So first of all, my predictions were completely off. It seems that my whole premise (picking songs that hadn't been played since the second hiatus) was off; I only got 3 songs right, and 2 of them were among the 3 I chose that had been played since the hiatus. In the actual setlist, the only songs that hadn't been played since the hiatus (besides Drowned, which I nailed) were Dirt and Meatstick.
Even my realtime predictions were wrong; during Ghost, I could have sworn that they were teasing Seven Below, but they didn't go there.
I was right about the ocean/beach theme, though wrong about the specifics. In addition to Drowned ("Let me get back to the ocean / Let me get back to the sea"), there was Squirming Coil ("Tried yesterday to get away and hitchhiked to the beach"), NICU ("A slipper of sand dollar day at the shore"), Punch You In The Eye ("I come from the land where the oceans freeze /
Spent three long months on the open seas", etc.), and Water in the Sky ("Rising tides and ocean walls"; this song was also no doubt connected to the rain that fell throughout the first set, though by the time they played it to open the second set, the rain had stopped).
Anyway, beyond this little game, it was an amazing show. Phish is really back! Since they've been gone for almost 5 years, I wasn't sure what to expect as far as the scene. I've always had an arm's-length relationship with the scene. I'm into veggie quesadillas, but I don't use drugs or alcohol. (Though if I had to choose between being surrounded by drunk people or stoned people, I'd definitely pick the stoned people. And I'd choose the smell of pot smoke over the smell of cigarette smoke.) The people who changed our flat tire at Coventry get a thumbs up; the people who push and litter get a thumbs down. Anyway, as soon as we arrived in the parking lot, I couldn't get over my shock. It was as if the last 5 years had never happened -- everything was back as it always was (for good and for ill, though probably not as much for ill). I was sort of expecting everyone to be 5 years older (and certainly, many of us are), and figured that the 18-year-olds wouldn't be there, since they were 13 when Phish last played and wouldn't have heard of it. Nope - they were there, and fully acculturated. How did that happen? Have they been selling grilled cheese in the lots of other bands during the interim?
As far as the music, my relationship is not so arm's-length. And all five members of the band were really on. They went to 11 on Divided Sky, which seems to be continuing to develop in that direction - that was how I felt about the "last Divided Sky ever" at the Tweeter Center 8/11/04. Drowned is by The Who, which already went to 11 on everything, so I'd have to say that Phish took it to 13. (So much that the Live Phish release split it into "Drowned" and "Jones Beach Jam". This seems arbitrary, since Ghost also had a Type II jam, but is just listed as a single track. I think it's for copyright reasons -- Drowned is a cover of someone else's song, but Phish can claim Jones Beach Jam as their own composition.) I approve of the two new songs (Ocelot and Time Turns Elastic), and I'll have to listen to them more (especially the latter) to really get them.
Next stop Maryland 8/15/09!