Though I have been away from the place where I usually rest my head for a few days, I can say, with all honesty, that I never left home. Such is the joy of having Phish settle in for a few days of their unique brand of quackery in the home of the ducks. I have spent a lot of time in Eugene, the place is familiar. This familiarity leads to relaxation. The mid-week doubleheader further expands the timeline of the experience to allow for a long day and longer night of making real connections with friends old and new. The PNW regional branch of the PSH class of 1983 reunion was in full effect at the Best Western New Oregon, a stone’s throw across the street from the Matt Knight Arena. Minds were blown, faces were melted. Not many people came, tickets went unused, but those who did make the journey were not disappointed.
Following the collective catharsis of night one, I understood better how the connections we have with each other and with the band are the thing that really matters about this experience. The second show was an opportunity to dwell deeply in that concept and take some rest in the peace of it all. I spent a lot of the day sitting on the tailgate of my truck watching the clouds whisper past the tree tops. The sun fading and glowing as they passed by like vessels in the night. Lonely tripper? Never could I be. There is just so MUCH happening in every moment and molecule that fills the void of space. The whole vibe of the second night just oozed with the same patience and relaxation. Space was made. The logs got stacked. The enlightenment may be casual but it is no less real.
"Mr. Completely" kicks the barn door open and then just seems to settle down on a hay bale by the window to stare out at the mountain. Though it keeps happening, I have yet to tire of the new go-to riff. The snail that is the lock on my garden gate made its way onto the show poster too, nice and slimy. Since my last show was the Sunday night Gorge show, "Mr. Completely" was technically a REPEAT for me but I did not care. Not quite as Donovan imbued as the last time, but the mountain was definitely there. And it was not.
"Energy" starts sloppy but eventually settles into another wide open space, allowing the song to spread broadly within. It evoked a somber brightness - if that could be possible. Breath flowing in and out. It told me a Mike song was coming, just not which one. Second time played for "Casual Enlightenment." Great lyrics. Captures the aftershow experience in a deeply amusing way. Missed her completely, but a real connection was made, 20 years later. Which was how the show almost opened. Go back and check it.
With the exception of the hard-driving "Timber," patient reverie was really the theme for much of the first set. The "Timber" is therefore prominent in the clearcut of general easiness that surrounds it. This sense of ease and tranquility which envelops the hardwood was most notable in the "Farmhouse" that followed what seemed to be a pretty flawless "Divided Sky." There may have been a roof on the building, but I could still see the stars above, twinkling in the darkness, the aurora painting the sky with vivid pastels of green and red. Very delicate and touching. Such a diminutive and precious version.
"Split Open and Melt" seemed to get lost within itself, and as such really doesn’t go anywhere special. I found it to be introspective and cerebral. I like my "Melts" dark and dissonant. This one was wrinkle-free and entirely unjarring. No clear path back to the outro was evident so I thought this one was going to be *unfinished; instead, the jam dissolves into the second time played for "End of Session." Padding stats. 50% club, baby. Clumsy fumblerooski return to the "Melt" outro loses the asterisk. Landing not stuck. Gorge version was way better. No matter.
"AC/DC Bag" is a great way to open any set. As this one began, I watched my "Tweezer" evaporate; returning me to the chase. As has been the case throughout the autumnal excursion thus far and in keeping with the summer sessions, the jams are going in other places these days. The old framework has been deconstructed from within. This makes it all the more interesting to me to watch unfurl. I have nothing to rely on as I pick my way through the terrain of the show. The familiar is upended. How many people are you really? If you want to be an alpaca, you have to learn how to be an alpaca.
About halfway through, the second set centerpiece "Ruby Waves" jam turns a corner into another expanse of gentle emptiness. Is Fishman lagging or ahead? Either way the beats are odd and yield a sense of incohesion. This extemporaneity, once resolved, gives way to a pretty raunchy spoonful of the greater goodness. Shortly before the 23-minute mark the egg is cracked and the entity emerges from the fissure with the rest of the previous night’s "2001" jam. You better run. The hammers will batter down your door. Especially if you are sleeping in the wrong room.
My new favorite sailing song, as I may have mentioned during my Gorge recap, is "Lonely Trip." Words open doors. My doors were wide open. Some people like numbers. Some people like to get on the Goodfoot. Some people want to know what rock they are. Is this really your 100th show or is that a costume of somebody at their 100th show? I did not hear the all fall down signal. We finally met at last. The moment of recognition was glorious. I can’t even spell prosopagnosia my dude.
"Golden Age" gets really nice right around the 8-minute mark, rides through the storm and wanders into Paradise City by about 13:13. Tally another one in the 50% club ledger. We had two birthdays in our squad this time around. This "Backwards Down the Number Line" SMOKES in their honor. That sustain....wowwwww. Total stumpbuster. Happy Birthday!!! It’s totally going to be Appetite for Destruction.
A perfunctory "Wilson" encore gives way to another Gorge reprise, as foretold by the great and knowledgeable @chillwigulus, in the form of a hurried "Say it to me SANTOS." As promised. I liked it. If you go back to the "Ruby Waves" jam, the rest of the "SANTOS" jam is in there or maybe it was "WACTOOB?" Either way, the heavy Kasvot Vaxt leanings earlier in the show were resolved in the encore.
A really great End of Session for my 2021 year of Phish. Thanks to all involved. I had needed a vacation for a while. This one was pretty glorious.The midweek homestand was a success. Loving the two day work week. Safe travels to Phoenix and beyond. I’ll be getting brown at the Mission for Halloween. Until we meet again. THE LIGHTS ARE SO BRIGHT!!!
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