Phish 7.16.14 (Parents Night)

DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

Words By J. Picard
Photos By Jessica Pace & J. Picard

The summer schedule was quickly filling up leaving us with just a few options to see Phish. As dates fell into place, it seemed only fitting that we would head back to my home town of Detroit, MI to enjoy Phish among friends and family. A lengthy drive through the ruins and returns of Detroit with my folks took us across the Ambassador Bridge to Canada and back before heading down to Mexican Village to meet up with some of our best friends; Matt, Teri, Andy and Zach. That night over copious amounts of queso and tortillas, we monitored the live setlist updates out of CMAC and discussed the following night's potential. The conversation of "parents night" came up and to my surprise, Tom (my father) joined the scenario. That night we rode out to the farm with Matt and Teri knowing full well the glory the following day would bring. Brilliant sunlight cast over the green grass of the farm as birds chirped, bringing us into consciousness. The day was finally upon us, as that night would mark my return to Pine Knob/DTE Energy Music Theatre for the first time in about a decade to see one of the greatest touring bands on the globe!

As the day of preparations wound down, friends began showing up at the farm to hop on the motorhome. With a heap of alcohol and finger foods, we made our way towards the venue down winding roads with Matt at the helm. Around the 5:00 PM hour we pulled onto the venue's tree-bordered lot. We spotted familiar faces immediately as we located the perfect spot next to a tree between VIP and handicap parking. Within' minutes the spread was folded out of the motorhome and friends gathered from several directions. It was great to see so many Michigan friends and meet their fairly open-minded parents, for it's not everyday we do parents night at Phish. Across the lot we found our friend, the Senator, cooking up free vegan tacos for the community. While devouring a taco, Mike Gordan (bass) rode by on a golf kart filming the action on his cell phone. On our walk back to home base, we glanced down to find the ground score of a life time, a wad of cash within' eye shot of shakedown street. That night, our tickets, drinks, food and gas would be paid for.

Shortly before heading into the venue, my father showed up for his first Phish show. We cleaned up our pre-party, made a few introductions and headed in to DTE Music Theatre to find a spot on the lawn. Shortly after locating some space, my brother found us on the hill. It was an amazing feeling to find myself amidst so many people that I knew, in my home state, at a venue that I used to consider home turf. The sun was starting to set as the boys from Vermont hit the stage and began with "Wolfman's Brother." Eight minutes after it began and through some ripping guitar work from Trey, the evening was underway to the delight of the Detroit crowd! The newer "Devotion To A Dream" came next and featured a great mid-section followed by characteristic alternating vocals. Trey hit the intro notes to "Wilson" triggering the crowd to yell the song's title with excitement before the song kicked in and Page McConnell ripped up the keys. A short time later the band transitioned into "Poor Heart," with a near bluegrass bounce that had the crown moving in a fluid motion.

My father turned to me and said "look at the crowd bouncing up and down," as he motioned with his hands. "Poor Heart" transitioned into "The Moma Dance," with Page's clav sounding click meshing with Mike's bass. "The guitarist is really good" my dad stated. "Yes he is," I said with a smile. "Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan" followed with Jon Fishman going full steam on the drums and Trey speaking through his guitar, which at this point has become an extension of his body. The song built and built until the band tore it down and built again. "Lawn Boy" was next up with Page stepping to the front of the stage to handle the vocal responsibilities. "Yarmouth Road" featured Mike's off tune vocals for a short poppy segment that turned into "Rift." Jon's cowbell taps lead to strong harmonies and Trey's eventual take over. "The Line" was vocally driven and fit perfectly into the set as it neared the end.

"It's Ice" picked the pace back up as it meandered through a bunch of cool phrasing and descending notation. I glanced down towards my friends at the back of the pavilion and was humored to see two of my friends' fathers staring up at the hill full of crazy Phish fans getting down to the madness that Phish was outputting. "It's Ice" went into "46 Days" to close the first set. The song featured some heavy instrumentation from start to finish! The lights came up on the field and the house music came on triggering traffic in all directions. We made our way down to the back of the handicap section to engage in conversation with friends and family. "Do you know how important and influential your son is to this whole group of people? He turned them all on to Phish and they look up to him a lot," I said to my Andy's father. Matt and Teri walked up and in that moment, I took a deep breath and exhaled. I was so happy to be home in Michigan.

The second set kicked off with "Mike's Song" and dreadlocked hippies spinning throughout the lawn. The jam dug deep into the Phish vein and flowed like a river of notes heading towards a dam that was sure to break. "Mike's Song" transitioned into a beautiful "Ghost" that spanned nearly twelve minutes and may have been the sonic highlight of the evening. With Trey's tones waxing and waning Phish went into "Prince Caspian." The short song made a turn for "Backwards Down the Number Line," who's jam has become quite extensive as of late, before dropping into "Weekapaug Groove!" It was one of the show highlights and got weird as it rolled into "Cavern," with explosions of glowsticks from throughout the crowd! With a crescendo the band transitioned into "Piper!" The tempo began to increase in speed to a quick pace as Trey shredded. Page took over and they went into "Waiting All Night" to slow it down a touch, only to speed it back up with "Tweezer!" It was enjoyable, though not as over the top as many would have hoped as it turned into the title track off of their new album, "Fuego." Through nine fantastic minutes the band threw down on a song that they have been performing for a mere seven months live. The band took the music as low as it could go before "Tweezer Reprise" went pedal to the metal to close the a second set that up until that point had not stopped!

A short time later the four piece powerhouse returned to the stage to encore with a song they have never before encored with, Deodato's "Also Sprach Zarathustra!" The bell rang out as the groove poured from the stage prior to the initial build up. The band hit huge peaks the resolved to danceable jams before building once again. At the final peak of "2001," the band segued into the final song of the evening, "Possum!" The atmosphere was extremely blissful on the hill and how could it not be? Many were witnessing their favorite band peaking yet again on the road that is their expansive career. Phish finished the show strong ripping through "Possum!" The house lights and music came up as wide-eyed folks scattered about the venue. Our group met at the back of the handicap section and made our way back to the motorhome. With a lot of head scratching at play, we collected our belongings, said our goodbye to our friends and family and made our way back to the farm. The evening began late and ended early with a plethora of nonsense. It felt good to be home...

Set One: Wolfman's Brother, Devotion To a Dream, Wilson > Poor Heart > The Moma Dance, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Lawn Boy, Yarmouth Road > Rift, The Line, It's Ice > 46 Days

Set Two: Mike's Song > Ghost > Prince Caspian[1] > Backwards Down the Number Line > Weekapaug Groove[1] > Cavern > Piper > Waiting All Night > Tweezer > Fuego > Tweezer Reprise

Encore: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Possum

[1] Unfinished.


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