Wednesday, January 2, 2013

LivePhish 8/12/04 Camden, NJ - Phish

Early in the Summer of 2004, everyone's favorite squad of jam-heavy, psychedelia-enthralled minstrels announced that they would be calling it quits following one final tour and a festival (though they would later make liars of themselves when they got back together in 2009). As has been Phish's practice for some time, all live shows were professionally recorded and made available through their own live music distribution website. This show was no exception.

The August 12 show was to be the band's last regular show prior to the much maligned Coventry Festival which was to officially mark the band's end. As was the case with much of the Summer Tour, the band delivered; playing and jamming with the sense of urgency that only can be brought on by a sense of impending finality. And jam they did. The evening's first set featured an extensive jam beginning their almost symphonic live favorite, "You Enjoy Myself" which bleeds into "Ghost." From there the band, segues into a pulsating rendition of "Maze", briefly stops in on "Catapult", and finally make their way back to "Maze." All told, run down takes nearly 30 minutes for the group to traverse, complete with the joyous guitar slinging by Trey Anastasio.

The second set seemingly ups the ante on the first, with the band bursting out the gate with a feverish jam through "Piper" that leads into "Sneaking Sally Through the Alley." For me, the highlight of the show is the second set's closer, "Scents and Subtle Sounds." Throughout the course of their live career, Phish had found ways to deconstruct songs into trance-like sonic meditations. With looping guitars, echo laden basses, synthesizer warbles, and a smooth soft looping drum, "Scents" literally melts away, leaving the audience floored with nothing left but a swirling wall of sound after the band left the stage. While the show contains an encore consisting of "Lawn Boy" and a cover of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein," it's pretty clear that the band's last musical statement was the set closing jam in "Scents."

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