This weekend was epic, with great friends in town from abroad and a non-stop dance party Friday and Saturday nights at Be On Key, the newest Denver hippie bar and makeshift concert venue.
Night 1 was a treat, with plenty of great friends in tow and a setlist that dug deep into the Talking Heads’ catalog and explored some familiar Phish jams. The first set highlight was a mash-up of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” with Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, a combo ballad with some dramatic crescendos. Other Floyd highlights included “Pigs” and “Sheep” from Animals, and “Fearless” from the early classic Meddle. They would revisit both these albums on Night 2 (see below) but tonight was focused on the dance numbers, with Heads’ tunes “Life During Wartime”, “Burning Down The House” and “This Must Be the Place” energizing the small crowd of 150-200. There were also classic Phish tunes like opener “Free” and even ‘covers of covers’ like TV On The Radio’s “Golden Age” (in the style of Phish, of course) and guitarist Dave Brunyak shredded through each Phish tune with the uncanny technical ability to mimic Trey Anastasio’s expert licks. The first night lasted just under 3 hours, with a second set “Tweezer” sending the crowd back into raucous dance-party mode. The encore (“Frankenstein” > “Tweezer Reprise”) took us just about until 2am, at which point the bar closed and we headed to a nearby friend’s place for late night libations.
Night 2 was simply epic, and with a smaller crew in tow the crowd seemed much more subdued, although things picked up quite a bit in the 2nd set. The first set featured plenty of crowd-pleasers, including Talking Heads’ Al Green cover, “Take Me To The River” and some gems from Dark Side of the Moon (“Money” and “Time”) but the real treat was the epic sandwich that was the 2nd set. After tearing through “Pigs” and “Sheep” on night 1, the book-end for night 2 was “Dogs” and the set began with the initial chords of the 17-minute sprawling composition and one of the last true collaborations between Floyd songwriters Roger Waters and David Gilmour. Somewhere in the middle of the set, the band busted out “Harpua” – a Phish song about a dog (of course) that is rarely played on tour and has never been recorded in the studio. This also meant story time, as Harpua inevitably breaks into an improvised story from the band (usually Trey, or in this case guitarist Brunyak) and sometimes that story segues into another song – well, this time it was the early Floyd masterpiece “Echoes” which constitutes the entire Side B of 1970’s Meddle. If you know “Echoes” then you know it consists of several movements, with some interludes of either silence or the ‘whale’ sound effect, and while the cover band opted to skip the 3-4 minutes of whale sounds, they filled the gap with a scorching rendition of the Talking Heads’ earliest hit “Psycho Killer” – from there it was back in to finish “Echoes” and then back to the end of the story portion of “Harpua”. I was so amazed by this turn of events and the prowess and tenacity of the band, I had forgotten all about “Dogs”, which completed the lively and creative set of jamming and dance tunes. By now it was 2:05 am, and the bar should be closing, but it was Saturday night! We had two remaining treats, a spaced-out “Squirming Coil” with a solo keyboard outro that incorporated the Grateful Dead’s “One More Saturday Night”, and a blistering “Big Black Furry Creature From Mars” to complete the encore at an energetic peak. By 2:30am it was all over, and the band implored us to come back to the bar the next morning for more, including a performance of Gamehenge (Anastasio’s college senior thesis) in its entirety. Well I’ve got brunch plans tomorrow, but I will definitely see you guys next time you’re in town!