Monday, August 16, 2010

Phish. Deer Creek

For those of us who love the festival atmosphere but not necessarily the chore of choosing which bands to see, walking a million miles, and putting your body through several days of debauchery and several nights of minimal sleep, the perfect solution is a summer stop on Phish tour at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Nobelsville Indiana, otherwise known as Deer Creek. It's the ideal situation, sort of like a mini festival, with only one band. You still get the insane people watching, just enough walking around, and everyone is there for the same mission: to see Phish.

Night 1.

After a little mix up regarding the time zone of Indiana, my big attorney and I arrived just as the crowd went nuts and the band launched into Runaway Jim. Our plan was to get some tickets in the lots before the show, so we found ourselves trucking to the cluster circus of a line for the box office, which was nothing more than a few salespeople at a table under a tent in the back corner of the parking lot. This little obstacle was responsible for us missing all but one song of the first set. I was crushed to miss "Cars, Trucks, and Buses", "NICU", and "Punch You In The Eye", but I wasn't going to let that ruin my night.

The second set started of with a bangin' version of the Who's "Drowned" that melted nicely into a "Gotta Jibboo>Bathtub Gin". This got my first Phish show in over a year off to the start I had hoped for but was robbed of a couple of hours prior. It was clear to see that the reviews I had been reading were right. The guys have taken the way back machine for a spin back to 1995 where the jams are quick and to the point and build up into a crowd crushing frenzy. This was a welcome change of pace for me, as I would tend to get bored with the spacey long winded jams of the late 90's and early 2000's, and my favorite jams have always been the hard hitters. The mid-set slow down for "Horse>Silent In The Morning" was a nice break and a beautiful couple of songs. I always love to see a "Harry Hood", but this one seemed to be sort of mailed in, not really one of the better ones I've seen. Thankfully is was saved by a set ending "Golgi Apparatus". When they came out for the encore, Trey picked up a megaphone, which to us seasoned fans, means only one thing: "Fee". The story of the little weasel was a rare, cool one to see, and only got rarer when they went into the craziest version of "Kung" I have ever seen live or heard on tape. I'm not sure if the helicopter with the spotlight was supposed to be choreographed with the sirens of the megaphone, or if it was just a coincidence, but it was pretty cool. The show ending "Fire" rocked what little socks we had left and worked up a huge appetite for the next night.

Night 2.

After the debacle at the ticket counter the night before, my huge attorney and I decided to get tickets earlier in the afternoon, leaving us time to get back to the campsite to get our mind right for what was sure to be the show of the tour. We had a few (several) beers, met a fun guy, and discussed the songs we hoped to hear. This time, we were on the lawn, ready to go when the lights went down.

From the opening notes of "Chalkdust Torture", I was worried this would be one of those slower, more laid back shows, usually saved for the third night of Deer Creek. "Chalkdust" was a little slower and didn't live up to it's usual face melting status, and a lot of the first set followed suit. That is, of course, until the run starting with "The Ballad Of Curtis Loew", followed by "Wilson" and ending the set with my all time favorite rocker, "Possum". In those 8 or 9 minutes, it was just me and Phish and "Possum" on the earth and it was great.

After what seemed like the longest set break ever, Mike started off the Bop Bob ba Chingo of "Haley's Comet" which was fun to hear but more fun to see jump off quickly into a run of songs that eventually ended up at my other big time favorite, "Maze". This particular version was pretty awesome. Page's B-3 solo had a couple different layers before Trey pushed him over the edge. Then Trey took over the solo duties and built the place into a frenzy before he completely blew the roof off. The lights and the crowd made it the highlight of show for me. I'm pretty sure my sister enjoyed it too. After another couple of Phish classics, they started off yet another one of my favorites, "Julius" to end the set. The encore was a rare "Contact" and a beautiful weekend closing "Slave to the Traffic Light". Wow, what a great show.

It doesn't happen very often where you talk about the songs you want to hear before the show and they come through and play every single one you mention. More often I've found that even hoping for a song means they will almost surely bypass it. I guess this one was my lucky night. Not only did they play all my favorites, they avoided the ones I really didn't want to hear. That's the life of a Phish fan. You go to the show, having bought the ticket, and ready to take the ride. You know that no matter what they play, even if it's not the ones you want to hear, you're still at a Phish show and nothing else in the world matters.

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