgeable phishheads -- and remarkably devoid of seathoppers, speer billers, and pushshovers. Our happy friendly neighbors were from Houston, Chicago, Boulder, Los Angeles, Denver and Spokane. We did not notice any real difference in bobtalking now that it is legal in Colorado -- gateway schmateway.
Phish took the stage and plowed through a lighthearted show. Lots of speculation about the english gag, but no one guessed they would spell "Most shows spell something" backwards, so two points for Mr. Capshaw. Two more points for keeping it PG rated.
Ghost: Airy. Ghosts are translucent at 5200 feet and 10% humidity. Bassist Mike Gordon is the song's MVP for pushing it along the shallow waves.
NICU: "Play it Leo!" Keymaster Page McConnell is the song's MVP as the ska and the sky combine.
Icculus: "Read the book!" Percussionist Jon Fishman is the song's MVP pushing the "song" along. Mr. Anastasio could use homily lessons from Sir Bono.
Theme from the Bottom: "So I ask you why...if I'm swimming by, don't you see anything that you'd like to try?" Page is the song's MVP for inflating this simple song like a hot air balloon filling each corner of the Dick's.
Esther: Phish's China Doll. Lead guitarist Trey Anastasio is the songwriter of this tragic story and the MVP of this rendition.
Moma Dance: "... up the rigging, take in sail, mind the skipper, do not fail..." Jon's singing is better than ever on this funktastic number, but Mike is the song's MVP pushing the bass out to the horizon. Crowd is loud and growly on the "...and we'll be fine..." reminder.
Ocelot: Heavy Things 3.0. Mike is again the MVP firing at will at each of the C-O-L-O-R-A-D-O sections around the Dick's. Seat neighbor from Michigan explains that hunting ocelots is a new urban necessity in Detroit.
Lawn Boy: Page takes the microphone and croons to 30,000, winning him the song's MVP. There probably is a lawn at Dick's, but it is under a sea of hard plastic, self-draining, vomit sucking, over-engineered floor tiles.
Easy to Slip: "Let your memory drift and do nothing at all..." Oh my gosh, is Phish playing a Bobby song? Well, it's a Lowell George song, but Bobby and the Midnights made it a hit. Mr. Anastasio is the song's MVP for being so brave as to dare to be compared to the short short purple polo prince.
Punch You In the Eye: A "P" song was predicted by those examining their first-set setlists -- indeed, in a reverse of the normal show-to-home information vector, the fans at home were helping those at the show see the future. Page is the song's MVP for his pebbly playing perfection.
Sand: Mike is the song's MVP shaking sand from the sky like Dick's was a bowl of pasta being slowly covered in cheese.
Say Something: Reprised from the Gorge, and apparently the theme of the night. Mike is the song's MVP for his high school falsetto.
Walls of the Cave: So so so 2.0. Mr. Anastasio is jumping for joy, and Page is the best pianist in modern rock, but Jon is the song's MVP for his pied piper woodblocking leading us right into the canyons.
Oh Kee Pa Ceremony: The Coloradans and Washingtonians in the bowl deserve that social superiority they have but about which they are trying not to gloat. Sorry your state doesn't yet get it. Page is the song's MVP keeping it passing from the left.
Harry Hood: You knew it was coming. Beautiful part was beautiful but unfinished -- no "you can feel good, good about hood"'s. Mike is the MVP on the song Mr. Anastasio customarily owns.
Silent in the Morning: Touching vocal layering. Page is the MVP for being the "best" vocalist in Phish.
Twist: Bluegrassy. A few of the red-shirted beertenders break down and boogie. Mr. Anastasio is the song's MVP for donwplaying the overplayed "whew!"s.
Slave to the Traffic Light: You know its the closer. Page is customarily this song's MVP, but tonight it's Mike -- lots of sound even at 1/5 of the notes.
Oh! Sweet Nothing: "ain't got nothing at all..." -- maybe because the wine is $4 an ounce. Jon is the song's MVP for channeling Lou Reed.
Meatstick: Dick's is the MVP of the show closer.