Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA
Words/Photos/Videos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
Before we really get going, I need to thank a few people for making this entire weekend possible. I was shut out via mail order and ticketmaster. Chad and Eric came to my rescue with one ticket for each night and I didn’t have to pay a cent for it. You guys are incredible. I would also like to thank James and Kelly for letting me crash for two nights. You guys rule and so does your cat Javier (he is the softest cat I have ever touched). I would also like thank my Mom and Dad for letting me crash for a few nights as well. I know you kinda have to let me crash, but it’s still appreciated. So a big thank you to EVERYONE who made this the highlight of my summer!
Now let’s get to the part about the final night of Phish at the Greek.
I spent a good part of Thursday in Berkeley, and was shocked at the length of the line to get in when I got to the venue around 3:00 pm. Friday, I left 90 minutes later than I had planned before I knew of line issues, and somehow managed to get a better seat (thanks Kobe). Saturday, I drank beer all day with James and Kelly in Berkeley. Enjoying time with my good friends, let’s just say my plan was to enjoy night three from the venues back lawn section. Then I met Mar Vista (name changed of course) an attractive, but chain smoking pixie type with Bono-esque shades and a large wedding ring. Since we live about three miles from each other, she insisted I join her and her crew about 25 feet from drummer Jon Fishman. How could I say no to the best seat all weekend?
The show started with my fourth “AC/DC Bag.” I don’t think I will ever get sick of this one – such a fun song. On this particular night, the song didn’t get too wild, just did it’s job by getting our final night off to a rocking start. Personally the highlight of set I for me was the second song “Foam.” I am a huge fan of Gordon’s bass line in this one and getting to witness it live for the first time was amazing. Here’s hoping it’s not another 20 shows before I get another one.
“Gotta Jiboo” is a song that has grown to annoy me over the years. The highlight was Cookie Monster dancing in front of me. “Reba” however picked back up my personal energy level. I was really hoping we would get some whistling at the end, but that was not in the cards. I will say with my last two Reba’s being flubbed by the band, it was nice to hear the band finally nail it.
With energy high from both the crowd and the band, I felt Phish shot themselves in the foot with their next two songs. More power to you if these songs do it for you, but “Sleep Again” and “Army of One” killed the vibe for many. If there is any positive out of this, it’s that “Army of One” started a nice run five song run. “Poor Heart” followed the two soft adult contemporary Phish jams and that was the perfect quick boost of energy needed by the audience.
I was shocked when “Poor Heart” found it’s way into “46 Days” but the band made the transition is fine fashion. “46 Days” is already a rocker but guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio really managed to send this one into overdrive. From there, it was time for my first “Tube” (not to be confused with “First Tube”). Yes folks, it took my 20 shows and a trip to Berkeley, but I finally got it. To make the moment perfect, some guy in a Bo Jackson Raiders jersey walked right past me as Anastasio sang on a freeway in Los Angeles. Cheap trill perhaps but it made me smile. The set closed with “Character Zero.” where I was hit by one of two crowd surfing blow up dolls. “Zero” is a perfect set closer and sent the crowd into break on an up note.
With everyone around me doing massive amounts of cocaine, Berkeley on Saturday Night felt more like Hollywood, which made for a strange vibe. It got to me a bit during the first set, but I moved where I was right at the start of the second set and never looked back. If I had one more set back home away from the lame LA scene, then lord knows I was going to enjoy it. I decided to tape one song and that was the Gamehendge rocker “Wilson.” With an audience call and response and just rocking licks by Anastasio this was the perfect way to start set II.
“Light” is a monster and coming out of “Wilson” the mood was high. Another track from Joy called “Twenty Years Later” managed to come through from the ridiculous jam that was “Light.” I thought “Twenty Years Later” sounded great and was stoked to hear it. With some of the newer material out of the way, it was time to enjoy some classic. The first being “Harry Hood” a song that’s broken into three sections and dares to question where Harry goes when the light goes off. It took me 17 shows to get the bass-heavy “Theme From The Bottom” so getting number two during the next run of shows was a nice surprise. Once again the band nailed the song and the crowd already high energy level only continued to rise.
The highlight of the show is a toss up between “Light” and “Also Sprach Zarathustra > Suzy Greenberg > Slave to the Traffic Light.” “Zarathurstra” (aka the theme from 2001) is always an epic event and the insane fog & light show only benefited from the cement wall that makes up the back of the stage. It was super quick switch from “2001>Suzy Greenberg” which made the energy going into Suzy that much thicker. We even got a tail end jam out of “Suzy” that was on fire. “Slave to the Traffic Light” wrapped the set and that feeling of “oh no it’s almost over” hit my gut hard.
The encore was a blast. Holy smokes, they played “Lizards” it was amazing. Anastasio had to cheat off some lyrics posted for him, but the entire band sounded as if they play this song all damn day. We may not get crazy bust outs like “Fuck Your Face” out west, but hey at least we got “Lizards.” “First Tube” gave us one last dance as the band rocked the hell out of the instrumental. The final night at the Greek was Anastasio’s night to shine and “First Tube” is built for maximum Anastasi-ass-kicking! A perfect send off for a perfect weekend; thank you Phish for three wonderful days at the venue where I have seen everyone from the Butthole Surfers to Ben Harper. You now hold the fondest musical memories of mine at the Greek Theatre. Now where the hell are those fall tour dates?