Thank You, Phish September 8, 2015 16:01
Written by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Here we are on Monday, September 7th, giving thanks for Labor Day and reflecting on the summer of 2015. After three nights at Soldier Field for the "Fare Thee Well" shows, I knew that this oncoming Summer Tour from Phish would be special. Trey had spent the past six months practicing relentlessly, preparing for the monumental challenge of sitting in Jerry's seat. I believe that even those who adamantly disagreed with his selection can agree that a nearly flawless performance was given. A February getaway to Kill Devil Falls, NC with Tom Marshall resulted in enough material for a new album (to be recorded in Nashville this fall), including songs like "Blaze On" and "No Men in No Man's Land." Doesn't it already feel like we've been singing those songs for years?
"Still writing after all these years..." - 02.09.15
From the opening two-night run in Bend to this very moment, the morning after the annual Dick's run that brought this amazing Summer to a close, we have seen a level of inspiration and musical exploration that cannot be explained in words. Some people don't "get it." They never will, and that's fine. Every time Phish takes the stage, just about anything is fair game (unless it was played the previous night). No song will ever be exactly the same, and just when you think you've got it all figured out, they hit you with a curveball that you never saw coming.
Several songs stand out from this tour for me personally, and for all the right reasons. We heard a lot of Antelopes, almost always as a set closer, where they belong. "Bathtub Gin" was an absolute monster, coming through in big way in Atlanta and at Magnaball. I never thought I would see a 24-minute "Kill Devil Falls" to open the second set in Atlanta. All kinds of fun was had with “Mikes > Groove,” including the resurgence of the second jam in "Mike's Song," in Nashville, thanks to a fan who spoke to Trey about it specifically prior the show. "Walls of the Cave" was powerful and overwhelming that night, as it was at Magnaball. “The Sloth” made a triumphant return at Alpine Valley, after a two-year (92 shows) absence. Several extended, experimental takes on "Chalkdust Torture" would open second sets.
I'd never done the "Camel Walk," and I was lucky enough to have that privilege in Tuscaloosa and Watkins Glen. We "Saw It Again" twice (Alpine Valley, Dick's). That first set at Merriweather dug deep into the Gamehenge vault. And how about the "Raleigh Llama?" Such a strong start for the crowd at Walnut Creek, who were also treated to a Led Zeppelin cover ("No Quarter") and a Jimi Hendrix cover ("Fire"). We watched "46 Days" take off and reach heights, most notably in the second set on Saturday at Magnaball, as we built towards the now infamous "Tweezer > Prince Caspian." There was even a fireworks show during a vocal jam at Magnaball.
Speaking of "Tweezer," how much fun have these guys had with "Tweezer Reprise" this summer? Typically placed as the 2nd song of the encore any night that "Tweezer" is played, it took until the summer's fifth appearance for that to be the case. The Forum even failed to get a “Tweeprise,” as it was drug out until the end of the second set in Austin, TX two nights later. Magnaball gave us the "Boogie On > Tweezer Reprise" that I'll never forget, and I'm still digesting the T-H-A-N-K-Y-O-U encore that closed out this tour at Dick's. You would think that 7 total shows and 16 total sets would be enough this summer, but it hurt to miss that final night at Dick’s. “The Landlady” was played for the first time in over 20 years (768 shows), the first “Birdwatcher” in over three years (134 shows), the second “Wilson” of 2015, the first cover of “Once in a Lifetime” by The Talking Heads since 1996 at The Omni, and of course..."Harpua" (Last played in Chicago - Northerly Island - 07.21.15 - 70 shows).
Let's not forget the Chilling, Thrilling Halloween covers, which came early and often. After “Martian Monster” and “The Dogs” were played on New Year’s Eve, many of us wondered if the magic created in Vegas last year would become a part of the regular rotation. “Martian Monster” opened up the show at The Forum, while also making appearances at Lakewood, The Mann, Magnaball, and Dick’s. “The Dogs” resurfaced in Austin as well as Night 1 at Magnaball. “The Very Long Fuse” opened up one of the more Gamehenge-heavy sets of the year during night two at Alpine Valley. Teases of “The Birds” were heard each time “Birds of a Feather” was played (Bend, Grand Prairie, Nashville, and Philadelphia).
Now we wait for confirmation of the New Year’s Eve run at Madison Square Garden. The rumors of a winter tour continue to circulate. We’ve already seen the Mexico rumors come to fruition. Many of us are anticipating another three-night run at The Mothership (Hampton Coliseum). Other Winter Tour rumors include stops in Philadelphia (Wells Fargo Center), Cincinnati (Fifth Third Arena), Erie (Erie Insurance Arena), Chicago/Rosemont (Allstate Arena), and New Orleans (Smoothie King Center). Simply rumors, but it’s encouraging to see so many specifics, especially in a time where the rumors always seem to become reality.
At 28-years-old, I've only been able to get out and chase these guys around for a few years. Thankfully, the Junta album and more specifically "Fee" had me very intrigued in the 5th grade, so I began paying close attention at an early age. I managed to persuade my parents into letting me hit the Atlanta show at Lakewood (07/26/03) at age 16, and the next thing I knew the band was breaking up. Several TAB shows and a night with Trey, Mike, Joe Russo, and Marco Benevento at The Masquerade in Atlanta (2006) kept the flame burning for me. I'll never forget how jealous I was of my college roommates as they left for Hampton in 2009, but I just couldn't swing it. I'll also never forget standing in my friend Hill's house in Tuscaloosa as I realized I had enough money to purchase a ticket for the Knoxville show. Lets face it, we were all broke in college. The party in the parking deck outside of Thompson Boling Arena was one for the ages.
The entire journey this summer was as special as anything I’ll ever be a part of. I’m convinced that it all began with Trey’s preparation for Fare Thee Well. The inspiration from that experience created a level of energy like no other for the oncoming Phish tour. Looking back over the past two months, the only thing that feels appropriate is to say “thank you” to this band, and everyone who was along for the ride.