"Colors and Light, Music to Color, All Within All"
(There is a picture of Trey with his Pepe le Pew shirt, and a setlist at
the top with a picture of Fish at the bottom)
by Robert Norris
On Wednesday night at the Assembly Hall spaceship Phish graced
Champaign-Urbana with its annual fall show. For the third year in a row,
Campustown was inveed by traveling kids looking for jamming music and an
all-night-long party. This show was a high-energy jam which lasted for
three hours. Highlight: "Bathtub Gin" to "Limb by Limb"
The audience was lost in the lights as the sweeping notes traveled
over those who are in an initial trance. THe crowd almost sees Phish's
geometry tumbling over and over. The crowd memebers seem to blend into
eachother as one, sectioned off by alternating solid shades of color.
Other bodies twirl on the floor into yellow, green and blue, with
celebrating smiles on their young faces. The rhythm finds another beat,
led by Trey this time, and it's rising to another chapter.
Bodies waiting, swaying in slow motion and all time has stopped.
Trey masters feedback with his wah-wah. Fish tells them something in a
secret language. I think "where are they?" They are nowhere.
The rest of the band finds out what the cat is saying: "I'm with
you," Gordon plays. Fragmented patterns in lavender spinning on the
spaceship's wall, man that's some funk! Trey waits for something from
Page, who is standing. Then Fishman gives them a real fast beat for two
seconds: STOP SIGN. (in bold print)
A red light for the organ. Trey raps lyrics to "Llama," then
points to Page for a solo. Gordon turns up his bass for a bit for the
high register. Oh there's Fish! Now it's Trey's turn. Feedback tailed
notes wailing then letting loose into a barrage.
Suddenly things decide to get trippy. Rising, boom crash boom,
rising to that all-too-familiar Trey high bend. He stomps on the floor
pedals as his head bops up and down, building a crescendo, followed by a
return to the surface for us. Oh yeah, we're still here. Page runs up,
then down, a scale. Trey emerges with that bend wailing, reaching, and
Gordon holds him up.
"Limb by Limb." Trey really likes playing this, he is bobbing and
weaving happily as Page and Gordon mesh their vocal harmonies. Trey knows
how to play soft, even turned up all of the way. Fishman keeps the beat
with ease. The song is a sort of floating ecstasy. Now Trey really wants
attention, he juts his head out and approaches the crowd with his guitar
as his appeal. Lift off.
Again the band loses itself within its own creation. Sharp high
piercing notes sustaining forever it seems. Page is changing the melody,
Fishman makes room, but Trey wants to stay and lifts a note into space,
then comes back down -- back to the origianl rhythm where we find them
again. Drum solo vocal time. Four thick streams of yellow smoky white
illuminate Fishman north, south, east and west.
"Theme From the Bottom."
"So I ask you why, as I'm seimming by. Don't you see anything
that you'd like to try?" Time for the band to slip into space where all
is silence and matter doesn't exist.
Trey descends into the unknown, they all reside there with him, on
bottom, on top -- everywhere (in bold type). There is nothing but music
sweet music dancing for us, within us, and through. Some of the people
around me nod this understanding, is seems. It's all in their own head
and it moves them somehow as they stand still, lost in a diminshed
universe under the sea. They don't care to be found.
Hey, the band is coming back. I hear more support in the chords.
A Phish show always makes me feel like I've been here before. "From the
bottom, bottom top..."
"Antelope." They play the distinctive intro, a cue for the solid
blue and green lights to separate. The floor is imprisoned in music, the
solo lines rise above the piano, which speaks the same but differently.
Trey has a low distorted tone feedback. Page slips inbetween. Gordon and
Fishman form a backbone. The lights flicker on and off, back and forth.
There is a suspense so intense until another door opens, a new breathe or
notion. Music reads your mind as it builds higher.
Now faster, faster, faster mountain climb, that antelope is almost
there. The audience pulls towards some tonic common ground, come on, come
on, almost...Yes! (in boldface) The crowd erupts and this sends chills
down my spine. Tornadoes of notes twirling together, every possible light
is on. I've seen nothing like this insanity quite as clear, how they
build ideas and break down walls. Our minds are completely open for the
action: STOP SIGN. (boldface)
Gordon takes the spotlight, gives his bass a deep throat, bows and
disappears. "Run, run, run, run, run, run, run,
Set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul. You've got to
run like an antelope out of control."
A phan's reaction: "That was sick man."
2001. Standard. A combination of HAL and the Assembly Hall
Only the band members' silhouettes are visible in front of blue
and black. A distictive organ tone, echoing high pitched signals, reached
and settled in. The stage was lowered from th spaceship's ceiling.
Just turned down a joint.
The crowd is under the spotlight, thousands and thousands
cheering. There's a little boy with an LSU hat, on his dad's shoulders.
So far, I'm told, he has sung lyrics to all of the songs. Trey and Page
keep waving and smiling at him. Twirling rods orange, red and purple on
the curvature opposite wall. Vivid lines intersecting. This seems like a
trip through a nebula to me.
The whole band is bearded. Fishman wears his dress.
"Hey Maiksupa (sp) Policeman, policeman came to my house."
Trey wants to get down with something distorted and savage, which
sounds unorganized and muddled. Their faces: Gordon: stoic. Trey:
enthusiastic pain. Fishman: ecstasy. Page: calm consideration. They all
have their eyes closed. Trey is playing with fire -- crazy feedback which
sounds like a slide whistle. He exchanges foreign glances with Page and
Fishman. Spontaneously abstract muddled jamming, into some rock and roll,
Trey looks at Fish and gives him a goofy look.
"Woke up this morning," Trey said, "stinky kind." (actually stink
kind) The crowd roars. Then he said, "Break it down." A fan tells me
that Trey seems intoxicated. He prances over to Gordon, and Gordon looks
at him like he is nuts. Trey is really acting goofy, making faces and
weird gestures. He's really messing with his effects, in sheer playful
joy. Then he whispers in Gordon's ear, and signals with his hand to
Fishman. They suddenly bring it all back to "Makisupa Policeman."
Jon McLennand for e-mailing me this.
Andy's Phish Page