Disclaimer: I go to shows to have fun. I don’t take notes. I dance, I drink, and I’m probably writing this hungover. I don’t use a thesaurus, I call em’ like I see em’. This is what I thought.

Last night Phish returned to Ohio for the second time this weekend, this time to the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls.  This was their last show before taking a three day break, ending a mini weekend tour around the area. Blossom has good standing with Phish fans for not just being a unique venue, as it’s located within a state park and has a rather interesting wood paneled pavilion, but also because it was home to arguably the best show of last year’s summer tour. Thus, expectations were pretty high. In what has become the trend of this leg of the tour, the show started out with a bunch of songs that have been played several times this tour. It seems like the band wants to appease the casual fan first, and let them hear Sample In A Jar, rage Axilla, and sing along to Bathtub Gin. In fact, the first ten songs were all songs that had been played so far with little to no deviation from their standard jams. Finally, Trey and the band busted into a fantastic rendition of Corinna, which has been played only twice since the band returned in ’09. Closing the set was an extra fun version of Meatstick, which finally woke up the crowd which seemed to have been extra mellow until that point. Halfway through the song, Trey invited anyone in the crowd who could actually do the Meatstick dance on stage to dance with the band, as he and Mike directed the small dance troupe on stage through the dance several times. The Meatstick was extremely well received by the crowd who ate up all of the stage antics and danced along with the crowd – to be honest, the Meatstick saved what would have been a relatively dull set.

With an underwhelming first set, the crowd buzzed during set break as to what Phish would pull out of the bag in the next set to save the show. It seems as if every show, Phish comes out of the set break swinging and tonight was no different. The set started with an inspired Golden Age, which has become one of the band’s newer jam vehicles after debuting in Albany 2009 as a somewhat out of left field cover. In what would instantly quell any lingering disappointment from the first set, Golden Age seamlessly segued into Ghost, creating another fantastic one-two set opening punch, full of funky jamming and some fantastic bass lines from Mike. In a random twist, Ghost segued into Sweet Virginia, from the Rolling Stone’s Exile On Main Street, which is the fourth song from the 2009 Halloween cover album to be played this year. To go off on a brief tangent, as great as all four of these songs are – and the placement of this Sweet Virginia worked really well – it’s a shame that we get four songs from Exile before anything from Little Feat’s Waiting For Columbus.

After a solid Rift, the real fun began, as we were treated to a show stopping Tweezer that threatened to blow the roof off the venue. There are some Tweezers that have gimmicks with teases, and there are some that have awesome jam segments – this one had both. As soon as the jam got interesting, it seemed like we were getting a slow, drawn out tease of the Tweezer Reprise riff, over the already progressing Tweezer jam creating an awesome auditory experience of the two songs pretty much merged together. Following the Reprise teases, Mike’s bass just exploded into incredible bass lines that eventually merged into several more teases – Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, and Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure. The Under Pressure segment was classic Phish hilarity, as Trey continuously tried to quote “Under Pressure” before giving up and switching over to quoting Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby”, which samples Under Pressure, before conceding that he knows none of these lyrics. Trey tried giving vocal duties to Fishman, who apparently didn’t know any lyrics either, so Trey declared that they should just forget about it by inviting girls on stage to dance before busting into a full on Meatstick Jam, referencing the first set. From there, the jam continued before segueing into Walk Away, whose jam is somewhat similar to Tweezer Reprise creating an awesome two song segment that felt like it was going back and forth between Reprise and Walk Away. The rest of the set was fairly standard, besides the Run Like an Antelope closer that featured references to the Under Pressure and Meatstick in the earlier Tweezer.

The encore was somewhat expected, Loving Cup>Tweezer Reprise to close the show. No matter how many times you’ve heard it, after hearing an awesome Tweezer earlier in the show, it’s always nice to bring back the song to cap off an awesome night. At this point in the tour, the band is clearly not afraid to have fun and take chances. We’ve heard most of our favorites, we need to be surprised, to be taken out of the norm, and tonight’s Tweezer did just that. While the show definitely dragged on at times, and it seems like a lot of the crowd just couldn’t get into the first set, they redeemed themselves by the beginning of the second set, and the Meatstick created the kind of memorable moments that remind fans why they go to Phish shows. Last night’s Tweezer is a keeper – go listen to it right away, and while you’re at it, check out the Golden Age>Ghost. There’s a three day break before the highly anticipated Deer Creek>Alpine Valley run and I think it’s safe to expect some legendary shows from those two venues.

-Chez Rolez

Set 1: Sample in a JarTubeAxillaBathtub GinRoses Are Free > Limb By Limb[1], Free > NICU >Possum > The WedgeCorinnaMeatstick[2]

Set 2: Golden Age > Ghost > Sweet VirginiaRift > Tweezer[3] -> Walk Away > The Horse > Silent in the Morning > PiperWaste > Run Like an Antelope[4]

Encore: Loving Cup > Tweezer Reprise

[1] DEG tease.
[2] WIth fans on stage dancing.
[3] Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, Under Pressure, and Ice Ice Baby quotes; Meatstick jam.
[4] Under Pressure and Meatstick teases; Fernando (Abba) quote (with lyric changed to “Orlando”). Lyrics changed to Marc Orlando Esquandolas from Syracuse, NY” and “Run like Orlando out of control.” “Orlando” repeated several times.

Notes: Limb by Limb contained a DEG tease. Meatstick featured fans on stage dancing. Tweezer contained an Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, Under Pressure and Ice Ice Baby quotes as well as a Meatstick jam. Antelope featured Under Pressure and Meatstick teases, a Fernando (Abba) quote with the lyric changed to “Can you hear the drums, Orlando?” Antelope’s lyrics were changed to “Marc Orlando Esquandolas from Syracuse, NY” and “Run like Orlando out of control.” “Orlando” was repeated several times.

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