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. Mr. Completely Says:

    when I’m at the show I dig *any* bustout for its own sake but indirectly – meaning I love the energy that blows up from the crowd when it happens

    @Gorge Destiny was only a pseudo-bustout but you could feel the place erupt a little when people figured it out, I wasn’t psyched for the song itself but it was a cool feeling (and I ended up really liking the jam)

    same with Mango, that tune isn’t on my favorites list, but I knew people had been calling it so I was super stoked to hear it

    Sally I was stoked for ’cause Sally is fucking awesome

    also a lot of peeps (like me) who have been to more than a few Phish shows but not 100+ still have a lot of songs on our “life list” we’d like to hear live once so I think there’s a lot of that going on too

  2. Lycanthropist Says:

    Hey everyone…

    Just getting around to checking out today’s happenings.

    I gotta say initially I was very disappointed with the discussions on the board today. This forum is usually such a great place for well thought out discussion and posts and the first few pages of comments threatened to be nothing more than juvenile flamming.

    However with the help from a few posters, the board was not only turned around, but it was exalted into a brilliant exchange of philosophy. Phishthouhgts is quite easily the best forum I have discovered.

    So allow me to throw my thoughts on the opinions vs. facts matter, although I know I am late and most has probably already been said:

    We have a responsibility as fans, critics, admirers, writers, etc… to be educated in our posts. I am a long time fan of Phish, have been listening to them for several years. There ARE bad shows. We have to accept that. It is almost naive to gladly soak up every note they play without any filter. When you get to that point, I feel like you have stopped listening.

    Mr. Miner’s review today did not suck, was not misinformed, and was incredibly poignant. I applaud his honesty, and his CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. We all have to remember that we are talking opinions here.

    Opinions are a very sensitive thing. Hell opinions make up a major part of what defines each of us as individuals. So when you voice yours, realize that you are representing your individuality; when you respond to others’ opinions, you are responding to very personal viewpoints.

    Words like suck, stupid, crappy, shitty et al. do nothing to convey yourself. I had an English teacher once who told us that she didn’t care if we hated the books we read. In fact she encouraged us to be vocal about our distaste, but she would refuse to accept statements like, “I didn’t like it because it sucked” or “It was boring and stupid.”

    These statements mean nothing to us. If you didn’t like the show, explain WHY you didn’t like it AND that just because you thought Crime and Punishment was terrible doesn’t mean that it was or that I should think it is.

    It is very dangerous to boldly say, THIS IS THE WORST SHOW EVER or THIS WAS UTTER CRAP. Opinion isn’t fact. When opinion gets voiced in a syntax that is usually reserved for fact, people are bound to get defensive. The only facts about last night are this: Phish played a show in Chicago. The rest is all objective and relative. There is no way to legitimately say that any one version of a song is the best or the worst. Its just a logicistical impossibility.

    I’m rambling I know. I was just so disheartened by the initial tones today’s discussion. I have found a forum here that I love, and I love to contribute to it. But I absolutely refuse to engage in meaningless bashing and flaming, so I thought I was going to have to quietly drift away as quick as I had come.

    So a big BIG THANK YOU is in order my fellow posters, because you have taken what would inevitably turned into a large steaming pile of deconstructive banter, and turned it into one of the better discussions of the week.

    Much love to all. Even you Chitown (whose overly bold statements slowly began to simmer down to more constructive critique) ;).

  3. Brian Says:

    I can go either way on bust-outs, unless its a song I just really like.

    but I agree on the crowd energy thing…Destiny at Nassau in ’03 for example. Watching the crowd go from confusion to disbelief and then just totally erupt was pretty fantastic.

  4. guyforget Says:

    A bad Phish show is better to talk about than no phish show than no phish show to talk about.

    Let’s compare to sports. When you’re team plays bad, don’t you say “they played like fucking horseshit last night”? Why can’t Phish be subjected to the same criticism with such a loyal following. I think we’re entitled to it, especially after the 10s of thousands of dollars we’ve all dropped seeting this band.

    I haven’t even heard last night, but i’m not surprised by a bad show, they just ripped off 7 wins in a row, they were due for a loss.

  5. Pence Says:

    Before the show my friend and I were talking about how each song had keepers, and the rest were filled in with songs. Even sometimes a chalkdust or KDF, or TTE or even a 2001 are plain amazing, although not quite a keeper. I believe that there is just as many keepers in the show last night as there were in every show thus far. BD#L>Carini is a dream keeper for my. Paul and Silas is a great bluegrass keeper, hands down for a long time now my favorite BG tune. My ipod doesnt have enough space on it as it is for as many “keepers” that they have done in the past….

    Show wise, being there I have to agree with Miner I think it could’ve flowed better. Wilson>2001 transition wasnt anything to write home about, but the 2001 Jam was Badass, Mike was dropping bombs all over the place, and you could feel it in your chest. Going back to set 1 Gumbo was awesome, great summer time funk vibe. If someone told me yesterday before the show I would hear a great Ocelot, Paul and Sailas, a *never played song, The Curtain(with), a gumbo, Carini, theme, 2001, and a Harry Hood, I might say it could be the BEST show of the tour.

    Can I say it was simply amazing the amount of nitrous there last night. Although I should be saying where the F is the security, it took about 2 hours for them to shut it down. I saw a number of tanks go the distance without being caught. I really dont mind it if everybody is being chill, which they were. I was having a blast laughing at all the people with 6 ballons in their hands. It got down to $10 a balloon by the end of the night. 2 for $20. Which is simply ridiculous. Overall the lot scene was perfect, tons of hot ladies, and dudes having a good time, no cops. I was overwelmed by the amount of, I dont want to say nOObs but by the amount of younger people. I also cant stand when a group of people holding hands trying to get a closer spot of the floor. This was happening a lot. Pick a spot and stay there. And Trey having to dodge glo-sticks can obviously mess up the flow. I mean would you through a small rock at someone that has their hands tied behing their back? Especially if that person is trying to melt your face off with sick grooves. I wouldnt.

  6. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i see what you mean by the energy for sure. nothing will ever top the hampton fluffhead bustout energy, wasn’t there but i can feel a fraction of what that might have felt like through the recording. still i’d rather a jam be 5 minutes longer than to be able to cross an average song off my haven’t ‘seen’ list

  7. Pence Says:

    ^I meant each “show” has keepers.

  8. guyforget Says:

    glowsticks and tarps suck. i can’t believe they allow tarps of any size at red rocks.

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    re: the earlier discussion, here’s what I think is the most relevant thing said so far, from Miner’s writeup:

    “But hey, all of a sudden, we are spoiled!”

    If they had played that same show in June we’d have been stoked for it.

    Still an epic win for phish fans. If the argument between RR and The Gorge was, did we win by a billion points, or by a bazillion squintillion, well maybe last night we only won by a half million points.

    (fortunately the over/under was 80 and I took the over)

    last year there were no games and in June we were occasionally squeaking out single digit overtime wins – but bottom line –

    phish still undefeated in 09 baby!!!!

  10. msbjivein Says:

    ^^wELL PUT Lycanthorpist. It almost got really stupid around here no doubt. But we’re civilized Phish heads here and know when enough is enough. You made some great points.

  11. Little Buddy Says:

    “And Trey having to dodge glo-sticks can obviously mess up the flow. I mean would you through a small rock at someone that has their hands tied behing their back? Especially if that person is trying to melt your face off with sick grooves. I wouldnt.”

    Hilarious and true!

  12. albert walker Says:

    nothing like watchin custies running towards the automotive nitrous tanks
    like moths to a flame
    some things never change

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @completely, as bad as people are saying this show was, i’m still about to delete a show from leg on my ipod to make room for this show. this show still owns anything from leg 1

  14. Ocelot42 Says:

    I had another change from “never really cared for it” to “wow, that was really good” on a song last night, too: Heavy Things. Maybe certain songs just have a really low bar with me so they can soar over it pretty easily if played well. Regardless, I loved the jam in it last night.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    @guy the main difference I think is trying to be nice to people who had a good time at the show, maybe a great time, so while critique is certainly called for just recognize that doing it harshly is going to draw a hurt reaction from people who were there

    as long as it’s a well played show and people get off, it’s a win IMO

    but I am 100% certain the band knows which shows are nearly perfect and which have issues and could have been better

  16. SJC Says:

    The Nassau Destiny defines the term bustout. Hell, it may even surpass the term bustout as there had been such a fanbase hangup on bringing it back. The Trey comments, the flyers, the preshow chants….and then all fo the sudden the band says “here you go”. Wasn’t there, but I listened to that song and the crowd reaction I don’t know how many times. Fluffhead @ Hampton same thing.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Ocelot, heavy things has improved, haven’t heard this version yet but prior 09 ones have been better than before

    @f0ol – I deleted everything from June except my Best Of mixes as soon as RR started (I have backups obv)

  18. msbjivein Says:

    “To Much of Anything ain’t good for nobody, Better believe IT baby!”

  19. Mr. V Says:


    Well said.

    I had to smile when you mentioned about a teacher of yours not allowing you to review books with “it was boring or stupid”. I teach 5th grade and I tell my class that all the time. You don’t have like the story/book you just read, but you have to tell me why you don’t like it. We all aren’t going to like every story/book we read in class, that is normal, but if you turn in a book review assignment with “it was boring” be prepared for a low grade.

    Rats – I just remembered that I have to go back to work next week. Le Sigh

  20. Ocelot42 Says:

    To me there is a holy trinity of crowd reactions that I wish I could have attended: the Nassau Destiny Unbound, the Hampton Fluffhead and the Terrapin Station. The recordings of those give me goosebumps every time.

  21. bkisida Says:

    Hmm. I’m at 2001 now. So far so good, actually. BDTNL and Carini were awesome. Jiboo was allright, Theme was ok, but Wilson really raged, you could hear them having a lot of fun with it. And lots of spacy effects last night, really using those pedals. I’m starting to think this show wasn’t so bad after all. I’d take it over the only show I saw in June (Fox).

  22. guyforget Says:

    i’m with you C. it’s always different when there. The Fox show was fun as hell in that small venue, but i can still admit that it wasn’t a very good show.
    But, i don’t understand how people’s feeling are hurt by being at a “not so good” show (phish doesn’t play bad shows). It’s not like they were playing the music.

    I hope i get home tongight, DL the show, and get my tits rocked off. It’s all about the individual.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    @SJC I’ve never been there for one of those Phish moments but I was at the Warlocks Dark Star/Help>Slip/etc breakouts, and Loose Lucy in spring 90 and a few others…it’s a crazy feeling for sure

    the Warlocks shows we knew we’d be getting heavy stuff, most of that was rumored beforehand, but not Attics – that was really out of nowhere – as was Lucy the next spring

    never forget those moments

  24. SJC Says:

    Terrapin!! How quickly we (OK I) forget……hittin that up now.

  25. sumodie Says:

    Darien DUI checkpoints seem to be a serious thing this year.

    Over at PT there’s been a lot of talk about it, including a link to the local online paper that listed the roadblocks (cant’ find it again) and the weekly round up of concerts arrests -even Kid Rock’s bus driver got nailed.

    Here’s a list of roadblocks I found at PT:

    “On Route 20 heading into Alden
    At Route 77 and 20a heading towards East Aurora
    At the Clarence Toll Barrier
    On the 33 (not exactly sure where)
    there is also going to be a check point entering the State Park for campers”

    Safe travels everyone.

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