Mixed Up in the Midway

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

In the Windy City on Tuesday night, Phish put forth a discombobulated effort that featured legitimate individual jams but flowed like a pile of bricks.  In a second set that didn’t really work, it seemed as though Phish had the pieces of a great jigsaw puzzle, but just couldn’t fit them together correctly.  Pulling out a random assortment of songs in no apparent order or connection, Phish played a second set that sounded more like a mix tape than a live show.  Not to take away from some of the higher moments of the night, they just happened individually with no real relationship to their neighbors in the set.  The jumbled effort will likely go down as the “weakest” show of summer’s second leg, but given what’s been going down the last few weeks, everything is relative.

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

That being said, the band opened the second set with the most significant “Number Line” to date; a jam that built off the Gorge’s version, and went far beyond.  The band seems dedicated to using this as a consistent vehicle moving forward, and if the jams are like last night’s- that’s fine with me.  Taking the piece out into its most exploratory and uncharted psychedelic planes yet, Phish got into some slowed down, deeper grooves before this one was cut off a bit too soon.  Moving through the murkiness into more transcendent territory, it seemed that the “2001” that was hanging in Washington might emerge from this jam.  But as the music was passing through a mind-expanding canvas, Trey executed the jam with the ripping chords of “Carini.”  While it was awesome to hear “Carini,” the jolt seemed unnecessary given their organic jamming these days, and they could have gotten there far more creatively.  Nonetheless, as the bombastic song got going, the intensity was something to behold.  While not necessarily longer than normal, the peak of the long-awaited 3.0 debut was monumental- possibly one of those “you had to be there moments”- as i have not yet heard the tapes.

Shoreline (W.Rogell)

Shoreline (W.Rogell)

Just as abruptly as it started, Phish ended their dense, growling excursion with an odd switch into “Gotta Jibboo.”  Yet, once again, once the jam got going, Phish shredded it to pieces.  Boasting exciting dance grooves and soaring work by Trey, this rendition was yet another highlight of this awkward set.  The mid-set “Theme,” “Wilson,” seemed like we were briefly transplanted into some random first set, and after forgoing endless creative places to drop “2001” over the past few shows, Phish chose this bizarre, disconnected point to let it fly.  Yet when it did, the wide-open funk no-doubt brought some late set euphoria.  Blasting into an shredding late-set “Chalk Dust,” everything just seemed out of place- wait, have I mentioned that?

Shoreline (W.Rogell)

Shoreline (W.Rogell)

But as Phish started “Harry Hood” it was like a soft blanket catching us at the end of some strange trip, and as the band set their improvisational course, this one didn’t follow the norm.  Taking the jam on a more ambient, impressionistic path, Phish crafted a unique highlight at the end of an odd night on the South Side of Chicago.  While a Phish show is usually greater than the sum of its parts- this one wasn’t.  In fact, it was exactly a sum of its disjointed parts.  Without very little dramatic and flowing improv that we’ve all of a sudden gotten used to, the entire set felt choppy and poorly presented, albeit well-played.  But hey, all of a sudden, we are spoiled!

As we enter the last four night-run of tour, Phish is sure to turn things up a notch as they pull back into the Northeast corridor.  With four classic sheds hosting the last nights of a special summer, the final weekend is sure to be woven with tales of wonder.  Darien > Hartford > Merriweather > SPAC-  these should be heavy hitters.  I’ll see you there.

Set One Notes: In what was a virtual consensus for weakest set of tour, Phish never really got it going in the first frame.  The only real pieces of note would be the third song “Ocelot,” whose jam crept into familiar territory, and “The Curtain (With)” with another huge, standout version of “(With).”  For those of you counting bust-outs, the band played an early “Paul and Silas” for the first time in nine years (Worcester 11.29.98).  In addition, the band debuted a new Page song called “Windy City,” a slow-moving blues song that seemed like it wasn’t of Phish caliber.  A solid ‘Time Turns Elastic” closed.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Sample In A Jar, Ocelot, Paul and Silas, Windy City*, The Curtain (With), Train Song, Gumbo, Heavy Things, Time Turns Elastic

II: Backwards Down The Number Line > Carini > Gotta Jibboo, Theme From The Bottom, Wilson, 2001 > Chalk Dust Torture, Harry Hood, The Squirming Coil

E: Loving Cup


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551 Responses to “Mixed Up in the Midway”

  1. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @buddy i heard the sound was good on the lawn but view was shit. is the sound really bad there too?

  2. butter Says:

    @msb – yes very listenable – we listened to Blee’s recording in the hotel after last night. (you will se him as blee999 on bt.tree) sounds kick ass, he has the shoreline up (its 24 bit and takes up 1.8ish gigs)

  3. msbjivein Says:

    Dancin, Find a speaker stack to stand in front of in the lawn.

  4. msbjivein Says:

    Butter,I’m digging IT!! Had a blast last night!! Love this band!

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    carini = the dank dark

    also a tune that SBDs never convey the full effect of Treys tone on – those crazy howls or whatever you’d call it – if he’s still doing that

    requires an FOB to really capture it

  6. msbjivein Says:

    Yeah Trey was doing some HOWLING!! Good call! Love that also. Would’ve like to have more howling actually.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    trey had some cool effects going on that carini

    last night’s show may have been the worst of this leg but from what i’ve heard of it i think it’s still better than any from leg 1

  8. larry bird flu Says:

    still catching up but an insightful discussion today. the setlist did look awfully disjointed. but hard to tell until i check the tapes.
    @ robear glad to see that you decided to do the east coast swing
    @ soam are you going to be at darien? i feel i owe you a beer. everytime you post i end up laughing out lod

  9. msbjivein Says:

    It would be hard for me to put last night ahead of Deer Creek or 2nd night of Alpine. IMO A Sucky show is still a Great show!

  10. larry bird flu Says:


  11. Hunter Says:

    The show was indeed disjointed, but I still had a blast. Nothing was poorly played, it was just sequenced strangely. I was right up front, and from what I saw, many of the songs were decided on-the-fly. I also noticed that the band was having the time of their lives. That alone was enough to make it an immensely enjoyable experience for me.

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    can someone please explain to me why people go nuts over bustouts? i understand if you’re on tour and you get to hear something different, but when they play Tela and everyone goes nuts even though it’s gonna sound no different than any other version they’ve played of it and doesn’t go anywhere or anything, what’s the point? i was excited for carini and curtain but that’s because i think they’re great songs that should be in rotation and have improvisational potential.

  13. butter Says:

    @lol – at how good Phish is playing – that the word worst is involved with last night!

  14. Little Buddy Says:


    Follow msb’s advice. There are pockets where its fine on the lwan, but it really isn’t consistent and in the dead spots – it;s really dead. In front of the stacks you’ll be fine, but if you can find someone to stub you down its worth getting down in the pavilion to get the full effect. Either way, you’ll have a blast. Surrender to the flow, my friend.

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    Haven’t read theough comments totally , but just because a set doesn’t flow doesn’t mean the individual jams aren’t good….

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    word buddy, thing is i’m about to eat 2 darien lawns so i can’t afford to upgrade to pavs

  17. Jay Says:

    IFOS (In front Of Stack) is my favorite place to hang on the lawn. The more directly in front the better and of course, the closer the better.

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @miner, i assume you have the same feelings about bust-outs that i do

  19. msbjivein Says:

    Bustouts- After you’ve seen a shit ton of shows The “Bustout” is more about hearing a tune or tunes you haven’t heard in years. The Esther bustout was killer atRR. Not that I’m a huge fan I just hadn’t seen it since ’98. Back in ’98 I could’ve care less. if they played it. There are justome songs that don’t get played very often and when you FINALLY get to hear it for the first time or for the 1st time in yrs it’s a joy. That’s my 2 cents.

  20. msbjivein Says:

    Miner, 10-4

  21. phishnin Says:

    The only LivePhish downloads I’ve ever bought was the Miami New Year’s ’03 run. Other than that, AUD sources do for me better, just as they always have. “Time Turns Elastic” rocks, especially that Black Sabbath-esque breakdown. Wasn’t there, but the show sounds good! The whole year has sounded good! I just hope they come ANYwhere near New Orleans at some point. Shit!

  22. Little Buddy Says:


    Being that its your first show you may find a kind soul who came with someone and is willing to use their friend’s ticket to “stub you down” so you can enjoy the view from inside. I would do it for ya, but I’ve got a lawn seat.

  23. Ocelot42 Says:

    My one complaint about last night is that, at least from where I was (front row of seating, but pretty far back on the Page side), Page’s sound was non-existent. We had a speaker stack behind the soundboard pointed directly at us and Trey and Mike were loud as could be, Fishman was slightly softer and there was no Page. You’d get his vocals, but almost no keys whatsoever. Made me appreciate that beautiful end of Coil that much more, I think.

  24. bkisida Says:

    Was watching the setlist unfold on hoodstream last night, and it just looked awful. Having said that, I just listened to BDTNL and Carini and it sounds great. Now I’m on Jiboo, and, well, I’ve never been a Jiboo fan so we’ll see. I feel bad, I told a non-phan he should go (18 year old kid I know who just moved to Chicago) and I hope he wasn’t let down. Since he has nothing to compare it to, he might’ve thought it was great. My first show changed my life, but if I go back and listen to it today it’s not that impressive. Was pretty good though (Memphis, Orpheum, 94).

  25. msbjivein Says:

    Jibboo’s pretty rocking from last night. I love where trey takes the jam.

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