Kuroda Outdid the 4th of July

Fireworks have always been one of my favorite things. One of my first memories was of a fireworks show. My parents always would tell stories about how I would ohhhh and ahhhh over the beautiful starbursts of flame erupting overhead like a glorious stellar celebration.

Nothing has changed. I’m get as giddy, just as in awe-struck, just as mesmerized by these color sparkling balls of fire as I did as a two-year old. But this Forth of July, I got an extra special treat. After the fireworks display at Grand Park right down the street from me in Downtown LA, I got to stream the second night of Phish’s 2014 summer tour! It’s a bitter sweet moment because this is the first year that Phish hasn’t come the West Coast. In years prior I wouldn’t have let that stop me. I’d be on every flight from now until Labor Day catching them around the county. But since it has only been seven or eight months since I decided to make a drastic career change an go into business for myself, my finances aren’t like they used to be and I spend just about every waking hour trying to make this business a legitimate career that will tie me over for years to come and hopefully allow me the luxury of seeing Phish all summer long, no matter where they play, down the line. So, I’ve contented myself with three nights over Labor Day weekend at Dick’s and my fingers are quadruple crossed that they’ll announce a West Coast heavy fall tour.

Anyway… since yesterday was 4th of July, LivePhish has graciously allowed those of us who purchased the live stream to view it 24 hours after it originally aired. So I got to spend a lovely afternoon/evening at the festivities and then came home to watch a full Phish show! It was a perfect 4th of July! I’m mean, not as a good as Phish’s Superball IX festival which was on the 4th of July and I got three Phish sets followed by a fireworks show by Chris Kuroda. But I can’t imagine any 4th of July being that good ever again. Unless Phish and Kuroda decide to grace me with a personal roof top performance, followed by Kuroda fireworks on the top of my building one year. That would be pretty sweet. But since that daydream can only lead to disappointment, I’ll end it here.

Anyway….. Phish. Phish was awesome. It was a really solid second night of the tour show. I wouldn’t say there was anything stand out. I liked the jam in Fuego better than I expected. It was solid, even got a little dirty at times. I danced. My dog danced. We had a dance party all up in here. But, what really stuck, again this year, he has yet to disappoint, was how incredible Chris Kuroda’s new light set up is. This guy is so incredible. Year after year he continues to come up with new stuff. He completely re-designs the rig with each season. And outdoes himself year after year. It drove me crazy when they kept cutting away from the lights during the stream. I know they want to get close ups of the band. Trey was full of his priceless, better-than-oxy, grins. I always love looking at Page’s bitchin’ key setup. But when I’m at a Phish show, my only concern is that I have a good view of the lights. I don’t need to see Trey’s fingers move. I don’t even need to see his goofy grins. Just give me full access to that Kuroda light show.

The guy is a genius. And on top of being brilliant, he’s got the most badass job in the world. The guy gets to travel with the world’s greatest rock band, spend a million dollars a year designing a new bitchin’ light rig each year (that really deserve a show of its own, if not a museum display) and play around with his multimillion dollar, high-tech toy, deigning amazingly creative, unparalleled, cutting edge light shows that put all other light shows going on in the world right now to shame. No lightening technician can hold a candle Kuroda. He reinvents his entire repertoire every year and improves those lights with the band. This isn’t a carefully orchestrated STS9 (type light show (although their show is still probably the world’s second best light show – I don’t mean to hate). It’s not Umphrey’s Mcgee laser extravaganza (while still acknowledging their place as probably the third best light show going on right now). Sure, it is fun to watch, but I don’t think it can really compare. It doesn’t have the depth of a Kuroda show and they haven’t been reinventing it from the ground up each year for over a decade like Kuroda.

I bet even after all this time he still gets giddy about his job. How could he not? He obviously loves what does, or he wouldn’t put so much effort behind it and he wouldn’t be so Goddamn good at it. He gets play with badass lights all day and put on a world-class show of his own each night of tour with Phish as his background music. And he gets paid bookoo bucks to do it! And I don’t begrudge him a dime of it. He earns every cent in my opinion.

I’m so happy that Phish recognizes the importance of his contribution and give him carte blanche to do whatever he wants. He’s worth it. A Phish show wouldn’t be a Phish show with out Kuroda. He’s easily responsible for one fifth of the band’s success. I’m petitioning to make him an equal member of the band 🙂

Before every show I try to get a good look at the rig before it lights up. His monster creations are masterpieces in and of themselves, before any electricity is even plugged in. I’m including a gallery of Phish light shows, but I want you to take special note of the light rig itself. Try to look past the lights. I think I’ve found some pretty good pictures of light rigs over the years that are solid examples of what I’m talking about. They are so impressive looking. Each one different and uniquely remarkable. I feel like they belong in a museum of technology somewhere. At the very least, I would love to do a photo essay of these rigs before any lights turn on. I can’t believe that no one has done this yet. They are so impressive looking. But each year the old one is knocked down and sent to a light rig graveyard somewhere left to mourn its short existence while a new one takes its place basking in the limelight of a single summer’s Phish tour. So I guess I’ve missed my shot… unless I can find that graveyard somewhere. Do you think it’s out near the airplane graveyard in Mojave? Hmmm…

Well, I sure hope Kuroda keeps good photo albums anyway. Maybe he’ll let me take a peek one day. And now I will bid you adieu so that I can give my full attention to Phish and the Kuroda show, night 2 (for me anyway 😉

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