, attached to 2013-07-05

Review by Fondue

Fondue Unpredictable Skies, Unpredictable Music.

Hi gang. As per usual, there’s plenty of reviews on here about the music, but not too much about the rest of the experience. So. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It’s nestled in a big, green wet patch of land in upstate New York toward the southeast ass of the Adirondack Mountains. Despite those adjectives, it’s lovely. The Phish apparently like it, and that means I do, too.

This being the start of tour, we showed up early to meet up friends I haven’t seen since MSG, and a few since Denver. Having been seeing shows together for nearly 20 years, we tend to try and get in early to stake out a good patch of lawn, which is important at SPAC. Watching Phish from the lawn is kind-of like watching a new movie on an old tv with black bars on the top and bottom. You only see a chunk of what’s happening inside, and if you aren’t in just the right part, the columns that support the balcony will be a huge annoyance to your viewing pleasure.

Good spot staked out, we laid back and relaxed… only to be told that we all had to evacuate the lawn and go up to the balcony level due to shit-ass weather at a time that was perilously close to Show O’Clock. The skies open the hell up. Serious, hard, pounding rain comes down for 15-20 minutes, then they kick us all back out onto the lawn. I was thinking we’d be able to stay up there, but I guess we’re all too nice to fight against The Man. There was a mad dash to get back out, but we managed to find a decent spot regardless.

We heard they weren’t letting in anyone not already in the venue when the rain started, so I guess it was better to be shuffled around than crushed and wet at the gates. People started to finally file in. And in. And in. Last year’s first night at SPAC was quiet out on the lawn, but then again, it wasn’t a holiday weekend.

The air is just thick. Scooby-doo cut it with a knife and eat it thick. The band comes out around 8.20 to a massive cheer, and off we go into party favors and KDF. Four tunes later, I’m thinking they sound rehearsed, and it’s gonna be a Friday night rock show. The air is only getting thicker, by the way. Like the foam in that song by that band. There’s no breeze. There’s clouds. The weather apps all show bright red angry patches of rain around us.

We get a new tune in Yarmouth Road, and from here ‘til the end of the night, it’s a show worth picking up if you haven’t already. Finally embraced by night, we can see a new lighting set up. No more flashing vagina lights behind the band, rather a silver or white reflective scrim that CK5 paints upon. The lightbanks above the band curve off away from each other like mirror image letter j’s, and another lower bank backs the band and points at the crowd. I can’t wait to see what the full outdoor rig will look like at a venue like The Gorge.

Set 2 kicks off around 10.15ish, and the skies somehow clear overhead. We can see stars, which is still enough of a novelty to me since I live in NYC. Just above the bandshell is the big dipper. Or maybe the little dipper. Whatever it was, its cup looked like it was pouring into the stage. Listen to this 7-song second set and you might think it actually was. To my ears, it didn’t sound like where MSG left off, but more like where the last night of Dick’s ended. Coincidentally, also a night that began with rain, and cleared up to a big, dark, inspiring starry sky.

Some time during Steam, a cool breeze blew across us, which was welcome. It was starting to smell like Big Foot’s dick in there. I heard he re-located to the Adirondacks, so maybe it really was Big Foot's dick we were smelling. Shortly after the cool breeze, we got the biting smell of burnt ozone and static electricity. By Slave we couldn’t see the stars any more, but there were plenty of lightning flashes in the clouds behind the bandshell. One of our crew noticed the band’s buses had turned their lights on, which was a downer. I don’t think anyone in that rank, triple-decker-toadstool-sandwhich-with-arsenic-sauce smellin’ venue wanted it to end. Slave was brutally beautiful. But end it did, with a ripping, crowd-roaring Zero, and off we went to see the Man Mul-ca-hy.

A sprinkle started minutes later. We only just made it to our cars, and it was cats-and-dogs. After a show like that, even the former wook/current leather seat BMW-driving fans didn’t care about getting wet.


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