Sunday 10/31/2021 by swittersdc

VEGAS 3 RECAP: IT DOESN'T MATTER

Who could have predicted a show that was made entirely of songs about animals? Many people did, and with last night's show, we finally uncovered the complex equation that reveals Phish's Halloween plans, once and for all. The answer is: they're fucking with us. They are always fucking with us.

If you can believe it, I actually didn't realize that the set was all animal songs until deep into the first set. My excuse is that I was just really into the music, man. But with "The Dogs" opener, clocking in at about nine minutes, we knew we were being subjected to another elaborate plan. The "Ocelot" brought us further into the animal kingdom, and "Turtle in the Clouds" gave us some much needed on-stage choreographed dancing.

By this point in the set, we were wondering if we were going to get another thematic show, with serious improv, like 10/28/21. But on this night, the service was to the bit, the bit led the music, and although we didn't see the levels of improv we saw on the other nights, it gave us a show with 25 songs and 201 minutes of music, and the kind of show you're not likely to see again. And you can always tell, when the band is doing a bit, when they know what's in store and we don't, they absolutely love it. They were relishing it. All night.

Photo by RJ Bee
Photo by RJ Bee

This tour has obviously been highlighted by incredible improv. We saw glimpses in "Run Like An Antelope," one of the most fiery versions we've heard in a while. I was expecting "Camel Walk" to get out there as well, like the version from The Gorge earlier this Summer, but it was a "pre-Gorge" standard version, before jumping into the deep funk with "Wombat." This tour's textures and sonic palette are perfect for this song, which was really well received by the grooving I saw.

Are they going to play "Guyute"? They're going for it? Alright, let's go. A really respectable version, last played in late 2019. The real shenanigans started with "Big Black Furry Creatues From Mars." And the first "Shaggy Dog" since 2012, my first time ever seeing that song.

I also got my first "Dog Faced Boy," another reminder that we were at a special show. On a night like last night, we know that this community, the band and us, are in on it together. The in-jokes, the shared experience, the predictions, wrong (almost always) and right, all came together in this show.

But the games weren't over, not even close. "The Sloth," then a "Regular" version of "Llama," and a "I Am the Walrus" to close the set. Although we didn't get a lot of high-powered improv in the first set, we did get 13 songs, a lot of them rare. What will the second set hold?

First of all, a LOT more songs. A quick "Dogs Stole Things" (first since 2019), and then into the biggest jam of the night, "Your Pet Cat." In a jam like this, with Trey and Page pushing the synths and space sounds, I find myself thinking about what this means for Halloween. What will they play? What does it mean? In the middle of the jam, they shifted into a major key blues jam, which is not where I expected the jam to go. The "Your Pet Cat" > "Runaway Jim" > "Piper" was the highlight of the show from a jamming perspective, although they didn't go too deep on any of the jams. This show was all about the songs.

Photo by Scott Marks
Photo by Scott Marks

After a relatively short "Birds of a Feather," we heard what we all long to hear at a show. We heard...an Oom Pa Pa. This "Harpua," the first one since the Baker's Dozen, finally revealed the mysteries of Halloween. Trey said it directly — we're fucking with you. Did Harpua may have embedded clues about what will happen tonight (including a shout out to Jseus Christ Superstar)? Possibly, but we all know one thing for sure — they would not say that to us directly. The shenanigans continue. Keeping us on our toes, keeping us guessing, keeping us coming back and wanting more. Is there another band in the universe who can still thrill, entertain, confuse their fans like Phish?

And after Trey saying that it doesn't matter, directly, we heard it this time through the sublime release of "Bug." Many of us thought this would close the set, but the band wasn't finished with the gag. "The Lizards" and a nice, mellow "Farmhouse" closed out the set.

Trey didn't want to stop playing. A three-song encore of "Vultures," "Sleeping Monkey" and "Possum," which everyone was expecting, left us all exhausted and ready for more.

Sometimes what you come for, is not what you end up getting, but what you do get, you enjoy and know that you're not getting another live music experience like this. There's mystery, there's confusion, there are laughs, there's a lot of dancing, and a lot of ecstatic release from all of us. And although we didn't get the levels of improv we've all become used to on this tour, last night was in service to the bit. As for tonight, there are eight vertices, maybe, or nine cubes? Eight circles? Who cares, let's just do it one more time.

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Comments

, comment by numbernine
numbernine I think they were giving us last minute costume ideas
, comment by mismatch_healer
mismatch_healer Is it just me or these dates all mixed up?
, comment by dnky666
dnky666 Led Zeppelin IV being hinted? Although Animals by Pink Floyd would be awesome.
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 As a teacher, I’m here to offer Trey some free math tutoring whenever he’s ready.
, comment by MikeSideFuj
MikeSideFuj Noting for all that the Captain Beefheart album Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) has a length of 47:20 (4680 if you make the 46 = minutes and the 80 = seconds), has multiple tracks with animal names in them (including dogs), sort of feels like it's halloween referential, and there are lots of weird ways in which squirrel references kind of fit. I also think I am crazy to even say this. But this could work? Anyway, don't listen to me; listen to our favorite band and enjoy!
, comment by Jake0712
Jake0712 As for tonight, there are eight vertices, maybe, or nine cubes? Eight circles? Who cares, let's just do it one more time.

Well, for a short review that deserved more? How about much more - how could you not have written more about Harpua? The fact that Trey did "EXPLICITLY" said "We're Fucking With You" (you did say it), but how about the logic Trey speaking about the squares and circles (that is what you're getting for tomorrow night) becomes a 4, then 6, then 8, turn the 8 sideway then you got yourself a Zero (or 2). Hmmm, 4680? Where did this come from? Oh, yes, that was the total number of digits from 10-28-2021 Backwards Down The Number Line show and clarified in the end of "Grind" (funniest version ever).

This was a special, dreamy, theme night that phish phans have being clamoring for years, yet the review did not take us there...just my IMHO....
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