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. whole tour! Says:

    seems like the band is saving the explosives for the last 4 blowout shows this weekend. You gotta have slight valleys before you hit the peaks again. There is nothing wrong with last night’s show that i can detect besides a few monents during jams that trey seemed to just lose track of where he was. I’ll have to relisten to it again, but on my first listen these moments stood out to me as some of the low points of all of 2009. Then on the other hand, when they were on last night it sounded really good. Rocking hard.

    Saw some you tube footage of the show lasy night and that stadium is pretty big looking.

  2. SJC Says:

    @all – any DATES on the big Dead bustouts? I’d love to hit some up. Love me some dead, but not a huge dead audiofile.

    @msb – The Fenway Curtis was SICK! I couldn’t belive they were playing it considering the 1st set Destiny (which at the time I thought was a bustout in its own right-now a semi-regular I guess).

  3. msbjivein Says:

    The view was good. I thought the stage looked like a control tower w/ big antennas on top of it. Then there was this big water tower behind the stage that seemed to be walking towards the venue through out the show. WEIRD huh. The sound was a lot better than Phenway. A LOT BETTER!

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    ^^^ still can’t believe I missed UBC, and Visions of Johanna taboot

  5. bigjig Says:

    As far as the crowd goes, I think we can all chill a little on the frat boys, glow sticks, and how annoying the people next to you were. For a lot of these folks this was the first time they have ever been turned on to these types of things, or turned on in general and they were having a good time the only way they knew how.

  6. msbjivein Says:

    Thanks Mr C, But I’m only listening to Phish at the moment after tour hit me up and I would love to get a copy.

  7. whole tour! Says:

    @completely… i saw Visions and unbroken chain at my one and only GD show i saw. Tampa 95. it was a good show.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    @SJC – 10/8/89 and 10/9/89 were bustout city, esp 2nd night

    3/14/90 is the Loose Lucy, you can really hear the crowd flip out on that one

    but I’m such a dead nerd, the favorite bustout I ever saw was when Phil dropped his first bass-bomb intro to The Other One in multiple years at the Greek in 89 – something I had dreamed of hearing live and he did it twice!

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    @big, well said

    @msb, me too, straight phish for now, dead later

  10. albert walker Says:

    spring 95 Salt Lake
    Jerry busts into 1st Alabama since 89
    band looked as surprised as the rest of us in the audience
    Jerry was wearing the red shirt 1st night spring tour
    forgot it wasn’t in rotation anymore, JK

    also brought back Visions that run, 1st since late 80’s I believe
    I was at the Unbroken show also in 95
    95 was rough but that’s were all my GD bustouts took place

  11. Jay Says:

    jesus, this BDTNL is slaying me!!

  12. SJC Says:

    @Ocelot – Just finished the Terrapin. Disbelief grips the crowd at first (similar to the Dark Side set) then the collective explosion. Otherworldly stuff. Just made my day.

  13. msbjivein Says:

    Happy Happy all my friends!!!!!!

  14. albert walker Says:

    favorite Phish bust out

    Light Up or Leave Me Alone- Cypress
    I think it had not been played since the late 80’s
    what a great cover

  15. SJC Says:

    @mrc – will check those out. Thanks.

  16. msbjivein Says:

    Albert, YES after a 14hr traffic jam no better opener than a Traffic tune!!!
    Page kills that tune. I would love to hear that again soon!

  17. stash Says:

    hey albert,

    that is a great bust out. i love that version. that whole first set is just great. what a ghost!

  18. Little Buddy Says:

    SJC –

    Man, that Terrapin still gives me chills. That was a horrible day out in the parking lot. The cops were just brutal and mini riots were breaking out. I got pepper sprayed by a copy passing by on his horse and I still have no idea why. It was a really great show, but when I heard that Terrapin it was all came together. I couldn’t move. I think I just looked up at the sky and cried.

  19. stash Says:

    it seems like the band likes that they have a few tunes like ocelot and sample that are just good tunes, have a nice solo and aren’t supposed to be mind blowing – just good.

  20. Pence Says:

    Can someone post a tracked out recording of Toyo? Please

  21. maWilson Says:

    hmm whats with the glostick hate? I love glostick wars.

  22. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ pence


  23. Ocelot42 Says:

    @SJC – Now you made *me* go back and listen to that Terrapin. Damn. Just… damn.

  24. Jay Says:

    @stash – “have a nice solo and aren’t supposed to be mind blowing – just good”

    Thing is, many of these have completely blown me away recently when the boys are feeling it. Like Sample and Character. Any song at any time has the potential to do this. Heavy Things last night is another example (from the tape). All bets are off.

  25. SJC Says:

    @LB – glad to hear they helped you bring it home. PEPPER SPRAY?!! Awful.

    That was a great SHOW. The whole second set was insanely good. Best Antelope of ’98? Coin flip with Nassau’s.

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