Over the years, I’ve found that many Phish songs go particularly well with certain times of day, and there is nothing quite like a “Reba” in the morning. The bass driven grooves pulsate as your mind wakes up to the day. Thick and laid back, the cushion of bass provides a soft buffer between you and the outside world for several crucial minutes. The aura that emanates from a spectacular “Reba” is one of unmatched relaxation; drifting on a musical raft, allowing only the notes to keep you afloat. The quintessential daytime Phish jam, no other feeling resembles the euphoria of a top notch version, and no other Phish peak blends better with waking up. Yesterday morning, as I stepped outside, I turned on the Jones Beach “Reba” and with the combination of sunshine, a cool breeze, and my favorite version since IT back in ’03- things felt completely in sync.
It was a much nicer morning than the evening of June 2nd at Jones Beach, when Phish dropped into the summer’s first “Reba” late in the opening set. Following the smoking combo of “Timber,” “Cities” and a “Driver” interlude, the band continued the highlight-strewn set with tales of coconuts and chloroform. Though the skies were grey, the rains stayed away as the band hit one of the best jam-drops in their catalog. “Reba’s” furious fugue transformed into a pool of sonic pleasure as the uncovered pavilion allowed the music to waft over the stadium-like venue.
Trey entered the mix with some coy offerings, while Mike led the jam early-on. Instead of moving the music forward, like most other times this summer, the band took a big step back into an intricate, minimalist section of tightly-laced improv. The band moved slowly, as if reacquainting with an old friend. Fully exploring this territory, Phish peaked the quiet jam before diving back into the outright groove of the song.
It is sections like this that separate more interesting versions from the standard. Rarely did latter-year “Rebas” diverge from the song’s surreal build, but the special versions- the ones that are remembered and that landed on mix tapes- were the ones that brought something unique to the table. In this delicate portion of the jam, Fishman drops his beat to a whisper, as Trey and Mike enter into some quiet, intertwined playing. Page backs the communication, gradually joining in. Completely locked and playing ever so gently, the band extended this part before one chord from Trey returned them to their classic course.
At this point, Mike began to completely slaughter the jam, complementing Trey’s emotive wails and Page’s piano lines. Peaking with a repeated sprint up and down the fretboard, Trey hit the lick of the night as the jam reached its apex. Converging on a dime, Fish’s drum roll signaled the end of the jam, and the band went on to complete the “full” version with whistling accompaniment.
This majestic “Reba” was part of Phish Jones Beach blast-off set, adding a first-set version of one of their classics that could hang with many older renditions. Moving into setbreak, this “Reba” echoed in my mind as that guitar lick replayed itself over and over. Many first set jams that are delivered early in a tour wind up getting looked over in the long run, but don’t sleep on the Jones Beach “Reba.” It’s a keeper.
Listen to 6.2’s “REBA” NOW!
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
6.16.09 The Fox, St. Louis, MO < TORRENT
6.16.09 The Fox, St. Louis, MO < MEGAUPLOAD
On an anti-climactic night, Phish played a “theatre-appropriate” show, highlighting some of their more mellow pieces. The “Slave” jam is great before the botched ending, but the late-show “Mike’s Groove” is the most exciting part of a pretty tame show.
I: Kill Devil Falls, Ocelot, Brian And Robert, Sample in a Jar, Rift, Yamar, Reba, Train Song, Horn, Possum, Slave To The Traffic Light
II: Halley’s Comet > Runaway Jim, Frankie Says, Time Turns Elastic, Sleep, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Character Zero
E: The Star-Spangled Banner, McGrupp And The Watchful Hosemasters, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Source: Schoeps CCM41(DIN)>Sonosax sxm2>sound devices 744t – Tapers: Ian Stone & Gregory MaultTags: 2009, Jams, Summer '09