Photo by Eric J Simon

July 25 2022 Wantagh New York Jones Beach Theater welcomes Phish

It has been twenty seven years since my last visit to Jones Beach for Phish, and on that summer tour of 1995 I did eighteen shows with my friend from Eugene Oregon, Big Jim. I met Jim through my friend Nancy and we went from Red Rocks all the way through to Sugarbush for an epic run of shows.

This pair of shows came about whimsically, with my brother calling me saying our friend Eddie had extras and we should make a guys’ trip out of it. Hotels secured and rides arranged, I hit my socials and posted a few days ago that we were coming down. And guess who pops up in my messages but Nancy, saying that she and Big Jim were coming too. Friends gathering from all of the US for a couple of days partying on the beach with Phish, AMAZING!

The last time we were here the security in the parking lot was insane, busting people left and right for open containers, selling beers, even Jim and I were on the run trying to stealthily sell burritos without getting arrested. So I was cautious in our preparations, even though my burrito selling days are behind me (for now!). The drive in was easy, the parking lots were open, there wasn’t even any direction once you entered, everyone was just choosing spots willy nilly! We parked, our group of friends was quickly swelling, and we packed up and went to the beach for an hour of sun and surf. More parking lot time, and it was head inside time. The weather was perfect and everyone was super stoked for a great night.

Jones Beach theater has not changed, it is a giant hulk of cement- an old school relic of an outdoor arena. It felt like we should be going to see the Expos or like a visit to the old King Dome or something. The seats themselves feel like they were installed in the 60s. But the night was warm and a slight breeze and a nice sunset set the stage perfectly for the arrival of the Vermont quartet.

So, I went from seeing almost the whole tour in 1995, to a break after 96 through around 2010, and then have averaged about a show a year since. So my perspective is different than it was then. Any song will do for me these days, and my hopes are mainly that I want to know the material more than “Gotta play a Golgi tonight!” So I was pleased with the opening notes of “The Curtain” to start the show. My 1.0 aspirations had already begun!

Now I don’t necessarily need the whole show to be ancient material, I’m open-minded! But it’s always more fun when you know the material, so having newer material with which I am familiar was also a welcome idea. The next two songs fit that category perfectly with “S.A.N.T.O.S” and the jaunty “Hi Ho Hi Ho Hi Ho” audience participation. The crowd was warmed up along with the band and we were all settling in for a celebratory night of Phish on the beach!

Your Phish Summer Tour 2022 Review Guide:
Two nights at Great Woods Mansfield MA by Joel Shover
Bangor Maine by Joel Shover

Night One Jones Beach
Night Two Jones Beach

Next came another familiar but newish song in “Stealing Time from a Faulty Plan” which was well-executed and continued the good vibes. Back to my old school days with “NICU” which was so happy, upbeat and pleasant that you couldn’t help but catch the feel good vibes coming off the stage and your neighbors. This also was sort of the first appearance of a jauntier, jazzier Phish that would be featured all night. “Roggae” came next and continued that vibe, leading into the exploratory “Pebbles and Marbles.” That cut is one of the few that I really like from Round Room, and the band explored while still staying grounded in a ‘set one’ sorta way. My 1.0 dreams returned with a super fun “Bathtub Gin.”

From the video channel of Nevaklass

In the murky soup that was the introduction to the next song, I felt like we were being teased by “Fishman” with some cymbal work that hinted at an impending “David Bowie” but that was incorrect, and not the only time this night I felt the whisper of a “David Bowie” coming. A great version of “Maze” came instead. While not being jaunty and jazzy it didn’t have the aggression that sometimes can accompany “Maze.” Upbeat sure, but without the inherent tension that song can sometimes evoke. Set one closed with a great “Squirming Coil” and its accompanying solo by Page at the end. Page definitely showed his prowess both within the band and on his own, but did not indulge himself and kept the “Coil” outro relatively neat and crisp before thanking the crowd and departing for set break.

I took that opportunity and ran down the many flights of stairs to fill our water bottle. This is one of the great advances in concert attendance, the water filling station! Back up, through a restroom line, some chatting with my friends and set two was ready to begin. Of course I knew that the old school riches I had reaped in set one likely wouldn’t be repeated in set two.

“I Never Needed You Like this Before” was the opener and saw Trey ready to rock. I feel like I saw him do this on The Tonight Show during the pandemic but that may have been a quarantine dream. A longer and more contemplative “Leaves” followed and definitely saw me have a little bit more of a mind wandering mood. This continued through “Everything’s Right” and all were excellently played but I wasn’t feeling fully connected due to not knowing that material as well. This wouldn’t last, however.

From the video channel of Nevaklass

“The Mango Song” came next and returned me to my familiar place. The theme of jaunty jazziness continued and the band adopted a ‘second set’ interpretation of the song- exploring but not in a spacey way. The explorations felt more like what a top notch New York jazz band might have done at the Blue Note for an early show, not reaching the outer limits but mining different veins of musical goodness out of the song.

I may not have been the only one unfamiliar with “Events Aren’t Always Planned” as it is an old song by Page McConnell’s Vida Blue band. The band passed the vocals around and it was very pleasant but I’ll need to explore it more later to become truly familiar with it. My pre show wishes returned with a trio of songs to end the show from ‘my era.’

“Chalkdust Torture” was not jazzy at all, a straight forward rocker that showcased Trey flexing his vocal and guitar muscles. And the ever happy “Julius” closed the second set with that same jazzy jauntiness that was featured throughout several songs on this night.

From the video channel of Nevaklass

I should note that Mike ‘Cactus’ Gordon was evident several times throughout the night with some very tasty bass lines. I can’t recall where they were but several times I found myself exclaiming ‘listen to that bass line!’ Well done, sir.

A short break and the boys came back out for the encore and I was so happy to hear the most 1.0 of songs, “Harry Hood.” The crowd cried out at all of the right times “Harry!!” and glow sticks were thrown, jams were woven, and a wonderful show came to a conclusion with everyone singing “You Can Feel Good about Hood.. I feel Good!”

And with that the opening night of Jones Beach came to a close. GOOD TIMES!!! We can’t hardly wait the hours until tonight’s show!

SETLIST:

The Curtain

Say it to me S.A.N.T.O.S.

Stealing Time from a Faulty Plan

NICU

Roggae

Pebbles and Marbles

Bathtub Gin

Maze

Squirming Coil

SET TWO:

I Never Needed You Like This Before

Leaves

Everything’s Right

The Mango Song

Most Events Aren’t Planned (Vida Blue)

Chalkdust Torture

Julius

E: Harry Hood

Your Phish Summer Tour 2022 Review Guide:
Two nights at Great Woods Mansfield MA by Joel Shover
Bangor Maine by Joel Shover

Night One Jones Beach
Night Two Jones Beach

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