Jones Beach 1, 7/3/2012
The entire first leg of Phish’s 2012 tour contained some of the most consistently well played shows since the 2009 reunion, with ample Midwest love taboot! However, the crew and I had just enough time and energy left for two more shows out east in Wantagh New York. Seeing the band at new venues is always a treat, especially one with such fantastic views as Jones Beach. I can’t pick a clear cut favorite show from this run, but July 3rd at JB is certainly in the running.
Set one began with a “bustout” to end all bustouts in Little Feat’s Skin it Back. The last time the band played this song, I was three months away from being born. After standard versions of Possum and Tube we saw another rarity in the Beatles Happiness is a Warm Gun. Mike’s Groove followed, I could hear these three songs every damn show, especially when they are played this well. Other standouts from set one included the now rare Ya Mar, ZZ Top’s Jesus Just Left Chicago, and Golgi Apparatus except this time, we all could “see the sea.”
Set two of Jones beach 1 is easily one of the best sets I have seen Phish perform. It would have been nice to see the Chalkdust Torture stretched out into some “type II” jamming, but a classic straight forward version kept me smiling to say the least.
Whenever you see the band play several shows in a row, repeats will happen. What followed next was the third “Sand” and fourth cover of T.V. on the Radio’s Golden Age from this run of shows. However, when they are played this well, with great improvisation, it’s hard to complain. This version of “Golden Age” contained easily the best jam of the night.
A raging Wolfman’s Brother > Walk Away came next. “Walk Away” continues to be one of the most energetic songs you will see this band play. After the crowd, as well as the band, had a chance to “catch their breath,” we saw another version of possibly my favorite Phish ballad in Bug.
Another personal favorite The Wedge came before possibly the best Run Like an Antelope Phish has played in over a decade. I always love this song, despite some recent versions lacking a truly defined “peak.” This version raised a few eyebrows to say the least. Some Marco? Polo! shenanigans gave way to some “Mike-O” bass grooves; followed by the best ending to an “Antelope” I’ve ever heard by far.
Time to “Run-Run-Run-Run-Run” to the bathroom before my bladder explodes, not one “pee break song” in the whole set. A standard version of Character Zero closed out one of the best shows I have seen my favorite band play, ear to ear smiles all around. See you tomorrow, happy birthday America.
Highlights from Jones Beach (Night 1): Skin it Back, Mike’s Song > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Sand > Golden Age, Walk Away, Run Like an Antelope
Jones Beach 2, 7/4/2012
The grand finale of this nerds run of first leg shows. The only complaint on this end, No Fireworks on July 4th ?!? For shame. Parking lot idiots provided plenty of fireworks after the show, so I got my fill. Now, onto another stellar show!
This show certainly had an “old school” feel to it with the opening segment of Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues. The fifth different Velvet Underground cover since the Deer Creek shows came next in Head Held High. Another old school segment came next in The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday > Avenu Malkanu > The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday, the first performance since Alpine Valley 2009.
Some new school Phish appeared next in Kill Devil Falls. A set that was all over the place, but somehow still “flowed” saw a lovely version of Bittersweet Motel played next. The funk was then brought in Moma Dance. Well-played versions of Gumbo, David Bowie, and the rare treat “Susskind Hotel” soon followed. The only real complaint from set one is a song I just cannot get into, a steaming pile of Alaska.
Another hilarious Hold Your Head Up and Fish cover came next. I got my wish. We were all “tucking” in delight to an absolutely hilarious cover of Prince’s Purple Rain. The “tuck” shtick has yet to get old, so far, and I can admit, I was “tucking” in the purple rain right along with my favorite goofy drummer. An acapella version of our National Anthem closed a very different, but still highly entertaining first set.
Set two saw a few songs I had been hoping to hear all week and finally got. One of my favorite Phish covers started things off, Stevie Wonder’s Boogie on Reggae Woman. Next came another strong showing of two songs I will have a hard time ever getting tired of in Tweezer and Twist. It’s not often I find myself wishing that one song be scrapped from a set entirely, but I have never been much of a fan of Taste and an extra eight minutes of Tweezer or Twist would have been quite nice seeing as those two songs were clearly the highlight of set two.
After Taste, the set never seemed to fully pick up steam again. Standards of Quinn the Eskimo, Julius, another “Rock and Roll,” and a decent Harry Hood rounded out the middle of set two. After another ho-hum version of Show of Life I thought I was going to see nine Phish shows without hearing one of my all-time favorites. I was wrong.
Set two was up and down, but ended with an incredible version of Slave to the Traffic Light that was just beautiful, as well as fitting due to the grueling drive ahead of us the following morning. A classic encore combo of Sleeping Monkey and Tweezer Reprise (with no damn fireworks) closed out an overall solid July 4th show at Jones Beach.
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