Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Phish - XFinity Center - Mansfield MA Friday July 8,2016

Friday night marked the 20th time I’ve seen Phish.  
Granted, depending on your taste in music (and desire to see live shows) is either a big number or a laughable low number.
After a particularly rush partial day at work my first indication of a “different” evening arrived when I was in the store getting supplies for later.  As I drew my wallet from my pocket to pay…no debit card.  
I was already running later than I wanted so I left my merchandise on the counter and raced home to look for the card.  No luck.  Call to the bank, cancel the card, confirm last transaction was mine just a day before etc.  That part is a major “whew”.  My buddy met me about 45 minutes later and we were on our way.
I’ve chosen to pay for parking at the Xfinity Center for some years now.  The place has been open for over 20 years yet the stories still linger of folks sitting in long lines of traffic going to/coming from.  I just don’t have the patience.  Typically a conversation with friends that have never done this goes like this.
Me: I bought premier parking
Them: Why would you pay..It’s free?
Me: After that final note is struck I can walk to my car and be IN my driveway within 20 minutes.
Them: blank stare
Me: Try it with me
Them the night of the show when tires are rolling – GREAT IDEA!
The lot scene was fine.  Not that I’d have partook anyway, but still it was a nice evening.
The band hit the stage about 7:40.  Opening with “Party Time” they seemed in fine form, but just glancing from my open air seat it seemed WOEFULLY undersold.  There were rumors it was sold out and rumors it was not. (It got VERY full).  The new light show was something to behold even a few hours before it really got dark.  “46 Days” followed, then “Poor Heart” in to a newer some “The Dogs”.  It seemed a little slow for my liking, but whatever I was ready.
“Bathtub Gin” followed and that can go either way.  The band didn’t take it where I had hoped and I still was feeling sort of out of the loop.  Then it happened.  My least favorite tune “Fast Enough for You”.  Gah.  ZZZZ boring. Lame.dull.  Uggh.  (After the show I see it was the first time in 2 years they played it..oh yay!).  Now I won’t say I was “mad” but I was bumming out.  Mind you I was pretty darn sober but this set was going nowhere for me personally.  “How Many People Are You” and “Strange Design” were okay, but still nothing.  “Fuego” was a lot of fun and I felt we were warming up more and that went in to “Cities” which saw Trey roaming the stage and a super long jam.  Okay we are on a roll.
First set ends with an a capllea version of “Space Oddity” originally by David Bowie.  Now this was neat, cool, and they sounded pretty good.  Well, at least the parts I could hear.  The audience around me, if they were not nose deep in their phones, were either talking or signing along…loudly…off key..and not knowing the words.  Set 1 was thankfully coming to a close and I felt okay..set 2…lets do this.
After an okay set break (they used to say 15 minutes but that is long gone) they came out for “Ghost->Light” not too bad but we could be really pushing it on the jam side (for me).  The band went in to “Wolfman’s Brother” which was a welcome smile from me.  The band was going along and happened.
No sound
No instruments
Crowd yells as at first it almost seems like a “silent jam”.  My buddy says “Do they know the sound is out?”
After a few moments the band departs the stage and we sort of sigh.  
I felt like it was going to take a LOT for me to get back in to this.  After five minutes the band was back.  Kudos to the crew for a pretty speedy correction.
The downside was we folks outside the main pavilion were then left out in the cold when it came to the PA.  There was no real audio push for anyone outside the pavilion.  People were talking so much it felt like we were outside a crowded bar.  The band played on: Chalk Dust, Saw it Again, Back on the Train but I was just growing increasingly more frustrated with everything.  “Slave to the Traffic Light” sounded great and the band really unloaded on this.  It might have been the show saver…had I been in the pavilion.  I’d had had the band they left the stage at 10:40.  Time to get out of here.
They encored with “I am the Walrus” that I listened to while walking.
I make no bones about this show.  I was disappointed.  The funny part is friends that were closer “LOVED” the show.  That is typical for me at Phish.  If I love it most hate it..if I am “meh” I am in the minority.
The Full Set:
Set I: Party Time > 46 Days, Poor Heart, The Dogs, Bathtub Gin, Fast Enough for You*, How Many People Are You, Strange Design, Fuego, Cities^, Space Oddity
Set II: Ghost > Light > Wolfman’s Brother^^, Chalk Dust Torture, Saw It Again > Back on the Train > Slave to the Traffic Light
Enc: I Am the Walrus
Notes: *Last time played 8/3/14
^Trey broke a string and switched guitars mid-song, also introducing his guitar tech, Brian Brown. Trey then switched to Marimba Lumina and Mike played Trey’s guitar.
^^During vocal jam the PA cut out and the band left the stage. Unfinished.

Still, will I go to see them again?  Yes
Will I download the show and listen to it? Yes
Will I continue to tell people I am disappointed? Yes.
Regardless, it’s the power of the live show.  The band appears to be in fine form.  They look healthy, seem to be playing off one another well.  Just an off night perhaps.
Lets see what 21 brings…