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. guyforget Says:

    Come on Baby let’s Downtown was a sweet bustout at Irvine 00.

  2. SOAM Says:

    We have campgrounds still available if you wish to book a campsite and set up a tent or rent an RV. We do not allow overnight parking in the concert lot.

    Darien Lake response to my camping on site question.

  3. msbjivein Says:

    Mr C, I have That Warlocks Tape. The freaking crowd goes absolutely CRAZY when they bustout Darkstar!! Love IT! Hampton was not rocking that hard for Fluffhead! It was loud but noway it was as LOUD as The Darkstar bustout. Not even close.

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @completely i got a free ipod when i bought my mac (buy a mac for college get an ipod) so i had room for all the 2009 shows, but now it’s full so i have to delete first leg shows to make room for new shows/other music (i now use 2 ipods; 160 gig, and 120 gig and could use a third lol)

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ guy

    its not about people’s feelings getting hurt by being at a not good show, its about how some one can be overly harsh with their criticisms. Making wildly presumptuous statements of “fact” about an opinion suggests that any other opinion is wrong or sometimes impossible.

    you made an analogy to sports. In sports there is more concrete evidence when a team has a bad night. There is a score, or more direct win or lose objective. with music it is so much more objective and opaque. Even within my bands, we will leave the stage and some of us will be like MAN THAT WAS FANTASTIC and the others will be like, “Really, I didn’t think so as much”

    Difference of opinion is great. It is what fuels provocative discussion. But when you voice an opinion you MUST leave room for other opinions to exists.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    @guy I think it’s more that (if you’re not careful how you go about it) it can seem like criticism of the person and their perceptions – even if yo udon’t say it there can be an implication of “…and anyone who actually thought this was great is a custy n00b.” that implication doesn’t have to be actually coming from you in any real way to still be there. So it’s about being careful how you say it. But at the same time it’s no one’s job to be language police.

    as you say it’s all about the individual – I have been at shows I thought were #$%ing awesome and I pimped them to people for *years* and later discovered on tape that they were mediocre or lame. And while I have yet to see a really shitty phish show, I have seen several I thought only had moments of greatness and were overall merely good, and that’s just how it is sometimes

    you buys yer ticket, you takes the ride

  7. msbjivein Says:

    CURTIS LOWE was a Killer bustout! Remember that one.

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    the ’78 dark star bustout was loud. and the first show after jerry’s coma ’87 was loud for “the candyman’s back in town”

  9. Spike2518 Says:

    A bad phish show is alot better then work see u n indo I love phish

  10. HarryHood Says:


    You going to Darien or SPAC?

  11. guyforget Says:

    right on brother…

  12. SOAM Says:

    Mr C-The warlocks were in 89 and the Lucy-Ithink you are refering to is form Philly 95-i think

  13. SOAM Says:

    I’m sorry that was unbroken chain-Lucy was at Cap CTR 93

  14. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ mr. c –
    great minds think alike i see ha ha

  15. msbjivein Says:

    HOOD, No MPP is my last show this summer. BUMMED.

  16. guyforget Says:

    Lycan – good rubuttal on the sports analogy.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    @msb the matrix of that Warlocks dark star is one of my most treasured possessions. As Dark Stars go it’s not the best even from that tour, but it’s not bad either, and to be there…heh

    Amazing that and the Fluff happened in the same building! what a place!

  18. msbjivein Says:

    Thanks again for the Tix Hood. We had great time last night!

  19. sumodie Says:

    RE: Glowsticks

    I saw Wilco at Wappinger’s Falls NY last month (awesome show, btw) and at one point singer Jeff Tweedy dared the audience to hit him with the glowsticks that were being tossed around. Surprisingly, no one could.

    Apparently Tweedy doesn’t normally have too many glowsticks thrown around at Wilco shows. Or else he’s very ballsy 🙂

  20. bigjig Says:

    @Mr. Miner sorry you thought I was talking to you yesterday in reference to haters. Just stating that no single person can speak for all phans (in reference to ^ dave lincolns post) Keep doin what you do. This is by far the best forum ever!!

  21. HarryHood Says:

    No problem bro, how was the view? I’ve also got two SPAC’s if you want them…..

  22. msbjivein Says:

    On my Warlock tape I can barely hear the Darkstar it’s so loud. I’ve never heard any other recording of that. HAMPTON=LEGENDARY VENUE

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    @SOAM I mean Loose Lucy, Cap Ctr 3/14/90, not the Beatles tune…Black Throated Wind a cpl shows later with Phils birthday in between

    @msb if you can’t find the matrix I’ll rip it for you if you like, it’s very well done – the crowd is there but you can hear the song better than you could at the time

  24. Danny B Says:

    Good looking out Sumodie- I was reading that thread too.

    Apparently your best bet is to park in the amusement park lot, and then take 77 up to 90, to avoid the checkpoints.

    Be safe people!!!!!!

    I’m at a motel 12 miles from the venue, and I am planning on going out of my way to get back on route 90 just to avoid the mess with the checkpoints, probably won’t even be drinking, but just want to be safe.

  25. wvbrdr Says:

    Talkin bustouts, what about Unbroken Chain? My wife was at that one, said the place went absolutely nuts. She could hardly hear the song.

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