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. butter Says:

    @Wilson – wow my sentiments exactly *good stuff*

  2. jdub Says:

    To add to what you’ve said Wilson about post-modernism and the scientific revolution that preceded it …

    Interesting how LSD and pyschedelics made a global appearance at a time when modern civilization that science was the end all and holy grail. Like Mr. C said … Bullshit check

    Sometimes it literally blows my mind thinking how small we are yet how powerful each individual is

  3. Hunter Says:

    Lycanthropist said:

    “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.”

    Amen to that. This was only my 2nd ever Phish show, and while it certainly wasn’t my ideal type of show/setlist, it may very well have been someone else’s. Either way, I had a hell of a good time. It was my roommate’s first show and he was blown away. More than anything, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to continue seeing the band live, and it’s not like they played Mexican Cousin and Secret Smile last night.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    if rationality is beyond tribal and religious superstition, and postmodern multicontextual logic is more powerful than simple rationality….then what?


  5. voopa Says:

    Bullshit check, indeed! Great reading tonight!


  6. Wilson Says:

    Well, if I get what you are saying jdub, you’re suggesting that science wasn’t where the search for true reality ends, right? I think that’s absolutely right. The whole exercise of stripping things down can go very far. Science is simply a creation. We can use science to measure reality, but it isn’t science itself isn’t reality. Take time–minutes aren’t time, minutes measure time. Time is something else. THis gets us essentially to language. Some would argue (Wittgenstein gets credit for this I think) that we exist in a world where even the language we use-the tool we use to categorize feelings and experiences and define everything we know–langauge itself–makes reality what it is. Without a word to describe something it effectively doesn’t exist. Words are the Matrix! I don’t know, wild shit, right? heh.

  7. Wilson Says:

    Mr. Completely–I don’t think anyone has ever answered the “then what?” question. Or maybe the answer is 42, take your pick ; )

  8. Dan Says:

    Wow, wilson that was some heavy shit, man, but I could not agree more. Language is at the center of everyone’s subjective interpretations of the world.

  9. Nissl Says:

    Listened to a bit of Chicago, BDTNL>Carini is very good. They have really stepped it up this leg. Back to Gorge listening for me now though, I’m still working on digesting it.

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Wilson and others I would love to continue this discussion sometime soon in such a way that following up this stuff fully would not bore and annoy everyone else, as we are roaming rather far afield now

    but we’re getting to the really interesting stuff now

    re: then what – there’s a lot in between postmodern network logic and “42” 😮

    but interested in what anyone thinks about it, I certainly don’t know

  11. Kevin Says:

    I understand the points about the show. My thought when looking at the setlist last night was WTF are they doing? It looked so disjointed.

    But I have to say, after giving it a listen, it sounds like a really fun show. Odd song placements aside, I think they just felt like rocking hard. And it’s pretty fun.

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    As far as drugs and all of that go – I honestly don’t know. I have friends who smoke pot and do shrooms and all of that – and I have been offered several times – I just don’t feel like it for the most part. Although, it seems like I am always hinting that I would like to try it (not LSD, mostly pot is what is offered a lot of the time) I never go through with it when the opportunity comes up. I’m not sure if it is just a curiousity thing and I end up being too pussy to try it because I can’t handle it or what….I am thinking I might as well just try it and get it over with, figure out what the fuck everybody is raving about.

    I totally understand what you mean Completely. I will probably wait until atleast like senior year to try drugs (that is, IF i want to. I have no fucking clue why I think drugs has to be a part of everybody’s life) I’d want to get good grades like I have been before I try stuff like that.

    But LSD is really THAT good? Holy shit, if it is like you guys are saying, it sounds like a religious experience. – Of course, it is different to each person and i’m sure it is subjective and based on what mood the person is in and all of that anyways. I am sure I would be nervous and end up falling into a never-ending mirror for 72 hours.

    Psychedelics and all of that in general interest me – I like the idea of having an out of body experience – “looking into yourself” and all of that. It sounds incredible. I think it is insane that you can smoke a blunt or eat blotter or whatever and be in a entire different state of consciousness. You are out of your head and into a different place, you could be looking into yourself. It is just incredible. (This is a lot more common I am guessing with LSD than pot)

    Of course, I know there are other ways to reach that with meditation and yoga and all of that, and that is something I would like to look into as well. The mind and inner-consciousness in general just intrigues me.

    PLEASE REMEMBER FOLKS: I have 0 experience with any of this shit, I am probably sounding like a dumbass right now.

    I just wrote all of this assuming you people are still on the topic of drugs/psychedelics. I have been typing this off and on for like 45 minutes….If not, then I’m fucked then aren’t I?

    So, moving on:

    I still have not heard the Chicago boots, but I just want to say something about what Lycan and I believe a few others were saying about one opinion vs. another as far as reviews:

    You are absolutely right; people get offended at another saying “THAT SHOW SUCKED” because in a way, it breaks their experience and perspective of how the show went FOR THEM. If another person keeps saying the show sucks, soon enough the person might start to lose value on his/her opinion, and start questioning whether or not the show was really as good as she thought.

    Experiences are different for everybody, and sometimes the experience makes the show better for that person, even if the music wasn’t as strong. If you had a fun night with friends at the concert you are going to remember it as a better night compared to the guy who got beer dumped on him the whole night and didn’t get his 30minute sand or whatever. It is all about 1 perspective vs. another. Sometimes the experience can go farther than just how the music was performed, which is why some people get offended when another criticizes the show they were at.

    This 4-night run coming up is going to be hot folks. It is a shame that they have been so great this second run and it is all coming to an end very soon. The transition from how Phish as played from the first leg to now is almost like you are listening to a new band. They are so much tighter, and the jams are getting looser and looser and they are really listening to each other. (Listen to the interplay on some of Gorge II Gin.)

    I am hoping they will come back with a fall tour before Festival 8, but who knows. The good thing is that we still have 4 nights ahead of us which will surely bring some big jams, some controversial moments, and a few bustouts taboot.

    Have a great time and remember: Whatever you do, take care of your shoes!

  13. Nissl Says:

    As far as the psychedelics discussion, good stuff all around here. At the risk of getting a bit pedantic, I don’t have the impression that there’s anything “out there” that acid acts on, rather it acts on all the crap that has been internalized. Erase some of that stuff and you see reality more as it is than you do usually for a short period. I would actually attribute most of the sensory boosting to this effect. You get less distracted by the junk and have the time to notice how amazing reality really is. I was definitely surprised the first time I did it though… I had subconsciously expected to go “elsewhere” and you don’t unless perhaps you take a gigantic dose. You’re still right here in reality. There is no other shore.

    At the same time, given its probable action as a mixed agonist/antagonist of certain serotonin receptor subtypes (e actually stimulates serotonin release btw) and its historical status as being discovered within the last century, acid is not something that the brain is perfectly built to interface with. I mean visuals are sign that it is doing something unusual to the visual system for starters, the fact that you won’t be able to sleep…. You temporarily erase boundaries that come back, but some personality structure as well. I mean, the two are not cleanly and easily separated unfortunately, especially in someone who has little or no history of introspective practice or psychedelic use. A segment of the population is flat out going to have problems because of this.

    On a related tangent, a good fraction of the messages, insights, etc. that you have during those early trips that seemed so deeply profound at the time wind up discarded afterwards. You simultaneously up the brain noise (until you gain enough experience to control it) and remove some of your habitual, subconscious barriers and minor things develop an air of increased authority or truth.

    As far as insight into personalities and politicians lying… I feel like even a bit of weed can have that effect; boy would this be a better democracy if everyone committed to getting high and watching a couple hours of in-depth political interviews (e.g. Charlie Rose, not the cable news scream machine). I know I saw some fascinating stuff after a couple hours high with Google Video one slow evening back in late ’06. Made an intense candidate commitment very quickly after that.

    In the long run a key component of healthy personal development is very much turning that kind lens on yourself, gradually reducing your own barriers and bullshit by looking at them. My personal experience with substance ingestion is that it can produce results equivalent to committed sober awareness meditation or psychotherapy, but can be trickier to use and tougher on the system for certain. Certainly difficult to use with anywhere close to the same frequency that you can sit and meditate. I found weed to be a much gentler tool that can be much more easily integrated and used far more often than serious psychedelics.

    Ok, sorry if a couple of those comments are a little repetitive. Just what’s coming to me looking over the last couple pages.

  14. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    I had a similar discussion, though on a much less profound scale, with my brother last week. I concluded that the biggest problem facing America was the lack of language skills. People have such limited vocabularies that they are hyper-limited in the way that they experience the world. This results in all sorts of problems today. I was talking to a girl at a bar today and I used the word Dionysian and she asked me what that meant. I was stunned, and casually explained the origins of the term and kind of downplayed it as just drunken revealry. To me though, Dionysian, or Bachanalian, are words that are deeply imbued with meaning. As you guys know if you have read many of my posts, I believe deeply in the power of collective ecstasy, which is what I think of when I say Dionysian. To tie into the great discussion of psychedelics, I think the key to a great and inciteful trip, lies not in yourself, but in everyone around you. I don’t mean in the way that others were complaining about earlier today, it doesn’t matter if the guy next to me is a drunk frat-boy (then again, I was in a fraternity 20 years ago, and I still drink beer, even cheap beer). I mean in the way that if enough people, some kind of critical mass, are on the same wave-length, musically, psychically, whatever, something special happens. It doesn’t happen all the time, and its not always because the music is superb, but when it happens, everybody knows it. The collective subconscious that shows it face at these precious moments, well, thats what I am looking for. And without a language that can describe that kind of occurence, without the context to place an experience in, it must lose some of its profundity.

  15. Nissl Says:


    Yes, definitely not a good idea to try it until the end of high school, and as I’ve been indicated I’m ambivalent about encouraging people to take psychedelics at all because there are legitimate issues. I feel pretty good about encouraging everyone to try marijuana at an appropriate age though. In this modern society most people would benefit from having the tree shaken at least a little.

    Don’t expect OOBE type deals. You might read up on the hundreds of trip reports at erowid to see the varieties of experience. Everything from humdrum afternoons to beautiful experiences to schizophrenic meltdowns. I got obsessed, read every report on the site, wound up working in neuroscience. It’s pretty known in the neuro field that a good number of us came in that way even if we don’t work in directly related areas anymore. Honestly after all that reading the only things I was surprised by during my first trip were how chemically and unnaturally stimulated I felt and the extent to which I was still just in reality.

    Really I think anti-drug education should just make kids read something like erowid. I sure as hell never had the smallest glimmer of interest in things like meth or heroin after reading enough reports.

  16. BrandonKayda Says:

    Thank you for that advice, Nissi. It is very much appreciated.

    I don’t want anything to do with hard drugs by the way, heroin, meth, coke, nah. My cousin is on heroin, the shit is fucked.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    ^^^ see mediafire link for treat

    @gp420 – are you familiar with the idea of emergent phenomena? real effects that only exist at certain scales, though various forms of mass action? it’s an interesting recent scientific field and (I suspect, unscientifically) related to what you’re talking about.

    i think what you and what Nissl are saying are both true each in its context and one question is, how are they related?

    …see I knew that markup shit would come in handy, I’m all up in those italics, yo

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Brandon – never do anything because other people are doing it. I love people, but a lot of them are idiots, even the good ones. Do what you think is right for you.

    Sounds like you’re asking the right questions, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    and sorry to hear about your cousin. that sucks but don’t give up too easy.

    i once heard that wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others, i don’t know if its true though

  20. Wax Banks Says:

    Among the (fascinating, intelligent, well-mannered, surprising, easygoing) talk of RAD DRUGZ (which I’d like to participate in but don’t have the time at moment), some lone soul sez:

    Anyone take a listen to IT recently? There’s a LOT of really REALLY good playing during it. It’s probably one of my favorite collections of recordings. I haven’t listened to Clifford Ball because I don’t have it, and I haven’t really listened to The Great Went because I kind of don’t have the attention span these days… But IT really rocks. Solid stuff.

    I got back from IT and bought the FLACs immediately, trying to figure out what the hell had just happened. It’s an unbelievable few hours of music. I liquidated most of my summer 2003 mp3’s, but I’ve got all of IT ready to go when I need it. Amid all this talk of ‘peak experiences’ and enhanced perception of continuity and connection, it makes sense to mention IT – 8/2 III and 8/2 II-III are definitely continuous musical experiences, flowing and involuted.

    The IT ’46 Days’ is in a sense the ‘purest’ music Phish made all year – with nothing left to prove at the end of an intense summer, they simply played and played, through fixation and almost-embarrassing dullness, ’til they reached a point of peaceful concentration. I know this is just personal narrative and whatnot rather than objective evaluation, but I feel like the whole weekend builds from the soundcheck through ‘Ghost’ and the Tower Jam to the ’46 Days’ and out through that final fireworks-coda in a single great curve of music.

    The word ‘psychedelia’ is overused in talking about Phish’s music, but there was something going on at IT. I sense the same thing happening at Big Cypress, though I don’t have the same affection for that music. The playing at IT manages to be intimate in spite of the size of the crowd; I imagine the festival’s remoteness has something to do with that, as does the possibility of not playing again for four months…

    Anyhow, yeah it’s a great run of sets. There are better individual pieces from 2003-04, but I’d probably recommend IT before any other post-hiatus show.

  21. BrandonKayda Says:

    Thanks Completely, I really appreciate it.

  22. Max Cascone Says:

    My 101st show was one of the best ever. Bounced from work early, perfect weather, perfect timing meeting Josh and Jill on the CTA, sold my extra for face value before even entering the lot, lots of time and lots of cheap beers in the lot, great friends, great seats, zero security and no seat hassles whatsoever, dialed-in sound, and the best live band ever firing on all cylinders – Trey playing like he had something to prove to me specifically, Page’s perfect piano playing, Mike dropping absolutely disgusting bass bombs all over the place, and Fishman blowing my mind with every drum fill – old and new songs alike taking on entirely new significance and shape == one of the best concert experiences, let alone Phish experiences, of all time.

  23. sarah Says:

    This show was pure bliss for me and my love. We delighted in every song and hung on every note. There is nothing like being in the moment at a Phish show!

    That said, my bf had mentioned hearing a ‘subliminal voice’ during Wilson… when I read the comment on here a/b the demon, that reminded me to check it out… and sure enough, at 3:55, there is definitely something up. It sounds kind of like “I have the ultimate power”? I can only think it’s some strange prank, or Wilson himself, or a combination of the two. Anyone else hear this?

  24. Nimoy's Bed Says:

    43’rd show I’ve been to beginning with Murat Temple 93′. I’ve followed this blog and I like Mr. Miner’s rich language and passion for the music. I’d have to disagree that this show was “mixed up”. One of the reasons I love phish is that they destroy expectations. If I say something seems disjointed or lacked flow, that says more about my need for familiarity than an open ness to the unepected. I don’t know about you, but when they dropped Wilson, I was jarred, slapped, and hugged all at the same time. Phish has always provided an experience on the wildest extemes of the emotional continuum. I respect Mr. Miner for not jumping on the bandwagon with other bloggers who destroy Time Turns Elastic (TTE). Again, this song violates my expectations, and this, to me is its greatest quality. TTE produces the effects the name signifies and preserves their timeless progressive rock legacy. I digress, the venue was awsome, Fat Tire Microbrew at the concession? doesn’t get better than that. I was flying high at the Midway

  25. Mags Says:

    I thought this show was great. I got a lot of songs Ive been searching for. I thought Friday night was great from RR but seriously there were RR shows that werent as good as CHI. You cant compare a 4 night run to 1 night. The Gorge is just in a league of its own I guess. #Line set 2 opener was serious and Carini>Jibboo was nasty!!

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