Feeling the Finger Lakes

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 30th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

CMAC Official Poster (Welker)

Reeling in their wide-open exploration of the past few shows, Phish sculpted two sets with distinctly different vibes, delivering a powerhouse performance in the serene surroundings of Canandaigua, New York on Tuesday night. With a laid back first set that matched the feeling of the cool, upstate evening, and a fiery second half, Phish unveiled many crowd favorites en route to a start-to-finish show that will be remembered, above all else, for its stellar “Mike’s Groove” and intimate environs. Upon walking into CMAC Performing Arts Center, the uniquely designed and miniature pavilion immediately gave the show a much cozier feel than the east coast blowouts of last weekend. Many thought this Tuesday night, out-of-the-way affair would explode in a jealousy-inducing show for those not in attendance, but in a very Phishy move, the band played a straight forward setlist loaded with Phish anthems, delivering two flowing sets of music without ever moving to into the stratosphere.

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

An uncharacteristic “Possum”opener led off the second set in rocking fashion, prepping the crowd ready for a highlight-reel “Mike’s Groove.” Blasting into the inferno of “Mike’s,” the band entered the lair of the beast with intent to slay. Trey led the band through a series of explosive peaks with snarling leads and filthy volition, scripting a menacing musical tale. As Mike’s bass pulsated at the heart of the jam, the band carved a darker version that shied fr0m dance rhythms in favor of demonic vigor. Coming out of the composed ending of “Mike’s,” for the first time this summer, Phish chose “Simple” to bridge the “Groove,” pumping consistent energy into the set. Deconstructing the feel-good groove, the band entered sparse and melodic segment that gradually morphed into gorgeous ambient space. Briefly sounding like their course was set for “2001,” Page began a piano solo over the space-aged texture, artistically slipping into the night’s big surprise – “I Am the Walrus.”

6.24.10 (J.Thomas)

The transition from “Simple’s” ethereal excursion, and Phish’s take on The Beatles’ classic, worked perfectly, infusing the show with a massive surge of retro-enthusiasm. Feeding off the energy in the small pavilion, the band continued to build out of the song’s ending, getting into a ferocious piece of heavy psychedelia. With menacing walls of sonic dissonance, Phish got straight-up medieval on the piece, as “I Am The Walrus” grew into far more than a straight ahead cover. Bringing the song further out than John or Paul had ever imagined the band carried a harrowing intensity, bringing the entire venue on a sweltering mental roller coaster. Bringing the jam to a head, Phish created another summer highlight while sliding smoothly into “Weekapaug.” All tour long, “Weekapaugs” have outshone their “Mike’s” counterparts, and once again, this version overflowed with creativity, weighting the back end of the “Groove.” Connecting several segments of galloping, rhythmic exercise with scintillating guitar leads, Trey threw down fast-paced licks of all variety amidst this dynamic piece. Moving through a minimalist, percussive section, Trey never relented with his thematic leads, providing a cohesive plot to the entire jam.

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

The band pushed “Weekapaug” out of the box and into an abstract, bass-led swamp before the jam disintegrated, unfinished, into “Limb By Limb.” This late second-set version evoked memories of Chicago’s placement; though the band didn’t seem to connect on this outing like they had throughout the set, and the piece ended before reaching an earnest peak. “Joy” filled the late-set ballad slot before Phish dropped into “Harry Hood” to punctuate the set’s improvisation. Picking up a notable pace right away, this version carried the direction and intent of old, moving gracefully and without hesitation, through a fluid, whole-band conversation. The band moved directly to the heart of the matter, side-stepping any meandering in this potent, well-phrased dosage of bliss. Bringing the show to a purifying peak, “Hood” hit the bulls-eye last night, leaving time for an anthemic afterthought of “Golgi.”

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

That was the second set, but the first set felt a whole lot different. Combining choice songs and plenty of structured improv, Phish played a notably laid back set to match the first pleasant evening of summer tour. The pastoral setting of the Finger Lakes region breathed life into the jams of the first set, all adopting a similar musical inspiration. Illustrated most clearly in “Ocelot,” “Reba,” and “Bowie,” this frame was underlined by its improvisational placidity. Each of these central jams sprouted creative roots within this milieu, tying the set together thematically. Trey’s minimalist playing and tasteful whaling contributed to the contour of the opening frame, which took place all under blue-to-purple sky. “The Connection” set the tone for the mellow set whose feel was enhanced by the second “Curtis Loew” of tour – when’s the last time one could say that? “Undermind” was also infused with the laid-back style on display in this non-stop summer stanza.

As we prepare for the final four night run of June, look how far we’ve come. On the third and final Tuesday of tour, Canandaigua provided a lively evening of Phish that set table for the band’s long-anticipated southern run. Ending in Atlanta on the Fourth of July, the first leg of summer is quickly coming to a close, but with four more nights on tap, the adventure is hardly over.

Look out South, here comes the end of Phish tour.

I: The Connection, Down with Disease, Sample in a Jar, Ocelot, Reba, Horn, Funky Bitch, Undermind, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, David Bowie

II: Possum, Mike’s Song > Simple > I Am The Walrus* > Weekapaug Groove, Limb By Limb, Joy, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus

E: First Tube

6.24.10 - Camden (Jeff Thomas)

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Shots From the Road

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 28th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

"Tweezer Reprise" SPAC - 6.19.10 (Dan Shinneman)

*****

6.25.10 - Camden (Craig March)

*****

6.27.10 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

*****

6.26.10 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

*****

"YEM" - 6.27.10 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

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A Sinister Sunday

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 28th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.27.10 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

Phish concluded their transformative weekend on Sunday night with a dark, thematic set filled with shredding musicianship and exploratory jamming. Punctuating a four-night run that nobody will soon forget, Phish leapt into the fray with an igneous experiment that read “Saw It Again > Piper > Ghost > Jumping Jack Flash > Saw It Again.” Bookended by groove sessions, this psychedelic suite provided the core of the show, careening into uncharted territory with the new and improved Phish from Vermont.

Sparking the eighth set of the weekend with “Wilson,” the band cranked up the heat on an unbearably hot evening at Merriweather Post Pavilion, using Gamehendge as an energetic trampoline into the final frame. Potentially responding to an “up-fronter’s” sign, the band dropped into “Meatstick” out of left field, juicing the millennial anthem’s feel-good funk with emotive guitar leads and an out-of-character jaunt into a series of swamp grooves. As Trey, ripped a single chord, the band left the song’s progression for swanky dance rhythms that stretched seductively until Trey got another idea in his head. Once Red awkwardly ended a growing “Meatsick” with the opening riff of “Saw It Again,” the set flowed impeccably from here on out.

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

Staging a sonic assault in “Saw It Again,” the band stretched the piece into thunderous sheets of sound and psychedelia while screaming the lyrics over the top of the evil soundtrack. Morphing into a significant piece of musical dramedy, the band continued shrieking the one-liner as they built a spacey segue into “Piper,” much like SPAC’s “Makisupa > Piper” transition from a week ago. And with “Piper” came the unquestionable creative and innovative highlight of the evening. Take the full-band crushing from “Oswego” ’99′s legendary version, and cross it with “Miami’s” crafty piece of musical density, and you’d come close to approximating the vibe of this stellar summer standout. Bombarding the crowd with a sawed-off shotgun of musical ideas, Phish exploded in an ever-morphing series of mini-jams. Without a tangible linear theme, the band took a jump off the deep end, going for the jugular in an experimental piece of roaring proportions. Transcending the uptempo rage-fest and avoiding generic percussive jamming of ’09, Phish wove through many creative portions of new-era music. This is one that needs to be heard to truly comprehend, as it reaches so many diverse places. In the jam’s denouement, the band broke into a groove that brought rhythmic resolution to the freight-train that had just demolished the venue. Moving the outro into a spacier texture, the band slid from their sprawling epic into the long-awaited second “Ghost” of summer.

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

Left untouched since opening night in Chicago, the crowd was more than ready for the seminal late-90′s vehicle. This version shied from straight groove, as Trey began soloing early with notable nimbleness, and he simply never stopped. The whole band toyed with the changes of “I Saw It Again” throughout the “Ghost” jam, thematically uniting the non-stop sequence. Taking center stage, Trey slayed his leads as the band continued a driving groove beneath his display of fireworks. In an aural double-take, virtually nobody in the audience realized that Phish had sculpted “Ghost’s” jam directly into The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Trey simply stepped up and sung the lyrics over the existing pattern in the smoothest possible segue; the kind you don’t even realize is happening. Blowing out the end of the cover, the band began chanting “I Saw It Again” over an increasingly menacing texture, moving back into the song that started all this madness. In a fifty-minute period of maniacal music, Phish painted Sunday evening black, celebrating their new found confidence with a compelling trek into the underworld.

Official Merriweather Poster

Breaking out “Contact” for a light, late-set interlude, Phish capped the evening with a short but sweet “You Enjoy Myself”, featuring “Jumping Jack Flash” teases at the beginning and end of the jam. The lyrical reprise of “I Saw It Again” that surfaced throughout the set came out most creatively as Trey substituted “Boy,” and portions of the “Wassha Uffizi” lyrics, with “I Saw It Again,” all completely in rhythm and with hilarious intonation.

Last night Phish underlined a set of seething music with their classic sense of comical creativity, illustrating, once again, that the band has arrived. Playing another flowing set flooded with modern ideas, Phish followed up their past two nights with yet another magnificent evening.With three straight nights of next-generation Phish, the band has redefined what it means to be a fan in 2010. Cranking out everything in their repertoire, from exploratory jamming to ornate compositions, and doing it like the maestros that they are, Phish has taken the second half of tour by storm. After this weekend, the south should take heed, as a musical cyclone is about to hit the region. With only a Tuesday stop in Canandaigua separating us from tour’s four-night finale, June will always be remembered as the month when the band began moving forward again. And the future has never looked brighter.

Set I Notes: The first set featured six summer bust outs, most notably, “Walfredo,” “Tela,” and Bob Marley’s “Mellow Mood.” Though everything was played quite well, the set picked up steam, in earnest, with another scorching “Bathtub Gin,” which, in turn, set the table for a closing “Antelope.” Before the two classic vehicles emerged, the set had translated as a somewhat choppy recital; but its ending salvaged the opening frame.

I: Walfredo, Mellow Mood, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Divided Sky, Tela, My Soul, Ginseng Sullivan, Sample in a Jar, Bathtub Gin, Brian and Robert, Run Like an Antelope

II: Wilson, Meatstick > Saw It Again > Piper* > Ghost* > Jumpin’ Jack Flash^ > Saw It Again > Contact*, You Enjoy Myself**

E: Fire*

*Saw It Again lyrical quotes
**Saw It Again quotes and Jumpin Jack Flash teases; Saw It Again and Surfin’ Bird quotes in vocal jam.
^ Phish debut

"Tela" - 6.27.10 (Graham Lucas)

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Progressive Phish

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 27th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.26.09 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

In a vintage case of Phish being Phish, the band came to Merriweather Post Pavilion a day after playing the show of the summer, and one upped themselves, slaughtering a second set that now stands as the strongest frame of 2010. Transformed – literally – overnight, Phish has returned to the top of their game, and based on the progress from Friday to Saturday, there is no ceiling limiting how far the band will grow in this era. Having definitively transformed their sound this year, Phish, once again has their foot on the accelerator and nothing but open highway ahead. Exploration and discovery is again the norm, rather than the exception, and something tells me there’s no going back. Open, unstructured jamming no longer presents a challenge for the band, but rather welcome missions into parallel universes. After the past two nights of musical mastery, any doubts anyone had about Phish returning to innovative greatness can be swept under the rug. This is 2010 – the year we make contact.

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

Opening the second set with Saturday night’s assigned anthem, “Rock and Roll,” Phish built upon Camden’s “Chalk Dust”with a piece of improvisation that immediately jumped to the top of summer’s quickly-growing list of spectacular highlights. As if watching a different band than we saw for the first two weeks of tour, Trey and company held nothing back while pushing themselves into a fluid masterpiece. Comprised of more than a couple distinct sections, the band passed through, perhaps, the most blissful music of the summer before organically building into a mind-melting segment of snarling Phish. Through a maze of nasty licks and surreal communication, the band oozed into a menacing final jam around the theme of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick.” Boasting a new and daring sense of adventure, Trey never considered ending this jam before its proper landing. Absolutely ablaze all night long, Big Red played like a man possessed, embracing the moment, playing every note from his heart rather than his head.

“The Merriweather Rock and Roll” gracefully came to a close in “Free,” and though this landing pad boasted a vulgar bass solo from Gordon, Trey steered the song towards the ending immediately upon the conclusion of Mike’s carpet bombing. “Fast Enough For You” staged a dramatic breather, as Trey’s continued his marksmanship through even the ballads of the set. Upon the start of a mid-set “Sparkle,” I turned to my buddy and said, “Sparkle, Tweezer?”, citing the classic Bomb Factory combination. And sure enough, after sprinting through the chaotic piece, the band promptly slid into the into to the third “Tweezer” of summer.

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

In a virtual antithesis of Hartford’s grooveasaurus, Merriweather’s “Tweezer” grew into a filthy piece of ominous music that illustrates the band’s emerging musical paradigm. Coupling his hard-edged aggression and killer instinct from the mid-90s with tasteful whaling licks, Trey, joined by Gordon’s murderous bass work, led a piece that can be rightfully described as “new-school/old-school” Phish, or in other words – the future. Trey couldn’t wait to get to the meat of things, improvising throughout the composed section, and when the jam dropped, things took on a completely new life. In a section of purely 2010-sounding music, Phish launched a forward-thinking crusade into darkness that was wrung with musical belligerence. Following a roaring and colossal opening segment, Phish left any semblance of reality behind, traveling to a far off planet of a war-torn alien culture. Providing a futuristic soundtrack of next-level jamming, the band narrated an apocalyptic tale of desperation. Playing with the passion of a wild hyena and the accuracy of a mafia hit man, Trey pushed himself further than any night this summer, and the band stayed with him every step of the way. Descending from pure lunacy into an ambient outro, Trey began to play “Horse,” and pulled back, allowing the piece come to a natural ending in deep space for two more minutes. This was one for the books; Phish hasn’t played a “Tweezer” like this – well – ever.

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

“Horse > Silent” provided a melodic buffer before the band ended the set with the colossal combination of “Wolfman’s,” “Slave,” Reprise.” In this day and age, it’s simply a treat to get a second set “Wolfman’s,” but the band blew this one up, packing at least fifteen minutes worth of musical action into ten minutes of thick musical molasses. Chunky and celebratory, Phish funked up this version with a playful vocal jam before crunching a set of strapping grooves that Trey backed with meticulous use of the whale. Stylistically translating their fresh sound through multiple styles of masterful jams last night, Phish’s pressed fast-forward on their reinvention in Merriweather’s first show.

Closing the set with a climactic, beautifully-phrased “Slave,” Phish brought artistic resolution to merciless frame of mayhem. But in a surprise move, the band brought out “Reprise” in the far more dramatic set-ending spot, bombastically closing out the night’s “Tweezer” before the encore even got underway. And quite and encore it was.

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

“Show of Life” and “Good Times” juxtaposed the poignant and introspective side of Trey with his all-out rock-star persona. The night’s two final songs provided a glorious excursions in opposite directions, touching the heart with tenderness and then with fire. Surfing the show’s final wave of adrenaline, Trey played as hard on the last song of the night as he did on any other. Displaying his blazing chops one last time on the classic Zeppelin cover, this finale fit right in with the band’s current fetish with the British legends.

Phish showcased some seriously progressive playing last night, building – only 24 hours later – on Camden’s Friday night triumph. After listening back to this set, it is quite clear that Phish is transforming, in front of our eyes, into a whole new beast. Combining the energy of the first half of tour with a breakthrough in improvisational confidence, the band has, once again, made Phish tour is the most exciting place on the planet.

…How many hours ’til showtime?

First Set Notes: A blistering 2010-sounding “Stash” highlighted a well-played, but relatively uneventful first half of the show. Although a late-set “46-Days”didn’t break form, it surely provided an early sign of the six-string combustion that would soon follow. Another new cover emerged from the renowned Indie band Neutral Milk Hotel. (Never heard of em? Me neither.) The cover, “In The Aeroplane Over the Sea” comes from the band’s iconic 1998 record of the same name. Similar in sound to “Earth Angel,” it seemed as though we were at The Enchantment Under the Sea dance, and Trey might start looking at his disappearing hand in some sort of time-space paradox. The heartfelt song provided a bizarre interlude in the set between “Tube” and “Stash, but I’m all for the new covers; keep ‘em coming.

I: Crowd Control, Kill Devil Falls, AC/DC Bag, Sugar Shack, Tube, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea*, Stash, Backwards Down the Number Line, NICU, 46 Days, Suzy Greenberg

II: Rock and Roll > Free, Fast Enough for You, Sparkle, Tweezer > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Wolfman’s Brother, Slave to the Traffic Light, Tweezer Reprise

E: Show of Life, Good Times Bad Times

*debut

6.26.09 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

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A Summer Breakthrough

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 26th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.25.10 - Camden (Graham Lucas)

Any questions about Phish’s ability to masterfully navigate wide-open jamming were answered vociferously in Camden last night. Adding another page to their sparkling legacy in South Jersey’s musical mecca, Phish launched an improvisational odyssey like none we’ve seen this summer in “Chalk Dust Torture,” while again delving deep in the late-show “Light.” And in between their organic excursions, in an all-time highlight, Phish gave a sincere nod to the King of Pop on the one year anniversary of his passing, spinning a MJ medley amidst the first significant “2001″ of this era. All in all, the second set of Camden’s finale blew away any previous frame of music the band played this summer with breakthrough improvisation that can only be considered a positive sign of things to come.

6.25.10 (G.Lucas)

With “Ghost” and “Tweezer” waiting in the wings for set two, Phish sidestepped their groove monsters in favor of their cliche set opener. But as soon as Phish swam into “Chalk Dust’s” jam, it became quite clear that this version would be anything but conventional. In a massive piece of next-generation jamming, Phish dropped the now-2010-defining “Camden Chalk Dust.” Letting things flow unabashedly, Phish wove a multi-tiered psychedelic narrative that leaped of the stage with its exploratory intent. Virtually opposite of most open jams this summer, Trey let his soul do the talking this time, allowing the band’s ideas to develop rather than over-thinking transitions and song choice. It was a joy to see Phish embark on such a vision quest after being tied to structure so often this summer, as they collectively navigated an ocean of darkness, bliss, and relentless musical drama. This was Phish bathing in IT, splashing around like children at play, as comfortable in the stratosphere as a bug in a rug. Running through multiple themes, this piece brought a brand new standard of what is possible with Phish 3.0. The combination of exploratory intent with razor sharp chops resulted in an unparalleled piece of modern Phish music, immediately upping the excitement for each subsequent night of summer. Using a combination tones and effects, Mike and Trey toyed with each others’ minds while Mike and Fish crushed the jam like they were attached at the brain. An instant classic, this one is a must-hear – words can only do so much.

6.25.10 (G.Lucas)

As Page’s piano guided the jam to closure, Trey chose “Caspian” as the light at the end of the tunnel. Akin to the song’s placement after the “Miami Tweezer,” Phish slaughtered the cathartic anthem in a life-affirming version that brought a perfect counterpart to “Chalkdust’s” labyrinth. Without ending the song, Phish seamlessly dropped into “Heavy Things,” centering the pop-song as a cool down from the set’s initial fire. Though I’m never looking to hear “Alaska” in any second set, I must say, Phish seems to be getting a hang of this one, and last night it just worked. Providing a tasteful blues-rock interlude, it mattered little what Phish played last night; it was one of those evening where they could do no wrong. But as the band slowly dripped into”2001″ out of “Alaska’s” ambient outro, what ensued became one of the most legendary dance parties Phish has ever thrown.

"2001" - 6.25.10 (H.Radar)

Flying into a super-charged chunk of space-funk, Trey began singing “Ma Ma Se, Ma Ma Sa, Ma Ma Coo Sa,” in rhythm over the groove. At first he stood back from the mic, making the reference hard to hear, but during the first song’s first build, he stepped up and let loose. When he did – The.Place.Freaked Out. As Phish splashed into the second half of the song, everyone knew things were about to get buck-wild. And they most certainly did. Before long we were neck deep in “Billie Jean” funk, as Phish molded the contours of the the second part of the jam around Michael’s classic. While the band drove through intergalactic territory, Trey screamed out perfect quote of  “Thriller’s” chorus on guitar, widening ever grin of disbelief even more. The band toyed with Jackson’s themes throughout the rest of the funk, setting the course for the peak with more momentum than Phish has carried with any “2001″ in recent history. Not only were they weaving in MJ references into their grooves, the band was straight killing it as they molded a once-in-a lifetime dance-floor memoir.

6.25.10 (G.Lucas)

Unsure where the set would head from here, Phish burst into “Light,” pushing their new-school piece of philosophical music deep into an rhythmic-ambient space. Taking on the spirit of the set, the band allowed this jam to fully develop, experimenting with delicate textures that naturally moved into a full-band exploration into the ether. In another refreshing illustration of patience, Phish (read: Trey) allowed this jam to fully realize its potential, moving into totally unique polyrhythmic psychedelia. The most fully developed version we’ve seen this summer, “Light” became a portal into the spirit of Phish – pushing musical boundaries without preconception. Trey coyly slipped in the opening lick to “Possum” as the jam wound down, revving up the energetic set closer. Carrying a full head of steam, Phish laid back through the opening portion of the piece before building a fiery peak. In a classic case of double-set-closers, Phish dropped a raucous “Character Zero” to punctuate the stanza of summer thus far. And you’d never tell it by looking at the setlist – an awesome sign for future adventures. Putting a clinching stamp on a poignant night in New Jersey, the band closed with class with “Shine a Light.”

6.25.10 (G. Lucas)

In the opening half of the show, Phish dusted off some oldies to kick off the show, playing the sequence of “Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues” for the first time since Summer ’94, along with “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars” to jump start the set. “Runaway Jim” provided the show’s opening excursion, drifting with passion into the summer evening. 2010 debuts of Page’s “Army of One,” and “The Sloth,” also highlighted a first set that progressed just fine until those seventeen minutes of “Time Turns Elastic” – albeit them well-played – sucked whatever wind the set had right out of its sails. The improvisational highlight of the first half came in a fierce “Split Open” that fused groove and expansive sonic textures, resulting in a harrowing jaunt of interstellar experimentation. A true beast of a version, this provided the meat of a set comprised mostly of composed songs, including another first time cover in Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man in Paris.”

Over the past two nights, Camden – as always -  set a fire under Phish, providing a mega-boost of energy and creativity to the band. Topping any two-night stand this summer, Camden provided another clear signpost along Phish’s path of re-evolution, gilding tour’s remaining road with infinite possibilities.

Until tonight…

I: Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Runaway Jim, Army of One, Free Man in Paris^, Summer of ’89, Split Open and Melt, The Sloth, Time Turns Elastic, Golgi Apparatus

II: Chalk Dust Torture* > Prince Caspian* > Heavy Things, Alaska > Also Sprach Zarathustra** > Light > Possum, Character Zero

E: Shine a Light

^Phish debut.
*Unfinished.
**Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, Billy Jean and Thriller teases

6.25.10 - Camden (Graham Lucas)

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Crushing Camden

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 25th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.24.10 - Camden (Graham Lucas)

Phish has owned Camden – year in and year out – for their entire career, regardless of what the venue has been called. Having never played anything but smoking shows within the confines of the former “Tweeter Center,” Phish’s streak in Southern Jersey continued last night with a power-packed performance from beginning to end. Putting together an impeccable first set that, arguably, trumps any of tour, and a second filled with non-stop action, Phish crafted one of their strongest overall evenings of the summer last night, just across the river from Philadelphia.

6.24.10 (G.Lucas)

When the band opened the show with a densely wound “David Bowie,” everyone could feel the energy in the air, immediately sensing a special night. As Phish continues to play more contained jams within many of their songs, their creativity-within-structure is beginning to take off. The originality on display in many first (and second) set jams last never truly broke form illustrates this developing, retro-trend; and none better than the long awaited bust-out of “Timber Ho!” Dropping into the murky abyss, Trey combined short, rhythmic notes with his bending whale tones, as Mike and Fish held down a rolling pocket of thunder. One of the most creative pieces of the entire evening never left the form of the song, a clear sign of improvisational innovation combined with musical density. Together, the band built a sinister excursion, wowing the audience late in the first set. But there was plenty of meat that came first.

Following “Bowie” with a spirited version of “Faulty Plan,” the band eased into a mid-set “Ocelot” that brought yet another strong version of the quickly-expanding song. Again illustrating their imaginative ideas within a given context, Phish crafted another highlight of the first set with their playful blues-rock. This pattern held true throughout the opening frame as Phish blew up structured versions of “Boogie On,” “Birds of a Feather,” and “Reba.” Within the set Trey released the whale early and often, tactfully using the tone to enhance jams while lending a definitively new element to Phish’s sonic brew. Phish rounded out their standout first set with two covers – a shredding version of the rare and technically difficult, “Uncle Pen,” and the debut of Led Zeppelin’s “The Rover.” The latter translated perfectly as a rocking set closer, but the question that now looms over all these new covers – “Are they one and done?” If they aren’t, their newest choice off Physical Graffiti will make a phenomenal addition to their repertoire.

6.24.10 (G.Lucas)

Phish threw down a raging opening half, then came right back out and did it again. Led by Mike and Trey’s interplay all night long, the band darted and dove through a flowing set of high-octane Phish with but one small speed bump. A frame split into three distinct sections carried a certain flow that has been absent from the past two evenings, while the band’s on-stage communication remained incredibly efficient. “Down With Disease” bust open the dam for a flood of energy that continued until the band stepped off stage at the end of the show. Annihilating the composed jam in “Disease,” the band slowed into a segment that momentarily sounded like the second “Ghost” of summer lurked just around the bend. But the band had barely entered this sequence when they of transitioned into “Crosseyed and Painless.” Setting up this segue more carefully than others in the past few shows, Phish actually blended two songs together, and while it may not have been as seamless as 7.31.09, Phish nonetheless, proficiently flipped songs.

Carrying ferocious momentum into the jam, the band exploded in creativity, blasting ideas throughout a structured “Crosseyed” jam that would have made David Byrne proud. Riding a galloping groove, Trey precisely assassinated his leads as the piece remained anchored to the song. But as soon as the band did break form, they entered a swampy texture that began to expand quickly. Amidst a thick rhythm, on the brink of a “Camden Jam,” Trey ran like a puppy from the dark psychedelia into the welcoming arms of “Nothing,” the light, dreamy track off Undermind. Though the transition brought the welcome return of “Nothing,” Trey’s deliberate change of song was, once again, quite forced. Regardless, “Nothing’s” summertime melodies provided resolution to the non-stop dynamite that preceded, and did so tastefully. The gentle jam sounded more coherent than ever, complete with vocal harmonies layered over the ending. And thus ended Act I of Set II.

6.24.10 (G.Lucas)

The standalone placement of “Twenty Years Later” initially felt odd, as the song has almost exclusively been used as a landing for deep improvisation. However, last night “Twenty Years Later” made the transition from landing pad into launching pad, as Phish built an abstract jam out of the song’s dark ending that has begged for attention since its debut a year ago. With heavily effected sheets of sound, the band created an intense sound sculpture that uncovered a new root for evil improv. Morphing the jam into a beat-less ambient ending, Fishman slyly rolled right into “Harry Hood.” The band used their age-old classic to resolve an exploration through one of their newest pieces, staging a zealous rendition of the life-affirming anthem. Led by Mike and Trey’s two-pronged attack, Phish wove a breathtaking version that showcased intertwined leads from the two guitarists, a musical double-helix. A stellar version that holds up to any this summer, this “Hood,” punctuated Act II of the set.

6.24.10 - Camden (G.Lucas)

Standing on the mountain top, overlooking the valley beneath “Hood’s peak,” the band decided to follow their opus with another feel good classic – “Fluffhead.” Bringing the upbeat vibe to the end of the set, the blazing composition set the crowd afire for “Act III: The Greatest Hits.” Following one tremendous peak with another, Phish flooded the building with musical serotonin, blissing the audience out with a one-two punch. A rollicking romp through “Julius” appeared to be the set closer, but when the band didn’t leave stage, one could feel a “YEM” coming, and before long, Trey counted off their seminal work. Infusing the song with filthy inspiration, the band littered the Camden metro area with an array of dirty grooves to end the evening. Camden’s “YEM” provided a final section of slammin’ jamming, creating a perfect cap for Act III, and the ideal dance-party closer for a set filled with joyful Phish.

As the band turned the corner to the second half of tour, they opened up with a blistering show that simply never let up from the start. Playing with great creativity and musical tension Phish kicked off this weekend with a full-on performance that set the bar quite high for tomorrow night. Leave it to South Jersey to bring out the best in the band. It always has, so why stop now?

I: David Bowie, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Water in the Sky, Ocelot, Uncle Pen, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Gumbo, Timber (Jerry),  I Didn’t Know, Birds of a Feather, Bouncing Around the Room, Reba, The Rover*

II: Down with Disease > Crosseyed and Painless > Nothing, Twenty Years Later > Harry Hood, Fluffhead, Julius, You Enjoy Myself

E: Bug

* Phish debut

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Trey and Mike Doin’ Work

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 24th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.22.10 - Great Woods (Parker Harrington)

****

6.20.10 - SPAC (Hybrid Radar)

****

6.20.10 - SPAC (Hybrid Radar)

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Moments In Mansfield

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 23rd, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Official Mansfield Poster

I left Great Woods scratching my head last night with a question that has grown significant in the flow of recent Phish sets – “Why does Trey keep cutting off jams?” In a very good show at Great Woods that could have been great, Phish got into two sections of improvisation, out of “Sneakin’ Sally” and “Light” that reached points of greatness when Trey singularly decided to lop them off before they came to an organic endings. The flow of a potentially awesome second set became compromised, and we were left with some stellar, relatively disconnected, moments of Phish.

Within each individual jam, Phish is clearly listening to each other very proficiently, jamming as a unit quite well. But any time a piece seems to be progressing into something bigger, the band continues to push ahead in the musical concept, while Trey simply starts a new song. For examples, look no further than the two most significant pieces of last night’s show – “Sneaking Sally” and, more particularly, “Light.” Each jam brought original ideas to the table, connected in cohesive improvisation. But in both cases, (much more flagrantly in “Light”) Trey ended the piece awkwardly, suddenly starting the next song while the rest of the band was clearly still engaged. Food for thought.

6.12.10 (PEEK)

Nonetheless, the highest points in the evening came in “Sally > Light,” and a phenomenal “Slave” that deserved a more complete set to punctuate. “Sally” brought a bulbous funk excursion that had the amphitheatre bumpin’ like a pinball machine. Trey, with short, high-pitched licks and searing leads, and Mike, with thumping bass lines, engaged in creative interplay, leading the band through dance realms without ever falling prey to cliche grooves. Trey briefly previewed the upcoming “Light” by changing tones within the “Sally” jam, but then prematurely chopped in with the song’s initial chords. The band adjusted quickly, resulting in only a slightly rocky transition, but why isn’t Trey allowing jams to reach their natural conclusions?

“Light” entered sublime territory, leaving the song’s build for a darker exploratory realm. Page and Mike stepped up to co-lead this forward-looking experiment while Trey accented the jam from the behind the scenes. This section was amazing, but this section lasted only two and half minutes. As the band jammed on, Trey decided it was time for “Forcety-Six Days,” inexplicably starting the blues-rock number amidst a serious groove. Once the band had left the build of “Light,” they arrived at a plane that seemed destined for greatness along the lines of Blossom’s “Number Line,” but it wasn’t given the chance to grow.

6.15.10 (B.Riley)

Though “46 Days” didn’t go too far, it did include an clever improvised vocal ending before the band played standard versions of “Limb” and “Golgi.” When this dip in the road ended, Phish came back with a gorgeous version of “Slave.” Incredibly patient throughout, the jam featured a quiet initial section without a beat, as the band combined gentle offerings. Listening and responding to each other meticulously, the band built a summer highlight with the apparent set closer. Then throwing the audience a bone, the band tacked on “Loving Cup” to end the summer night.

There were encouraging sections in last night’s second set, but when the dust settled, the whole wasn’t necessarily greater than the sum of its parts. The opening “Mike’s Groove” contained high energy, but straight-forward playing in both halves, as the band has yet to match the creativity of Blossom’s “Groove.” An encore of “First Tube” closed the night on a high note just before the rains came.

At this point, Camden is set up to be a complete blowout with all sorts of big guns due up in the rotation. And Phish destroys Camden as a matter of fact throughout their career. Every.Single.Year. There’s no place like Southern Jersey to get the second-half of tour underway! See you there.

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

First Set Notes: The jam of the first set came via “Kill Devil Falls.” A stretched out rock improvisation smoked anything in the frame with one of its best outings yet (though not in the same league as Bonnaroos’s versions from last June.) Shredding versions of “Divided Sky” and “Antelope” also dotted an opening frame that saw the debut of another original, “Dr. Gable.” This piece carries a distinctly non-Phishy sound, presenting the potential for something original to grow. Now that Phish has debuted so many new songs, the question remains – why aren’t they playing them? In the past, the band frequently repeated new material to improve it, but this summer we’ve heard a bunch of new pieces only once. Hopefully, along the second half of tour will see the development of  the new side of Phish alongside their classic jams. The band opened with a song called “Lit O Bit,” but as of right now, I do not know if its a Phish song or cover.

I: Lit O Bit*, Camel Walk, Possum, The Divided Sky, Dirt, Sample in a Jar, Kill Devil Falls, Dr. Gabel*, Run Like an Antelope

II: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley > Light > 46 Days, Limb By Limb, Golgi Apparatus, Slave to the Traffic Light, Loving Cup

E: First Tube

*Debut

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Halfway Home

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 21st, 2010 by Mr.Miner
6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

6.18.10 (K.Linder)

As the first leg of Summer 2010 approaches its halfway point tonight with Phish’s ninth show out of eighteen, it seems like a good time to glance over our shoulder at the highlights from the first two weeks of tour. In garnering a full head of steam over the past fortnight, Phish has begun to forge a new sound, debuted a handful of potential jam vehicles, and left more than a few improvisational highlights along the way. Still shying from exploratory playing, the band has delved into a series of pieces that are steps in that direction. With bold musical confidence, Phish shows, once again, carry the intensity that came to define the band in the first place.

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

The hottest discussion in the community these days has centered around Trey’s refined use of the whammy bar of 2010, better known on internet message boards as “the whale.” As Trey hones his use of this tone, he has forged one of the building blocks of the band’s summer sound. Offering understated, bending notes rather than linear lead lines at the onset of jams, Trey has allowed Mike to lay down the foundation for improv. Dictating the course of jams more than ever, Mike’s dynamic playing has been front and center since Chicago’s opening night. Often leaving “the whale” by the second half of jams, Trey has had no shortage of dizzying peaks and six-string slaughterings. With more precision than we’ve seen from Trey in years, he and Mike have been leading the band as a two-headed monster. Though some may think Trey is overusing his new tone, just go back in history and look at each time he obsessively adopts a new tactic into his arsenal; as they say, practice makes perfect.

So far this tour, Phish has debuted “Show of Life,” “Idea,” “Summer of ’89,” and “Halfway to the Moon” – four new originals written by three different members. Trey, Mike and Page have all added legitimate jam vehicles to the band’s repertoire this summer. It will be interesting what kind of treatment “Idea” and “Halfway to the Moon” get the next time around, as both songs have the potential to grow into chunky pieces of new Phish music. The inspirational “Show of Life” has already begun to find a role as a second-set closer. What will happen with “Summer of ’89″ is anyone’s guess; I don’t necessarily see it entering the rotation as a fixture, but stranger things have happened.

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

Within tour’s first two-weeks that featured mostly structured jamming, Phish has certainly played some memorable impovisational pieces that have pushed beyond their normal confines. Here are some of summer’s most impressive open jams ( in no particular order).

“Backwards Down the Number Line” – 6.12.10 II Cuyahoga Falls, OH

Easily the jam of the tour thus far, Phish connected on another level during this sinister spy mission, improvising as if scripted. Nothing has approached the unique music created within this second set surprise.

Drowned”-  6.13.10 II Hershey, PA

Opening one of tour’s defining sets, this “Drowned” moved through a segment of more abstract psychedelia before landing in a snapping set of grooves.

“Ghost” – 6.11.10 II Chicago, IL

The centerpiece of opening night, “the whale” surfaced for an initial swim of summer before Trey turned the corner, wailing relentlessly as he emerged from the underworld into a face-melting peak.

“Tweezer” –  6.18.10 II Hartford, CT

Mike and Trey put on a clinic in groove as the band stretched their classic vehicle with mutiple sections of dance rhythms and a unique section based around one lick that Red featured the entire evening.

“Rock and Roll” 6.19.10 II SPAC

This second-set opener brought Phish outside the box, into a flowing bass-led section of blissful music.

“Disease > Sand” - 6.17.10 II Hartford, CT

The don’t make jams any more sizzling than this these days; one of Hartford’s indelible highlights.

“Light” – 6.11.10 II Chicago, IL

The opening jam of summer is still one of the best.

“Bathtub Gin” - 6.15.10 II Portsmouth, VA

An cathartic, guitar-led monster. Trey absolutely shreds this dancy jam to bits.

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Standard Fare

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 21st, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Official SPAC 6/20 Pollock

After setting the table for a huge Sunday night closer at SPAC, Phish went the other way, playing a song-based show that contained barely any creativity. After an exciting opening frame with several summer bust-outs, one wasn’t wrong to think the band might come back with one of their most engaging frames of tour. But Phish pulled out of upstate New York after a choppy second set that contained their least engaging playing of tour. While maintaining their energy and tightness, Phish took no risks in a energetic show that was heavy on the setlist, but, at times in the second set, straight up boring.

Opening the weekend’s final stanza with “Carini,” the band seemed to be on the brink of launching into an evil exploration, only to pull up well short, wrapping up the jam at its deepest point for “Mango Song.” A pairing that worked like oil and water, the band aborted a psychedelic mission for some light summer music, and the pairing carried no cohesion whatsoever. And after “Mango Song,” the band sent a signal loud and clear with “Wilson,” that this set would be about fun songs and not about interesting improvisation.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

The only significant jam in the entire show came in “Drowned,” a song that Phish has beaten to death since their comeback. Here we are in Summer 2010, and the big jams of the last two nights have been “Rock and Roll” and “Drowned.” Wasn’t that last year? Containing jams so similar in contour, why would Phish choose to feature “Drowned” to the exact same audience who watched them shred apart a much more impressive “Rock and Roll” the night before? As the band launched into “Saratoga Jam #2″ they entered hackneyed musical territory, revving up a set of generic percussive grooves that paled in comparison to several segments just like it over the past three nights. When Phish actually tried pushing themselves outside their comfort zone, the last few minutes of “Drowned” became magical; but magic would hardly be the theme of the night.

6.11.10 (S.LaBrasca)

The band did moved gracefully from “Drowned” into “Swept > Steep,” playing the same composed jam that was debuted in Miami, before paying homage to the veritable police-state that overtook SPAC this weekend with “Makisupa.” Making lyrical references to the venue within the song, the band magnified the silly spirit of the set. Unfortunately, while the band was busy making jokes amidst uneventful reggae, precious time clicked off their show. When “Makisupa” ended, it was clear that set’s next segment would be its last, and I, for one, expected at least one interesting jam. But instead, Phish spun their greatest-hit singles of “Piper > 2001 > YEM,” all of which were extremely pedestrian versions. While “2001″ held up to its current, five-minute standard, and the versions of “Piper” and “YEM” were generic as they come. Maybe this glossy, jam-less set worked for the masses, but not for me. At times I found myself completely bored, wondering when they were gonna’ play “Ghost” again. But hey, you can’t win ‘em all, and with the family atmosphere for Father’s Day, the vibe was one of enjoyment, not of musical seriousness. Take it for what it is, I suppose.

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

The first set provided more earnest excitement than the second, as its outstanding playing seemed to foreshadow something huge. Bust outs of “Brother,” “Back on the Train,” “Undermind,” “Cities,” “Roggae,” and “Sleep Again” speckled the opening stanza with excitement. The highlights of these summer debuts came in the searing “Undermind” jam and the stunning rendition of “Roggae.” A standard “Antelope” capped the set, setting the plate for the big second half that never happened. In one other first set note, Trey invited long-time friend, TAB bassist, and local, Tony Markelis, to the stage to sit-in for “Jibboo,” a song he co-wrote. With Mike on rhythm guitar, this guest spot resulted as most do – decent. Unable to replicate their normal dynamic, the usually high peak of the song fell a bit flat.

All in all, SPAC’s conclusion didn’t hold up to the other shows of tour. Trumped by the jamming in the weekend’s three previous second sets, last night’s final frame served as the Northeast denouement rather than its peak. Sure the band played some big songs, but they did little to nothing with any of them. Let’s stash this one away and move on to Great Woods.

I: Brother*, AC/DC Bag, Back on the Train, Undermind, Cities, Gotta Jibboo**, Roggae, Sleep Again, Lawn Boy, Run Like an Antelope

II: Carini > The Mango Song, Wilson, Drowned > Swept Away > Steep > Makisupa Policeman, Piper > 2001 > You Enjoy Myself

E: Frankenstein

*Band members’ children in a tub on stage. Happy Father’s Day!
**Tony Markellis on bass and Mike on a second guitar

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