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

*debut

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551 Responses to “Mixed Up in the Midway”

  1. msbjivein Says:

    I would definately go back to TOY Park to see Phish. I heard a lot of bad things about the venue before hand. Mainly the sound wasn’t good. I thought it was all good. Good Beer , Good Lot Scene, Good Sound, No Bathroom lines, Good eye candy (W/ antennas on top of stage and the walking water tower) Good Show(Not Great but Good)

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    I know a lot of ppl who were already having life altering experiences at that show before the Terrapin even dropped, that was when the Czech liquid was first around and people were taking puddles of it & having 72 hour trips

    then the terrapin

    it was meaningful for me even though I wasn’t there for obvious reasons: I really appreciated the band bringing that out into the open, made it much easier for me to fall into being a really serious phish fan

  3. Marshall Says:

    I just queued up the Hampton Fluffhead AUD recording while watching the YouTube video to bring back memories of the greatest crowd reaction I’ve ever been a part of. The 13,500 collective voices shouting “Oh yeah!” following “powerful pills,” with Kuroda’s strobes – a Phish high moment for me.

  4. stash Says:

    hey jay,

    i hear ya. any song at this point can deliver. and that’s a great thing. i was just saying that a song doesn’t have to melt you face to be good – but it’s nice to pick up your tongue of the floor, too.

  5. msbjivein Says:

    Been fun guys! Til next time

  6. msbjivein Says:

    Take care of your shoes…………..

  7. stash Says:

    later mbj

  8. Lycanthropist Says:

    later mbj

  9. Chuck D Says:

    Fluff at Hampton this year was magic. I think the place would have continued to erupt if not for the NEED to hear it played well. So much anticipation on how serious the boys were taking this “reunion”, and about 5 minutes in we realized this is aint no party, this aint no disco, this aint no fooling around… this is IT.

  10. Kenny Powers Says:

    A bustout I saw live and loved that doesn’t seem to get much props was On Your Way Down at Camden ’03. I was on the lawn and no one was really going nuts when they busted that out but I was on cloud nine. Great Page vocals on that one.

    Actually that set was brimming with rarities: Lonesome Cowboy Bill, Spock’s Brain, You Ain’t Goin Nowhere…actually, I recall at the time thinking “man, what a disjointed, random set”, but I grew to love listening to that set. Insane Chalkdust, veering into type II for a couple minutes.

  11. stash Says:

    that was perfect opener for those shows.

  12. SOAM Says:

    Don’t forget All too much-By Vinny

    Here comes Sunshine-93

    The race is on -msg 93 (3 yr hiatus)

    I fought the Schwag-93

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    hey @lycan I just caught up on the last page of last night – I am in 100% phish only mode until end of tour, then I will click on your myspace again – I did so briefly and heard just enough to confirm that I should come back and listen when I have time. So next week sometime, brother

    @nancy if you’re still reading – that sounds like a great plan. We couldn’t afford to do all that (extra RV, tickets etc) even if we had someone who would come do it that we’d trust…none of our family would be into it, and the main friends that might consider it now have a new baby and aren’t going. It’s cool you were able to work that out though!

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    SOAM, I saw that Here Comes Sunshine bustout at the Rosemont in 1993! Also loved the first “I Fought the Law” at the Cleveland show after the one cancelled due to a lot of cold rain and snow…

    My buddy and I did a mini-tour on spring break from college that year and we ended up getting 8th row floor seats for the Cleveland shows. Amazing time down front to hear that first IFTL

  15. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ Mr. C –

    thanks, as I said no sweat. I understand what its like to have random bands trying to get their shit across, and I have reserved from doing such things for about 8 years. Maybe, I should have been more proactive in the process of getting the music exposed, but I wanted it to happen organically. But eight years is a long time, and I have come to realize that we are not going to be exposed from our current location. First thoughts come to moving, but two of us (myself being one) have children that don’t live with us, so our visitation is major to us. So I have to move to shameless self promotion and I hate it.

    I will say that we are truly just about the music and have stayed true to our art despite the constant pressure of the local music scene to move towards a more Indie oriented sound. We have lived long with the unfortunate stigmas that surround jambands and I felt like Phish fans (most of em anyway) have ears that I want to play to.

    If you are truly interested I will hook you up with direct links to full shows for you to check out after tour. Myspace is ok, but unfortunately it forces you to present yourself out of context.

    thanks again, and I love your posts and I can’t wait for your analysis (good or bad) of my music.

  16. voopa Says:

    I read once that the I Fought the Law and LSD bustouts were in response to congress repealing the carrier weight law. Anyone know about this?

  17. Lycanthropist Says:

    listening to last nights show and I can’t really see what all the fuss is about. To me it sounds pretty solid. The Backwards > Carini sounds like happy souls getting possessed by demons only to be exercised back out with the Jiboo. The first set may be a little meh, but its solid playing all around.

    I really dig Windy City too.. very Little Feat or Steely Dan with grit.

  18. Bapslap Says:

    A bit off topic, but actually not….

    I read a few reviews of last night’s show and was debating whether or not to download it. The views were pretty harsh and painted the show as a crapfest. I downloaded the show to make up my own mind, and I’m glad that I did. While this is not a contender for best of ’09, I though it was pretty solid and flowed better than I had expected. Gumbo was hot, as was Curtain, BDT#L>Carini>Jiboo, and a stompin’ 2001!!

    I’ll be in Hartford in two days!!! Can’t wait!!

  19. Bapslap Says:

    Right on Lycan!

  20. SOAM Says:

    See you this weekend-

    Big Twist comin our way

    whoo!!!!

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    @voopa I know an acquaintance of mine got 40 to life based on carrier weight a year before that and he’s still inside – had a couple minor priors – don’t know about the breakouts though

    sorry for the debbie downer post

    @Lycan – no worries – I worked doing event production and promotion for several years and enjoy hearing new bands. The pull between family and band is a tough one for sure, at some point you have to go for it or let it go. We’ll talk next week.

  22. Lycanthropist Says:

    I mean, The Gorge and Red Rocks have their own magic of course. Keep in mind that for those shows people were sleeping over with Phish rather than a coffee date so to say. Obviously there is going to be more fireworks at a slumber party.

    But Chicago is a stadium, huge at that, and they played a rock and roll show. Just as good as any first leg show, except for the obvious highlights.

    I think it goes to show how HUGE a role preconceived expectations can play in your experience. If you go in wanting a 30 min ghost you are going to miss out on the 16 min #line cause you didn’t get what YOU want. To me that seems such a shame. You pay for your ticket and leave the rest up to the band.

    I’m not saying this is stellar show, but it certainly is not a bad show. And I kinda like the odd setlist. I like to have things broken up some, and it just provides all sorts of room for the Final Four.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    I know a few people – just a few – who were let down by the Gorge ’cause no Ghost – Sand – etc

    I wanted those songs too, but come on

  24. Lycanthropist Says:

    and Jiboo has taken on a new life this year. Loving it. Keeping it Jiboo but making it fresh and interesting. I remember on my first listen of the version from Mansfield and being like whoa, when did Jiboo get so rocking?

    Its just gotten better and better all tour.

    on a side note –

    WHERES MY SAND?

    haha

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    It has taken a long time for me to grow to appreciate Jibboo. I was jaded by hearing a cover band (Manatee, I think?) play it at the old, old Quixote’s True Blue (the one on East Colfax) in Denver in like 2000 or so.

    Hearing bands cover phish tunes is always dodgy anyway, and they just ruined that song for me. But starting with seeing the one at Great Woods I have been happy with the 3.0 versions.

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