Brewery Rowe: San Diego Festival of Beer returns


The San Diego Festival of Beer will mark its 26th year when it returns Sept. 8, but this year’s party may seem only vaguely familiar.

That’s because, due to COVID-19, the festival hasn’t been held since 2019.

“We are excited to bring people back together for this great cause,” said Kelli Chessman, vendor coordinator for the festival.

She noted that this year’s theme, “Back to the Beer,” only tells part of the story.

“We are excited to get back not just to the beer but to the community,” Chessman said, “and to the fundraising.”

The region’s oldest beer festival, it’s also the most charitable. Organized by San Diego Professionals Against Cancer, the event donates all proceeds to cancer research and treatment.

To date, ticket sales have funded more than $740,000 in critical assistance to those fighting this lethal disease. The festival has made possible MRI machines in Rady Children’s Hospital’s cancer wing, vans to transport cancer patients to appointments and grants to researchers.

Every brewery presented at the festival — this year, there will be more than 45, each pouring two or more beers — is donating brews to the cause.

Like most of us, they’ve had loved ones touched by cancer.

Chessman’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43. When Chessman turned 21, she volunteered to pour beer at the festival in her mom’s honor.

That was 25 years ago, and Chessman hasn’t missed a festival since.

“It’s my most proud volunteer gig,” she said.

Each year, the festival relies on 200 to 300 volunteers, noted San Diego Professionals Against Cancer president Carri Chandler, including 100 people who simply pour beer samples.

Tickets for the festival, which is set for 6 to 10 p.m. Sept. 8 on the Broadway Pier, 1000 N. Harbor Drive, are available at Admission is $65, rising to $75 after Aug. 31.

It’s a good cause and a good time.

“It’s such a blast,” Chandler said.

Trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney was bullied after promoting Bud Light.

Trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney was bullied after promoting Bud Light.

(Evan Agostini / Associated Press)

Trans silliness

I’m late to the Bud Light Trans Festival O’ Outrage, but for two solid reasons:

1. It’s Bud Light. Not to be a beer snob — well, OK, I am guilty on that count …

2. When Anheuser-Busch released Bud Light ads with a transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, there were howls from folks who were incensed by, um, what? That LGBTQ+ folks drink beer?

You do know that Spuds MacKenzie was a cross-dresser, right?

Beers at Anchor Brewing Co. in San Francisco.

Beers at Anchor Brewing Co., which is shutting down. The San Francisco-based brewer said Wednesday, July 12, 2023, that it gave employees 60-day notice and plans to provide transition support and separation packages.

(Craig Lee / Associated Press)

Tale of two stats

From the Best of Times, Worst of Times file:

The recent announcement that San Francisco’s venerable Anchor Brewing will close after a 127-year run added fuel to the burning argument that beer — craft beer in particular — is in decline.

Really? Look at the numbers:

Overall U.S. beer sales fell 3 percent in 2022, while craft beer sales rose ever so slightly, 0.1 percent. (Imports, by the way, rose 2.8 percent.)

There’s still plenty of money being made in this industry, $115.4 billion last year, with crafts share of this ginormous pie growing — independent breweries accounted for $28.4 billion of that amount.

(Full disclosure: these figures are from a July report by the Brewers Association, a national trade group.)

Craft still faces significant hurdles: rising ingredient prices, supply chain snarls, competition from alco-alternatives (cider, kombucha, seltzer, craft spirits). Some breweries, even historic ones with pedigrees as noble as Anchor’s, will founder and sink.

Still, the sky isn’t falling. It’s just not sunny 24 hours a day.

The Next Round

Today through July 31: A wealth of great events, local and statewide, will mark California Craft Beer Week. Too many to list here, but that’s why God created official websites:

Today and Saturday: Knock back a sour ale at California Wild Ale’s O.B. taproom, 4896 Newport Ave., while Phish’s Burgettstown, Pa., concerts are livestreamed. We’re jammin’!

Quick Sips, Brighter Shade of Pale Edition

Kern River Brewing's River Buddy pale ale.

Kern River Brewing’s River Buddy pale ale.

(Courtesy of Peter Rowe)

Beer: River Buddy

From: Kern River Brewing, Kernville, CA

ABV: 5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV)

Style: Pale Ale

Drink or dump: Drink. When temperatures rise, I’ll often grab a well-balanced pale. This Buddy is my type. Three take-charge hop varieties, Citra, Simcoe and Eureka, wrap around the sweet malty middle.

South O Brewing's O'side Bogan pale ale.

South O Brewing’s O’side Bogan pale ale.

(Courtesy of Peter Rowe)

Beer: O’side Bogan

From: South O Brewing, Oceanside

ABV: 4.5 percent ABV

Style: Pale Ale

Drink or dump: Drink. Fruity Australian hops add a tropical twist to this “bogan,” slang for a Down Under good ol’ boy. Don’t let the low ABV fool you — there’s plenty of flavor here.

El Cid Brewing's Ask the Chief pale ale.

El Cid Brewing’s Ask the Chief pale ale.

(Courtesy of Peter Rowe)

Beer: Ask the Chief

From: El Cid, San Diego

ABV: 5 percent ABV

Style: Pale Ale

Drink or dump: Dump. Chief is a malt-forward pale and, while malted barley can be delicious, here it tastes burnt rather than toasted. Ask the Chief to keep closer tabs on the malt, will ya?

Rowe is a freelance writer.

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Estée Lauder Breached in Twin MOVEit Hacks, by


Both the Cl0p and BlackCat ransomware gangs posted messages bragging about breaching Estée Lauder by way of the MOVEit flaw on the same day — but the two instances aren’t related.

On July 18, Estée Lauder Cos. disclosed a “security incident,” adding cyber-threat actors were able to compromise some data and that an investigation was ongoing. The company said some systems were shut down as a result of the hack.

“The company is implementing measures to secure its business operations and will continue taking additional steps as appropriate,” the disclosure said. “During this ongoing incident, the company is focused on remediation, including efforts to restore impacted systems and services. The incident has caused, and is expected to continue to cause, disruption to parts of the company’s business operations.”

The same day, both BlackCat and Cl0p claimed to have breached Estée Lauder using the MOVEit flaw. Emsisoft threat analyst Brett Callow shared images of the messages from both groups.

Twice the Data Theft, Twice the Cyber-Risk

“We will not say much for now, except that we have not encrypted their networks,” the BlackCat group wrote in its Dark Web posting claiming credit for one of the cyberattacks. “Draw your own conclusions for now. Maybe the data was worth a lot more.”

A briefer claim from Cl0p said the group has 131GB of data, plus archives belonging to Estée Lauder.

In its posting, BlackCat confirmed that the group’s breach was completely separate from the Cl0p incident: “ELC has been attacked by our colleagues at Cl0p regarding the MOVEit vulnerability attacks. We have reiterated to ELC that we are not associated with them.”

Callow says the coincidence isn’t as surprising as it may seem on the surface.  “As far as I’m aware, there’s no reason to believe the incidents are related,” Callow explains to Dark Reading. “Given the very large number of organizations impacted by MOVEit, it’s inevitable that some will have other, unrelated incidents in close proximity.”

And, as if two cyberattacks on the same day weren’t enough, Callow says Estée Lauder’s stolen data could be used in follow-on offensives.

“The possibility exists that the data stolen by Cl0p may be being used to spear phish victims in fresh attacks,” Callow says.

Other organizations which have been breached using the MOVEit flaw include British Airways, government agencies, Norton, UCLA, Siemens, Shell, and many, many more.

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Take A Look Inside The Las Vegas Sphere [Photos]


Artist renderings of the Las Vegas Sphere interior offer a preview of what concertgoers can expect to see inside the mind-blowing new venue.

Sphere Entertainment recently unveiled the Sphere’s ground-breaking LED Exosphere, which contains a staggering 1.2 million LED pucks, each with 48 individual LED diodes capable of displaying 256 million different colors. Included with the press materials for the Exosphere debut were new mockup images of the Sphere interior, and if you thought the outside cool, wait until you see the inside.

One image shows a packed house of 18,600 spectators immersed in an awe-inspiring underwater scene. The room looks comparable to a planetarium, but on an unprecedented scale (a large planetarium typically seats 500). Combined with the venue’s state-of-the-art beamforming audio, the spectacular interior display, which dwarfs the stage at the center of the room, opens endless possibilities for immersive concert experiences.

Another rendering shows a cross-section of the Sphere, highlighting the scale of the building and its main hall within the context of the Vegas strip. The venue’s grand interior is shown enclosed within the even more gargantuan Exosphere, which sits as the new grand jewel of the Vegas skyline.

Check out additional images of the Sphere interior below. The venue is set to open this fall and will host traditional Vegas-style residencies but on a grander scale beginning with a 25-date U2 residency running from September through December (head here for tickets). U2 is still the only band so far confirmed to play the venue, but CEO James Dolan was reportedly in talks with Madison Square Garden-favorite jam band Phish about booking a residency.

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Absenteeism and anger delay Civic Center


The fate of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium remains in limbo this week after council delayed discussions regarding the site due to community outcry and an absent councilman.

An update on a potential sale of the property had been scheduled for a closed session discussion on July 18 but will now be held on July 25. While various community members came to the July 18 meeting to demand all discussions regarding the site be held in public, the item remains part of the closed session for next week.

The City-owned Civic Auditorium was built in 1958 and remains mostly in its original condition.

The 27,000 square feet main floor has a capacity of up to 3,000 seated and 3,500 standing people and the East Wing also provides 4,189 square feet and seating capacity of 500.

Designed by Santa Monica resident and internationally-known architect Welton Becket, the property hosted decades worth of cultural events including concerts by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, Bad Religion, Pantera, Phish, Alic Cooper, Prince, Motley Crue, U2, Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, Black Sabbath, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead and Chuck Berry.

The Academy Awards were also held in the venue during the 1960s.

The property is zoned as recreational use under the City’s Civic Center Specific Plan and the City designated the Civic Auditorium as a City landmark in 2002 to preserve key historic features such as the exterior façade and certain interior design elements such as the configuration of the lobby, the two original staircases, the volume of the Main Hall space and several other elements noted in the landmark designation.

However, the property is seismically unsafe. The main portion of the building formally closed in 2013 but a meeting space in the East Wing remained open for community meetings and small events through early 2020.

Two attempts to secure a tenant or private partner to operate the building have failed. The City received a single applicant when it sent out a request for a private partnership in 2009 but those negotiations fell apart when the State eliminated local redevelopment agencies and City Hall lost access to about $50 million that had been set aside for necessary seismic improvements and ADA upgrades to the building.

A second attempt to find a private partnership failed in 2019 when the city again received a single applicant but could not provide enough support or funding to secure a deal.

As it stands today, the city has not budgeted for and does not have staff to rehabilitate and reopen the site on its own.

In 2022, Council declared the property “surplus” in a public meeting after receiving what was described at the time as “renewed interest in the Civic Auditorium from prospective commercial operators.”

State law, known as the Surplus Land Act (SLA), requires municipalities to declare property as “surplus” or “exempt” if they plan to sell or lease it to a private party. There are specific rules for exempting a property and at the time, staff said the property had to be declared as surplus to facilitate a long term lease with a private tenant.

However, the SLA requires a handful of uses (affordable housing, parks and education) be given priority access to surplus land before its owner can move on to another use.

Following the Civic’s designation, the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District and Community Corporation of Santa Monica expressed interest in the site and negotiations with both are ongoing.

An update to those negotiations triggered outcry from residents this week who demanded the process be halted entirely or at least opened to public scrutiny.

“I strongly believe the Civic Auditorium should not be in the Surplus Land Act process,” said Ann Bowman. ” It is the foundation of our Civic Center Specific Plan which was put together with extensive public input so it’s not ‘nonessential’ as you called it last October, and it’s our city’s most iconic public asset, both literally and from a psychological standpoint.”

Councilman Phil Brock had previously announced a need to leave the July 18 meeting early and requested the update on the negotiations be delayed pending his return to the July 25 meeting. However, the item will remain on the closed season agenda because property negotiations are not required to be held in public, much to the dismay of residents who spoke out this week.

“When we talk about giving away or selling this the Civic Center, it’s done in closed session negotiation with parties who have not had public input to them,” said Nancy Coleman. “And it’s not appropriate to do at all.”

Councilman Oscar de la Torre did ask for the City Attorney’s office to create a one-sheet explainer regarding the SLA to educate the public regarding the laws implementation and requirements.

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» Phish rumored to play SPAC benefit concerts in


SARATOGA SPRINGS — Jam band titans Phish haven’t taken to the stage at Saratoga Performing Arts Center since a two-night run in July 2019, but online rumors are swirling that the band will return to SPAC in August for a pair of benefit concerts to aid flood victims in their home state of Vermont.

According to unconfirmed chatter on social media and Phish internet fan forums, the band could potentially play concerts at SPAC on Aug. 25 and 26 to raise funds for Vermont residents who saw historic levels of rainfall batter the state earlier this month.

SPAC concert promoter Live Nation and Phish management did not respond to inquiries about the rumored concerts.

The purported dates are open on the venue’s calendar, with a concert from country artist Eric Church slated for Aug. 24 and then no additional events scheduled until Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Guns N’ Roses take the stage on Sept. 1.

Phish, who are in the midst of a 23-date summer tour that stops at the St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater in Syracuse on Sunday evening, wrap up a seven-night run at Madison Square Garden on Aug. 5 and resume their tour on Aug. 31 for the start of the band’s annual Labor Day run of shows at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.

The rumored SPAC concerts would take place on Travers weekend, with the Saratoga Race Course set to host the Travers Stakes on Aug. 26.

In 2021, the city hosted the Travers Stakes on Aug. 28, with a Dead & Company show taking place at SPAC the day prior.

Phish singer/guitarist Trey Anastasio played a trio of shows at SPAC in June 2021, with the reduced-capacity shows marking the venue’s first major concerts since the pandemic shuttered the venue.

Phish has played the Saratoga Spring amphitheater on 22 prior occasions. The band opened for Carlos Santana on its first trip to SPAC in July 1992.

Phish played three-night Fourth of July weekend runs at the venue in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

The band, which was formed at the University of Vermont in Burlington in 1983, played a benefit concert in September 2011 for Vermont flood recovery after Hurricane Irene, with the show to benefit victims at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction, Vermont, announced on eight days notice.

Anastasio, who lived in Saratoga Springs in 2007 as he participated in a court-ordered drug-treatment program, canceled plans for a 2020 SPAC benefit concert to raise funds for the guitarist’s Divided Sky Foundation, due to the pandemic.

Contact Ted Remsnyder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @TedRemsnyder.

Categories: Email Newsletter, Entertainment, Life and Arts, News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs

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Why Does Rain Smell?


My college-aged daughter called me odd the other day. She said it was not meant to be an insult. One of the things she mentioned was my quirky aversion to things like mustard, mayonnaise, and salad dressings. I am sure my sensitivity to smells qualifies me for her odd designation too. On rainy days, I often smell the rain. I bet many of you often smell rain too. The “smell” of rain is called petrichor. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Though petrichor is the used to describe the scent of rain, the smell actually describes oils and chemicals released from the ground. As I previously wrote, “The basic chemistry of the process is related to decomposed organic material fused with soil, rock, and minerals in an interesting chemical brew.” The word is derived from two Greek words – “petra” (stones of the Earth) and “ichor” (a mythological term related to the blood of the gods).

Legendary science journalist Andrew Revkin recently tipped me to a very helpful website hosted by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The website says, “Petrichor is the term coined by Australian scientists in 1964 to describe the unique, earthy smell associated with rain….caused by the water from the rain, along with certain compounds like ozone, geosmin, and plant oils.”

I suspect a couple of those terms may not be familiar to you. As an atmospheric scientist, I can handle ozone. It is an societal ally in the stratosphere where it protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation, but it can be a pollutant at the surface. When lightning occurs, the ACS website notes, “Diatomic molecules of oxygen and nitrogen (containing 2 atoms) are split, and rearrange to create nitric oxide (NO) and ozone, or O3.” Ozone, transported by rain droplets to the surface, adds to the petrichor scent.

So what is geosmin? The same website goes on to say, “Actinomycetes, a type of bacteria found in soil, secrete a compound called geosmin , which is released from soil intothe air by raindrops.” Our nose can apparently detect geosmin at concentrations less than 5 parts per trillion according to ACS writer. Plant oils like stearic acid and palmitic acid, which are released during rainfall, also contribute to the smell of petrichor.

Interestingly, while researching material for this essay, I learned that there is a song by the group Phish called “Petrichor.” There is also a wine vineyard by the same name. Who knew?

Hopefully you have a better appreciation for those times when you think to youself, “Hmmm, it smells like rain.”

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Attorney Mary Okeiyi Ekpu Brings Awareness to


A historic legal case centered around enforcing Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, might significantly shift immigration law.

The Constitution clearly communicates the intentions of the framers to form a more perfect Union. Laws are meant to be continually reviewed and reassessed to perfect our union”

— Mary Okeiyi Ekpu

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, UNITED STATES, July 19, 2023/ — A historic legal case centered around enforcing Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, might significantly shift immigration law. The case, see North Carolina Middle District Court (1:19-cv-01122-CCE-LPA)and United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (No. 23-1691), originated by Mary Okeiyi Ekpu and attorney Jocelyn Davis Singletary of the Singletary Law Firm, sheds light on the complex dynamics of immigration and emphasizes the need for a fair, balanced system.

Form I-864, an Affidavit of Support under Section 213A of the INA, acts as a financial safety net for those seeking permanent residency in the U.S., with the signer promising to support the immigrant if the immigrant does not meet the federal poverty guidelines threshold.

The case concerns Anoruo Ugochinyere Asilonu, a Nigerian citizen engaged to Esther Okeiyi’s daughter, Blessing, who entered the United States on a K-1 fiancé visa in 2015 and who he legally married in 2016. Asilonu is accused of concealing the existence of another family he was supporting in Nigeria and providing false and/or misleading information during his naturalization process and on his tax documents.

Attorney Ekpu’s aim is to draw attention to the loopholes within the immigration system and to champion the rights of those who sign Form I-864 when fraud or misrepresentation is present. She asserts, “[o]ur role as legal professionals is to contribute to a fair and just system for all parties involved.”

Ekpu cites “clear evidence in this case that likely supports elements of fraud and misrepresentation” and calls for a review of the I-864, reform of immigration laws, and a review of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. She believes that not allowing common law defenses to a legal contract is unconstitutional and that immigrants and those who benefit from the immigration system should be held to the same standards as US citizens.

“The Constitution clearly communicates the intentions of the framers to form a more perfect Union. Laws are meant to be continually reviewed and reassessed to perfect our union,” states Ekpu.

The outcome of this case could carry significant consequences for both the justice and immigration systems, making this a crucial moment in shaping immigration law.

Throughout her career, Ekpu has shown exceptional expertise in navigating intricate and complex issues in and out of the courtroom. As an attorney, she believes in fostering a just and impartial legal system that upholds the rights of all individuals involved in the immigration process.

To contact Attorney Mary Okeiyi Ekpu, visit her LinkedIn profile.

About Mary Okeiyi Ekpu, Esq.

Mary Okeiyi Ekpu is a licensed attorney and critical care nurse. Her practice focuses on tort law, health law, medical malpractice, personal injury, immigration, civil rights, and civil litigation. With a passion for justice and fairness, Ekpu embraces groundbreaking cases, striving to create a more equitable legal landscape for all individuals navigating the complex justice and legal system.

Nadya Rousseau
Alter New Media LLC
+1 310-853-3798
email us here

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“A game-changer:” City officials reflect on two


WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park, Wilmington’s largest concert venue, has been open for two years as of July 2023. Wilmington Community Services Director Amy Beatty says the city is already feeling the economic impacts.

“Live Oak Bank Pavilion has really been a game-changer,” said Beatty. “You know, we knew that there was a market for a venue of this size for music-goers. And Wilmington is just such a music city and we’ve been really astounded by how popular it’s become and that is evidenced by some of the acts that we’re getting.”

Beatty says the venue is not only bringing in visitors and hundreds of thousands of dollars for the city, she says it is also helping to create jobs.

“We had over 110,000 guests in the 2022 season,” she said. “We made over $425,000 in direct revenue to the city. Having Live Nation here, they have created 620 new local jobs in the area from entry level to professional.”

Live Nation manages the venue and books artists through its agreement with the city. Beatty says one challenge that has come with the new venue has been a lack of parking near the site.

“I’d say our biggest challenge has been parking,” Beatty said. “And hopefully with the acquisition of the Thermo Fisher building by the City of Wilmington and the parking garage that comes with that, that will be one less challenge.”

There have also been calls for Live Nation to book a wider variety of artists. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo is pleased with the lineup, but says he would like to see even more diversity.

“[Live Nation] understand[s] that we want to see more diversity of acts,” said Saffo. “I mean, they’ve done a pretty good job in bringing in reggae and hip hop and alternative rock and rock and, of course, country. But you know, we want to see more of that, and that’s one of the things that they have promised us.”

Saffo is hopeful the new agreement allowing Live Nation to book up to 30 shows per year will help to meet everyone’s musical taste.

“A lot of that falls within the artists as to when they come, their schedule, the cost of bringing the artists here,” said Saffo.

Phish is scheduled to play at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Both shows are sold-out, according to Live Nation.

Copyright 2023 WECT. All rights reserved.

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VirusTotal leaked data of 5,600 registered users


VirusTotal has suffered a data leak that exposed the names and email addresses of 5,600 of its registered users. The leaked data reportedly includes information about employees of US and German intelligence agencies (among others).

VirusTotal data leak exposed exploitable information

Google-owned VirusTotal is a popular online service for analyzing suspicious files and URLs to detect malware and malicious content through antivirus engines and website scanners.

As confirmed by Google to German publication Der Spiegel, at the end of June, a file containing names and email addresses of VirusTotal customers was unintentionally made available on VirusTotal by an employee. Even though the company removed the list within an hour of it getting uploaded, the file was obviously downloaded by at least one user.

Ultimately, it also ended up in the hands of Der Spiegel journalists, who verified that the list is authentic. “Names of government employees appear, and some of those affected can also be found on LinkedIn,” Der Spiegel reporters noted.

The list contains the names and corporate email addresses of 5,600 users who registered the account. Among those are employees at:

  • The US Cyber Command (the US military’s hacking unit), the US Department of Justice, the FBI and the US intelligence agency NSA
  • Official bodies from the Netherlands, Taiwan and Great Britain
  • Many German organizations including the Federal Police, the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) and the Federal Office for Telecommunications Statistics.
  • Big German companies (Deutsche Bahn, Bundesbank, Allianz, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Deutsche Telekom)

Users’ names and e-mail addresses have been leaked, but passwords haven’t.

Still, that’s enough information for threat actors to be able to spear-phish affected individuals, who are obviously responsible for IT security and malware within their organization.

The risk associated with uploading files to VirusTotal

While VirusTotal can be used for free by anyone who wants to check a specific file or URL via a web-based user interface, the paid verson of the service is only available to companies and public sector organizations, allowing them more insight into uploaded samples. The uploaded files are also shared with security companies, professionals and researchers (VirusTotal customers or partners).

Some of the files uploaded by users on VirusTotal may contain sensitive data, as demonstrated by SafeBreach researchers who collected more than 1,000,000 credentials contained in files that info-stealers and keyloggers use (and have been uploaded on VirusTotal).

The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has previously warned organizations against the practice of automatically uploading files to VirusTotal, lest sensitive organizational data ends up in third-party hands (VirusTotal subscribers).

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Phish Tries On “The Well”, Fish Tries On The


Phish returned to Alpharetta, GA on Saturday and Sunday to round out a three-night stint at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre, the second stop on a 2023 summer tour that has quickly heated up with the rising July temperatures.

The tour’s first three nights (two in Alabama, one in Alpharetta) had already checked a number of boxes on fans’ summer wish lists—early-days rarities, strong new material, ample improvisation, lyrical experimentation—and Phish continued to raise the proverbial bar over the last two nights with a pair of standout performances.

Saturday’s first frame featured a tasteful mix of vintage Phish staples (a classic “Runaway Jim”/”Foam” opener, “Fluffhead”, “Esther”, a “Golgi Apparatus” closer) and weighty takes on newer mainstays (“Set Your Soul Free” and “Everything’s Right”). The tentpole “Tweezer” jam that stretched to 30 minutes in length on its first go and returned for a wink and a nod later in the night was the obvious headline from this (basically) five-song second set, though the sentimental “Golden Age”, the warp-speed echoes of “I Always Wanted It This Way”, and the sublime “Harry Hood” are not to be overlooked. Plus, a show-closing “Big Black Furry Creature From Mars” featuring an on-the-ground Trey Anastasio after the obligatory “Tweeprise” in the encore slot? Not bad, P-Fish. Not bad at all.

Phish – “Tweezer” [Pro-Shot] – 7/15/23

The first Sunday show of this young tour made good on ye olde saying about Sunday shows as fans in Georgia enjoyed an armload of stellar playing topped with a fistful of the “WTF” antics and inside-jokery that keeps folks coming back 40 summers down the line.

Amid a fun yet largely unremarkable opening half heavy on by-the-book basics (“Buried Alive”, “Wilson”, “NICU”, “Gumbo”, “Mountains In The Mist”, “Halfway To The Moon”), the band still tipped the scales toward the unknown with a particularly impactful “Limb by Limb”, an intrepid “Bathtub Gin” jam, a maddening “Split Open and Melt”, and the debut of a new Phish song: “The Well”.

The third new original song to enter the Phish repertoire this summer (following “Ether Edge” and “Oblivion“), this number straddled the line between the two “modes” of the band’s songwriting in the last decade or so, starting off in Big Boat-reminiscent “love and light” land before descending into Sci-Fi Soldier-style “Evil Phish” pandemonium. That combination made it the most enticing “New Phish” we’ve heard yet this summer, and we’re looking forward to exploring how dark and deep things can get at the bottom of “The Well” as the tour continues.

Phish – “The Well” (Debut) – 7/16/23

[Video: ChakaHahn]

Sunday’s set two was a winner from its very first notes. A “Carini” equal parts lovely and lively served as the meat in an opening “Mike’s Groove”, while a sprawling mid-set “Sand” made a strong case for itself as one of the top tracks of the tour.

The improv section of a late “Reba” was gorgeous and flowing, as beautiful as ever, but would prove to be only the second-most interesting “Reba”-related storyline from Sunday’s show.

When the band returned for its final Alpharetta curtain call without Jon Fishman and Trey took a seat behind the drum kit, it was clear that shenanigans were afoot. After Mike Gordon, Page McConnell, and Trey kicked into a smooth, moody progression, the guy in the dress finally sauntered onto the stage. Rather than picking up his trusty vacuum, as he has in so many similar situations, Fishman instead went for Trey’s Languedoc, stepping to center stage to handle guitar and lead vocals on the first-ever Phish cover of “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”, the Southern Gothic murder ballad written by Bobby Russell in 1972, first recorded by Vicki Lawrence in 1973, and later revived by Reba McEntire in 1991.

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[Screengrab via LivePhish – Fish on guitar, Trey on drums for “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”, 7/16/23]

Was Fish’s guitar solo good? Of course not. Was it fun? You bet. Any cringing from the crowd only seemed to energize Moses Brown/DeWitt/Heaps. From the band’s first gig at the ROTC dance in ’83 (see: “You paid us!!!”) through the summer of ’23, Jon Fishman has made an art form out of defiantly cringe-worthy antics, and we’ll always love him for it.

As “Hold Your Head Up” kicked in, “professional social-suicidist” Jon Fishman addressed the crowd: “You can tell your grandkids that you actually paid money to see that. I’m sorry, I really am. … Ahh… That’s so satisfying.”

Making sure not to leave things on too much of a “gold for nerds, what-the-shit-was-that for neophytes” tone, Trey dedicated the closing “You Enjoy Myself” to a guy in the crowd with a t-shirt bemoaning the fact that Georgia had gone 20 years without a YEM.

Scroll down to check out the full setlists from Saturday, 7/15/23 and Sunday, 7/16/23 in Alpharetta and view a gallery of photos from Sunday’s show via Emily Butler. Phish’s 2023 summer tour continues on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 18th and 19th at Wilmington, NC’s Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park. For tickets and a full list of tour dates visit Phish’s website.

Subscribe to LivePhish+ to listen to every show on the tour and browse an archive of live Phish recordings. To order your LivePhish webcasts for any of the band’s upcoming summer shows, head here.

Setlist: Phish [via] | Ameris Bank Amphitheatre | Alpharetta, GA | 7/15/23

Set One: Runaway Jim, Foam, Set Your Soul Free > Fluffhead > Everything’s Right > Esther > Golgi Apparatus

Set Two: Rift > Tweezer -> Golden Age > I Always Wanted It This Way > Tweezer > Harry Hood

Encore: A Life Beyond The Dream > Tweezer Reprise > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars

Notes: Trey teased The Lion Sleeps Tonight in the first Tweezer.

Setlist [via]: Phish | Ameris Bank Amphitheatre | Alpharetta, GA | 7/16/23

Set One: Buried Alive > Wilson > NICU, Bathtub Gin, Gumbo, Limb By Limb > The Well [1], Mountains in the Mist, Halfway to the Moon, Split Open and Melt

Set Two: Mike’s Song > Carini > Weekapaug Groove, Sand > Reba, More

Encore: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia [2] > Hold Your Head Up [3], You Enjoy Myself

[1] Phish debut.
[2] Phish debut; Fish on guitar.
[3] Fish on guitar.

Notes: This show featured the Phish debuts of The Well and The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (the latter and HYHU featuring Fish on guitar). You Enjoy Myself was played for a fan who had a shirt stating Phish had not played a YEM in Georgia in 20 years. Jon Fishman played guitar on The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia

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