Even if I have a ticket I look for a miracle. I’m sure I’ve written about this before but I forget where. If I get one, I give one. Sometimes I trade up if I get a better seat via the miracle. People see my finger in the air and assume I’m willing to buy. Occasionally I am but my default answer is, “I’m looking for a miracle.” Early in the night, there is little hope. Getting a miracle early means someone was told by a friend to give a miracle or they have the cash to spare and want to go inside right away.
Standing with a group of friend I hear someone call me over. “You’re looking for a miracle?” All I could muster was “yes please” as he started handing me a ticket. It was an official donut one as well. I gave him a huge hug and thanked him profusely. It is such a shame to give a gift and feel the recipient is not grateful to receive it. Minutes later 2 friends pass by with their hands in the air. “Hey! Here.” Wide eyes and excitement wash over her. “Do you have one for yourself?” she asks. Great question. I say I had one all along and just got this miracle.
Tonight’s donut was strawberry and so they opened the set with an acapella version of Strawberry Fields. Perfect if not predictable. A lovely version and in the back of my head was the realization that some kids there were forced to Google the lyrics only to learn about the Beatles for the first time.
The floor was packed and it was almost too tight to dance. For the second set, I found my cousin in the 200 section. This was my first time in the area since the renovation after which it seemed worthless. It is not my favorite but worth a shot. The upside is there is a monitor showing the same feed as the couch tour folk watch. The downside is you need it (for many parts of the 200s).
A highlight for me was the triple encore featuring Peaches and Cities. Two covers from two of my favorite bands of all time. Another highlight was the train station after the show. Iron Maiden fans poured in with Mets fans and the Phish crew. It was colorful and exciting. Never a dull moment in NYC!
SET 1: Strawberry Fields Forever, Halley’s Comet > The Moma Dance > Breath and Burning > Funky Bitch, Mound, Foam, Roggae, The Squirming Coil
SET 2: Down with Disease > Strawberry Letter 23 > Birds of a Feather, I Always Wanted It This Way > All of These Dreams, Split Open and Melt >Down with Disease > Shine a Light
ENCORE: Peaches en Regalia > Cities, My Sweet One
Sunday night. Never miss a Sunday show right? I’ve heard that about each day of the week and it’s always true. Sunday the plan was to take a phone call I have each week at 9 pm and stay available for a new website we were launching at work. If something should go wrong, I was accessible although there was little I could do. Essentially, part of my brain would be disconnected from the show. I made it through Back on the Train which I love before absconding to a quiet spot for my call. The bridge is great for this. Tucked behind a bathroom is a foyer in front of an elevator bank scrolled with Knicks propaganda. I saw the opportunity to snap a shot that would cross multiple hashtags heretofore never conjoined! Behold:
Call a success, no major issues with the website. Success! The plan was to head home. I stopped at the Phellowship table and met a frantic fan asking what to do with a fanny pack he found. It was full of tickets for the rest of the run. He was told to bring it to the table (for some reason). We did some investigating, filled it with candy and stickers, then I directed him to the Guest Experience booth managed by MSG and wished him well. I posted on Facebook and Reddit earning some respect and fake internet points but no leads towards an owner.
Jane bumps into me as we walk around the venue looking for her brother. She gives my dear friend a belt buckle after I mention the quality of the pins he sells. She distributes more stickers. We help a nearly crapulent gentleman celebrate his birthday outside the bar he was recently ejected from as he waits for his friends. They arrive in a similar state. Wandering leads us to Jane’s lost family member and we retreat from the nitrous mafia into American Beauty to dance to Dead tunes on the third floor. Yes, the same that was a goth club back in the day. I dance, she gets spilled on, I sit, she dances, her brother serenades me, all the while a dude on the couch begs us to let him stop laughing. We leave at 3:30 and I’m in bed by 5 am. Glad to have a rest day coming up.
SET 1: Sunday Morning, Axilla, Your Pet Cat > Back on the Train, How Many People Are You, Glide, Theme From the Bottom > It’s Ice > More
SET 2: AC/DC Bag > Wolfman’s Brother > Twist > Waves > Miss You, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Wading in the Velvet Sea
ENCORE: Sweet Jane
Well, this was an easy call. Jam filled donut?! Let’s jam! The actual donut was small and quite tasty. Not as dry as the others and it had a nice proportion of jam to donut. They could have chosen any song to drag out and certainly have a stockpile of ones that work great for jamming. It wasn’t what I was expecting but as fellow music blogger Heady Netty wrote, “Phish gave us all run for our money.”
A new pattern has emerged wherein they have started each show with a song that starts with the letter S. Sample in a jar hasn’t always been a jam song but it was great. Next was Lawnboy which is more of a swinging lounge tune but they found a way to extend it out of control. With only 5 songs in the 90-minute set you may think they were telling a joke about themselves (“Phish is playing 13 concerts, no word which 13 songs they’ll play. *sensible chuckle*”). It was more than just form or toying with a theme, the songs were great and the jamming was great. There were some moments where they dipped and recovered the energy but overall, it held together and they built what would clearly be a show to remember. It all came together with a return to Lawnboy at the end of the encore. This is a move you something think, “Hey wouldn’t it be cool if they…” but never expect to see. Such a far out call that nobody made it, and that is one of the reasons this band has the following they do.
Quick bite with a friend after the show and we pick up another on the way. I direct them to the train as I head back to American Beauty. John K was playing in the main room and as I enter someone asks if I have a wristband. I raise my hand and say yes. Two songs later I realize he wasn’t asking about my floor access wristband from MSG, he wanted to know if I paid for the John K show. Quick correction and back to dancing with a crew of folk I know. Lovely people, wonderful time, high energy. Everyone was there for John K and on the way out I stopped to check the dance floor upstairs. Nobody was there so I went home. What an amazing night.
SET 1: Sample in a Jar, Lawn Boy  > My Friend, My Friend > Stash, Bathtub Gin
SET 2: Fuego > Thread > Crosseyed and Painless > Makisupa Policeman -> End of Session > Tuesday > Cavern
ENCORE: Julius > Lawn Boy
Word on Facebook was that some folk were gathering in Union Square to jam, sing songs, and hang out before the show. I get there to find one person, the organizer. We discuss music, psychology, and a recent symposium he hosted at NYU on the Grateful Dead. It was clear we were the party so I left.
Outside of MSG was a gaggle of friends and many looking for tickets, food, bathrooms, etc. I just tried to get to the bathroom but kept running into people. The side quests were mounting but eventually, all was resolved. A pitaya bowl in hand I sat and watched people take photos with Sam Cutler. They talk about the new Dead documentary and ask him random questions. I said hi and mentioned our mutual contacts, that I liked his book, and what his plans were for the Dark Star Orchestra tour. He is very personable and genuinely sweet. He was also making people question who else was near which gave rise to speculation of guests on stage tonight. Later I learned Sam’s friend had an extra and took him along for the ride. He did not like the show.
Miracle! Someone approached as I sat talking to friends who asked what I wanted to pay. “I’m just looking for a miracle.” Done! Sweet! Hug! Squeee! Up I hop and move to the far side of the crowd of friends. I sneak behind Willy and slip the donut ticket on his finger. “I just got this,” I say. He is psyched! I know he has a full weekend of work and this will be a nice send-off. He’s also super level headed and great to have inside a show.
Up to the bridge with me! The place feels empty; All rows behind the stage were closed and a black drape was hung behind the band. Two equity brokers chatted me up as they ate mushrooms and discussed how great the bridge was for seeing Rangers games. As the lights go out and the band comes on stage, my cousin sends me a text inviting me to a private suite. Hell yes. The Lexus suites are between the 100 and 200 sections and offer private bathrooms, full food buffet, stocked fridge, leather seats, and an amazing view. Chicken fingers, brisket sandwiches, empanadas, caprese salad, cookies, and more. Bottled waters for free and plenty of room to dance. This is a really nice space to be except… Nobody there danced. They took selfies, nodded a bit, and ate. One woman sat till Farmhouse when she jumped up and exclaimed, “I know this one!” then sat again right after. Part of the joy on the bridge or floor is dancing with everyone. That was missing. It was nice to sit on a comfy chair with plenty of legroom (in front and sideways) during what was mostly a set of standard tunes. Many were the ones you go to the bathroom during or say, “great, that’s out of the way now.” I love Gumbo so that was a treat and a friend really wanted to hear Pebbles and Marbles so that was good for them. The Tube at the end of the set saved it. I thought the last show was a dream after listening to the set. Was this the same band?
The second set was totally different. Carini is one of my favorite of the darker Phish songs. It’s on a list with Vultures, First Tube, and of course BBFCFM. Two monster covers also made for a great set. 1999 hadn’t been played in almost 20 years and No Quarter while more recent, is rare. To cap off the “traditional powdered” flavor, the encore was Powderfinger. I went straight home. The debate in the car was the first set and whether it was a good one or not. “It sucked” “No way! They jammed the tube” “It was crap” We may never know for sure.
SET 1: White Winter Hymnal, Cars Trucks Buses, My Soul, Roses Are Free > The Very Long Fuse, Gumbo, Yarmouth Road, Pebbles and Marbles,Farmhouse, Tube
SET 2: Carini -> Mr. Completely > 1999 > Steam > No Quarter, Character Zero