Night two of the Lake Tahoe webcast had a whole slice of the internet abuzz. Coming off of an exciting night 1 that showed some potential in Bowie, 46 Days, Slave, and arguably, Walls of the Cave, there was a near-palpable excitement about night 2. The show started a touch later - almost 7 PST, 10 EST.
Phish took the stage and dropped their first "Dogs Stole Things" of "3.0," the first since 2003, a 167 show gap. While "Dogs Stole Things" has always been a song I've enjoyed, it's recreated relatively similarly each time, so it was more a "Wow!" factor for stats than music. Dogs led to an uncharacteristically short "Stealing Time", which handed off to "Poor Heart." Hard not to notice the three song "Steal" theme - "Stole," "Stealing," and "You won't steal my poor heart."
Sadly, the set lost some flow from there. "Alaska", "Halley's Comet", "It's Ice" really offered little in the way of highlights, and when the band settled into "Circus", I feared for the direction of the set. "Circus" is so slow it's often hard to recover the energy. Luckily, the following number was the always-welcome "Ya Mar". "Ya Mar" led to the undeniable highlight of the first set - jam-wise, at least - in "Stash". "Stash" has matured into a reliable centerpiece in the last year, rising to the top of the highlight list many times since last October. "Funky Bitch", which would've fit really well into the night 1 setlist, was next, and the increasingly present "Instant Karma!" followed with a fun if slightly-disjoined "Antelope" closer. On a personal note: when Trey misses the guitar-featured fill in the "Antelope" intro, I feel an emotional hurt. Set 2 is much harder to describe succinctly.
When "Disease" opens set 2, hopes are high. I received an IM from one from that said, "Here comes a 5 song second set!" and another friend messaged me "20 min DWD right now." Sadly, the jam could be counted in seconds as the ashes of "Disease" led us to a blue-light colored "Runaway Jim". From the quiet part that leads to the loud resurgence, I felt a very good vibe of potential. My feeling was right, pretty much everyone agrees that Jim led to a gorgeous, somewhat spacey jam. Unfortunately, the so-called "ripcord" was pulled staggeringly early, and "Ghost" crawled up.
As "Ghost" is one of my favorite live Phish songs, I immediately smiled and texted an obnoxious smily to a friend. The "Ghost", too, would show flashes of brilliance. With the recent NYE "Ghost" and the even more recent Charlotte "Ghost" fresh in our heads, the Tahoe "Ghost", unfortunately, is easy to forget. Just as it got interesting, it was winding down. Normally, a segue from "Ghost" into "Golden Age" would cause fits of laughter and joy. But this "Golden Age" felt flat on the webcast; the mix was screwy and it felt hollow. "Golden Age" may be my new favorite cover, but it went nowhere fast tonight. The glorious funk of "2001" arose - anyone think this setlist looks amazing on paper?! - and rained upon us. But a short and forgettable version was delivered, following the theme of potential "ripcord'd."
I'm a "Sneakin' Sally" fan. I found nothing objectionable about this version whatsoever, except that it exists in a set I found mostly frustrating. "Guyute" was another victim of an odd mix. Trey did some work in the intro that felt a little hollow, but an otherwise acceptable version of the ugly pig's theme. I wish Trey would play the climbing melody notes during the closing coda more often. It seems to be a "once in a while" thing, and it really hammers it home for me.
What can be said about "Wading in the Velvet Sea"? Generally, you either love it or hate it. This is one of the few examples where the studio version really nails what the live version almost always lacks. I've seen versions of this song that made me weep - I'm thinking the wet, rainy 7/21/97 Virginia Beach debut - but most versions these days are merely breathers.
"YEM" to close the set was a mixed bag. The "YEM" intro contains some of the most amazing Phish music. The bouncy jam, the piano led twinkles, "the note" - all played well enough tonight. Objectively, I'll dare to state that most versions of "YEM" over the last few years don't really compare to most versions of "YEM" from days of old. This version, according to our own Icculus, "it's a little more spirited IMO than a typical 3.0 version. B/B+." Sounds about right. Nice enough jam, somewhat rushed, always fun, mostly par.
Sorry, but "Show of Life" is not an acceptable encore for this usual-Fluffer-but-today-jaded-vet. Aside from cringing at the "struggle and strife/show of life" rhyme that often feels stolen from a middle-schooler's diary, the "we thank you all" pandering frustrates me. Had I been there, I would've thrown my arm around my neighbor and foolishly called it a special moment. But I wasn't, so I can tell you more objectively, I was crestfallen that a second set filled with so much almost-brilliance was closed with a "Show of Life" encore.
Thank Jeebus Trey and company realized that the show begged for something more. Alas, in its favorite spot, Phish loosed the Zeppelin rocker "Good Times Bad Times." Although pretty standard, it was just the note on which to close the Tahoe run.
Hard to argue that night one was all around stronger than night 2, but night 2's second set had flashes of great potential. The entire webcast experience is tremendous fun, no matter what is played, especially when you can be online chatting with friends, get yourself a drink, or even fry up some bacon, if so moved. It's tough for an east coaster who works early to do webcasts regularly, but if Phish made this type of event a regular thing, I'd be an even more-dedicated LP subscriber. The webcast, overall, was stuffed with "win" and despite some technical issues with the "on demand" part of night 1, the stream itself was pretty reliable and worked just perfectly on my large HDTV.
If Tahoe 2 is remembered for its potential, I'm extra jealous of those headed to the upcoming three night run at UIC. Let's hope that some of the tendancy to bail on jams wears off and some of the brilliance is more patiently explored.
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