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Phish at Umass: Phish at the Zoo?

Phish played a good show at Umass on Night 2
Phish played a good show at Umass on Night 2
Parker Stuart

Phish plays Umass


Phish was coming off a fire show in Providence and were set to play two days at one of the biggest party schools in the northeast: Umass Amherst. Yikes.

I skipped the Saturday show to celebrate my good bud Willy McNally's wedding, which was done at KC's Rib Shack and had me so full of booze and liquor I almost didn't make it down for the Sunday show. I'm glad I did because it was another good one-not the best, but good.

The boys started off the set off with 'AC/DC Bag', which was played for the first time since the 10/10/10 show in Broomfield. For a tune that started to get a little redundant to me based on how often I've heard it, I was glad to hear it back especially in the show opener. It unexpectedly led to 'Camel Walk', which was also played last back in Broomfield on 10/11/10. Hmm... a bit Phishy.

'The Divided Sky' was up next, and as usual, they were on point hitting notes beautifully. It was my buddy Dezi's first 'Divided,' even though he has been to plenty of shows and they play it plenty. But somehow, he has managed to miss it.

"So firey!" Dezi yelled during the ending guitar solo.

But then came the WTF moment when they swung right into 'Ride Captain Ride' for the first time in 214 shows.I couldn't believe it and had never heard Phish cover this one hit wonder from the '70s. Some of the heads after the show griped about this, but I still can't figure out why. Page was the man on the vocals for this one, and Phish played it well all around.

This was followed up by a nasty 'Stash' that had any hater from the last tune back up and dancing their asses off. So far, a lot of fan favorites and a random bust out. But I knew, looming in the darkness was a TTE which hadn't been played since 10/12/10 in Broomfield.

Trey brought out the megaphone for 'Fee' which was much to my delight. I love how they have incorporated the megaphone to the lyrics again. 'Fee' was one of those tunes that originally got me hooked on Phish when I was young, stealing my parents' Junta CD and dancing around like an idiot.

Then it came. It segued beautifully out of 'Fee' but it came. It was time for 'Time Turns Elastic' and I heard a grown followed by laughter from audience members around me. I immediately got a text message from The Gnome saying, "They blew it."

I knew they wouldn't try that in a small venue like Augusta or Utica because they'd actually be able to see the crowd clear out, so Umass seemed like the right spot for it.

I went and waited in the bathroom line for 10 minutes and came back just in time for when 'TTE' starts to get fun. So I danced for a bit, watched the crowd come back into the venue, and sang along to the ending chorus. I've said it before and I'll say it again... PHISH if you for some reason read anything I write, try this out: 'Time Turns Elastic' >'Tube' >'Time Turns Reprise' > 'First Tube.' I really think it would work.

The end of the set was saved when they followed up 'TTE' with some favorite rockers in 'Cavern' and 'Antelope.' I had been hoping for 'Cavern' tonight so I was thoroughly pleased. And it segued nicely into 'Antelope' for its usual 3.0 set one ending spot.

Set one gets a B- from me, which meant we were getting phire in the second set.

Second set kicked off with 'Seven Below' > 'Wolfman's Brother.' This was utterly fantastic. 'Seven Below' is one of those songs that has continuously grown on me, especially since I saw them tear it apart in Albany last year. 'Wolfman' is a given, and Mike definitely brought the funk for this one.

'Backwards Down the Number Line' > 'Alaska' > 'Free' was done very nicely as well. While I don't know if we'll hear a version of 'BDTNL' like this summer's show at the Blossom Theatre in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, this was pretty good. The one at the Blossom was just surreal, and went from corny to trippy. This one basically stayed corny with a decent Trey solo, but it segued into 'Alaska,' which is one of my favorites of the new tunes. 'Alaska' mashed into 'Free' pretty good as well, but it was nothing to write home about. Following 'Free' up with 'The Lizards' was what you should write home about.

It was the first 'Lizards' I had heard since they encored with it at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA. I was pumped and knew the show had really taken off. It was nicely executed and had me tap dancing around, while my buddy Cready was literally trying to climb a wall he was so excited.

Phish killed it on 'Brother.' This was just plain awesome. For some reason, 'Brother' is one of those songs I always forget about until I get my face melted off by it. But the face melting wasn't over. Here comes 'Roggae' > 'Taste' > 'Waste' > 'David Bowie'

I just have to say wow. This was a great mix of ambiant jams, ballady lyrics, and straight up rocking out with it all ending with 'Bowie.' I love 'Roggae' and the way the lights hit each one of them as they sing their part in the beginning lyrics, and it segued perfectly into 'Taste.' 'Waste' was surreal and gave us some time to get ready for 'Bowie,' which was its usual crushing self.

This ended set two and I was happy with it. I'd give it a solid B +, but the encore could push it into the A range.

And it did, when they played 'Quinn the Eskimo' followed up by the first 'Chalk Dust Torture' encore in 10 years. The encore was an all out party with the whole college crowd screaming the 'Can't I live while I'm young' parts to the point where it was actually giving me a bit of a chill. The encore gets a big ol' A.

While this was a pretty good show, I had a feeling that they were holding back just a bit. Something huge was on the horizon... would it be Manchester? Check here for my review!


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