Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA
Words/Photos/Videos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
Note: This is the second review I wrote while taking BART from Berkeley to the penninsula. I wrote this on my iPod, and as I edit/put this together on Sunday I think it holds up rather well given the condition I was in. Special thanks to Katy Perry for some inspiration on this one.
I tried an experiment tonight. What would happen if I rocked my Lakers/Lizards t-shirt and $4.99 Lakers cap at a Phish show by the Bay? You see I was born in the Bay Area but migrated south just shy of a decade ago. I could give a rats ass about the NBA, but as a Bay Area sports fanatic I know what it’s like to wear Orange and Black to Dodgerstown USA. As it turns out, wearing the purple and gold to night two of the Phish summer 2010 run at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA was an amazing idea that only helped to fuel my miracle weekend.
The band kicked the night off with a warning shot – “Chalkdust Torture.” Appropriate for a venue located on a major college campus, the no BS rocker set the pace for what would become a rocking night.
“Guyute” reared his ugly head once again, and eased both the band and crowd into the wild ride. One benefit of Lakers gear was free beer. The parking lots at Phish shows often turn into a flea market where fans can purchase/trade goods. With a mix of many fan taking mass transit and a lack of parking lots at the Greek Theatre, the Flea Market came to those waiting in line to enter the intimate General Admission venue. Thanks to my killer fashion sense, I scored four free beers on top of my tasty Monster/Vodka. Why am I telling you this? Because with 16 total stalls inside the venue for 6000+ dudes, “Ocelot” was tinkle time.
I made it back to my slab of concrete just in time for my very first “It’s Ice.” I say my slab, but really it belonged to a few kind souls who allowed my fat ass to sneak in, but more on them later. “Ice” was a nice treat lead by keyboardist Page McConnell the song served as the bridge between foreplay and straight up skull fucking.
With the over-sold venue in the clutches of the jam kings the group got all kinds of nasty with “Cities>Moma Dance>Bathtub Gin>Stealing Time From The Faulty Line”. The crowd cheered loudly as front man/guitarist TreyAnastasio sang the line about the ancient Greeks from “Cities.”. As sweet as that was, the highlight of the foursome was the funky jam from the Talking Heads original/Phish stable into “Moma Dance.” I often find myself skipping over “Mama” on my iPod, however live it never disappoints. This one worked so well coming from “Cities” and had everyone grooving hard. “Gin” is the type of song I can take or leave, but with the energy coming in from the last two songs mixed with the tightness the boys are playing with – well let’s just say that was the best damn gin I have ever tasted.
The set closed with my favorite song from the bands most recent release Joy – “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan.” With the chorus Got a Blank Space Where My Mind Should Be being belted out by Anastasio, I just had to chuckle as it summed up my feelings at the half-way mark of the weekend.
So let’s use set break to get back to that Lakers/Phish experiment. I want to give a shout out to Moorpark Marty, Hunter uSc Thompson and Fuck Stanford. Yes, names are changed to protect the fine folks who allowed me to crash into their space. You see this is the beauty of a Phish show – you can go solo and make 15 new friends just like that. I knew Hunter was my key in, because of his USC Trojan sodomizing a Cal Bear shirt. Fuck Stanford wearing a LA Kings hat only soothed my nerves as I decided to beg for a little bench action. I offered cash, drugs and seat protection in exchange for 1/2 the aisle seat. These fine folks took me in free of charge and within seconds we had bonded over our love of sports and the west coast. I know for a fact, you would not find this type of love/respect and community at Ozzfest or a U2 gig. This is just another reason why Phish fans are the greatest.
So let’s get into set II. All I have to say is that I am at a lack of words it was so damn mind blowing. The set kicked off with a cover of the Velvet Underground classic “Rock & Roll.” This is a number that the band has performed numerous times since their Halloween 98 cover of the Loaded album. For me, this was my first “Rock & Roll” and in person it kicks much harder than on disc. For as much as I have praised Mike Gordon so far, it is really important to praise the Phish version 3.0 vocals of McConnell. His voice sounds stronger and more confident than ever and got the second set off to a great start.
“Ghost” was the opener of my first Phish show and will forever hold a special place in my heart. This did a good job of setting the funk, and the jam out of it was smoking. In fact it was so good that the one major oops of the night couldn’t slow the band down. Yes Trey pre-ejaculated the segue from “Ghost” into thenaturalstoner favorite “Mike’s Song,” but once the band locked in and picked up speed the song was heavy like Katy Perry titties. The song flowed right into “Simple” which was the highlight of set II. The song was solid, but the anti-jam that followed caused the hair on your back to raise. I am pretty sure the fine folks who are on this BART train coming home from the Crystal Castles show in Oakland would have dug this. (Side note, watching some hippie upset a hipster by pulling on his tie – priceless).
While the next few songs were not where I wanted to go, the trip didn’t suck. I feel that “Backwards Down The Number Line” is a tad cheesy but that’s just me. The new song “Show of Life” was just too mellow from what the band had going, but it gave me a chance to take a seat. I will say that after the first two thirds of the song, the mini-jam and last third has potential and at least the lyrics seem motivational?!?!?!?! The smile on Anastasio’s face while performing “Show of Life” makes me think this one may end up in heavy rotation. I have nothing nice to say about “Seven Below” so let’s just pretend that never happened and get back to heavy-Katy-Perry-tittie-Phish-jams (can you tell the gal next to me is reading the new Rolling Stone?).
I was robbed of a “Weekapaug Groove” last fall at Festival 8 (which in it’s own way is kind of special) so I was glad the band busted it out here. It’s always been all about Gordon on this one and with his new beefier tones, I was ready to start a most pit vs. noodle dance (a bit hard to most on stairs I suppose). I actually figured the set would end here, but I was dead wrong. What I feel is the quintessential Phish song – “You Enjoy Myself” followed. From it’s massive build up, trampolines, highly deep lyrics (Boy, Man, God, Shit) and ending vocal jam, this really is the perfect reflection of what Phish is. Oh and watching Anastasio do his silly white boy dance while Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman funk out only to flow seamlessly into the vocal jam is worth price of admission alone. Rumor has it YEM (as fans call it) has only followed “Weekapaug” once. With that happening in 1989 in Vermont, I am stoked I got to see that craziness go down in 2010.
The band came out and closed the night with a cover of the Led Zeppelin classic “Good Times, Bad Times.” My first time seeing the band cover the song, once again McConnell rocked the concrete stage hard, doing his best Robert Plant howl all while holding down the keys. Even with the band performing Mike’s Groove (Which is “Mike’s Song through “Weekapaug Groove”) McConnell was the MVP of night two at the Greek. Can’t wait to see how the boys top themselves for night three.