With so much new Phish to listen to these days, one of the most engaging and protean jams of the tour hasn’t gotten its proper credit. Buried in a lackluster second set at Merriweather Post Pavilion, the band played one of their finest pieces of music since their return. After listening to “46 Days” a few times over, it is certainly one of the most diverse, far-reaching Phish jams of the summer. From heavy groove to ambient psychedelia, this jam brought us deep into the primordial soup before delivering us to heights uncharted.
After a high-energy and exciting first set, comprised almost exclusively of bustouts, everyone was ready for the band to bring the heat in the second. And when they opened with “Tweezer,” it seemed like Merriweather was about to explode. But instead, Phish played one of the most uneventful renditions in memory, on the way to a particularly slow beginning of the set. Segueing quickly into “Taste,” we soon found ourselves listening to an “interlude” of “Alaska” and “Let Me Lie,” but nothing spectacular had happened to necessitate one. Thus when Phish started up “46 Days” it could have gone either way. Phish could have just as easily played a eight-minute rendition of the song, continuing the pattern of the night, or they could have gone huge on the song- something they’ve done more than a couple times in the past. Needless to say, they chose the latter.
After a quick pass through the composition, Phish got right into the thick of things. Springing off a bass-driven platform, the band entered some slowed down molasses-funk, and immediately we knew we were in for a ride. Before long, we found ourselves knee-deep in a murky swamp of the mind, trudging through layered musical sludge that became slower and spacier with each step we took. Bombarded with sonic textures, likening an alien encounter, Trey threw us a rope to hold onto via slower sustained melodies stemming from the dark side. Mike led the band into menacing grooves, killing it with a unique backdrop that only he can provide. Offering a faster idea, Trey hopped aboard the bass line, and soon infused the jam with its first taste of happiness.
The band settled into a soundscape with Trey delicately atop, and soon built the piece into awesome whole-band ambient sculpture. As the music reached its most abstract point, Trey added a faster rhythm pattern that, at first, seemed out of place. But as the band built around his offering, the music became divine. And as Trey started to solo in this vein, Fish kicked a dance beat and the band was off into some of the most organic, and spectacular improv of the summer. Completely switching gears from its dark beginning, the subsequent music is pure Phish majesty.
As the band continued into a tight, rhythmic pattern, Phish was in complete destruction mode, flowing as their heart desired. Disconnected from any song structure, they played as if no one were there, and it was perfect. Trey painted the blissful music with surreal melodic themes that Page complimented masterfully on piano. Reaching a higher plane, the band collectively blossomed in a splendid segment of pure and utter hose. Trey’s lines transformed into mind-bending waterfalls in one of those you moments you couldn’t believe, even though it was happening right in front of you.
Following the jam’s soaring peak with an artistic denouement and a slip into “Oh! Sweet Nuthin,” Phish gave everyone a moment to breathe after their signature excursion. The ballad was played with an emotional purpose, punctuating the exalting music that had just gone down. Though it was the only taste of exploration all night long, “46 Days” gave Merriweather’s second set some street cred with one of the greatest- and most overlooked- jams of the tour.
Jam of the Day:
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
8.5.09 Shoreline, Mountain View CA < Torrent
8.5.09 Shoreline, Mountain View CA < Megaupload
This mid-week stop in the Bay Area carried provided more than a few highlights, though has lived in the shadows of Red Rocks and The Gorge. This show offers one the most exploratory “Diseases” of the year, a fine second set run of “Cities > Maze, Mike’s,” a hot first-set “Bowie,” and the return of Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin.” Check it out.
I: Golgi Apparatus, Halley’s Comet, Chalk Dust Torture, The Divided Sky, When the Circus Comes, Time Turns Elastic, Ya Mar, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Suzy Greenberg, David Bowie
II: Backwards Down the Number Line, Down With Disease > Limb By Limb, Oh Sweet Nuthin’, Cities > Maze, Mike’s Song > Simple, Weekapaug Groove
E: Let Me Lie, Bold As Love
Source: Schoeps mk41> KCY> Schoeps VMS02IB> Apogee Mini-Me> SD 722 (@24bit/96kHz)
Merriweather Post Pavilion 8.15.09 (Photo – Kenny Pusey)