The West Hollywood show at the House of Blues seemed different than any of the other west coast shows. It was the first show we didn't drive to; we flew down via Virgin Airlines. This show also had a large population of Phish heads in attendance due to the imminent Festival 8 in Indio Valley; not that there isn't overlap with the Umphrey's crowd, but it does mean a different kind of show when the band knows Phish kids are around. The second set was the primary jam vehicle, whereas the first sets had been more prominent for the majority of the tour. They played half of the Mantis album whereas in previous shows they had played one or two songs. All of the factors came together to shape the show in Los Angeles and set it apart from the rest of the tour.
The band opened with Push the Pig, a heavier tune with dark, off-key melodies. A little bit of jamming exposed some of the melodies but not much else. 2nd Self was likewise kept relatively basic. I've recently developed a strong appreciation for this song, but this evening's wasn't anything out of the ordinary. We were then treated to a beautiful standalone 2 minute piano solo from Joel Cummins, leading into a rocking but nonetheless straightforward Words. Jake Cinninger showed off his lightning fingers briefly but kept his focus mainly on the elaborate twists and turns of the song.
The main event of set one was the 20 minute Higgins. The “Jimmy Stewart” was a genre-roaming monster of its own. Unfolding with a dub-based jam that had strong similarities to Norwegian Wood (but not strong enough to call it a tease), the music soon took on a more rock/reggae feel. People were dancing and getting down as the “stew” further developed into an all out “rock show.” The audience was captivated, but the band chose to hold back for one reason or another. The Cemetary Walk I, End of the Road, and 1348 that closed out the first set were all very light on the jams. It almost seems as though they sacrificed jam-time in favor of playing more total songs, but even that is suspect in light of the 20 minute higgins. The End of the Road really was a treat, regardless of how long. I would have liked more but I was happy with what I got.
Umphrey's thundered out of the gate with Preamble > Mantis to start the second set, milking it for all it was worth. It was pretty well received, although those of use who had been “in the van” since Seattle were puzzled by the saturation of new tunes developing in the evening's set list. I know it must have crossed the bands mind, as they gave us Umphreaks a shoutout for making it all the way down the coast before rocking off into a cover of the Stones' Can't You Hear Me Knocking. They were really starting to pick up their stride at this point, throwing in some adventurous jams (even in the cover). Ocean Billy made its second appearance on the tour and its 6th in my touring history. In the course of the 30 minute Billy-sandwich containing a Got Your Milk (Right Here) we got some rocked out jams, a fair amount of Nothing Too Fancy teases, and a Cummins Solo of the theme from the Halloween movie. The whole thing wrapped itself back into one big Billy, a seeming tease of mash-ups to come in the next few days.
The Cemetary Walk II second set closer deems a little bit of special attention. The now-standard “dance party” portion of the song contained teases of both Ozzy Ozzbourne's Crazy Train and Luke's Theme from the motion picture Star Wars (Episode IV for those of you who need to know). The two became one of the most amusing teaser mashups I've heard since last year this time and reminded me, in the midst of all the Phans bound for Festival 8, why I'd chosen to spend my Halloween with Umphreys. We left the show before the encore to prepare for tomorrow's lengthy journey to Yosemite National Forest. We'll see you out there...
Set One Push the Pig, 2nd Self, Joel Piano Solo > Words, Higgins, Cemetery Walk, End of the Road > 1348 Set Two Preamble > Mantis, Can't You Hear Me Knockin', Ocean Billy > Got Your Milk (Right Here) > Ocean Billy, Cemetery Walk II* Encore: Resolution** > Hollywood Nights$
Notes: Iration opened * with Crazy Train and Star Wars Luke's Theme teases ** with Much Obliged jam; unfinished $ first time played, Bob Seger; with Q*Bert teases