28 November 2009

Bringin' the Noise, Bringin' the Phun(k): Albany 2009, Night 1

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
-- Berthold Auerbach

I'll just come right out and start by saying It Happened Last Night. From where I was standing (Section 130, Row J, Seat 6, lower level, slightly left of center on the back wall -- amazing sound), it seemed that Phish is back. Or rather, I'm back with Phish...? Or...egghhh...

How to encapsulate? Obviously, schlepping my mortal coil all over Bob's green planet indicates at least a passing interest in sticking with the newly reconnected synchronous sound unit. But the analogies of growth, fertility, perserverance and trust can't be overstated. A wise person once said that one only gets out of the Phish music experience what one puts into it. Be it an overall new understanding of that basic, universal truth, or be it sheer, blunt friction through repitition, the spark caught the tinder and the payoff came last night.

Philly II was a night of orgasmic preoccupation for me.

[Ed. Note 11/30/09: After the fact, I thought about censoring myself in the previous sentence.  But if I can't be honest about the sensual pyrotechnics that seeing Live Phish can set off in me, the value of honesty as a virtue to me would be diminished. Sure, I've been accused of honesty to a fault. I wonder constantly to what extent I need be honest about the intricacies of my phan experience. Either way, I'm not saying I sacked up with any of 'em, just that being where I was seated that night put me in a place of particular as-yet-untold ecstasy, which may or may not have had something to do with proximity to the band, during a show, which sorta *does something* to me. I've tried to be conservative about physio-emotional analysis of my Phish experience, because it could easily be misinterpreted, misconstrued, and/or disruptive to my reputation. But for crying out loud...I'm a human being! You should see the amount of male ejaculatory commentary in Hoodstream.com chat about Phish, that's way more controversial than one sentence about my submission to abstract climactic alchemy, in a damn good seat, at a damn good show. Don't even get me started on that; we'd need a semester of Sociology lectures.]

Philly II was followed by massive amounts of tryptophan with friends in the Catskills on Thanksgiving. And Friday, post-poultry-fest, Phish tripped up phans, sending us careening into revelatory, revolutionary bliss at the Times Union Center in Albany last night. They pushed an overstuffed envelope of old-style, hardwired synergy, with highlights such as:

-- Consistent, individual standout performances

-- Intriguing newer tunes, particularly from 2004's hope-among-ruin requiem, "Undermind"

-- Refreshing bustouts ("My Mind's Got a Mind of Its Own," last played 6/24/04, and Little Feat's "On Your Way Down," last played 7/30/03)

-- TWO debuts: the joyously propellant reggae jaunt, "Tomorrow's Song," both an "Undermind" debut AND a Fishman-credited tune (!!!), and,

-- A couple of jaw-dropping, genre-flipping departures, first in the second debut of TV on the Radio cover, the optimistically-oriented uplift, "Golden Age", and a perhaps gentler lean into My Bloody Valentine-esque mega-mono-chord noise onslaught, capping the jam out of "Light".

The mellow mood in the Times Union Center only supplemented the simmering crockpot of Friday night cheer, and the undeniable frenzy of an indoor, Upstate NY Phish show. It's possible something about being in the pocket of the Northeast, womb of their origins, plopped the fellas along a transverse continuum of their history, causing a simultaneous forward/backwards/in-the-moment glance that resulted in one of the shows this year that can really boast several key, vibe-locking moments: for me, it was the first show since the reunion that I felt, at turns, that:

1) Phish is f'in BACK. This is PHISH. At their best, they overarch their separate selves in unified rhythm, and pierce the mundane invisibility of a world of strangers with their uniquely magnetic personalities

2) I was finally able to NOT think, and finally able, for the first time this year, during the reunion, and (particularly, amazingly) as a sober phan, to be taken away by the music -- which is funny, since a bunch of us realized over Denny's that a few of the first set's songs were distinctly about mental processes -- hah!

At one point during the ecstatic "Harry Hood" outro jam, things were so satisfying on so many levels I said to a friend, "I'm ready for this set to go on another half-hour!!" Whaddya know, like a rocket from the core of the Earth, I was treated (and I do mean treated, near-medicinally) to a stunning Page McConnell siege. They blasted out of "Harry" into "Suzy Greenberg" (to whit I also remarked Page had swung from Beethoven to Booker T), then helped the crowd to a rich serving of "The Squirming Coil" ending with a 4-minute Page outro. I don't even know how to express my feelings about all that, without revealing way too much about the innermost workings of my mind-body matrix. 'Nuff said.

Either way, it's coming up on 6:30PM, and it's time to go out angling for another ticket. Hoping for another lower level tonight, and will be succumbing (perhaps awkwardly) to participating in various, errr, "machinations," in order to facilitate some more visual stimulation for the phans on the homefront. You can check out the first night's stills here, and a few video experiments, the second set "My Friend, My Friend", and a slice of "It's Ice". Not perfect, but definitely the product of a few times around the rock-shot block, and an excellent (almost over-powerful) camera, the Sony CyberShot H50.

All around, I'm happy to report, a fun, fresh and funky night of laughs and damn phine Phish. Saw old phriends (like college pal, Doug Loeb, a/k/a "Lawn Boy," the dude that used to walk around in a costume of AstroTurf handing out candy back in the day), and new sober pals keeping me clear and clean to shoot through these phine new tubes. And I just got a text from good ol' Nile (who now goes by Mike Z, that chameleon), wondering if I'm going to Albany II. Why yes, Mikey, I am. You taught me to likey, and I still really do. It may only be getting better.


Given said...

Welcome back!

Post a Comment