Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Phish 2011 Charlotte, Raleigh, and Portsmouth

Phish has been one of if not the most popular jam bands of the last 2 decades and I had never seen them live.  A good friend of mine from the left coast who has seen them over 70 times suggested that we spend some time together and hit up the Charlotte, Raleigh, and Portsmouth shows or the Duurty Durrty run to close out the first leg of the bands 2011 tour.  I didnt know very many Phish songs and was not very up on the drug scene that follows this band but all that changed very soon.
The first night in Charlotte was extremely hot and humid.  We were graced with some unreal seats by another friend and off we went.  From the very start of the show the band was completely improvisational and playing with the crowd as Trey took a sign from a fan and opened with the song on the sign.  Two songs later and I got to hear one of my favorites live which was Bouncing Around the Room.  After that it was on.  The show was extremely high energy, a dance party, some great jams, not too spacey but enough to take you out and be sure to bring you back.  There were several aspects of this show that have led me to be more of a Phish fan.  The lights, the musical talent, the improv, the stories, the energy, and the no wholes barred exploration of the limits of sound and music.  Each moment was a suprise and each cover was unexpected.  There are many elements of blues, funk and straight up rock and roll in the way this band plays that greatly changed my previous opinion of them.  Some of the highlights for me were, Icculus, Free, Number Line, Wilson, Loving Cup, Rock N Roll and of course Ghost.  Here is a video of one the highlights from night one as well as the setlist:

Friday, 06/17/2011
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre - Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
Soundcheck: Dog Log, Blues Jam

Set 1:Mike's SongI Am HydrogenWeekapaug GrooveBouncing Around the Room, NICU1]Sample in a JarColonel Forbin's AscentFly Famous Mockingbird, AxillaWolfman's BrotherScent of a Mule[2]Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan
Set 2:Backwards Down the Number LineRock and Roll > Ghost > Free > Reba[3], IcculusHold Your Head Up> Bike[4]Hold Your Head Up,Chalk Dust TortureYou Enjoy Myself
Encore: Wilson > Loving Cup

After having my ass kicked by night one we all were extremely excited for night 2.  Again great seats, great friends, and extremely hot and humid.  The first set had some good moments for me, like a Frank Zappa cover, but to me, set 2 was straight slap you in the face rock n roll including a Jane's Addiction cover, Piper, Kill Devil Falls, Split Open, First Tube and a Led Zeppelin cover to close the night.  I always thought these dudes were kind of off and sissy like but the can kick some ass with the way they play, high energy, great music.  Here is the setlist and a video of one of the nights highlights:

Saturday, 06/18/2011
Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek, Raleigh, NC
Soundcheck: Babylon Baby (Incomplete)

Set 1:Cars Trucks BusesPeaches en RegaliaAC/DC Bag, Guyute, PossumHalley's Comet > 46 Days, The Divided Sky,The Ballad of Curtis LoewRun Like an Antelope
Set 2: Twist > RiftPrince Caspian > Esther, Been Caught Stealing, PiperMy Friend, My Friend[1]Kill Devil FallsSplit Open and Melt,Golgi Apparatus, First Tube
Encore: Good Times Bad Times

By night 3 I didnt know what to expect except something awesome as the venue only held a very intimate 7,000 people right on the water in Virginia.  After some rain, it cooled off and again, great seats, with such a small venue there is no other way it could be.  As it was father's day, the band opened up with one of their rarest songs while each of their fathers came out and and the song with the band, a great and initmate moment that was followed by a song for which all the kids of the 4 band members came out and jumped into a bathub, generations of phish family for a small crowd was a great start to the night.  They played happy birthday for a fan who had a sign that it was her birthday and continued to play a great first set including a rare tribute to Clarence Clemmons that E Street Saxophone player who had passed to day before, they played Thunder Road.  Set 2, as it has been said, was a straight up dance party, some of the meanest funk I have ever heard, it was awesome to hear and see the band push the limits to create those original moments, unlike anything I have heard in awhile.  After this night I felt like I had my ass kicked, as each show was high energy and great music, a real party atmosphere and not as much drug use as I remember so even better.  Overall great weekend, great friends, great music, great weather, great food, would love to do it again.  Next week on to AC.  Here is the setlist and a highlight from the night:

Sunday, 06/19/2011
nTelos Pavilion, Portsmouth, VA
Soundcheck: Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan

Set 1: Harpua[1] > BrotherDown with DiseaseBack on the Train, Funky BitchTimber (Jerry)The WedgeThe Moma Dance, Thunder Road, Tube, AlaskaDavid Bowie
Set 2: Crosseyed and Painless > Walls of the Cave > Slave to the Traffic Light > Fluffhead > SandSneakin' Sally through the Alley> Light > Backwards Down the Number LineSuzy Greenberg
Encore: Julius

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Obama and His Job

I was very happy in 2008 when a smart man with many values that I relate to was going to step into office and try and do some of the things that I wanted to see this country push for.  What I didnt expect was that he would win, it was a truely amazing day to learn that America actually voted beyond race, which was something that I didnt think I would see and am in some ways surprised with the amount of racism that has come towards this President since then, that he was actually voted in.  Bottom line for me is that in 2 and a half years, this President has done more to repair and push our country foward than I can remember in my lifetime.  I dont like everything he has done as he has been the most Republican Democrat I have ever seen but he hasnt bullshitted people.  He has done many of the things he set out to do despite facing what could have been, if not for him, the most devestating economic meltdown in the history of the US.  The bank bailout was more a Bush deregulation policy bailout than anything else and when the Republicans said forget the car companies and Obama bailed them out as well, he may have saved the country.  His birth has been challenged, his religion has been challenged, he has been disrespected in congress, and he keeps pushing foward never stooping to that level of garbage that just distracts the points and facts.  The banks have repaid America--great job on Obama to see that through.  In my time nothing has been more important than the war on terror and he called the shot that put a crushing blow in that war, a true ballsy call that the President before didnt make because he was unprepared and in another country more heavy than the one he should have been in.  Obama said in his campaign he would do it, and he did it, despite all the BS around him.  No President has ever had so many challenges but yet gotten so much done.  I can only imagine the things he would have done if Bush wasnt before him and this country wasnt as racist and hypocritical as it has proven itself to be.  Nothing says Christianity more than Fuck the Poor!!!  He never went into those traps and kept his cool through the biggest decisions he has had to make.  Still though 40% of America doesnt like him, despite him protecting all of this.  I sit back and watch and listen and he is one of the few smart people out there doing something and he is more bipartisan than anyone I can remember and that is my biggest fault with him.  Every human part of me cares about others and I dont get that from conservative people that hide behind religion and destroy the good name of Jesus.  The health care act was huge and it should be more impressive than what it ended up being after the republicans stripped it down.  How can you not take care of the sick.  My job can be tough, but I have nowhere near the types of worries and decisions that this President has had to make and did make.  He didnt hesitate from day one and I would like to see what he can do with four more years.  It is better than any alternative that includes a lady who doesnt read, doesnt know who Paul Revere was, and didnt know her continents and oceans, and by the way quit her job during a recession.  I get inspired by what Obama does on a daily basis and I would have voted for him again on the simple fact of getting Osama.  Dont be racist, be human

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bath Salts

More and more it becomes evident that people in this world just want to get high, to feel other than they normally do and would.  Much of this is probably natural human instinct, our whole society is based on doing things to feel certain ways from alcohol use to material consumption to possession to relationships but what I think is irresponsible is the way that some people market, use, and abuse other people's curiosity and the latest one to piss me off is the bath salt and plant food crazes that have been sweeping the US since at least December 2010.  Around the time I was hearing more and more about the spices that were being abused as synthetic marijuana, I started hearing more and more about these salts and plant products that people were snorting, shooting, popping and injecting.  Then it was all over this small southern town as the drug compound is called mephadrone and it acts like a cross between cocaine and amphetamine with heavy hallucination properties.  Several reports from people that have tried it talk about the hallucinations involving people chasing them which is very different from the psychedelic properties of other drugs.  This chemical in my opinion is not something that should be used, not to say that others are safer but these types of drugs are made by smart chemists who are looking to make a quick buck and don't have the concern for repeat users as they figure by the time this gets big it will become banned and then they will just move on to next craze.  I have heard of deaths but more often I hear of hospitalizations due to the hallucinations.  As the law is always slower than the rest of the world, they have been trying to plug the loophole that allows this drug to be sold at most gas stations and tobacco shops in the US, the reason it is still legal is because on the bag it says "not intended for human consumption" and because of this it does not fall in the line of any federal laws.  Clever and crafty and as long as people want to get high there will be these types of dangers, until people realize that it is ok to feel what you feel and not feel the need to change everything then there will always be some chemical being abused the biggest and most dangerous still being alcohol and tobacco which kill more people than all other drugs combined every year.  What to do what to do.  As for now, check into your communities and find out what is being done to combat this, petition against companies that continually sell these to kids who don't even need to be 18 to buy it, and do some more research.  MSNBC did a great investigation about it not that long ago.  Nobody knows how dangerous these drugs are but at this point all signs point to extremely harmful.