[We thank user @farmose (formerly @fad_albert) for recapping last night's show. -Ed.]
Saturday, July 22, approx 2:30pm, the Pavilion at Star Lake. Suspect was apprehended and taken into custody with the aid of three plain clothes Hanover PD officers and two K-9 units. The charge? Pennsylvania Penal Code 4419: Attempt to distribute counterfeit merchandise. Apparently Miss Stamatis found it funny to print 100 t-shirts that read, “Let Phish Suck Ass,” following their ill-fated tour stop in Wilmington, NC. But anyone offended by her crude humor can heartily laugh now that she’s spending what should be her 175th show locked in a metal cage with a wooden plank for a bed, tripping her tits off.
So why am I addressing you all on her behalf? Because I traditionally have Saturday nights off duty and Miss Stamatis was kind enough to furnish me with her ticket on the auspices that I’d fulfill her obligation to review the concert. A quick stop to the evidence locker and I’m ready for my first time seeing The Phish.
The sun wasn’t even setting when the Phish came out onstage. From the top of the lawn I had a surveillance-tower-view of the audience. Buncha freaks! Barefoot longhairs in their pajamas wearing rainbow fishing hats.
“I Never Needed You Like This Before,” must be the title of the first song because they repeated it plenty. They’re clearly talented guys. The bassist was really expressive, seemed like he was leading the band on this tune, but the guitarist was interested in trying to get the ball away from him, with some success.
No idea what the next song was called (Guest contributor’s note: “Turtle in the Clouds”) but at one point they sang, “Pay me no attention as I blend in with the mob”- ha! I don’t know if the evidence locker edibles are kicking in but it felt like the band was singing about me. Perhaps the whole song is about being delirious on cannabinoids in public.
Whoa! (Guest contributor’s note: “Llama”) They come in really fast and hot with berries and cherries blazing and were singing way too fast for me to understand them at all but the crowd clearly recognized this song and was thrashing wildly. Order a urine test on the whole band and you’re going to find something!
The next song was called “Holy Blankenstein” (Guest contributor’s note: “Clear Your Mind”). They followed it with “The Sample in the Jar,” featuring the line, “I was foggy rather groggy/you helped me to my car”; the last thing these people need is a DUI anthem! “The binding belt enclosing me” - at least he wore his seatbelt!
The next song was weird (Guest contributor’s note: “Taste”). Polyrhythms, hooting, lots of piano. “I can’t see through the lines,” more blatant drug references. Followed by a “Ocelot,” a nice tune for the surprising amount of children in the audience who seemed perfectly content and not at all confused by their warped surroundings. They followed this with “Don’t Take Another Step” (Guest contributor’s note: “Julius”) - now that’s a song! Could be straight out of the Billy Joel songbook.
Just when I was starting to like the Phish they launch into a requiem for all the tweakers in attendance (Guest contributor’s note: “I Saw It Again”). The shrieking and distorted guitar in connection with whatever state’s evidence I ingested is making me want to get small. “Laughing Laughing Fall Apart” is next (Guest contributor’s note: “Sparkle”) and raised everybody’s blood pressure. A gentleman passes me in a t-shirt that read, “Do Not Give Me Drugs.” That poor man! He must be bombarded.
The highlight of the first set was, “The Symptoms” (Guest contributor’s note: “Sand”). The bassist took a lead role in the jam in a way that is truly unorthodox with the drummer playing as though he was at least two people. What is the precedent for such a sound? (Guest contributor's note: Grateful Dead, you narc-ass n00b) The guitarist is sprung into action and he played soaring melodic major key improvised lines over this bedrock of interplay culminating in a white-light peak. The air fills with the unmistakable smell of mothballs. The audience rejoices in this particularly inspired interval of connectivity and for a moment I feel a part of everything and that everything is a part of me (Guest contributors note: Lol). My colleagues might have considered this set a little disjointed but I thought the musicianship was good and it showed promise.
Set break was weird. Everyone wandered everywhere giving criminal-to-criminal hand gestures. I had to keep reminding myself that I’m off-duty.
The second set kicked off with a song that must be titled, “Everything’s Right." A pleasant song with a good message. The band locks in and leaves the form of the song. If they're jamming like a popcorn machine, this was all going into a funk bucket with free refills. Some of the kernels were burning and I admit that I inhaled the smoke. It made me forget myself. The light show became a night sky of chemical compounds. The guitar goes full major key bliss ride and the keys were right there tickling the underside of the vehicle. Fireworks were going off behind the stage, or was that in my mind? Segued into "Soul Planet," which almost sounds like a Velvet Underground ditty but instead of being about drugs or waiting for a drug dealer, it's about a heavenly body for ethereal beings. And we have lift-off! The “Soul Planet” entered a gentle, textural galaxy in which each of the players took turns trilling in orbit, building up to a jubilant cosmos. I looked at my bulky shock resistant watch and it told me that those first two songs comprised almost 40 minutes of music. Wow!
Is this still, “Soul Planet”? (Guest contributor’s note: No, it’s “Twist.”) The jam reminded me of Santana: Latin percussion and organ and a guitar hosing down the audience. They re-entered the composed portion but now it sounded more like Black Magic Woman. The stage goes blue and strange sounds start gurgling and the drums rumble to give way to a calming number (Guest contributor’s note: “Most Events Aren’t Planned,”) which then escalates into a driving near-Kraut-like jaunt with guitar-made sirens over it. The lighting guy simply could not decide on a cohesive color scheme but instead chose to jump between palettes frenetically, which probably makes sense when your mind is racing a mile a minute. Clearly this is why the lighting designer gets the big bucks.
An old man in a leather vest was laying on the ground and appeared to be having an IPR (Guest contributor’s note: “intense psychedelic response”). His peers were surrounding him and stroking him with owl feathers and placing small rocks on him. At one point I heard the old man mutter, “This is a new song,” which I surmised is titled, “Monsters.” Cool refrain, possibly took a little inspiration from “War Pigs,” by Black Sabbath.
The Phish start playing the theme from "2001:" A Space Odyssey but in a funky arrangement. The lighting display was quivering like a perp (Guest contributor's note: "Perpetrator"). The shaking beams gave way to winding search lights. A bit of the bright light touches my skin in a non-interrogational and fairly healing manner. In fact, if all this intense lighting had done anything to manipulate me, it’s been to make me feel good, not vulnerable. Maybe I’ve misjudged this whole hippie culture. Maybe I don’t need to put my hand on my taser every time a hippie asks me a question. Perhaps initiatives like, Operation Phish in a Barrel (Guest contributor's note: this targeted op was said to be a hoax) are harsh and unnecessary. Perhaps plants are medicine and not harmful drugs. Then the Phish start playing “Rock And Roll” by Velvet Underground! No way! What if my life is being saved by rock and roll RIGHT NOW?
The show ended but nobody left because everyone expected an encore. The audience didn’t even really cheer for it, they just took it for granted. The band returned bathed again in white light which I had previously associated with mental manipulation but now see as merciful. I decided then and there that I would be leaving the police force, to put in my resignation effective immediately, in order to pursue a career in handcrafting dollhouse miniatures, a deep passion of mine which I’ve suppressed for far too long! As a barbershop quartet, the band proceeded to sing a bunch of weird stuff and then announced how long they’ve been alive: 86,030 days. “That’s a lot of days,” said the guitarist. “And today is one of the best.”
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