“FLUFF CAME TO NEW YORK”
I walked into the Jones Beach parking lot around 4 PM, and immediately felt the special buzz that only follows Phish shows. They had begun their summer tour on June 11 in Illinois and were closing out the run with a two-night stand at Jones Beach.
As the fans filed into the Jones Beach Amphitheatre a little after 8 o’clock, the buzz was tremendous. As everyone was hoping for a truly rocking and epic ending of the tour, guitarist and frontman Trey Anatasio played that opening riff to fan favorite “Fluffhead”. Trey has been on record about his love for playing at this venue, so as the song began to pick up pace, the crowd knew that tonight could be something special. As “Fluffhead” went on, Trey burst out the words “Fluff came to New York” and the crowd loved every moment of it. With the first “Fluffhead” opener of the summer, the band nailed it with a high energy psychedelic jam to kick off the night. Following this was a very solid version of one of their new songs, “Kill Devil Falls”, that kept the flow at a very high pace, and it was obvious the band and crowd were feeding off one another. Coming out of “Kill Devil Falls”, Phish went into a real fun “Cities”, and a very funky “Funky Bitch”. Then, as if the energy wasn’t at a supreme high already, the band went into one of their older but more fun songs- “Wilson”. This was a highlight for me, because this it’s an in-your-face rock out between the fans and the band. About 3 minutes in, Trey picked up a mini toy guitar and continued the shredding that ensues in this song. Looking around during this moment, it was obvious what a Phish show is all about; smiles, laughing and jumping as the energy rose to a new level. As the set seemed to fly by with such a high pace, the band busted out a real nice rendition of “Reba”, but to my disappointment there was no whistling ending which would have been a real treat. This may have been the only downside to a rocking first set, as they went straight into another one of my favorite jams in “Walk Away”, and they absolutely killed it. Flowing perfectly from one jam into the next, “Wolfman’s Brother” picked up and Mike Gordon took it away with his heavy basslines that had the crowd moving in his grasp. It seemed that with the way the set was going, the only way to end it was with a raging jam, and as Trey started the build up for “Possum” the crowd knew they were about to dance the set away. Trey showed real improvement from earlier in the tour, and even from last summer. His poise in the “Possum” jam shined, leaving us in awe, awaiting whatever was in store in the second set.
I heard a couple fans during set break talking about how they couldn’t top a high energy first set like that, but again- showing why they are the kings of the Jam band world- they found a way. As John Fishman started the second set with a slow but nicely done version of “Lengthwise”, they transitioned perfectly into the slight drum beat that catches everyone off guard, and right into a “Maze”! I for one was completely lost in this “Maze”, as the band was hitting on all cylinders. Bringing things down a little bit, they busted out a song I have not seen played yet- “Haley’s Comet”, which was really beautiful to hear on that warm summer night at Jones Beach. From this point on, the band was jamming to lengths not often seen in this new era of Phish. Starting off with Mike Gordon absolutely crushing “Mike’s Song”, and moving flawlessly into “Simple”, the band was on fire. After the very fun 9-minute “Simple Jam”, they moved into a song I was not really a fan of until this night- “Backwards Down the Number Line”, another new song off the Joy album. After a slow start, it became obvious the band really enjoys a bunch of these new tunes. The jam for “Backwards Down the Number Line” was absolutely incredible. Between Trey and Mike, they were willing to go off into new experimental sounds that this summer has not seen much of. Slowing things down again with a nice, but not special version of “Price Caspian”, they flowed into the Velvet Underground cover “Rock and Roll”. Now, I have seen this song numerous times, and just as I was saying during “Backwards Down the Number Line”, the band was out there. This high paced jam had the crowd dancing and raging harder then at any point in the night, and it was obvious the band had the crowd at their fingertips as they were truly on fire. The up and down roller coaster ride during this jam left me in complete awe, and it was moments like this that remind me why I love this band so much. During this set, there was no rest for the dancers as they immediately went into an insane “Weekapaug Groove”. This groove had Mike and Trey at their absolute finest, while weaving the sick guitar licks and groovy basslines through each other. Going from “Rock and Roll” into the “Weekapaug Groove” showed that this really is a super group, with the superb guitar playing of Trey Anastasio and the incredible funky basslines that were being dropped by Mike Gordon. This was the best “Weekapaug Groove” I have had the pleasure of seeing live, and it was fire! With the way I was feeling after the past few songs, it was a very fitting time for the band to bust out into the Rolling Stones cover “Loving Cup”. The line “what a beautiful buzz” had people joining together and signing at the top of their lungs. If that’s not what music is about then I don’t know what is. As this was the end of their second set, I felt it was perfectly placed. Then as they came out for the encore, they played another new Trey ballad called “Show of Life” and I thought it was really nicely done. It didn’t fit the format for the show thus far, but that is the best part of Phish- there is no real format. They brought on the rage one more time with a really fun version of “Golgi Apparatus” and night one was finished was a bang. A complete high energy first set, followed by some of the best jamming of this summer tour in set 2, left me with nothing but excitement for what was sure to be a truly epic second night.
Set 1: Fluffhead, Kill Devil Falls, Cities, Funky Bitch, Wilson, Reba, Walk Away, Wolfman’s Brother, Possum
Set 2: Lengthwise >Maze, Haley’s Comet, Mike’s Song, Simple, Backwards Down the Number Line> Prince Caspian, Rock and Roll > Weekapaug Groove, Loving Cup
Encore: Show of Life, Golgi Apparatus
Keep reading for Grec’s review of Night 2 of the run!