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Live performances that start & end w/ the same tune, but packed with tasty jams in between. Listen >>
A Good Sign
I’ve had some time now to reflect on last weekend’s Phish shows from Merriweather. First of all, and most importantly, I had a great time. The whole weekend went smoothly. Traffic from Richmond wasn’t too bad. Once we parked the car at the Sheraton, we happily spent the next two days on foot. The weather, while not perfect, wasn’t anything to complain about. The thunder boomers somehow skirted around Columbia and hit Baltimore and DC. Last, but definitely not least, I spent the weekend with my closest friends seeing my favorite band.
The music, much like the weather, wasn’t perfect nor anything to complain about it. Two things are clear after this weekend. Phish has improved since their return in March 2009 and they are still having fun. I’ve seen Phish 8 times now since that memorable weekend in Hampton. This past weekend’s shows were the best played 3.0 shows I’ve seen in person. In 2009 and 2010, I would find myself rooting for the band (primarily focused on Trey) to hit the right notes during those structured jams we know so well in songs like “Divided Sky”, “Reba”, or “Fluffhead”. Those thoughts are long gone.
What’s even more important is that the band appears to still be having fun. Phish 2.0 didn’t last as long as Phish 3.0. That’s a significant fact and one us fans shouldn’t take for granted. There are no guarantees with this band, which is something we have learned to know and love. In addition, interaction with the fans is back in full force. While not as original as the secret language or tour-long chess match, Phish taking song requests from the crowd has done some damage to our “Most Commonly Played Songs Not Seen” lists. I can’t complain about that. I caught “Daniel Saw The Stone”, “Buried Alive”, and “Ha Ha Ha” for the first time ever this weekend - all because of the signs. I took the picture above as Trey was motioning for the “Daniel Saw The Stone” sign. It was my first time in the photo pit for Phish and it was a lot of fun. I had 15 minutes to shoot as many pics that I could and I took full advantage. To start, it was a nice surprise to have Trey walk over right to where I was positioned as the “Daniel” sign made it’s way through the crowd, over my head and camera, and into Trey’s hands.
Opportunities like last weekend are rare for me. The last time I saw two Phish shows in two days was Hampton 2003. From that time forward, Phish has been an inconsistent band. If you’ve seen Phish in the 2000s, chances are that you’ve been disappointed at least once. If you are like me and can only catch one show a tour or one per year, that feeling can sting after all of the magic they produced in the 1990s. Every show was consistently solid in the 90s. You always walked out of the venue satisfied. Finally in 2011, I feel that way again. While I won’t categorize any of the last three shows I’ve seen as epic, they (6-26-10, 6-11-11, and 6-12-11 - all at Merriweather) have all been consistently strong performances with entertaining set lists. It’s a good sign for the future and I’m already looking forward to my trip to Merriweather in 2012.
The best of my “15 minutes of fame” (all of my best pics from Saturday’s show) can be found on my Flickr page. Thanks to Phish management for the access and to Tom Daly for editing and a few last minute photography tips.
Phish - NICU, Cities
5.28.11 - Bethel Woods Center For The Arts, Bethel, NY
What a difference a few tours makes! Just listen to the syncopation of Trey’s guitar and Fishman’s drums during this Cities jam! That tightness and fluidity between them is what made Phish so fucking killer during the ‘90’s. We got a taste of that here and there in 2009, and from the 4th Of July onward, 2010 had many more moments of greatness. January 1st seemed like a breakthrough show in many ways, but this weekend, for the first time in years, it really feels and sounds like that awe inspiring power is back.
This photo of the hardest working bands in 2010 got me thinking.
Beginning in 1966, the Grateful Dead toured regularly for the next 29 years, until the summer of 1995. Around 2,300 shows. During that period, Jerry Garcia (in the many different incarnations of his band, The Jerry Garcia Band), played another 1,599 shows.
That’s a total of 3,899 shows that Garcia played during this 29 year period, or an average of 134 shows every year. 134 shows ever year, for 29 years.
That’s an average of over 2.5 shows each week. Think about it - over a 30 year period, Jerry Garcia played a live show 2-3x each week, every week.
The music isn’t exactly the style that most of us here at The Butter Room enjoy most, but given that I grew up till I was 20 with this kid I had to post these two videos. I like it because of the guitar-driven, progressive and ambient feel that some of his music has.
His name is Tosin Abasi, and he is a self taught player. His current band is called Animals As Leaders and if you are into the harder stuff I suggest you check them out. I can promise you will enjoy it.
We haven’t been posting much, if at all lately, but I wanted to thank our 4,000+ followers for enjoying our little blog over the past few years. I’ve never done this, but given that it is Tumblr Tuesday I’d like to share some of the blogs from the individuals who have put a lot of effort into The Butter Room.
Dylan - I met Dylan almost ten years ago now in Charlottesville. Out of everyone from the Butter Room, I appreciate Dylan’s musical tastes the most because he is always introducing me to tunes I never would otherwise listen to.
Matt (Trapped In Time) - Matt is good people all around. He reached out to me a couple years ago and propelled The Butter Room into a destination for Phish content when the boys returned in 2009.
Graham - My business partner and old show buddy. We do a lot more work together these days than see shows, which isn’t as bad as it sounds.
Then there is my blog - Wicks Picks.
Thanks again for following. In the absences of posts here, feel free to follow us on our individual blogs.
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