A Whole Lotta Midwest Phish Love by Matt Heredos
There are a few certainties during Midwestern Summers: corn will grow, temperatures will rise, and in all their active years since 1992, Midwest Phish will be plentiful. Phish’s 2012 summer tour is no different. Seven shows can be considered “Midwest” from the tour’s first leg alone, starting at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, and ending with a return to historic Alpine Valley in Wisconsin for a pair of shows.
Going to multiple Phish shows in a short time span can seem redundant to the non-fan. Seeing the band perform is clearly the driving force behind traveling such great distances, but in reality, it is about so much more than seeing a band play. It’s about sharing experiences with longtime friends, and new acquaintances, all of whom are there for the exact same reasons you are, for the most part.
One the biggest reasons I choose to follow this band is because Phish takes you everywhere. Almost any place you would ever wish to visit, Phish will have a show close enough to any city, town, or festival you wish to explore.
Shows Attended: Bonnaroo, TN (6/10/12), Cincinnati, OH (6/22/12), Cuyahoga Falls, OH (6/24/12), Noblesville, IN (6/28/12), Noblesville, IN (6/29/12), East Troy, WI (6/30/12), East Troy, WI (7/1/12), Wantagh, NY (7/3/12), Wantagh, NY (7/4/12)
Sometimes, as was the case this summer, that itch to see your favorite band can get the best of you. So much so, that you drive seven hours south to a show in which you currently have no way of getting into. At Bonnaroo 2009, I saw Phish for the very first time. Three years later, they would return to the farm down in Tennessee to close out the 2012 festival. As of 7:00 PM on 6/9/2012, three friends and I had mulled around the idea of going to Bonnaroo for the day on Sunday. With no work to get in the way, the adventure to Bonnaroo was too tempting to pass up.
The idea of waiting around the festival gates to catch people leaving early and buying their wristbands was tossed around, and amazingly, it worked. While I can’t fully endorse the ethics used in seeing this show, sometimes that itch to see your favorite band makes you do some bold and or stupid things. The show itself was a much expected “festival set,” but a "Down with Disease" opener into "Funky Bitch" was a great way to start a great night nonetheless.
The mention of seeing Kenny Rogers’ set prior to Phish was mentioned, but grabbing the best possible spot for Phish’s set took priority. We were all lucky enough to see Mr. Rogers share the stage with Phish for a sing-a-long version of The Gambler. It was quite a treat to see, even with the massive screens at Bonnaroo showing Rogers’ Botox filled face in great detail (which likely was rather, weird, for those fans hanging out with Lucy that evening).
The first set was rounded out in typical “festival set” fashion with a combo of new and old Phish set closers in “Backwards Down the Number Line,” and “Cavern.”. Set two saw one of the few songs that I have been “chasing” ever since I first saw them in concert in “Shafty.” Anyone who has attended Bonnaroo can tell you the mid-day heat can be “hell” to say the least. The highlight of the show came from an extended Carini-> Shafty. All in all, a fun show for a spur of the moment trip down south.
Highlights from Bonnaroo: Carini-> Shafty, Rock and Roll
The 2012 run of Midwest Phish shows started in Cincinnati. By all accounts, shows like this one are the reason I, as well as many other people, choose to follow this band. A show with bustouts (including the first “Shaggy Dog” since ’95), extended improvisation, and on stage shenanigans should satisfy even the most jaded of vet’s pallets.
The show began with a song I have wished the band would open with for some time in “Wolfman’s Brother.” In the latter portions of the 1st set, Fishman goofed on the beginnings of “Poor Heart” and “Moma Dance”, and graciously took a bow, so we were treated to a slew of songs which all began with the drums. These songs contained three of my personal favorites in “Llama”, “Buffalo Bill”, and “Saw it Again.” A fantastic set, see you in “15” minutes.
Set two began with “Down with Disease,” the classic set two opener powerhouse. A decent jam was cut short for an oddly placed “Guelah Papyrus.” The “Kill Devil Falls” and “Twist” that followed contained some damn good jamming brah, the latter especially. “Sand,” arguably the most consistently well played song of leg 1, came soon after.
Sand lead its way into “Roggae” in a very interesting segue which some people love, others not so much. Three straight forward, and well played, rockers closed the set in “Carini,” “Chalk Dust Torture,” and “Golgi Apparatus.” A rare encore of “Fluffhead” closed out a fantastic show in the Nasty.
Highlights from Riverbend: Wolfman’s Brother, Peaches En Regalia, Saw it Again, Kill Devil Falls > Twist, Sand > Roggae, Fluffhead
The 23rd was a day for roller coasters and other shenanigans for this Midwest crew. A fun time, but I guess you really aren’t supposed to miss a Burgettstown show. Sunday saw Phish’s return to the site of arguably their top 2011 performance overall, Blossom Music Center surrounded by Cuyahoga National Park. If ever you find yourself close to Cuyahoga, you should take some time to explore your surroundings, you’ll thank me later.
Sunday’s show had some fun moments, but if ever a show had a “Sunday” feel to it, this was that show. The only things that stuck out from the first set were a well-played “The Wedge,” the pleasant “Corinna,” and a goofy “Meatstick” with onstage dancers from the crowd. Some of the dancers had no clue how to execute a proper meatstick dance, for shame.
Set two began with a nice combination of “Golden Age” and “Ghost.” They brought out the big “G”uns to start, :: ba dum chink:: The Stones cover of “Sweet Virginia” mellowed things out but was a treat to here. A mid second set “Tweezer” will always bring a smile to my face, this one brought a lot of laughter as well (Don’t forget to eat your pudding).
A rocking opening segment gave way to an interesting jam filled with “Under Pressure” AND “Ice Ice Baby” teases (Theirs goes, ours goes, theirs goes, ours goes….). When no one seemed to know the lyrics to “Under Pressure” Trey stated: “Well, this is going nowhere, let’s get a bunch of girls up here to dance around to the Meatstick! Yeah!” A return to the melody of “Meatstick” was played briefly. One of their stronger covers in “Walk Away” came next.
After a strong showing in Walk Away, the set relaxed greatly. I was happy to take a breather after a rough few days of travel and couch hopping, but those wanting to keep their dancing shoes may have been hoping for more. A “Loving Cup” “Tweezer Reprise” encore closed the book on this fun, relaxing, Sunday show. See you back home !
Highlights from Blossom : The Wedge, Meatstick, Ghost, Tweezer, Walk Away
Deer Creek 1, 6/28/12
Taking a year off from the classic Deer Creek and Alpine run was heartbreaking for the home town folks of each venue. (Although three fantastic nights at UIC last year were a great change of pace). These two sweltering hot nights in Noblesville, Indiana proved why you never miss a Deer Creek show.
A TAB staple “The Birdwatcher” seemed to shrink the venue down to size for the relatively undersold DC show. What followed next was a treat for many, arguably (with myself) my favorite Phish song, “The Curtain With.” The highly sought after rocker “Fuck your Face” came next, followed by one of the top things on my very dorky Phish wish list: An “Old Home Place” at the old home place. Other well-played rarities filled the set such as “Pebbles and Marbles”, “Weigh”, a very fitting “Cool it Down”, and “Tela.”
Set two was a lot of fun. Period. A song I’ll be glad to hear any night, no matter the length, “Mike’s Song”, opened things up. It transitioned to a very well played duo of “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters” and “Back on the Train.” The always goofy Phish sandwich of “Hold Your Head Up” and a Fishman sang cover were next.
Fingers were crossed for a cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain” which was last played at Deer Creek ’99. We did get one of my other favorite Fish tunes, Syd Barrett’s “Bike.” After Fish aimlessly ran around the stage for the closing end of “HYHU,” Mike brought us into “Weekapaug Groove;” forever and always, one of my favorite songs. Even this version where we saw Jon Fishman pick up Trey’s guitar and makes awful, yet hilarious, noises. Fishman would retake the wheel on drums which would lead to a fairly well played latter half of the groove.
The “4th quarter” of DC night one saw some of my favorite moments from the entire run. An exceptional “Waves” that ever so gently transitioned into “Bug” were pure bliss. A well-played, energetic “David Bowie” closed out set two. A song some love, others take breathers for “Show of Life” started the encore. Another solid Reprise closed out a great return to one of the best places to see this band play.
Highlights from Deer Creek (Night 1): The Curtain With, McGrupp and the Watchful Hose Masters-> Back on the Train, Waves > Bug, David Bowie
Part 2 coming soon!
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